Ray Dalio: How to Build a Company Where the Best Ideas Win (Transcript) |

Here is the full transcript of American billionaire investor Ray Dalio’s TED Talk: How to Build a Company Where the Best Ideas Win. 

Ray Dalio – American billionaire investor

Whether you like it or not, radical transparency and algorithmic decision-making is coming at you fast, and it’s going to change your life That’s because it’s now easy to take algorithms and embed them into computers and gather all that data that you’re leaving on yourself all over the place, and know what you’re like, and then direct the computers to interact with you in ways that are better than most people can

Well, that might sound scary I’ve been doing this for a long time and I have found it to be wonderful My objective has been to have meaningful work and meaningful relationships with the people I work with, and I’ve learned that I couldn’t have that unless I had that radical transparency and that algorithmic decision-making I want to show you why that is, I want to show you how it works And I warn you that some of the things that I’m going to show you probably are a little bit shocking


Since I was a kid, I’ve had a terrible rote memory And I didn’t like following instructions, I was no good at following instructions But I loved to figure out how things worked for myself When I was 12, I hated school but I fell in love with trading the markets I caddied at the time, earned about five dollars a bag


And I took my caddying money, and I put it in the stock market And that was just because the stock market was hot at the time And the first company I bought was a company by the name of Northeast Airlines Northeast Airlines was the only company I heard of that was selling for less than five dollars a share (Laughter) And I figured I could buy more shares, and if it went up, I’d make more money

So, it was a dumb strategy, right? But I tripled my money, and I tripled my money because I got lucky The company was about to go bankrupt, but some other company acquired it, and I tripled my money And I was hooked And I thought, “This game is easy” With time, I learned this game is anything but easy


In order to be an effective investor, one has to bet against the consensus and be right And it’s not easy to bet against the consensus and be right One has to bet against the consensus and be right because the consensus is built into the price And in order to be an entrepreneur, a successful entrepreneur, one has to bet against the consensus and be right I had to be an entrepreneur and an investor — and what goes along with that is making a lot of painful mistakes


So I made a lot of painful mistakes, and with time, my attitude about those mistakes began to change I began to think of them as puzzles That if I could solve the puzzles, they would give me gems And the puzzles were: What would I do differently in the future so I wouldn’t make that painful mistake? And the gems were principles that I would then write down so I would remember them that would help me in the future And because I wrote them down so clearly, I could then — eventually discovered — I could then embed them into algorithms


And those algorithms would be embedded in computers, and the computers would make decisions along with me; and so in parallel, we would make these decisions And I could see how those decisions then compared with my own decisions, and I could see that those decisions were a lot better And that was because the computer could make decisions much faster, it could process a lot more information and it can process decisions much more — less emotionally So it radically improved my decision-making Eight years after I started Bridgewater, I had my greatest failure, my greatest mistake

It was late 1970s, I was 34 years old, and I had calculated that American banks had lent much more money to emerging countries than those countries were going to be able to pay back and that we would have the greatest debt crisis since the Great Depression And with it, an economic crisis and a big bear market in stocks It was a controversial view at the time People thought it was kind of a crazy point of view But in August 1982, Mexico defaulted on its debt, and a number of other countries followed


And we had the greatest debt crisis since the Great Depression And because I had anticipated that, I was asked to testify to Congress and appear on “Wall Street Week,” which was the show of the time Just to give you a flavor of that, I’ve got a clip here, and you’ll see me in there (Video) Mr Chairman, Mr


Mitchell, it’s a great pleasure and a great honor to be able to appear before you in examination with what is going wrong with our economy The economy is now flat — teetering on the brink of failure Martin Zweig: You were recently quoted in an article You said, “I can say this with absolute certainty because I know how markets work” Ray Dalio: I can say with absolute certainty that if you look at the liquidity base in the corporations and the world as a whole, that there’s such reduced level of liquidity that you can’t return to an era of stagflation

” I look at that now, I think, “What an arrogant jerk!” (Laughter) I was so arrogant, and I was so wrong I mean, while the debt crisis happened, the stock market and the economy went up rather than going down, and I lost so much money for myself and for my clients that I had to shut down my operation pretty much, I had to let almost everybody go And these were like extended family, I was heartbroken And I had lost so much money that I had to borrow 4,000 dollars from my dad to help to pay my family bills It was one of the most painful experiences of my life

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