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Principles (principles.com)
234 points by ingve on Dec 23, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments

I've never worked at Dalio's hedge fund, Bridgewater, but after we studied their culture and performance in grad school, I did consider working there & spoke to a number of their alum (full disclosure: I did apply and was rejected in later rounds).

Bridgewater is easily one of the most consistently performant hedge funds in history, so it's hard to argue there isn't anything at all to ways in which they're different. Capital-T-Truth is worth its weight in gold when your business is predicting the future.

My conclusion was that the system for which Principles sets the stage really does seem like a sort of Truth-utopia. I say that with no hint of irony--it really does sound like bliss to have so many unproductive communication complexities actively suppressed. If you've ever felt like work shouldn't be about navigating complex political landscapes, or other people's egos and insecurities, but instead about the team's mission, then a system built on Dalio's principles is probably up your alley.

In practice, it turns out it might be a little tricky. Understandably, there's a tremendous stigma at Bridgewater with becoming defensive when confronted with your potential 'wrongness.' It's one of the things they screen heavily for: can you receive aggressive critique of your argument, often bordering on personal attack, without feeling threatened or defensive--ie, while still maintaining a relentless pursuit of Truth?

Problems start (again, as I understand it second-hand) at the point where people use Truth-seeking methodology like a cudgel. Consider a simple example, not significantly altered from a friend's first-hand experience:

You: "I think we ought to do X, because of [etc etc]"

Colleague: "What? It feels like you're not even considering Y. I think what we're seeing is that you're consistently refusing to get your head out of your ass and see [etc etc]. You have a bias that leads you towards X, and it's making you useless to this project."

You: "I understand your argument and I think it's fair to think I have that bias. However, I've thought a lot about that particular bias, and I've concluded that it isn't a bias because of [etc etc]. So I think the premise of your objection is flawed."

In this example, were 'You' responding to the merits of the argument presented, or were you being defensive? How do you know? How do you disagree with arguments couched in critiques of your objectiveness, self-awareness, etc?

The conclusion I ultimately settled on was that so-called 'social niceties' don't just serve as kid-gloves for fragile egos. They're also a reliable mechanism of giving people the space to engage in honest discussions about their own short-comings as they relate to the argument.

Because the Colleague in this example had been conditioned to understand that more aggressive arguments can functionally shut-out a dissenting opinion (because, again, of the stigma around defensiveness), I'd argue he/she had incentive to act aggressively.

In some respects, the Colleague in this example has failed to check their own emotions (irritation, frustration, etc.)--a slip-up that isn't nearly as vilified as failing to control emotions when confronted. This sort of asymmetry, I think, is one of the bigger risks in this type of system.

Like I said at the top, though, I ultimately did apply. My reasoning was simple: every work culture has its baggage (I'd come from investment banking), and I felt this baggage was more manageable than most other types I was familiar with.

Now that I'm building my own company, I've been re-reading Dalio's stuff. I really respect what Bridgewater is trying to do culturally, and I'm anxious to see if parts of it are transferable to a more tech-oriented workplace (and one where the average worker doesn't gross $200k+, fwiw).

A huge reason for that success is Mr. Dalio himself. I don't mean that in an abstract he designed the business well sense. I mean he literally and actively managed a huge part of their money for a long time overriding entire groups often (and beating them). What I am saying is Ray is very very smart about money, but dont believe that the success is very strongly linked to the principles. I have direct and relatable experinece here. (Consulting for them). The principles are a grand ego driven experiment with no proven value. The churn rate and burnout at bwater is legendary. The survivors are interesting creatures.

Check out "An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization" It's a fascinating profile of the pioneering organizational cultures at three companies, Bridgewater, Next Jump (a tech startup in NYC), and Decurion (a movie theater chain). Each has processes specifically intended to support the development of their employees, and the book distills the commonalities in those practices.


Your post prompted[0] a search for this: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/red-boo...

Going to give this a read now.

[0]: self-criticism, "Truth-upia", "a little tricky"

On your last sentence, melding these is a key area of interest for me as well. Drop me a note via info in my profile.

