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13 books billionaire investor Ray Dalio says you should read to understand today's world and lead a fulfilling life

Published by Business Insider on Tue, 18 Feb 2020


Ray Dalio is the co-CIO and chairman of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund.Dalio often express concerns over political and wealth inequalities, and he urges people to gain an understanding of today's world through books.The billionaire investor is a voracious reader, sharing classic reads ranging from "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" by Paul Kennedy to "Beyond Religion" by the Dalai Lama.Business Insider compiled a list of 13 books based on Dalio's recommendations throughout the years.Click here for more BI Prime stories.Billionaire investor Ray Dalio is known for his "principles" on everything from power dynamics to calling for "reform capitalism" in America.He authored a best-selling book, "Principles: Life and Work," which elaborates on his core philosophies and the lessons throughout a more than 40-year careerfrom building the world's largest hedge fund to now passing on what he's learned.Dalio draws inspiration from more than just his own ruminations. He's fond of reading and scouring through interviews, and he's often vocal about turning to books for advice.Whether you're a college student trying to figure out your next steps or an experienced investor looking for a career boost, Dalio recommends that you find answers and glean meaning from these 13 books.SEE ALSO:Ray Dalio says anyone who wants to understand today's world should read a 32-year-old book about empires'The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers' by Paul KennedyDalio thinks this is an important read for today if you're looking to better understand the hegemonic shifts between the US and China. He told Business Insider in a 2019 interview it's the best thing he'd read.Author Paul Kennedy tracked the arc of world powers since 1500 and drew parallels in how leaders rise and fall over five centuries. Each power mentioned in the book fell due to over-investment in military spending and a lack of attention toward other aspects of society like education and income inequality.Dalio noted that the US could face a similar predicament if leaders don't treat inequality as a "national emergency," Business Insider reported. Dalio read this book to understand where we are in historypredicting that US power will eventually decline while China expands."That dynamic has happened many, many times in history," he said, "and understanding that well, I think is very important."Get it here 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' by Joseph CampbellJoseph Campbell's 70-year-old mythology book helped Dalio process and reframe his business and personal failures, he told Business Insider."The Hero with a Thousand Faces" outlines the phases of a hero's journeyit shows how many mythologies, folk tales, and religious narratives follow a similar story structure, including a call to adventure, a descent into the underworld, and a comeback into society.Dalio's son Paul gave him this book in 2014, and he immediately identified with it, he wrote in his book. The Bridgewater chairman used Campbell's roadmap of a hero's journey to understand where he is along that path, and what he should do next.Get it here "The Lessons of History' by Will and Ariel DurantIn "Principles," Dalio described "The Lessons of History" as a 104-page distillation of the major forces through history.The book was published in 1968 by a Pulitzer Prize-winning husband-and-wife duo that studied thousands of years of Western history. This work tracks the cycles of history, and Dalio writes that it shows "how the same things happened over and over again throughout history."Get it here 'An Unquiet Mind' by Kay Redfield JamisonIn his book, Dalio wrote that his son Paul struggled to manage his bipolar disorder for three years. Dalio came across Jamison's "An Unquiet Mind" while seeking answers to better understand his son's battle with mental illness. His personal experience taught him that many mental differences are physiological."The experience not only taught me a lot about how brains work but why creative genius often exists at the edge of insanity," Dalio writes in "Principles." He then lists creative, productive people who have bipolar disorder, including Kay Jamison, the author of this book.Jamison "has written frankly about her own experiences with the disease in her book 'An Unquiet Mind,'" Dalio writes.Get it here 'River Out of Eden' by Richard DawkinsIn an episode of Tim Ferriss' podcast, Dalio said hethinks evolution is "the greatest force in the universe."In "River out of Eden," author and biologist Richard Dawkins drew similarities between DNA-coded information and computer language, in which we are all "survival machines" looking to carry on our genetic makeup and the "database" we carry."I think the purpose of everything is to evolve," Dalio said in the podcast. "I think individuals are just vessels for our DNA evolving."Get it here 'Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World' by Adam GrantAdam Grant of the Wharton School has written extensively about Bridgewater and the unique way Dalio runs it.In "Originals," Grant focused on how leaders can build on their ideas and how to fight groupthink. He gave examples of individuals who experienced success after challenging a norm or approached a business decision in an unusual way.Grant was one of a number of behavioral psychologists who went to Bridgewater to evaluate their operational style and concluded that Dalio's "unusual" leadership style was necessary to its growth.Get it here 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' by Daniel KahnemanKahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in economics, breaks down human thought into two systems: the fast and intuitive "System 1," and the slow and deliberate "System 2."His book brings an awareness to when we can and can't trust intuition, and how can make the best choices professionally and personally. The author added we are easily influenced by our surroundings and often automatically respond to things without much filtering."Thinking Fast and Slow" lays out the framework of cognitive biases that affect our everyday behavior, from halo effects to planning fallacies.Get it here 'Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World' by the Dalai LamaIn his book, Dalio reminisced about a conversation he had with the Dalai Lama about the overlap between spirituality and religion."His view was that prayer and meditation seemed to have similar effects on the brain in producing feelings of spirituality (the rising above oneself to feel a greater connection to the whole)," Dalio wrote, "but that each religion adds its own different superstitions on top of that common feeling of spirituality."Get it here 'Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life' by Sam Wang and Sandra AamodtThis is the first book listed in Dalio's bibliography in "Principles."Coauthors and neurologists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang outlined brain processes and addressed common questions we've probably all thought of.By offering explanations to random questions like whether drinking alcohol kills cells or whether a head injury can make us forget our names, "Welcome to Our Brain" serves as a myth-dispelling guide on how our brain works.Get it here 'Einstein's Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius' by Hans C. OhanianThe title "Einstein's Mistakes" by Hans Ohanian is really as on the nose as it sounds. Dalio read this book in 2011 and explained that reading the analysis of Albert Einstein's failures taught him to learn from his mistakes rather than being stuck on them.Einstein's pitfall, according to Ohanian, is that people gifted with a genius mind naturally have a more difficult time believing or accepting that they're wrong. They become blind to their mistakes, and if they are stubborn, cling to a mistake forever without correcting it.Get it here 'My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey' by Jill TaylorThis New York Times best-seller was included the bibliography of "Principles." It describes how a brain scientist's stroke 24 years ago led to her enlightenment.Though it took eight years to fully recover from the impairment in the left hemisphere of her brain, Taylor wrote that the stroke led to greater access to her intuitive right brain, where she felt "well-being and peace."Get it here 'The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds' by Michael Lewis"The Undoing Project" by Michael Lewis delves into the partnership between Daniel Kahneman (whose book "Thinking Fast and Slow" also appears on this list) and Amos Tversky, two psychologists who pioneered the field of behavioral economics. Despite having drastically different personalities, Kahneman and Tversky worked together and developed a fruitful partnership.Lewis explored the workings of the human mind in looking at how people with fundamental differences can still become great collaborators.Get it here 'The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class' by Edward ConardDalio has voiced his concerns about the state of America, and said that inequality is an urgent problem. According to Dalio, inequality should be treated as a "national emergency," and this book explores the nuances of inequality as it relates to the middle class.In "The Upside of Inequality," author Edward Conard argues that the success of the world's top 1% can push upward pressure on employment rates in the US. He tracks data on the American economy and proposes that a good way to bridge income gaps involves training and retraining talent to fit relevant jobs in today's day and age.Get it here
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