I f you grew up in an ordinary, middle-class neighborhood on Long Island, proceeded to found an investment firm out of your apartment in NYC, and went on to make more money for your clients than any other hedge fund in the history of the industry, you would assume there was something uniquely special about
IS IT POSSIBLE TO ALIGN BUSINESS WITH VALUES?
you, right? Not according to Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates and one of the most successful — and influential, as 2012’s Time magazine attests — men in the world. He’ll be the first to tell you that there’s no secret to his genius. Just open his book and memorize the 200-plus “Principles” he honed over
This CompanyThinks So
A number of high-profile businesses have made the news recently for their values-based decisions. This kind of decision-making brings up an interesting question: Can you promote your values through the way you do business? Take Row 7, a seed company founded by Dan Barber, a chef; Matthew Goldfarb, an organic seed grower; and Michael Mazourek, a professor of plant breeding and genetics. By cultivating a new brand of seeds that are grown for flavor, the company wants to change the way we think about food. Row 7 hopes they can produce seeds that will grow into produce that grocery stores like Walmart will carry. The three men care a lot about food and how it’s grown. The first episode of Netflix’s “Chef ’s Table” follows Barber from farm to table as he hand-selects the ingredients he’ll be cooking with for that evening’s dinner. Traditionally, seed companies develop seeds with adaptability in mind, such as a potato that can be grown in Idaho and on the East Coast. They cultivate breeds with the furthest reach and highest profit margins — it’s a one-size- fits-all approach. With this method, you can get seeds that will grow anywhere, but you may not get much flavor from their produce. Think of the watery, flavorless tomatoes you often find on sandwiches or burgers at fast-food restaurants. Row 7 hopes to change the status quo by developing seeds that burst with flavor and nutrients. By collaborating with chefs and farmers, Barber hopes to cultivate the flavorful foods that people want. Row 7 targets an audience of people who enjoy good-tasting food — in other words, all of us. The company hopes to capitalize on intrepid farmers who’ve been overlooked by the large seed companies and work with them to breed plants for flavor. Row 7’s seeds are all organic and have not been genetically modified. Not only will these plants add much-needed biodiversity back into the seed world, they’ll also grow into more nutritious food. “The goal of the company is not only to increase the flavor of vegetables, it’s to look at how we, as chefs, can change the culture of eating,” says Barber. We’ll have to wait and see what Row 7’s success looks like, as the company was only unveiled this year. Row 7’s goal to change the food culture in America is not in conflict with their goal to be in Walmart, and that’s pretty radical.
his career. Dalio believes these are the real reason he stands in such a prominent position today. Trust in Radical Truth and Radical Transparency Since its publication last year, Dalio’s book has risen to No. 5 on Amazon’s charts, become a No. 1 New York Times best seller, and been touted as revolutionary by some of the most successful businesspeople of our time. It’s a thick volume of just under 600 pages but nonetheless compelling. Dalio’s dedication to the idea of openness in all things is evident through the organization of his life’s work into a detailed and actionable program. Recognize How to Get Beyond Disagreements Dalio’s transparency extends to creating an open forum for disagreement. In an earlier 2011 draft of Dalio’s “Principles,” he wrote of the importance of “creat[ing] an environment in which everyone has the right to understand what makes sense and no one has the right to hold a critical opinion without speaking up about it.” employees describe “public hangings” of those who don’t rigorously follow Dalio’s rules and meetings that sometimes stretch for hours due to disagreements about a single item on the agenda. But Dalio argues that creating this fluid back-and-forth is a vital component of a healthy organization. Systematize the Decision-Making Process Aside from his trademark transparency and sometimes brutal honesty, “Principles” has one thread that runs through the whole book: Everything can and should be boiled down and understood with a simple system. By acknowledging how reality operates, you can transform your business and achieve clarity in every aspect of your life. From the outside, it might seem that such an uncompromisingly honest vision would create problems. After all, Bridgewater
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