I like that there aren't any comments on this yet, it means that hopefully people are taking the time to read this.

I think the best way someone introduced me to Ray Dalio's principles is that it gives employee's the freedom, not to be an asshole, but to cut right to the heart of the problem without worrying about social niceties.

it's a common complaint and almost cliche on HN to hear someone say they find American culture ot be a bit "fake" where Fake refers to being polite or dancing around an issue rather than stating it clearly because they're worried about social niceties.

Principle 97 comes right out and says "Don’t let people off the hook."

and Principle 98 follows up with "Don’t assume that people’s answers are correct."

When you are free by the CEO's decree to just flat out not let someone off with a half assed answer I find that you get to the root cause of issues faster.

The downside of course is that asshole's are even more pronounced and even the most well meaning people start to sound a bit like assholes. If you have thin skin it doesn't work well, you need to learn that people aren't attacking you, but attacking the problem instead.

Not everyone transitions well to this type of environment as it can be a bit of a departure from the norm of many companies existing cultures.

it's a common complaint and almost cliche on HN to hear someone say they find American culture ot be a bit "fake" where Fake refers to being polite or dancing around an issue rather than stating it clearly because they're worried about social niceties.

Interesting, I never heard this at HN at all and here in Brazil we have the exact opposite perception: americans are very straightforward in business while we worry too much about niceties, ammenities and excessive politeness that borderlines hypocrisy. We consider this a disadvantage in our culture regarding business.

I've noticed here, in the US, that technical staff will sometimes (often?) feel attacked or challenged by simply asking the question: "Why".

It's an important information-seeking question!

But, for some reason, in many geographies, here, in the US, people often (apparently) take it to mean something like "I don't agree." or "Justify that.". And that triggers defensiveness, and then you aren't getting information.

Because my goal is the information nugget at the end of the quest, I've learned, with most people, until I know them well, to use something like these instead of "why?":

  - "Interesting. Why did you decide to do it that way?", or
  - "Really? How did you prioritize the trade-offs to come to that conclusion?"
I don't know if that makes Americans thin-skinned, or just sensitive to that one word, or ... what ... but I think that most Americans most of the time would prefer to not offend, and have learned that challenging another person's opinion is viewed by many to be offensive. It's highly inefficient, doesn't work well in multi-lingual meeting settings, so I'd guess the Americans you have been exposed to are are somewhat experienced in international business?

Is this different from somewhere else that you've been? Or are you just offering the datapoint that you are in the US, and in the US you have observed this to be true?

I would think, given my travel and cultural experience, that the US would be one of the least problematic countries from the PoV of being allowed to challenge "authority" and ask "why" without catastrophic career consequences, but would be interested to hear other perspectives.

I am giving the datapoint, from the US, that I found team-mates, subordinates and managers to all respond defensively when asked a simple straightforward "why".

I never found my co-workers to be defensive when I asked them the same question in Japan (in Japanese). I didn't have any subordinates, and management let the group decide, (at our level), so challenging management rarely came up.

I agree that asking "why" is probably not a career-ending move in the US -- I'm just talking about the subtle first-response I've notices from other Americans in the first place. I don't know that it has any larger relevance than to maybe lend support to the idea that US workers (or engineers, anyway) are afraid to be wrong in public too.

Thanks for the perspective -- I would have guessed exactly the opposite, using the logic that many Asian societies have highly formal and even ritualized notions of hierarchy and authority, and that asking "why" in such a place could be tantamount to questioning that authority. But maybe it's different when everyone is at the same spot in the hierarchy.

Don't get me wrong. The consensus attainment rituals/processes I found there (Japan, mid-80s~mid-90s) were mind-numbingly slow/tedious/inefficient.

But, in companies that manufactured products intended to compete in the global marketplace (and not something intended to meet some local need), the internal processes for doing root-cause analysis of design, manufacturing or even business model defects was pretty direct/efficient/ruthless and impersonal. To me that makes some sense: If I were on a team of 100 NASA engineers, all of us armed with slide-rules, trying to send some people to the moon and back, I wouldn't want feelings (or social standing) to get in the way of the process of verifying that the calculations were correct.

