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> see: https://www.principles.com/

This is a very, very good read. Thanks for sharing.




You might disagree with the read if you actually saw what the implementation of said principles looks like. There's plenty of articles out there about what those principles do to a psyche, but let's forget about those: The culture is still broken because there is no sensible way to have real transparency in an environment with power differentials.

In any situation with a broken status quo, openness by those that disagree will just get them squashed. In practice, change occurs in the dark: The people that have a different idea hide in a corner, bake the idea in secret, build allies in secret, and only reveal it when they cannot be squashed down. It works with different ways of investing, with tolerance to LGBT, interracial marriage... instant openness in an environment that is against you will ruin you unless you are powerful.

The principles, as applied, lead to an appearance of openness, where people have to toe the party line and only disagree when they know they can win politically. Otherwise, the powers that be will find you and make sure your disagreement can't go anywhere.

And how do you get power? In practice, by toeing the party line. Only by agreeing with the people above you, those that have been blessed as the smartest, you can get any credibility. And yes, this is something that is actively codified in Bridgewater's culture.

I wish external researchers had access to the internal ratings and surveys that Bridgewater employees fill in all the time. The patterns in them are the definition of a dystopia and groupthink.


> " instant openness in an environment that is against you will ruin you unless you are powerful."

You make some good points, and I especially like this one.


This excellent post echoes what I have heard from friends employed or formerly employed at Bridgewater, although these patterns are common to all large organisations.


After reading some of principles.com what you say seems even more plausible.

I get the feeling his wife never asked if she looked fat. Or he always made the mistake of saying yes. Talk about missing out on reality.


// DISCLAIMER: I work there.

For those who've built tech companies up from the 10 to 1000 people range, there's a lot in that link that's very easy to recognize.

If you interpret back from the more traditional business lingo, you will recognize key 'iterative development' ideas applied outside engineering.

This allows a sizable 30 year old enterprise to handle new ideas much more as a tech startup would.

On the main article topic, instead of the article's quote, “like trying to make Ray’s brain into a computer”, I'd say as an engineer imagine if you could "run a company under a debugger." Frame it that way, and I think you could imagine some neat possibilities.

If you're very good at software development / distributed systems engineering, and think self-driving management or a self-driving fund might be even more interesting than yet another self-driving car, we're always hiring. Hit me up via profile.


//Disclaimer I don't work there. But I know people who do.

While there are some articles out there bashing Bridgewater's work culture (similar to how Amazon's work culture got attacked in the press), the people I know who work at Bridgewater like it and find the work interesting and feel they are well compensated. Though, no one I know who works there had any finance background before taking the job and that seems to be OK.

Just curious if you have any thoughts on if previous finance experience before working at Bridgewater is a good thing or bad thing or irrelevant? And is there any connection between those employees that succeed at BW and whether they have previously worked in finance?


Good questions. These are just my personal thoughts.

I think software engineers from more fields would do well and have fun in this environment than they imagine. You do need to be good, but you don't need a background in finance.

You can read in the link above the idea that people come to the table with values and skills, where it's hard to change what you're like, easier to adapt your skills.

Couple that with the observation that for open minded people who like to learn, effective engineering values and skills seem to translate pretty well across problem domains.

This means it's less about the kind of tech stunts interview folklore attributes to Google, more about trying to understand how you think about problems and get things done.

Sounds trite, but if you think well and do things (need both), you can succeed.


It sounds to me like what he's building is a lot closer to a custom version of an issue tracking product than an artificial version of Dalio's brain.

Is this accurate?


This is truly one of the best readings, one of the three books I recommend everyone read (and re-read) every now and then.


Would you care to share the other two?


"The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle and "Starting Strength" by Mark Rippetoe (applicable to men mostly) contain lifetime lessons on mind and body management. "Principles" is very useful for mental models and just critical thinking (or, rather, structured self-doubting).


just went ahead and 1-click ordered Eckhart's book. I recall listening to the audiobook I torrented 4 years ago but never got to finish it.

I'm reading Principles.com and I'm blown away by how similar it is to my own model of the world but without the same confidence and experiences to back it up the way Ray did.

I think perhaps I was being too judgemental about Ray by reading the WSJ article. But to be fair, I'm constantly trying to grasp reality. Perhaps it's better to go in without strong opinions at all...#2017resolutions


Tolle is full of hand wavy pop psychology junk. At the end of the day Tolle is full of mashed up philosphies he mixed and matched until it tasted really sweet. What are you left with? A loosely defined mess that reads like so many other self help books. I am critical here but with good reason, this is like going shopping at the philosophy store and just buying candy. It comes off as blatantly anti reason in places too.

Read Epictetus, Aurelieus, Minsky (Society of Mind), GEB, even Thoreau. Get inside your thinking machine. Feelings are okay. Thinking is okay. Orient around what you will create. Learn to meditate a little. Read Tolle if you are set on it, but I say most thinking people are better off with more original sources that challenge and ask more of their readers.


Love your comment. Always enjoy contrarian views. I think it won't hurt to read Tolle but I've just ordered based on your suggestion:

The Enchiridion, Meditations, Society of Mind, Golden Braid. Left out Thoreau because that seems like a natural survivalist and it had 4/5 reviews on Amazon.

The only way I'll read books is if there's a monetary sunk cost. If I pirate ebooks, unless it's super essential, won't get around to reading it.


Nice! Walden is a classic. It is a very Stoic take on the world. Its okay to skip though :) GEB is a book I had to work through over the course of a year. Good luck in your reading and thinking adventures! I hope you come away with some new ideas about thinking and "being human".


I can't imagine a philosophy that isn't "a loosely defined mess" and still attempts to take on the true ambiguity and confusion of life.


Formal philosophy is pretty rigorous. Life philosophy not so much. It is a tool to understand the human context, that is why I listed Minsky. Life is not ambiguous, it simply is. The harder you try to interpret it to fit a narrative rattling around in your brain the more confused it may seem IMO. Understanding what can be reasoned about (Kant), and what "feelings" are is important to attempt. We are stuck with a certain mode of existence via evolution. I dunno, I think giving into this surface level crusing of this deep currents never lets you even glimpse a deeper intuition about being human and what we can know.


As a case study in megalomania perhaps ...


oh no, I'm sure this particular Great Thesis of Logic and Ethics and Objectivity will enlighten us all. What business organizations have been missing is 40 pages of this schlub aimlessly restating the Golden Rule.

> You must be calm and logical. When diagnosing problems, as when identifying problems, reacting emotionally, though sometimes difficult to avoid, can undermine your effectiveness as a decision-maker. By contrast, staying rational will serve you well. So if you are finding yourself shaken by your problems, do what you can to get yourself centered before moving forward.

This reads like a parody of the DSM criteria for Asperger's Syndrome.


It also sounds like a journal entry from a concentration camp administrator.


I actually think that Ray himself would agree with this statement following his open minded endeavour towards grasping reality...but I do think principles.com read shows it's almost a consequence of how we view reality and an idea of how it works and pushing it onto others in order to "stress test" and improve it.

Nobody likes working for megalomaniacs, and the WSJ article suggests that it's a pretty toxic place to work when people breakdown in bathrooms.

The truth is that money is a powerful incentive if significant enough that overrides all personal principles and creates a subversive mind.

In other news, Gordon Gekko feels that greed is good for his own personal gain at the cost of the personal morals of his followers and profiteering off their transgressions & weaknesses.




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