Ray Dalio – Principles

Ray Dalio, is an American billionaire, hedge fund manager, philanthropist and founder of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates. He is listed in Bloomberg in 2018 as one of the world’s 100 wealthiest people alive.

His 2011, he self-published a book, Principles, a New York Times best seller which outlines his logic and personal philosophy for investments and corporate management and is based on a lifetime of observation, analysis and practical application.

In Principles, Dalio speaks of why he feels it is important to pass on the accumulated knowledge of his life by alluding to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

hero journey

Dalio points out that in Campbells analysis, heroes do not begin as heroes, they became them.  The hero undertakes trials, battles, temptations, successes and failures; they are assisted by allies and mentors and learn how to fight their enemies. They overcome their fear of fighting by the determination they have to achieve what they want and they achieve their special powers from battles they endures and from gifts received such as advice from others.

Heroes always experience one very big failure – an abyss or a belly of the whale experience – that tests their resilience to come back and fight smarter. They undergo a metamorphosis, and through this, they lose their fear. The heroes biggest reward however is the boon – the special knowledge of how to succeed, which upon returning home they are able to pass on to others.

 

In Ray’s analogy, everyone is a hero. Everyone who endures the battle and is willing to learn the lessons of the journey and the battle and to bring home, as he does so well, the boon of experience to pass on to others.

Save the Cat

Blake Snyder was a well known American screenwriter and theorist, and his book “Save the Cat” is a leading guide to writing for screen.  In it, he outlines several tricks of the story telling trade.

One strategy he outlines is for getting the audience to side with the protagonist early on. Featured in the title, Save the Cat!  it describes the manner in which the screen writer introduces the hero in an early scene doing something nice, for example, saving a cat. This creates a bond of empathy between them and the  audience. 

book

According to Snyder, the inspiration for this particular example, was the movie Alien, in which Ripley [Sigourney Weaver] saves a cat named Jones.

The contrast can be as powerful. For example, the opening montage of the TV series, House of Cards, features the  protagonist Frank Underwood, [Kevin Spacey] finding an injured and whimpering dog.

house of cards

He considers for a second, before strangling the dog and then calmly states:

Moments like this require someone who will act, do the unpleasant thing, the necessary thing.

This scene chillingly sets up his character and the whole trajectory of the TV series with its exploration of the intricasies of political ambition and power.  

Saving the cat, killing the dog,: such simple motifs connect the audience viscerally to characters through emotions of empathy or distrust.