It may come as something of a surprise, given the blog, the Twitter account, the increasing weigh-ins on matters Trump, the dancing in public, the reading of e-mails criticizing him at TED conferences, the nudity—metaphorical and otherwise—the videotaping of everything and the placing of those videotapes in the Bridgewater Blockbuster, the wide public dissemination of his philosophy of life and the book deal, but Ray Dalio is a private guy. A private guy with feelings.
“Ray sometimes says or does things to employees which makes them feel incompetent, unnecessary, humiliated, overwhelmed, belittled, pressed or otherwise bad,” the memo read. “If he doesn’t manage people well, growth will be stunted and we will all be affected.”
To Mr. Dalio, the message was both devastating and a wake-up call. His reaction: “Ugh. That hurt and surprised me.”
A private guy who makes mistakes.
In a particularly telling moment, Mr. Dalio describes how his fund nearly imploded in the early 1980s on bad bets on the bond market, a period he acknowledges was like “blows to the head with a baseball bat.”
“Being so wrong — and especially so publicly wrong — was incredibly humbling and cost me just about everything,” he wrote. I saw that I had been an arrogant jerk who was totally confident in a totally incorrect view. I was so broke I couldn’t muster enough money to pay for an airplane ticket to Texas to visit a prospective client….”
One of his handpicked successors was his protégé, Greg Jensen. But after a year in which he had made Mr. Jensen and Eileen Murray co-chief executives, he realized the move was a failure….
“This particular failure was painful, especially for Greg and me,” he wrote. “I regret that mistake more than any other I made in running Bridgewater because it hurt both of us. He had been like a son to me for 20 years.”
A private guy who would just as soon as disappear onto the top of a mountain, were it not for the giving of interviews to the industry that misunderstands and wrongs him.
“The whole thing is not an easy experience,” he said, “because I don’t like the public attention. But my basic thing is I will have done it, I will have gotten past it.”
He said he wanted to share what he had learned and hopes that in the near future “I’ll be able to hide someplace, be quiet and it’ll pass.”
We shall miss him when he’s gone.