Read the news and you’ll quickly see it’s a tough time to be a billionaire. Democratic senators are proposing considerable tax increases for the super-rich. In The New York Times, there are calls for banning billionaires. Even Bill Gates said, “It is fascinating that for the first time in my life, people are saying, ’Okay, should you have billionaires?’”
Ray Dalio is not trying to escape public scrutiny, rather he’s working to shape it. For now, he has avoided scrutiny, shedding the stereotypical image of the mercurial billionaire in favor of business philosopher and life coach.
We analyzed Ray Dalio to find out how he has been able to build and maintain such a unique personal brand.
The billionaire thinker
Ray Dalio became a billionaire by building the biggest hedge fund in the US, Bridgewater Associates. He became known outside of the investing world in 2011 after he published a 7,500-word manifesto outlining the principles that brought him success.
In 2017 he published Principles, a book that expands on the manifesto. The 500+ pages contain Dalio’s approach to business and life. The book became a #1 New York Times Bestseller and was praised by the likes of Bill Gates, Tony Robbins and many others.
Principles cemented his status as an unconventional thinker. He became part of a handful of other billionaires such as Warren Buffet that mix extraordinary financial success with a coherent life philosophy.
For now, it seems positioning oneself as a “billionaire thinker” and offering wisdom is the path that will help them become more embraced by the public.
Dalio knows how to receive media attention
Media coverage of Ray Dalio has transcended finance publications. It is extensive and mostly positive. Media outlets publish his views on a wide range of topics including finance, gold, meditation, success, capitalism, and current events. He is seen as a thought leader and an unequivocal expert.
He also knows how to get the media taking. In April 2019, he was on 60 Minutes talking about wealth inequality and how capitalism should be “fixed.” Of course, public criticism of capitalism by a self-made billionaire is an irresistible story for journalists.
But he goes beyond that. Dalio most likely understands that CEO activism is important for business success. As a billionaire, he also knows that his perspective on inequality grants him the acquiescence of many Americans and most mainstream media. Ray Dalio is, or at least appears to be, a billionaire who understands the proverbial man on the street.
Interest in Ray Dalio shot up after he published his book “Principles” in September 2017. Also, notice the massive leap on April 2019 after his interview on 60 minutes where he spoke of the need to reform capitalism.
Ray Dalio creates massive value
Bridgewater has made more money for its clients than any other hedge fund in history, according to Fortune magazine. His clients at Bridgewater have received tremendous value. However, he is also providing value outside of his company as well.
A 28-year-old crypto entrepreneur shelled out $4.6 million to have lunch with Warren Buffet. There are of course more frugal ways to learn from billionaires. Ray Dalio for instance, offers free education on his social media channels.
His YouTube channel, with over 200,000 subscribers and millions of video views, contains videos such as “Principles of Success (In 30 minutes)” voiced by him. The comments sections are flooded with appreciation. His Twitter and LinkedIn content offers a peek into the workings of Bridgewater Associates. He recently launched a free app, called Principles In Action, which includes self-assessment quizzes, animated cartoons, career advice, and even a PDF of his book.
His content is well structured and follows a cohesive online media strategy. It’s clear he has a team dedicated to this. The effort he puts into his content demonstrates he recognizes the power of communicating directly with the public.
A spiritual billionaire
Ray Dalio is a practitioner of transcendental meditation. He says the daily practice allows him to think more clearly and creatively when making decisions. What’s more, he claims that meditation helped him overcome financial ruin and was the most important reason for his success.
Dalio uses meditation to reflect on his mistakes and to clear his mind to make better decisions in the future. “When the pain passes, don’t just go forward, reflect, because that’s where your progress is,” Dalio told Business Insider.
Meditation also influenced the inception of his principles since it shifted his mindset from thinking that he’s always right to instead asking himself, “How do I know I’m right?”
While the number of adults who practice meditation grows in the US–from 4% in 2012 to 14% in 2017. It doesn’t hurt Dalio to be such a strong supporter of the practice. Meditation boosts his thinking and philosophizing billionaire brand.
Ray Dalio has built a great brand reputation
Ray Dalio has built a massive platform and a well-groomed personal brand. He has mastered digital tools, became a thought-leader, and has a positive relationship with the media. He has built a brand that adds value, instills confidence, and keeps people tuned-in to what he has to say.
Increasingly, the public expects leaders in the public eye to become champions of thought and activism. We will most likely see other leaders emulating Ray Dalio in the future.
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