I’ve decided I need to get to know Ray Dalio after all.
Although he’s unlikely to take a personal meeting with me, the founder of Bridgewater Associates is too intriguing to ignore. For starters, Bridgewater is sort like the ultimate B2B company, managing wealth for a number of large institutional investors. More specifically, however, Dalio recently published his first book, called simply Principles, in which he outlines how he managed to outwit so many others and avoid the worst of the 2008 recession.
When I was given Principles recently as a gift, I was told I could probably ignore the first 150 pages or so. Then, as I started it, Dalio said much the same thing. He has organized the main section of his advice on decision-making into “Life Principles,” which address things we need to think carefully about in our everyday lives, and “Work Principles,” which address ways to create the kind of corporate culture and results that are a hallmark of Bridgewater. Initially, though, Dalio includes a section called “Where I’m Coming From,” which he admits is a reluctant attempt at autobiography.
“I have mixed feelings about telling my personal story, because I worry that it might distract you from the principles themselves,” he writes. “For that reason, I wouldn’t mind if you decided to skip that part of this book.”
Fine by me, I thought — that means fewer of the more than 530 pages I need to wade through. But then, as I began to learn Dalio’s thoughts on what he calls “believability weighting,” I kept feeling like I was missing something. I flipped back to the beginning and landed instantly on an interesting factoid: that one of the books Dalio gives others is Joseph Campbell’s seminal study of mythology, The Hero’s Journey.
Everybody wants to identify with the hero in a story, and for leaders like Dalio, the ideal is to be the hero who successfully overcomes great obstacles. You can’t really park the humanity that’s involved in that story, though. Particularly when leaders accomplish extraordinary things, their personal quirks, foibles and idiosyncrasies are what help us see bits of ourselves in their otherwise intimidating images.
The heroic leadership in many B2B organizations might only be known to its employees, other firms in the same industry and its partners. The personal journeys that turn such leaders into heroes of their stories may be even less visible. We need more than the occasional personal anecdote in a keynote speech or a CEO’s blog post to get at the human ingredients that contributed to great success.
This month, we’re going to try and get at some of those stories in our coverage on B2B News Network, while also providing resources to make you a better B2B leader, even if you don’t yet have the job title to back it up. This includes an overview of the major events where you can pursue self-development, our list of the top 20 influencers in B2B in 2018, an exploration of the expanding number of “chiefs” in the C-Suite and more.
As Dalio says in his book, “When you know what someone is like, you know what you can expect from them.” Our leadership stories aim not only to provide that, but to help everyone in our audience get a better sense of what they could expect of themselves.