This Billionaire Investor Bet Big On Meritocracy (Here’s How He Did It & Why You Should Too)

  • Ray Dalio has quite the resume. He’s the world’s most successful investor and the founder of Bridgewater Associates (one of the largest hedge funds in the world). You can also find him at the #66 spot on Bloomberg’s list of the world’s 100 wealthiest people. In this episode of Seeking Wisdom, we dig into what Ray says is the secret behind his success – creating an idea meritocracy.
  • David Cancel (Drift’s CEO, aka DC) can’t stand people with a sense of entitlement, sycophants, or mercenaries. So when DC founded Drift, he took a page out of Ray Dalio’s book  and set out to build an idea meritocracy – a company where the best ideas always rise to the top.
  • In a meritocracy, advancement is based on performance. So whenever new team members start at Drift, DC says everyone has to “start over,” no matter who they are or their level of experience. That way, newcomers understand from early on they are in a performance-based culture that values delivering results.

You can get Seeking Wisdom on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Listen to the full audio version below 👇 or keep scrolling for more insights from DC and DG.

This time around on Seeking Wisdom, DC and DG are talking about politics.

Just kidding.

But DC does drop some knowledge on political philosophy. More specifically on the subject of meritocracy.

First thing’s first – here’s a definition from Wikipedia:

Meritocracy is a political philosophy which holds that certain things, such as economic goods or power, should be vested in individuals on the basis of talent, effort, and achievement, rather than factors such as sexuality, race, gender, or wealth. Advancement in such a system is based on performance, as measured through examination or demonstrated achievement.

Along with Ray Dalio, DC says he was drawn to meritocracy because he was a troublemaker as a kid. He was the kid who always questioned authority figures (you know the one). A lot of the people he considers role models (from growing up and into the present day) are people who have challenged the status quo. Because these role models – who include The Notorious B.I.G., The Ramones, Anthony Bourdain, Albert Einstein, Colin Kaepernick – have all inspired movements despite their ideas not being widely popular at the time. Their ideas rose to the top based on merit. For DC, this is what it means to have diversity in the workplace.

“When we talk about diversity in the workplace, what I think about and what I strive for is equality. So regardless of someone’s gender, color, age, experience – the best ideas will always rise to the top. And those ideas are the ones that will be rewarded. And that’s the kind of environment we want to create.”

Fun fact: Those role models I just mentioned are all depicted in the brand new Drift Studio where we record Seeking Wisdom 👇

Drift Seeking Wisdom Studio

So at Drift, DC set out to build a meritocracy where people can get ahead based on the following three factors: loyalty, harmony, and results.

Drift Meritocracy

Loyalty is straightforward enough. It’s putting the success of your customers, your company, and your team before your own personal success.

When it comes to understanding harmony, DC says all you have do is look for those people within your company whose desks have the most traffic. He calls these people “amplifiers” because they amplify the harmony of the workplace.

And that brings us to results. According to DC and DG, delivering results is the easiest of the three qualities to measure. In fact, they say because it’s so easy to measure, it’s often the make or break deciding factor for culture fit at a company.

So when you combine these three factors – loyalty, harmony, and results – you’ve got yourself a recipe for a meritocracy, a place where people are measured (and rewarded) based on performance. DC says:

“If you have someone with high results, high loyalty, high harmony, then that’s someone who you want to invest heavily in. You want to be creating new opportunities for them. The ideal is someone who’s strong across all those. And very few of us are strong across all of those. But that’s what we strive for.”

For more on meritocracies, DC and DG recommend reading Principles: Life and Work, by Ray Dalio.

There’s a lot more insights from DC and DG in the podcast. Listen to the full episode at the link below.

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Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with DC and DG on Twitter @dcancel @davegerhardt.

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