Principles - Ray Dalio

Principles - Ray Dalio

Video Book Summary

Download all of the Mind Maps here.

Book Summary Notes


“Before I begin telling you what I think, I want to establish that I’m ‘dumb’ someone who doesn’t know much relative to what I need to know."

"Whatever success I’ve had in life has had more to do with my knowing how to deal with not knowing than anything I know. The most important thing I learned is an approach to life based on principles that help me find out what’s true and what to do about it."

"I’m passing along these principles because I am now at the stage in my life in which I want to help others be successful rather than to be more successful myself. Because these principles have helped me and others so much, I want to share them with you. It’s up to you to decide how valuable they really are and what, if anything, you want to do with them.”

This passage is coming from one of the most financially successful people alive..

Running one of the most successful companies in modern history as well as being incredibly influential in my opinion makes Ray a great person to listen to when it comes too..

Accomplishing what we set out to do with our lives 

Becoming successful in almost any domain

Leading people and understanding how they tick

Inside this book we're going to learn as Ray describes it:

“Fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you want you want in your life. They can be applied again and again in similar situations to help you achieve your goals.”

These Principles if you learn and remember them are something you can fall back on during times of decision.  

They are aimed at making your life easier by learning from those who have come before you.  (Something that this channel is really all about as well). 

This book is HUGE and packed with a ton of amazing wisdom coming from Ray's life.. 

The book is part autobiography and part textbook! 

Really engaging and dense..  Of course I couldn't fit it all into one map!  This is one book i recommend you pick up and read.  

Big Goals + Fail Well

“I learned my principles over a lifetime of making a lot of mistakes and spending a lot of time reflecting on them." 

"Since I was a kid, I’ve been a curious, independent thinker who ran after audacious goals. I got excited about visualizing things to go after, had some painful failures going after them, learned principles that would prevent me from making the same sort of mistakes again, and changed and improved, which allowed me to imagine and go after even more audacious goals and do that rapidly and repeatedly for a long time."

"I believe that the key to success lies in knowing how to both strive for a lot and fail well. By failing well, I mean being able to experience painful failures that provide big learnings without failing badly enough to get knocked out of the game.”

The key to success is: striving for a lot and failing well.

Dalio on his own failures:

“Over the years that followed, I found that most of the extraordinarily successful people I’ve met had similar big painful failures that taught them the lessons that ultimately helped them succeed. Looking back on getting fired from Apple in 1985, Steve Jobs said, ‘It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.’"

"I saw that to do exceptionally well you have to push your limits and that, if you push your limits, you will crash and it will hurt a lot. You will think you have failed—but that won’t be true unless you give up. Believe it or not, your pain will fade and you will have many other opportunities ahead of you, though you might not see them at the time. The most important thing you can do is to gather the lessons these failures provide and gain humility and radical open-mindedness in order to increase your chances of success. Then you press on.”

The model of setting goals, failing, learning, improving and setting even bigger goals!

  • Quick note: this is a beautiful illustration.  Unfortunately the process can sometimes be more painful than this!

This to me is encompassed in a mantra I adopted: action creates clarity..

  • When we're setting goals we can never have all of the information..  It's literally impossible!
  • So we need to prepare for the fact that we're likely to fail along the way when setting goals.. 
  • These failures give us more clarity around what we're trying to accomplish.  Allowing us to improve our strategy, increase our resilience or find the right help.


“While making money was good, having meaningful work and meaningful relationships was far better." 

"To me, meaningful work is being on a mission I become engrossed in, and meaningful relationships are those I have with people I care deeply about and who care deeply about me."

"Think about it: It’s senseless to have making money as your goal as money has no intrinsic value—its value comes from what it can buy, and it can’t buy everything. It’s smarter to start with what you really want, which are your real goals, and then work back to what you need to attain them. Money will be one of the things you need, but it’s not the only one and certainly not the most important one once you get past having the amount you need to get what you really want."

"When thinking about the things you really want, it pays to think of their relative values so you weigh them properly. In my case, I wanted meaningful work and meaningful relationships equally, and I valued money less—as long as I had enough to take care of my basic needs. In thinking about the relative importance of great relationships and money, it was clear that relationships were more important because there is no amount of money I would take in exchange for a meaningful relationship, because there is nothing I could buy with that money that would be more valuable." 

