Ray Dalio on Principles, Strengths and Weaknesses

I listened to Ray Dalio promoting his new book on Tim Ferriss’ podcast recently. I promptly bought the book, which must be one of my most highlighted so far.

Here’s Ray’s TED talk where he talks about building Bridgewater, (one of the most successful investment companies in the world), and some of the secrets behinds its success.


I love the way this guy thinks.

1 + 1 = 3

In the book, there’s a lot about building meaningful relationships, and working with people who complement your skillset. He talks about harnessing the power of others and how we can achieve so much more in partnership with others, than we can do alone.  It’s the classic 1 + 1 = 3 scenario that Michael Eisner goes on about in Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed.

Radical Honesty and Transparency

He also discusses Bridgewater’s commitment to radical truth and transparency.  People are encouraged to speak their minds and challenge each other on the premise that doing so produces better decisions and results. I read something similar in How Google Works by Eric Schmidt. To me that sounds great, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. Most people find it hard to be honest and upfront in a personal context, let alone a work environment.

Personality Tests

Bridgewater also gets everyone to take personality tests so that employees can be put in roles aligned with their strengths.

I’ve written about my personality type, (according to Myers-Briggs), and strengths, (according to Gallup), before. I’ve definitely found the knowledge useful.


Ray talks about the importance of knowing your weaknesses. If you don’t know your weaknesses, you can’t work on improving them, or on finding other people that can help, or compensate for them.

Which got me thinking about my weaknesses. I’ve asked friends and colleagues for feedback on this before. The problem with contracting is that most of my roles have been autonomous and temporary. Since most lawyers work alone, colleagues haven’t been that useful in providing feedback. Clients are better, but reluctant to criticise. Friends and Andrew haven’t been that useful, other than the obvious stuff, like I’m impatient, too honest, etc.

Anyway, it got me thinking whether I could access the full results of the Gallup Strengths test I took a while ago. Turns out I could.

Apparently my weaknesses are:

  1. Context – being more inclined to look toward the present or future than the past and to ignore historical context.
  2. Consistency – minimising the importance of rules and not believing that everyone needs to be treated the same; wanting to make exceptions for people due to individual circumstances.
  3. Deliberative – rushing into decisions without all the information or taking time to think through obstacles.
  4. Empathy – not being demonstrative in showing care for others or listening, (I can be abrasive and unforgiving sometimes).
  5. Intellection – not being introspective, reflecting and pondering; needing others to help talk through things.

The weaknesses are definitely accurate, and it’s been helpful reading Gallup’s recommendations for compensating for them. For example:

  1. Context – finding experts or people who have a history with the situation that can help explore and better understand situations/topics to gain perspective.
  2. Consistency – learning the value of having rules and policies to clarify what’s non-negotiable; clearly communicating guiding principles and intentions so that I’m not seen as unstable/uncertain; soliciting the opinion of others to help determine whether or not guidelines help accomplish a goal or provide meaningful direction.
  3. Deliberative – considering all information before I act; sleeping on important information and running it by others before making a judgment or moving forward.
  4. Empathy – demonstrating that I care about people; listening more to develop mutual understanding; spending quality time with people; thinking more about how other people may feel.
  5. Intellection – discussing and analysing topics with trustworthy friends who will help challenge my perspective and explore new ideas before implementing any plans, especially if I need a special level of clarity or depth of thought on a particular subject; help others understand that I’m willing to rely on intuition or make decisions based on limited processing time; building complementary partnerships to help evaluate decisions before implementing them.


Unlocking all of the results was useful. I previously only had access to my top 5 strengths, but it was interesting to see how I rate across the 34 skills. Here are the top 10:

  1. Positivity – being enthusiastic, energetic and upbeat.
  2. Activator – making things happen, turning thoughts into action (being impatient), getting things started.
  3. Futuristic – being inspired by, anticipating, and imagining visions for the future.
  4. Woo – connecting with others and helping people connect with one another; enjoying meeting new people.
  5. Focus – setting goals; being single minded and efficient; following through; staying on track and prioritising.
  6. Connectedness – being considerate, caring and accepting; building bridges between people and groups; believing that everyone is connected.
  7. Relator – finding deep satisfaction in working hard with those with who I’ve formed solid, genuine and mutually rewarding relationships that are close, caring and trusting to achieve a goal.
  8. Learner – having a great desire to learn and continuously improve; energised by gaining new knowledge and the process of learning.
  9. Achiever -constantly needing attainment; having the stamina to work hard; being busy and productive; having an innate source of intensity, energy and power to push hard to get things done.
  10. Responsibility – being dependable and committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty; feeling emotionally bound to follow things through and keep promises and commitments; working hard to fulfil responsibilities; conscientious and driven to do the right thing; impeccable ethics.

I think they’re fairly accurate. The Gallup material is useful, especially the recommendations on how you can make the most of your strengths. I’d recommend taking the test if you’re interested in your results.