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A peek inside one of the world’s most secretive hedge funds

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Most companies have mission statements that spell out the firm’s goals, strategies and details on its ideal corporate culture. Usually, they are a page or two long. Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates, the biggest and perhaps most interesting hedge fund in the world, has its own mission statement of sorts, called ‘Principles.’ It’s 123 pages long.

Bridgewater is known for its size, with well over $100 billion in assets, but also for its extremely unique culture, spearheaded by Dalio, who preaches “radical truth and radical transparency.” He gave a bit of a window into what that means on Monday during a talk with Bloomberg.

Dalio said that all conversations that happen within the company walls are recorded, and that all employees have access to those conversations. “I didn’t want to have spin,” Dalio said.

Bridgewater, which reportedly has an extremely high turnover rate, with one-quarter of new employees leaving within the first two years, is often called cultish for its brutally honest culture. Dalio compares the first 18 months at the Connecticut hedge fund to boot camp. “Some make it and some don’t make it. And so we call it ‘getting to the other side,’” he said earlier this year.

Bloomberg TV’s Stephanie Ruhle, to her credit, asked Dalio directly whether the firm has cult-like qualities. He refuted those claims, saying Bridgewater “is the opposite of a cult — everybody being able to have their own points of view and being able to work through them with thoughtful disagreement.”

That’s well put, though maybe whitewashed a bit. Bridgewater pushes the idea of a meritocracy where weakness of individuals are exposed and discussed publicly. “If you talk behind people’s backs at Bridgewater you are called a slimy weasel,” Dalio wrote in his manifesto.

So be transparent, bordering on blunt, but don’t act before educating yourself fully. “Don’t make the mistake of being a dumb s**t with a confident opinion,” he wrote in ‘Principles.’

“It’s not for everyone,” Dalio once said of the firm. Those who get to “the other side” do plenty well though.

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