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Sydnee Gatewood
Sydnee Gatewood
Articles (3566) 

Ray Dalio Commentary: Why My Transition Is a Dream Come True

From the Bridgewater Associates founder's LinkedIn blog

February 24, 2021 | About:

I have gone through a 46 year long arc of creating a company, building it, and passing it along to be successful without me that was like the life arc of having a child, raising the child, and watching him or her go on to be successful without the parent. As I approach the end of this journey of being like the parent of Bridgewater and passing it to the next generation, I reflect back and imagine what's ahead with great joy. The journey, while filled with challenges, mistakes, and painful moments, has given my partners and me what we wanted most—most importantly the meaningful work and meaningful relationships with those who work at Bridgewater and with our clients.

I thought it would take me about two years to transition my leadership responsibilities, but I also knew that transitioning a founder-led company to the next generation is famously one of the hardest business management moves there is to pull off. One of my principles is "If you haven't done something at least three times successfully, don't assume you know how to do it successfully," so I planned it to take me up to 10 years to transition. Sure enough, that's about what it took us to go through our trial and error process and fall forward to where we now are. Four years ago (in 2017) I was able transition out of the CEO job and, because of that success, I am now able to watch Bridgewater's beauty happen with little or no dependence on me.

I can do that because of the great culture and leadership that are intact. That is because of 1) the devotion to our way of operating with each other and our clients and 2) the talents of my partners who now run Bridgewater. They include Dave McCormick (a remarkable CEO who has been a partner for more than ten years), my co-CIOs Bob Prince and Greg Jensen (who have been my investment partners for 35 and 25 years respectively), and many other extremely talented and devoted long term partners who are stepping up and are bound together by our culture of meaningful work and meaningful relationships. Of course this is happening with constantly evolving other changes like bringing into the investment and management teams new senior and skilled people and accommodating some others moving on. While I will remain part of this wonderful community doing my researching and investing, and I will remain chairman for a bit, I am mentoring others rather than running the company and joyously watching other great people succeed. It is a joy for all of us.

So here I am at 71 having completed the first two phases in my life and transitioning into the third phase in the way I had hoped. Through my experiences I have learned a lot about transition, mostly from making some painful mistakes, so I plan to pass along some principles about it that might help others. If you're interested in hearing me describing this transition journey during a recent Bridgewater company meeting about management changes that David McCormick described in an earlier post, you can in this clip.

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