Safe Systems President Darren Bridges always has the best suggestions for professional development resources, so we decided to introduce “Darren’s Corner” so that everyone can benefit!

Featured Book for June:

“Principles” by Ray Dalio

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This month in Darren’s Corner, we will take a look at “Principles” by Ray Dalio. Dalio is an American billionaire and hedge fund manager, who founded the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, in 1975. Throughout the process of founding Bridgewater, originally starting in Dalio’s apartment, he came up with a set of principles to guide him both personally and professionally.

Although there are many important concepts in “Principles” for the reader’s personal and professional lives, I will focus on three main takeaways that stuck with me:

  • Leadership
  • Higher Level Decision Making
  • Building Culture and Teams


Our brains are designed to believe what we want to be true rather than what is actually true. As hard as you may try, nobody is able to truly see themselves objectively. Being a good leader looks like having the courage to confront your own weaknesses, along with making the hard choices that this recognition requires. On the journey to becoming a good leader, you must learn to blame only yourself for bad outcomes, rather than dumping the blame on someone under your leadership. As time goes on, your processes and decision making will evolve, leading to consistently better results.

Higher Level Decision Making

Dalio shares several interesting views on high level decision making throughout his book. In order to make high level decisions, one must spend time diagnosing the issue at hand. It is critical to focus your energy on what is happening before dedicating your energy to finding the solution. A better understanding of the problem will end up leading to a better result. Once a problem is identified, it is of utmost importance not to tolerate it. Dalio states that there is value in surrounding yourself with believable people who are also willing to disagree. Disagreement among evidence-based individuals often leads to better solutions than those that are created by a team of people who look at everything the same way.

Building Culture and Teams

When it comes to critical decision making, paying close attention to team members’ track records is key. Most people will pretend to operate in the best interest of the team when in reality, they are making decisions based solely on their own interest. It is extremely valuable to find the people who are truly there to work as a team. Regularly take the temperature of each person who is important to you and the organization. The people who make up an organization determine the kind of culture it has, and the culture determines the kinds of people who will fit in. Your organization should strive for a culture where it is okay to make mistakes, but unacceptable not to learn from them. Operating within a healthy company culture will allow your team to bring problems and disagreements to the surface, while enjoying the process of solving them well.

In summary, Ray Dalio’s “Principles” offers a road map for structuring your personal and professional life in a way that fosters healthy relationships, boundaries, and practices. On the journey to structuring your life with these key principles, you will discover a better way to work more efficiently within your organization.

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