I've had some experience with flaky colleagues asking "why" without putting much effort into understanding what was actually said. A more specific question addressing the person's lack of understanding in some area reflects sincerity in wanting to know rather than just wasting other's time with "academic" interests. You'll be surprised by the number of times when why is asked in return, the answer is disingenuously "just curious."

Your two questions could elicit a better response, even though it's basically the same as "why," because it's at least showing a semblance of effort and the interest to probe deeper.

I've seen it when people describe interacting with American wait staff at restaurants or similar venues - apparently not realizing that those employees are often required to act cheerful and aggressively polite to customers or else risk being fired, or losing necessary tips.

Speaking as someone from the UK, we know perfectly well that it’s required as part of the job. It’s one of the reasons we hate it so much: because we can tell it’s completely fake & we don’t appreciate being lied to.

People in the UK would rather have dour but straightforward service than forced cheeriness that speaks of some kind of “compulsory smiles everyone!” management acting behind the scenes.

Not everybody's dour.

I've skimmed over this list, and quite frankly, after a certain age, you should have learnt most of these "principles" on your own. Otherwise known as common-sense.

Be honest with yourself and others. Self-education is a life-long commitment. Failure to plan is planning to fail. Think for yourself. Think things through. Know when to hold em, and when to fold em.

There. I think that covers probably 70% or so what he expounds on in his 210 principles.

A funny thing I find about common sense is that it isn't very common. Everything that makes up common sense makes sense when brought up or given some thought. However, having it be brought up or thought about in the first place may happen well into an individual's life.

That said, I like reading these kinds of articles because I'm still relatively young and yet to experience the full extent of life. I figure being able to collect the wisdom of those who have been around longer than I have will be quite useful.

There's a link between the process that elsewhere he mentions people need to go through to adapt there - developing a tougher skin is part of it, and that relates to learning to regulate amygdala activation - and current political questions relating to political correctness, triggering, safe spaces and the like. The research suggests that the answer to fear is incremental exposure - see treatment for arachnophobia for example - but that is not how we tend to think about it in our society today.

Eg How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus - The Atlantic https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http:...

I believe that it's possible to be rigorous and polite/tactful at the same time. In fact, it's traditional and civilized to aim for that.

Excessively tough-minded bluntness is frowned upon for good reason.

Yes, I think there's a balance we need to strike here. Being excessively rude and tough can demotivate employees and decrease productivity, but being too nice and polite won't get the message across.

I agree with finding a balance. A blunt attack may knock one person's confidence causing them to no longer offer ideas while for another it may encourage them to think a little harder about the problem before offering a solution.

Honesty with compassion and a genuine curiosity for how things got to be the way they are is far different from being a dick disguised as "brutal honesty". Many at bwater that are rude wash out. You are free to find the truth, not free to be a dick.

> The downside of course is that asshole's are even more pronounced and even the most well meaning people start to sound a bit like assholes.

I think I have some kind of communication issue because often when I'm asking questions about decisions, people often think I'm arguing against them. Example: My boss decides to make a policy of $x. When I ask why, I can see my boss get frustrated.

I'm legitimately asking why, because I'm curious. I'm not trying to be an ass, but I come across that way for some reason I don't understand. I wish I could figure out why, but nobody has been able to articulate to me why they think I'm arguing.

I find that you need to explicitly state your intentions ahead of time. Otherwise, people assume the worst, and get defensive right away. Then communication closes down. So my method is this: before I even ask the question, I couch it in nonthreatening terms. Usually, I start with a simple compliment. It doesn't even have to be relevant: "Hey boss, that new policy seems pretty neat. What made you implement it all of a sudden?"

I find this is effective even if you actually do want them to change their decision. Come in with a compliment, then try to lead them to recognize the flaws in the decision themselves.

Good idea. I tend to qualify afterwards "Why are we doing that? (I'm not trying to argue, just asking)" and that seems to have helped some, but I wonder if qualifying before would make a difference. Thanks for the idea!

