Principles

Life and Work

This week’s book summary is Principles by Ray Dalio.

Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the fifth most important private company in the United States (according to Forbes), does a stellar job in laying out his Personal History (for context), Life Principles, and Work Principles. I highly recommend this book to all business leaders. It is full of great business advice, leadership advice, personal advice, and practical application.

My takeaway from this book are the 16 Work Principles that Dalio describes in detail in the book (listed below for your reference):

How to Make Your Customer a Hero

Everybody wants to be a hero! We all want to be the shining star that our family, friends, peers, industry, and customers look up to!

However, to be that hero, a business leader must take a counterintuitive step backwards and become a supporting character.

Our customers do not want to hire a hero, they want to be the hero!

The best thing we can do for our businesses and careers is to make the customer the hero. In doing so, we will accelerate our business and career and, in a round about way, become heroes ourselves!

What does this supporting character look like? Well, Luke Skywalker would never have succeeded without Yoda by his side to equip and guide him. James Bond would have died in his first movie if Q had not outfitted him with state of the art gear. This theme repeats over and over again in movies, comic books and in real life!

No great leader has ever risen to the top without being supported and guided along the way by a cast of supporting characters. We all have teachers, mentors, coaches, and advocates in our personal and professional journeys that have shaped us into who we are today. This applies to world leaders, business people, innovators, athletes and entrepreneurs. It applies to Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, and to you, me and our customers!

So, how do you become the supporting character and make your customer the hero?

How To Build a Powerful Performance Review System That Works

By many accounts, Ray Dalio is a very successful person. He is most well known for being the founder and the driving force of  Bridgewater Associates, which Forbes calls “the fifth most important private company in the United States.”

However, what many people don’t know about Dalio is that he is the creator of some amazing systems that, among other things:

  • Measure performance
  • Spur innovative thinking
  • Motivate people to develop and grow
  • Position businesses for success

He credits much of his personal and business success to the creation and implementation of these systems.

One of these systems is for employee performance management. Although performance reviews are typically the bane of every employee and manager’s existence, Bridgewater has created an engaging system that gets beyond many of the pitfalls of traditional performance assessments.

Acres of Diamonds

Think Big Things and Then Do Them

This week’s book review is Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell.


Conwell was a war hero, lawyer, businessman, educator, orator, minister, and visionary who is probably most famous for founding Temple University and for his trademark lecture “Acres of Diamonds.” This book is a transcript of the lecture along with a biography of his life and a commentary of the impact he has made on the world before his death in 1925.

The central point of the Acres of Diamonds lecture is that we do not need to look in exotic places to find business opportunity. Business opportunities are all around us. All we need to do is change our focus to looking at the needs of society and the people around us . . . If we strive to serve their needs, business opportunity will present itself!

My takeaway from this book are these three statements from Conwell’s lecture:

What is the Recipe for Powerful and Effective Meetings?

According to a University of North Carolina cross-industry study cited by HBR in their Stop the Meeting Madness article, 71% of senior leaders said that meetings are unproductive and inefficient.

In addition to this, they said that meetings:

  • Keep them from completing their required work (65%)
  • Come at the expense of deep thinking (64%)
  • Miss opportunities to bring the team closer together (62%)

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