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A favourite business book - Principles by Ray Dalio

Interviewer: Just recently, you and I have been reading a couple of business books that we've both found useful. One is Principles by Ray Dalio. Can you give a flavor of what you got from this book and how it impacted on the way you’re doing business?

Kevin: I read Ray Dalio's Principles recently. It's quite a thick book and not everybody's cup of tea because it's thick and it's a bit off-putting. Ray Dalio, for anyone who doesn't know, is a Wall Street mega-rich broker. He's 70 now, and he does philanthropy, tea parties with Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. He's been incredibly successful. He advises the Chinese government. He's the guy who virtually invented hedge funds.

I thought to myself - He's written a book and this guy's been incredibly successful, phenomenally rich, but that just came because he was good at what he did. That's why he became rich, not because he just became rich. I thought, "I'm going to read this book," and I was also interested because Ray Dalio professes to do Transcendental Meditation. That means he thinks differently because people who meditate do think differently, and I respect that. That was an added boost. The guy's different, he's a bit out of the box. I'm interested in that.

The book tells you 10 principles of how to run your business better. It's really good, but one of the things that really stuck in my mind was he believes in radical open-mindedness. Now, what does that mean? It means forget hunches and listen more to what other people are telling you instead of thinking they're wrong and thinking ‘I know what they are going to say’. Listen to them and really discover what they're trying to say. Listen to the group that you work with. What are they trying to say to you?

Forget your own point of view because if you're honest with yourself -- let's say, if I'm honest with me, I've got loads of things right, but I've got loads of things wrong. The time when I got them wrong, I thought I was dead right. I know I'm not infallible and if you're a top person, you know you're not infallible, so Ray Dalio is saying be radically open-minded in listening to others, but he just doesn't say, "Listen," he said, "Every decision is going to be backed up by data."

Find the data. Find the proof. If the proof points in a different direction to you, take that direction.

Now, if you're a modern digital marketer, yes, you'll be looking at this all the time and looking for data as proof, but I'll guarantee you'll still have your own opinions and views. I speak to digital marketers quite often in various guises, and they say, "You must do this. You must do that." They're mantras in their business, and yet I found that quite often they don't work. They've become fixated. They've lost their open-mindedness. They think they're listening to the data when really they're listening to someone else's data five years ago. They're not necessarily current. So radical open-mindedness, back it up with data.

The other thing that he talks about is radical transparency, because the thing that goes wrong in organizations is everything gets siloed. By siloed, it means "We'll run our own departments" and we don't really share. Now, I'm not going to go into this topic a lot, but remember the word radical transparency, getting you and everybody to be completely open about what bothers them and including the things they won't admit, the things they may be embarrassed of admitting.

For instance, "Well, I don't like doing business with your department very much because you accidentally insulted me three months ago. I'm still holding a grudge."

That's the reality of people, but it never gets talked about in business. It just becomes a formal game of poker across the boardroom, and that's just playing poker. It's not transparency. It's opacity and you're not going to win if you're opaque.

Radical open-mindedness. Radical transparency. Back it up with proof.

That's why I love Ray Dalio.

Author Kevin Rossiter has been producing business video for 30 years, won 14 awards, worked in many countries around the World, and is a regular blogger on business video topics.

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