One technique is to guess the reason to the best of your ability: "oh, is policy x so we can be more focused?". That way there's no possible way it can be interpreted as disagreement, just a humble clarification.

I believe that pursuing self-interest in harmony with the laws of the universe and contributing to evolution is universally rewarded, and what I call “good.” […] Like the hyenas attacking the wildebeest, successful people might not even know if or how their pursuit of self-interest helps evolution, but it typically does.

My perspective on this (and feel free to point out if there are any flaws in my thinking) is that this tendency to "work within the system of evolution" is how humans evolved. With our consciousness and self-awareness, however, we've accepted that some things that run contrary to self-interest are sometimes "good" for society. We don't have a society of absolute Darwinian natural selection; we've set up some structures to make sure that everybody can live a life where certain rights and freedoms are protected. Things like Universal Basic Income would go against the author's apparent Social Darwinistic morality, even though it might be a net positive for society.

So I'm not sure I agree with that view of "good" and "evil", though it certainly is the most practical and effective when you're managing a company.

I'm guessing you were thinking mostly about financial and political self-interest (the things we usually classify as "greed") when you wrote this post. But I think there are other, equally important ways to be selfish.

For example, humans evolved to be social creatures. Interactions with other humans impact our body chemistry in dramatic ways. I want to avoid loneliness, so I selfishly hold relationships with others. I want to hear people say "thanks" to me, so I selfishly give people gifts. I want to be able to be righteous without hypocrisy, so I selfishly stick to my principles.

Just my two cents. There are a lot of different types of desire in the world. Who's to say that UBI wouldn't be in folks' best self-interest?

I am confident that whatever success Bridgewater and I have had has resulted from our operating by certain principles.

I generally avoid this type of advice due to the inherent effects of survivorship bias. Admittedly, I haven't read all of the words yet. Am I being too rash, or does this boil down to the standard fare of a successful person's biased view and false narrative about how they have been successful?

I am, however, intrigued with the ostensibly rigorous approach of making sure the subject is defined precisely.

The fallacy with dismissing Dalio's advice as survivorship bias, is that building a successful business isn't a one-shot deal. It's not like 100 investment managers all start out with different philosophies, their cards are dealt, and years later we find that 50 have turned a profit and 5 have become super-wealthy.

Building an organisation the size of Bridgewater involves many, many sub-challenges. How do find an opening with this client? How about this other client? How do you close a deal with this client? How about this client? One client now has an issue we're not able to solve. How do you retain them? How do you build a system to manage the sales pipeline and client relations?

Who do you recruit for this position? How do you interview them? How do you track for bad hires? How do you train interviewers so you avoid future bad hires? How do you build a system to handle recruiting and HR issues?

How do you train new hires? How do you decide who to promote? How do you minimise office politics? How do you handle conflicts between managers and teams? Etc, etc, you get the idea.

Once you've faced similar issues multiple times, you can track failures and successes, and figure out the essential actions which usually lead to success in that particular field. These essential rules are principles. Over time you identify meta-principles which apply to all fields (e.g., "be rational", or "avoid wishful thinking").

I assume you didn't intend to be offensive, but your attitude boils down to "someone smart and extremely successful has taken the time to identify what they believe to be the factors behind their success, and I'm going to dismiss their opinion without reading it, because I've decided, a priori, that they must be delusional, and I regard this a-priori reasoning as the scientific and rigorous approach".

I did not intend to be offensive, only skeptical and cautious. I was pointing more to people's nature to erroneously construct narratives regarding cause and effect in their lives. We are all guilty of it, no doubt. I also don't think Dalio is being intentionally misleading. But, people tend to give less credit to chance and more credit to a very concrete chain of events that they can attribute a narrative to.

However, I think you bring up a fair criticism. It's worth reading, if nothing else, because of what Dalio has seen and experienced, situations I will likely never find myself in. As such, I would otherwise not learn firsthand how to react to or solve problems in such environments. Whether his association between actions and the outcomes are true is only part of the value of what he has written.

> I did not intend to be offensive, only skeptical and cautious.

