I listened to a cracking long play podcast by Tim Ferriss recently featuring Ray Dalio. If you haven’t heard or aren’t familiar, Ray founded Bridgewater Associates, one of the largest private hedge funds on Wall Street. Ray grew up in Queens in a modest house. Dad was a Jazz player and mum a homemaker, he made his first investment on the stock market when he was 12. Little did anyone know Dalio would end up with a net worth of over $17 Billion…

I’m a bit of a sucker for an entrepreneurial story, I think I might have digested them all. From my first taste of Branson’s – Screw It Let’s Do It to my latest can’t put down read; Shoe Dog by Phil Knight how Nike was born and became a behemoth. So when I noticed Dalio did a podcast with Ferriss I knew I had to consume that too.

One thing that amazes me with these stories is how ‘normal’ they’re. They’re all so practical, there’s no real secret sauce that of course you wait for. There isn’t often a glamorous rise to the top and there sure as hell isn’t money falling off trees and success from day one. Ray couldn’t recall a ‘high’, Ferriss really probed him to recall a moment where he could reflect on the success and he really struggled. He just about strung together that winning the Kodak account was big news and a sign they were finally on the right track…hardly breathtaking. However he does recall the losses, vividly. He can recall what went wrong, why it went wrong and how he learned from his mistakes. Again not exactly revolutionary but great to know it’s about the failures and reflection, not the wins and celebration that brought the overall success.

Dalio is also an avid practitioner of TM (Transcendental Meditation) a deep meditation lasting around 20 minutes performed twice per day. This keeps him level and largely unemotional in times of massive highs and significant lows. He’s passed it on to his son who openly self-manages Bipolar and finds it has helped calm the behavioural swings. From a disastrous night in an LA hotel, his son, Paul Dalio is now a well known film director having brought Bipolar to global attention and helped millions understand it better with the awesome film Touched With Fire.

It’s a great podcast full of learnings but one thing stuck a real chord and I thought sharing it may help define in a succinct way why we often go through times of ‘unhappiness’ in our careers. Ferriss asks Dalio; “If you were to look at intelligent people who are unhappy, what are the primary causes of this unhappiness?” (please note this was in context of non-clinical disorders, the conscious state of ones primary feeling). His answer was succinct and on point. Dalio said it goes back to the notion of ‘meaningful work and meaningful relationships’ and there being almost no link between intelligence and happiness nor money and happiness. The highest correlation is ‘community’…am I part of something, do I feel connected? If you have meaningful work, if you’re on a mission AND you can foster meaningful relationships he argues its almost impossible not to be ‘happy’, in other words you don’t need the material stuff we fill our houses and garages with, nor do you need the fakery friendships that we seem to cling on to. Just real straight up relationships with the work you do and the people you do it with. He argues this is true for any of life’s scenarios be it your family or other.

When I look back on the jobs I’ve had and now founding Amadeus Group, it couldn’t be more accurate. I’ve sometimes had one without the other and at times none of them at all…especially when you go for the pay packet! But it’s meaningful work we are striving for, its a community of likeminded people we are aiming to grow because when all is said and all is done our legacy will be human connection and the lives we touched along the way.

I hope you’re in a moment of meaningfulness (if that’s a word) and are feeling connected. If you’re not, perhaps it’s time to make a quick assessment on these two simple yet complicated principles and see if you can take a leap of faith to obtain them in the not to distant future.