Ray Dalio is a very successful hedge fund manager and business owner having built his business Bridgewater into a multibillion dollar fund over the last 40 years. Now that he is getting close to retirement he is publishing a couple of books explaining his life and work principles, hence the name of this book.
The first 3 hours of the audiobook documents his journey to date, his highs and lows and provides the foundations for then later explaining the reasoning behind each of the few hundred guiding principles he lives by. Through this first section there is a lot of humble bragging and blowing his own trumpet. This may be very common place in our social media world where people put out content just for likes but it does come across quite arrogant at times in this book and unnecessary. Dalio admits he is putting out this book so that he can share his knowledge before then being able to concentrate on enjoying life in his retirement, having made more money than he knows what to do with. So I don’t see the need for all the bragging about how repeatedly he was the only person to spot impending crises before they occurred and all the celebrity name dropping.
The second section then builds on the history presented in section one delving deeper into why he made the decisions he did and how on average his decisions have worked out so well. This results in him presenting his work and life guiding principles so that others can try to follow a similar path to his. Section 3 then elaborates on how those principles can be applied within a business.
There is no doubting that the principles themselves presented within this book are anything short of excellent. Dalio has clearly relished learning from both his successes and his failures and carefully analysed both situations over many years. Anyone aspiring to do well in life could do much worse than following many of the principles presented here. However I cant really say that I have hugely enjoyed listening to this book for a couple of reasons. To me it feels like it has been written as 3 separate books, his life, his life principles and his business principles, then the three sections have been put together in one book. This means that there is a lot of unnecessary repetition and ultimately a book much longer than it needs to be. And the second reason I didn't like (is quite a superficial one I admit) is that for some reason Dalio has chosen to only narrate about half of the book himself and then hand off to someone else to read the rest of his text. No clear reason is given for why he has decided to do this and it makes the book feel poorly produced.
If you have an interest in the life of Ray Dalio then you may like the first section. If you want to try to build a business based on the foundations of an idea meritocracy then section 3 could be very useful to you. Otherwise I would probably just recommend you save yourself many hours of reading or listening and just find one of the numerous summaries available online for the key messages. Otherwise if you really do want the whole book look here: https://amzn.to/2HJcdqF
Dr Chris Harper