Cool, that's perfectly reasonable.

> We are all guilty of it, no doubt.

This might sound facetious, but don't you see the contradiction here? Towards the proposition "These are the principles Dalio used to achieve success", you are skeptical. Towards the proposition "people erroneously construct narratives regarding cause and effect in their lives", you have no doubt that it applies to all people.

Why not apply skepticism towards the second proposition? Maybe somewhere on the planet are people who are able to examine their lives without constructing false narratives.

The reason I am not being facetious is that skepticism is extremely popular amongst intelligent people, but it leads to such contradictions in practice (e.g., "I know that all knowledge is biased").

I agree with the problem you raise and I don't have a good solution to the problem. This may invalidate my position.

However, per Kahneman, possibly some modes of thought are more susceptible to bias and to a greater magnitude than other modes of thought. This might allow for one to examine certain beliefs or actions based on one mode of thought with a higher degree of accuracy and lower susceptibility to bias than others.

This is getting off topic from the OP, but you raise an important issue that I think about often but don't have a good answer for. Thanks for the critical discussion.

Skepticism about other peoples' ideas and values is extremely popular among intelligent people. Skepticism about their own ideas and values? Not so much. Ditto skepticism about skepticism.

I think this comment is spot on. Perhaps one way to correct against this bias would be to "backtest" the principles in question on other successful investment managers (at the least)? Of course, the difficulty there is that usually you only have imperfect information about how a firm is actually run.

I agree that some sort of back test is necessary to evaluate the strength of his arguments. I am not sure what this back test would look like. Presumably some sort of case study of companies (both successful and not) that apply some or all of these principles. Data collection and validation would be a bitch. Curious if this is commonly done in academic research, possibly sociology or economics (of a behavioral flavor).

Dalio seems to assume that, since nature follows certain physical laws, those laws must be morally good. Thus he says that natural selection must be a good thing in society.

I think the best counterargument comes from Lester Frank Ward, writing about Social Darwinism: http://www.nlnrac.org/critics/social-darwinism/documents/min...

Whose argument seems to be:

Being a proponent of natural selection, non-interference and laisser-faire is inconsistent, because who can be against protecting the innocent from injustice or healing the sick?

To give a simpler summary: nature rules by natural selection. But, once natural selection has created minds, these minds should be governed by a different set of rules: one that requires us to protect weak or marginalized people.

A related argument is this one: the laws of physics cannot, in a sense, be the source of the laws of morality. This is because the laws of physics are (by nature) inviolable -- you can never really "disobey" them. But moral laws are (by nature) able to be broken.

Edit: Aristotle disagreed with this latter argument: he thought that final causes were both causes of physical events and the source of moral rules. But this conception of physics has been (almost entirely) displaced by the modern scientific method.

I am reading through some of this, and there is some good advice.

With the caveat that I've only read a portion, I am put off by the anecdote about the Hyena and the Wildebeest. This is where he seems to be attempting to justify social Darwiniasm with actual Darwiniasm, and bizarrely projects his own conception of morality onto both.

He seems to believe that evolution is directional, and moral, which seems rather fanciful to me.

The question of trying to understand morality based on principles of Nature strikes me as pointless.

When the Hyenas kill the Wildebeest, for food, to them it is good. To the Wildebeest who was killed, it was undoubtedly bad, if anything can be called bad. To the Wildebeest who remain, perhaps in a more healthy overall environment, it might go either way.

I'm not sure what my point is here, except that my intuition is that there are some basic principles of morality, and they are not synonymous with "success." This impulse of successful people to extend methods of achieving success to be more than that is weird.

Financial markets and the way bwater plays them are a zero sum game. This principle makes sense for them, but I am with you.

I'm going to be that guy. I skimmed a few sections and wanted to come back here and had to click the back button a dozen or so times to achieve that. Why does the URL update when you're scrolling down the page? It seems like a pointless "look what I can do!" kind of thing in JavaScript.

Firefox on Linux, I had to disable uBlockOrigin to see anything at all. It was a blank page, although ViewSource showed a large body of html and content.

