Back in May, we published "Principles," the unofficial employee handbook of Bridgewater Associates. Principles contain founder Ray Dalio's musing on life, love, and how to run a successful hedge fund using brutal truth. For instance, if you want to tell someone they suck, you are more than welcome to. In fact, at Bridgewater, you are actively encouraged to do so (B-Water employees amass points for digs à la pieces of flair). But, you can't do it behind their backs. You MUST tell someone they suck to their face and not just like a casual "You're not so much my cup of tea" but a ass-tearing "YOU FUCKING BLOW," and in many cases this conversation, in which you tell a colleague how you really feel, will be tape recorded and stored for the staff monthly movie night, or to review whenever anyone is feeling him/herself getting soft. If you are caught violating this or other any of the other rules three or more times you'll likely be told to turn in your badge (everyone on staff wears a name-tag) and get off the property ASAP. So, it can be a bit of an adjustment for people not used to a place of such hardcore honesty. Some of them never get used to it and have told us as much. Others, once they get over the initial awkward phase, come to love it. And at least one has used the "Principles" to improve his marriage!
At first, Bridgewater trader Jon Hantler, a veteran of Deutsche Bank and Putnam Investments, had difficulty adjusting to the hyper-realism at Bridgewater, where colleagues openly critiqued his ideas and drilled into his weaknesses.
"I would go home defeated," said Mr. Hantler. "My wife would tell you, it was a challenging thing for us." But then, six months ago, his wife joined Bridgewater in its client-service unit.
One benefit of adopting the company culture: "Our fights are less frequent, shorter and less painful,'' he said. "I am more open-minded."