"So, for me, meaningful work and meaningful relationships were and still are my primary goals and everything I did was for them. Making money was an incidental consequence of that.”

Money isn't everything might sound a little 'rich' coming from one of the worlds 100 wealthiest people.. 

But I think there is a lot we can learn here about the things we chase in life!

  • Most of us spend our lives working towards something..  
  • What Ray is really saying here is Stephen Covey's being with the end in mind..  
  • Figure out what is important to you and make that the thing that you're working towards!  Don't let money be your de-facto measurement. 

Do you know about Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that essentially means 'reason for being' and I think it's a good illustration for living 'the good life' and close to what Ray is talking about. 

When I first learned about Ikigai.. 

I was in the position a lot of people find themselves in.. 

Successful business with a high (relative) monthly income!

Hitting a wall mentally an emotionally where I realized I wasn't in love with the work anymore..  

Someone I hold pretty dearly introduced me to the concept of Ikigai..  

Since that day I've been using my Entrepreneurship skills to build a life full of Ikigai for myself!  Instead of using money as a measuring stick as I have in the past.  


“Then I spoke with proven shapers I knew—Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Reed Hastings, Muhammad Yunus, Geoffrey Canada, Jack Dorsey (of Twitter), David Kelly (of IDEO), and more. They had all visualized remarkable concepts and built organizations to actualize them, and done that repeatedly and over long periods of time." 

"It turns out they have a lot in common."

"They are all independent thinkers who do not let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving their audacious goals."

"They have very strong mental maps of how things should be done, and at the same time a willingness to test those mental maps in the world of reality and change the ways they do things to make them work better."

"They are extremely resilient, because their need to achieve what they envision is stronger than the pain they experience as they struggle to achieve it."

"Perhaps most interesting, they have a wider range of vision than most people, either because they have that vision themselves or because they know how to get it from others who can see what they can’t. All are able to see both the big pictures and the granular details (and levels in between) and synthesize the perspectives they gain at those different levels."

"They are simultaneously creative, systematic, and practical."

"They are assertive and open-minded at the same time. Above all, they are passionate about what they are doing, intolerant of people who work for them who aren’t excellent at what they do, and want to have a big, beneficial impact on the world.”

What traits can we learn from Dalio's 'Shapers'?

First we must recognize that they all have a few specific traits in common..  Let's name them!

  • Independent Thinking
  • Experimental
  • Resilient
  • Wide Vision
  • Creative
  • Practical
  • Open Minded

How might we be a little more like these shapers?

  • I believe we all have these traits already within us..  But these people for whatever reason are great at leveraging theirs! 
  • Below we're going to list some journalling questions you can use to identify these traits within yourself and amplify them to help you be successful.. 

Trait Journaling Questions:

Independent Thinking

What do you believe that others don't?

What are 3 ideas you think could change the world?


When was the last time you did something that made your nervous?

What test can you run right now to test something on your mind?


Reflect on a time that you endured something and were rewarded?

Who is someone you admire for their resilience?

Wide Vision

What are 3 industries outside your career that fascinate you?

Can you find 3 people outside your field who you think are geniuses?


Come up with 10 ideas!  What for?  Anything. 

Write 3 pages of anything!  Don't let the pen step. 


How could you make $10 extra by the end of the day?

Where are you losing energy and how could you fix it?

Open Minded

Name someone you disagree with!  

What is something you've changed your mind on in the last 3 months?


“Learning how reality works, visualizing the things I want to create, and then building them out is incredibly exciting for me."

"Stretching for big goals puts me in the position of failing and needing to learn and come up with new inventions in order to move forward."

"I find it exhilarating being caught up in the feedback loop of rapid learning—just as a surfer loves riding a wave, even though sometimes it leads to crashes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still scared of the crashes and I still find them painful. But I keep that pain in perspective, knowing that I will get through these setbacks, and that most of my learning will come from reflecting on them." 

"Just as long-distance runners push through pain to experience the pleasure of ‘runner’s high,’ I have largely gotten past the pain of my mistake making and instead enjoy the pleasure that comes with learning from it. I believe that with practice you can change your habits and experience the same ‘mistake learner’s high.’”

Falling in love with failure, mistakes and LEARNING!

Often when we're starting something new we're afraid to fail..