This doesn't appear to be a commercial site at all. Weird that an ad blocker would be in conflict with it.

Also: I was able to read it with no problem with lynx, a text browser, after scrolling wwaaayyyy down to get to the article. Why don't designers (or whoever's responsible for this decision) put the content physically first, and the cruft last, in html? You can obviously arrange what gets displayed first in CSS/javascript. It would make life easier for text viewing people and their tools.

Websites should fail like escalators, not elevators. If your JS isn't working properly, the site should default to just dumping the text. I'll be OK dealing with the consequences of bad formatting.


>Websites should fail like escalators, not elevators.

I like this analogy and will be stealing it for future use. It's for this reason alone my site is plain text with few images and few styles.

Time to see how my site does in a CLI browser like Lynx or eLinks. :)

> I like this analogy and will be stealing it for future use.

Heh, I stole it from someone on here. I purposely built my site to work with minimal unnecessary components (JS, CSS, etc), and that makes it "just work" with things like Lynx. As it turns out, making sites simple also make them more compatible!

> making sites simple also make them more compatible!

For some reason (probably that I recently ran across it), this reminds me of:

"designing the system so that the manual will be as short as possible minimizes learning effort."

- Mike Lesk, as quoted in Expert C Programming, Van der Linden. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Lesk

It sort of ignores the fact that escalators also fail by ripping people apart, maiming or killing them. I'll take the occasional broken back button and crappy contrast.

Operation failure - not structure failure.

If an elevator fails to operate - you can't get anywhere. If an escalator fails to operate - you can use them as stairs.

An escalator shredding someone is not a structural failure. Anyway, it wasn't meant all that seriously - just that a quip about failure modes has failed to consider the failure modes.

Just speculating, but there might be some UX justification. If you're reading a length bulleted list, and one of the items strikes you as shareworthy, I think it actually kind of makes sense to make it easy to link to that exact bullet.

The alternative is making users share the root URL, or scroll back to a menu and click a link to get the url directly to that #anchor.

You can use anchors without pushState.

I imagine it updates to make it easier for a reader to grab a link directly to the section they're currently looking at.

They could use `replaceState`[1] instead of `pushState` though so as not to mess with your browser history.


it's strange that the post we're replying to is 37 minutes old, but we both posted replies at nearly the same instant.

I'm curious why it seems to be connecting to maps.googleapis.com.

This is related to a recent story and discussion of how Dalio is trying to turn his management principles into an AI to guide the management of his hedge fund, Bridgewater:


What's interesting is that I've seen the link on HN titled "Hedge Fund Is Building an Algorithmic Model From Its Employees’ Brains", but I didn't click on it.

I found it a bit silly that the WSJ doesn't name the hedge fund in question.. It's like seeing a link on Hacker News that says "This company is redesigning its architecture", and the company is Facebook. Just say "Facebook is redesigning its architecture".

I shared the video about "How the Economic Machine Works" (narrated by Dalio) on Facebook yesterday.. Here's the video:


> I learned that one of the greatest sources of problems in our society arises from people having loads of wrong theories in their heads—often theories that are critical of others—that they won’t test by speaking to the relevant people about them. Instead, they talk behind people’s backs, which leads to pervasive misinformation. I learned to hate this because I could see that making judgments about people so that they are tried and sentenced in your head, without asking them for their perspective, is both unethical and unproductive.

This stood out as particularly relevant to our deep political schism of late. When you have subgroups calcifying around worldviews that haven't been stress tested outside of whatever microcosm they originated in, you end up with with large pockets of people subscribing to massively wrong ideas.

For anyone looking for the context, this is was written by Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater. It's more or less a thesis of his personal and management principles. An article about Dalio and Bridgewater was on the front page yesterday, where chollida1 posted the link to this site in his comment.

Also available in epub/mobi/audiobook https://principlesbydalio.com/

Please allow me to tell you the most important part of this "Principles." It is that we should each investigate and write down our own list. One that will evolve and change but we should have our own. Even a list of 10 guiding principles will do us good.

