Every hedge fund has its own unique company culture. Dealbreaker recently looked at one of the more distinct ones, namely Bridgewater Associates. Founder Ray Dalio allegedly makes employees memorize more than 200 key principles that are “culture carriers” for the firm. Staff are strongly encouraged to use and quote from the principles in meetings and emails, for the educational benefit of all.
Among them: “Be the Hyena.” Meaning that when a pack of hyenas takes down a baby wildebeest, it’s all part of the natural order of things. It isn’t bad or sad. Death is part of life and integral to the natural ecosystem. Failure (death) is also essential for the evolution of the wildebeest, in fostering the species’ natural process of improvement.
Survival of the fittest is a big part of the Bridgewater culture. Dalio’s principles stress how everyone in the firm is evolving together. And the faster the pace at which they can evolve plays a big part in the firm’s success.
Darlio encourages employees to embrace this sort of “hyperrealism” and “hypertruth.” In other words, to see the world as it really is – not as you would like it to be. It’s a bare knuckles culture where people can’t hide from their mistakes.
Another principle states: “Never say anything about a person you wouldn’t say to him directly. If you do, you’re a slimy weasel. Badmouthing people behind their backs shows a serious lack of integrity … Next to being dishonest, it is the worst thing you can do at Bridgewater.”
What’s your experience? Have you worked at a hedge fund with a particularly unusual culture? Has it ever been codified in writing, or was it simply something you had to absorb as you worked there? Let us know in the comment section below.