Monday, June 21, 2010

The Hyena and the Wildebeest

An article in the paper caught my eye the other day. It was about Ray Dalio, the founder of one of the world's largest hedge funds and the philosophy on which he runs his company.

The firm runs on a set of 295 principles that Mr. Dalio distributed to all his employees. He calls his philosophy hyper-realism, drawing on lessons of the natural world.

One of his most eye-catching principles is "Be the hyena. Attack the Wildebeest... Like the hyenas attacking the wildebeest, successful people might not even know if or how their pursuits of self interest helps society, but it typically does."

Another principle is "There is nothing to fear from truth.... Being truthful is essential to being an independent thinker and obtaining greater understanding of what is right."

Apparently, at Mr. Dalio's company, being truthful "also requires a bit of ruthlessness," according to the article.

One employee admitted he found the truthful policy difficult, because colleagues were encouraged to critique his ideas and drill into his weaknesses. "I would go home defeated every day," he said.

Reading the article, I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to run a company on Al-Anon principles.

What if, rather than "Be a Hyena," the principle was "Live and Let Live" or "Let Go and Let God."

And I have nothing against the speaking the truth. But what if the guiding principle was "THINK." That before we opened our mouths to speak, we took a minute to think about what we were going to say and asked ourselves if it was not only True but also Honest, Intelligent, Necessary and Kind?

What if no one went home feeling defeated by his or her colleagues?

I'm not sure that company would become one of the world's largest hedge funds. Maybe to be successful on Wall Street requires a bit of the hyena. But maybe making money isn't the most important thing. If we were to run this company on Al-Anon principles, we'd ask ourselves the question, How Important Is It?


  1. Interesting the different principles each person lives by. And works by. And loves by. If, as you say, people would think before they speak, maybe there would be less suicides, less depression, less physical ills, and more energy and more unity. One word. Think. Think. Think.

  2. I think that a business run by the 12 steps and traditions would be a success of a different kind. And, really, isn't success all relative?

  3. As I recall, the traits and tactics Mr. Dalio uses are the ones I used to stay loaded, and the ones my dealer used to keep me in line.

    Off the top of my head, I think the Steps are about recovering, and the business world is about domination. N'er the twain and all that.

    Good food for thought.

  4. THINK: True, honest, intelligent, necessary and kind.

    Wow, very cool. Thanks for sharing that!

  5. The No Asshole Rule is a good book to read. It is along the lines of why it's important to not let asses disrupt morale in the work place. I don't want any hyenas working with me. Thanks for this.