Now and then I like to revert back to first principles. The moment things become refined, elegant, or complex, is usually when I have to see the woods from the trees and apply first principles to it.

One principle I live by is minimalism. With technology it's easy for things to become rapidly complex. It's worth applying mindfulness to technology and seeing the results. Most of my solutions are easy solutions with no cruft, instead of complex solutions with bells and whistles galore.

Another principle I try to apply is doing one thing at a time, which ties into minimalism. It's so easy to fall into the trap of distractions and multitasking. I've trained myself over the years to cull distractions, and segmented my workflow into discrete single duty units of work. If I'm on Skype, then I'm on Skype, & I'm not checking my email or Twitter too. If I'm on Hackernews, then I'm just on Hackernews, and not lurking in Reddit too, etc. It seems obvious, but focusing actually requires training.

Virtualization has helped with this, and it's not uncommon seeing me spinning up a new VM for the sole purpose of video conferencing, and having an entire operating system just for Twitter, etc

My background is from the hedge fund investment side (though I have been programming since 1983 and have been increasingly involved in tech the past few years) and I have found these principles to be invaluable. I try to reread them a couple of times a year and in the past handed out copies to CEO and owner of the corporate partner of my startup fund.

There's a resonance here with Andy Grove's constructive confrontation and the kind of zero based idea they had about lines of business after realising mistake with memory vs cpu.

I think the main difficulties with it come from Dalio's insistence that everything is a machine - hunan beings, the family, the firm and the economy. I don't believe that is true - even code has an organic aspect to it, and firms are certainly organic.

And I think that shows in the difficulties he has with sustaining the principles as he steps away. If you read the comments on glass door, few complain about the principles but they do complain the principles aren't properly applied. So I think that's because he neglects the human aspect and if it's a cult if is insufficiently a cultus. (see TS Eliot).

Any approach can end up becoming a substrate for opportunistic and political behaviour. And most people aren't cut out for quite that level of directness.

But I learnt much more from Dalio than the stuff where I think he gets it wrong, and it's pretty powerful stuff because he has set out a coherent philosophy.

Charles G Koch has similar ideas about getting to the heart of things and bring critical. He says if a supervisor isn't being challenged by employees after a couple of years then he shouldn't be a supervisor - but the obligation is on both sides. See his books or YouTube interviews.

Ray Dalio's principles are sound but the issue is that Bridgewater (his hedge fund) takes them extremely literally. This has made them seem cult-like to people from the outside and has also given them an interesting retention problem. (My understanding is that most of their technology people don't last more than six months despite their incredible pay at 2x market.)

>their technology people

I wonder if yelling and berating others is less helpful when its a technical issue versus yelling and berating others when it's some soft skill issue

> 62 Look at what they were paid before and what people with comparable credentials get paid and pay some premium to that, but don’t pay based on the job title.

Sounds like a justification for low-balling your pay. If there is a large range for "comparable" credentials, and you have been underpaid at a previous job, you get ... still low pay.

I say this as a person who was chronically underpaid for much of my early career due to this.

You could blame me for not being aggressive, for not advocating for myself, for being unaware of what others made. And I do blame myself. Don't make the same mistakes I made!

But yeah, it is unprincipled to default to getting away with paying somebody on the lowest end of the scale just because you can get away with it. You can dress it up as "smart" or "principled" however you want, but it is still scummy. Low pay can stick to somebody for years, it takes forever to climb out of it because it takes a lot of relatively high percentage raises, during economic downturns.

There is a principle about being cheap somewhere too. Treat money like its your own.

> Principles are concepts that can be applied over and over again in similar circumstances as distinct from narrow answers to specific questions. Every game has principles that successful players master to achieve winning results. So does life. [...]

Do "ethical principles" fall in the same category?

I think the author is confusing principles for heuristics.

This made me think of Bret Victor's classic Inventing on Principle talk [0]. It was also broken up in similar 3 sections.

[0] https://vimeo.com/36579366

I've been on a fruitless pursuit to code a mobile application to model goals, values, problems, tasks, and their linkages. While I do enjoy journaling on paper, it's hard for me to organize over time. My app's called Experimentum on iOS if you care to check it out, it's free. I'd be very interested to hear anyone's take on this concept implemented as a mobile tool.

