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A scene from Ray Dalio's new animated series about his management principles.
Bridgewater
Ray Dalio and his Bridgewater colleagues seeking truth.
RADICAL RANGER RAY

Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio turned his management principles into an animated adventure show

By Leah Fessler

Ray Dalio has one of the biggest names in the hedge fund world and an estimated net worth of $14.6 billion. But the founder and co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates doesn’t want you to see yourself as being much different from him. ”Whatever success I’ve had in life hasn’t been because of anything unique about me,” he states in his 2017 book Principles: Life and Work, “it’s because of principles that I believe anyone can adopt.”

The 600-page manifesto on Bridgewater’s notorious, radically transparent culture documents Dalio’s personal journey from middle-class golf caddy to multi-billionaire investor. Read it in full, and you may take his humility with a grain of salt. 

Following the book’s release, Dalio received multiple requests to condense the management lessons of Principles into a more digestible form. A fan of acting on feedback, he did exactly that. This month, he released an eight-episode “ultra mini-series adventure,” called Principles for Success. The animated videos, with a run time of roughly three to four minutes each, are free to watch and available on YouTube, much like How The Economic Machine Works, Dalio’s half-hour animated adaptation of Bridgewater’s economic principles. 

“Many said the concepts in [Principles] have been invaluable to them, which is gratifying to hear since sharing approaches that can help others is the main reason I published the book,” Dalio said in announcing the animated series. ”The episodes are designed to be easy to pass along. When someone encounters a particular challenge in their lives that a particular episode addresses, you can share it with them. Or you can just send the whole series along, as I’m doing for this year’s [college and high school] graduates.”

As a former Bridgewater employee (I worked there for a year), I was intent on seeing whether some of the 209 principles I memorized could truly translate to cartoon form.

My review of the project, in short: Hilarious, but also good.

There’s something absurd about seeing Dalio transformed into a cartoon park ranger who dispenses wisdom while eagerly narrating his own life story. But the delightfully simplistic animation grows on you as Ranger Ray wades through the (literal) rivers and jungles of life, stumbles over rocks, ascends a diamond-topped mountain, spirals downward (in episode four, “The Abyss,” Dalio recounts his disastrous bet on an economic depression that never came, which nearly cost him his firm), and then rebuilds Bridgewater into the firm we know today (which in the cartoon world, it must be said, is far more gender-diverse and racially diverse than in reality).

The videos are succinct, but Dalio’s voiceovers comprehensively impart the essence of Bridgewater, from the importance of “knowing what you don’t know” and adopting machine-like thinking, to following Bridgewater’s five-step problem-solving process and handling the threats of ego and blindspots.

Below are my favorite quotes and screenshots from the series. If you’re fascinated by the idea of radical transparency, the creation of feedback culture, or the making of a brilliant if self-reverent billionaire, I suggest you watch in full.

“Principles are smart ways of handling things that happen over and over again in similar situations.”

Dalio wading through the river of life.

“Unless you want to have a life dictated by others, you need to decide for yourself what to do, and you need to have the courage to do it.”

A hefty predicament.

“The quality of your decisions will determine the quality of your life.”

Bridgewater
So many choices!

“Truth is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes. By truth I don’t mean anything besides the way the world works.”

The two biggest struggles.

“We progress forward until we encounter setbacks. Whether or not we get out of them and continue forward or spiral downward depends on whether or not we’re willing to face the failure objectively and make the right decisions to turn the loop upward again.”

Get Out of the loop.

“[I’m] a hyperrealist, by which I mean someone who has discovered the great rewards of deeply understanding, accepting, and working with reality as it is, and not as I wish it would be.”

Reality can be painful.

“I needed to replace the joy of being proven right with the joy of learning out what’s true. This need prompted me to seek out the most thoughtful people I could find who disagreed with me.”

Bridgewater teammates seeing life differently.

“The things we are struggling for are just the bait. Struggling itself forces us to evolve, and it is this struggle toward personal evolution that is the reward.”

The Bridgewater formula.