Billionaire investor Ray Dalio is widely regarded to be the embodiment of the American Dream. In 1975, working out of his small NYC apartment, he founded an investment firm called Bridgewater Associates. Over forty years later, the company has grown into one of the world's largest hedge funds with approximately $160 billion in assets under management. For his industry-changing innovations and global influence with policymakers, Dalio has been called the "Steve Jobs of Investing."
Notably, the finance king has also made the 100 Most Influential People by TIME Magazine list, and Bloomberg Markets' ‘50 Most Influential People’ list. In addition, Dalio has a strong track record of philanthropy, including his commitment to the pledge made by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates that promises to give more than half of their fortune to charitable foundations within their lifetimes. Through his Dalio Foundation, the finance king has directed millions of dollars in donations to the David Lynch Foundation, an organization that sponsors and promotes research on Transcendental Meditation. As one of the richest people in the world, his estimated net worth is over $18 billion.
A self-described ordinary kid and less-than-exceptional student, Dalio barely made it into college because of his poor high school grades. But after a stellar undergraduate career at Long Island University, he managed to gain acceptance into Harvard's prestigious MBA program. In 1971, between college and graduate school, he worked as a clerk on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. He spent this time learning about the currency market, including the dynamics of price and news releases. The following summer, while everyone else was interested in currencies and stocks, he got a job trading commodities at Merrill Lynch. When he returned to his MBA classes, his formerly obscure specialty had become a hot topic. Thanks to Dalio’s experience in commodities and his MBA from Harvard, he became highly sought-after employee.
These days the world's most successful hedge fund manager finds himself returning to his alma mater in Cambridge, bearing the fruits of his many years on Wall Street. In 2018 alone he showed up on Harvard's campus for several different events. In February, Dalio visited the Belfer Center to explore his use of history with scholars in the Center’s Applied History Project’s Faculty Working Group. The Dalio brainstorm session expanded the Harvard team’s outlook by exploring the ways in which financial analysts in the private sector can apply insights from market history to add value to investment strategy.
A month later he was addressing an oversized audience at the Kennedy School for Government on the importance of humility and thoughtful disagreement in these times of political divisiveness. To the chagrin of some, Dalio expressed opinions on a wide variety of topics including the economy, the Trump presidency, and the intellectual climate on campus. Significantly, Dalio lamented the fact that the "purely thoughtful disagreement" he enjoyed as a Harvard student, didn't appear to be as readily available these days on the campus of his beloved alma mater.