It is interesting that many HNers describe this work as incredibly valuable, whereas they would describe humanities and social sciences as subpar, when they offer better vision on the same topics.

In particular, Dalio's anthropocentrism towards nature, evolution and the convergence he establishes between such human concepts as good and evil and subjective perception of outcomes make his work look shallow and flawed.

Overall, I think that his document works more towards justifying his situation than explaining it. If anything, I would suggest reading Spinoza as much as possible rather than this.

The opening paragraphs of Spinoza's Ethics:

I. By that which is self-caused, I mean that of which the essence involves existence, or that of which the nature is only conceivable as existent.

II. A thing is called finite after its kind, when it can be limited by another thing of the same nature; for instance, a body is called finite because we always conceive another greater body. So, also, a thought is limited by another thought, but a body is not limited by thought, nor a thought by body.

III. By substance, I mean that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself: in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception.

IV. By attribute, I mean that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of substance.

V. By mode, I mean the modifications of substance, or that which exists in, and is conceived through, something other than itself.

... I mean, this kind of book is very hard work to even get a cursory grasp of, which might explain why many readers prefer clearly-explained contemporary texts by experienced people from their field of work.

> HNers would describe humanities and social sciences as subpar

Curious assertion -- is that true? I know I prefer to hire engineers with at least some humanities background.

I would not put all HNers in one basket, but I have noticed on topics about studies, and on several societal topics that there is a tendency in our community to put hard sciences to the pinnacle, and to overlook the benefits of humanities. The extreme manifestation of this phenomenon is, to me, the SV creed of engineers disrupting the society for the best.

I was lucky enough to have someone show me this, and now I try to spend a fair amount of my time educating myself not only in my field but also in philosophy, sociology, etc. I am happy to discover these now, rather than after a life of making things I would regret.

There are many good principles that come from social sciences and such. The problems are:

1. It's difficult to make a career in it unless you apply it in a non-traditional way. Many kids are often misled by that.

2. There is a lack of rigor, politics-under-the-color-of-science and experimental reproducibility problems in the humanities and social sciences, and it's the negative downside you have to look out for.

3. Postmodernism tends to be toxic and makes you ineffective. People repulsed by it go into more concrete things like STEM by instinct when they are young.

No, it is not true, there's just a fad going on to condescend about stereotypical HNers in a strawman fashion.

I definitely concur re: Spinoza whose work is still controversial and fundamental to what is regarded as "modern" thought. HN readers are likely to appreciate the logic of his work in its geometric proof form, though a number of translations are freely available on the web. Spinoza's Ethics was highly influential on philosophers and scientists of the subsequent centuries, Einstein among them as he openly acknowledged.

Humanities and social sciences are not subpar topics. But the actual execution is often, mmm, duboius and/or biased.

This probably holds equally for natural sciences, but these latter have the fortune of rather easier checking against reality.

Has anyone in this forum that runs a company or a team implemented these principals or a variant of them? I'd love to hear how it faired. I've worked at several companies that preach transparency, but always fail to follow through once political obfuscation seeps through.

Interesting stuff, and it was worth the read. I took some good ideas from it.

However, as I read it, I also wondered if his principles were used to test his principles.


This comment lacks context, however it isn't untrue. They view humans as automata that can be programmed to accept the views of the firms founder without questioning. On paper, questioning things is highly encouraged but in practice the entire thing is turned on its head and essentially used as a screening mechanism to find people willing to offer their life unconditionally to the so called social, economic and corporate governance experiment - hence the widely held perception of this being a cult. The recent article on AI is a testament to this thinking, at least in my view.

Maybe so, but this is the wrongest way to post about that here. It's all of uncivil, unsubstantive, and name-calling.

Instead, please make your point thoughtfully and substantively, or—if you don't want to do that or don't have time—just don't post anything. That has the desirable property of taking even less time.

Could you provide more information or evidence of your claim? A simple web link would be sufficient.

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