  • I don't think that's the wrong thing!  In fact that little bit of fear and stress about failing probably makes us better..  
  • The problem is not the fear it's the paralysis that sometimes comes along with it!

Learning to embrace failure, fear and the need to learn new things is the key here.. 

  • Failure gives us the most information.. 
  • Fear gives us motivation.. 
  • Learning let's us become better!

But how do we overcome fear and learn from failure?

  • First I think there has to be a little 'push the bird out of the nest' but it doesn't have to be from the top of the tree!
  • Identify something small you can do to 'experiment' (remember that?) 
  • This gives us the ability to shrink the fear, get momentum and fail small so we can immediately learn!

Some examples:

Thinking of making a YouTube video: write a script and read it out loud! 

Thinking of starting a new business: get someone to pay you a dollar for what you'll do!

Wondering if a career change might be right for you: ask to shadow someone who does the job for a day!

5 Steps

“It seems to me that the personal evolutionary process—the looping I described in the last chapter—takes place in five distinct steps. If you can do those five things well, you will almost certainly be successful."

"Here they are in a nutshell:"

1. Have clear goals.

2. Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of your achieving those goals.

 3. Accurately diagnose the problems to get at their root causes.

4. Design plans that will get you around them.

5. Do what’s necessary to push these designs through to results.”

Do you want to evolve as a person?  Follow these five steps!

What are these five steps?  Really they are a model.  Something to follow to make success more likely.

  • This model is favoured by Ray and I think it's a very good one..  
  • Actually it's similar to a model we've read in another book.
  • WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacles and Plan) comes from Rethinking Positive thinking and I recommend you check that out!

Let's get a little clearer about each of these with resources. 

  • What is your number one Goal right now?
  • What problems are you facing in relation to that?
  • Diagnose the problem.  What specifically isn't working?
  • Design a solution to that problem.  What's the plan?
  • Get out there and do it!

Here are my five steps:

  • Continue to impact people through my YouTube channel.  Aiming for 10,000 Subscribers by the end of the year. 
  • Channel growth is a little slower than it needs to be to hit the goal. 
  • I believe that retention isn't high enough on my videos resulting from lower quality output.
  • Double the time I put into a video and focus on helping people vs trying to sell coaching services.
  • Here I am!  One of the most in depth videos I have done on the channel with my heart and soul on the line. 


“The concept of artificial intelligence is not new. Even back in the 1970s, when I first started experimenting with computerized decision making, it had already been around for nearly twenty years (the term ‘artificial intelligence’ was first introduced in 1956 at a conference at Dartmouth College). While a lot has changed since then, the basic concepts remain the same."

"To give you just one ultrasimple example of how computerized decision making works, let’s say you have two principles for heating your home:"

"You want to turn the heat on when the temperature falls below 68 and you want to turn the heat off between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

"You can express the relationship between these criteria in a simple decision-making formula:"

"If the temperature is less than 68 degrees and the time is not between 5:00 a.m. and midnight, then turn on the heat. By gathering many such formulas, it’s possible to create a decision-making system that takes in data, applies and weighs the relevant criteria, and recommends a decision.”

Learning how to make decisions..

Ray Dalio made a lot of his money with AI.

  • He integrated a ton of historical data with artificial intelligence and that helped him and his firm make decisions on investments..
  • Now most of us probably can't learn a ton from that as we're not in the same field!  But what can we learn?

First I think we can learn that history is important.. 

This isn't just history on a grand scale (although that's important too) but your own history.. 

Things like:

  • How you perform under pressure.. 
  • How you feel when you eat a certain way..
  • What time of day you work best..

These are all important things to know about YOURSELF and make sure you record them so we can use them..

Second I think we can learn how simple AI really can be and the way we can use it in our own lives..

  • Again in 'Rethinking Positive Thinking' Gabriele talks about IFTT (If This Then That)..  
  • Ray says here that if our thermostat goes over a certain number we need to turn on the AC and vice versa..  
  • Basically AI is a really complex multi chain IFTT statement..  

How can we combine these two concepts?

  • Well..  Using our own history of we can create IFTT statements for ourself!
  • For Example: If I feel pressure to perform I will excuse myself and try deep breathing for 2 minutes.. 

I will continue to only eat when i'm satisfied and not full..

I will get up at 5am each day and get directly into creative work as that's when i'm at my best..

This is how we can use the power of History + AI in our own lives..

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