20 things my cancer taught me about lobbying

Ray Dalio writes in “Principles” about his diagnoses with cancer. In Chapter 3, ‘Be Radically Open-Minded’, he writes about after being told he had a few months  to live, he was finally given the all clear.

He writes about how he got through that experience, and how he deploys many of the models in the practices at Bridgewater Associates.

This struck a personal cord. I am one of the lucky ones to have survived leukaemia. Through the wonders of modern science, a world class Belgium medical system, and a very generous stem cell donor in Germany, I am alive today.

The experience also reminded me a lot about lobbying, my chosen trade, and how I learned a lot through my treatment.

I list 20 observations. The last 4 are from Ray Dalio.


20 things cancer taught me about lobbying


  1. Don’t ignore the symptoms
  2. Don’t kid yourself. When you are feeling exhausted for a reason. There is a reason for it.
  3. If you ignore the symptoms for too long, you increase the chances of starting the treatment too late.
  4. Late stage intervention and treatment is more painful and less successful than if you started treatment in the early stages.
  5. It is better to have your affairs in order. Ray Dalio’s firm would have operated without him.
  6. Ask for experts to diagnosis you.
  7. Ask for 3 sets of experts and not just the one to recommend the best treatment.
  8. The risks associated with treatment are large.
  9. The risks of not taking decisions and not being treated are often fatal.
  10. Ignore good news merchants. You simply need the truth and what you are going to hear you are unlikely going to like.
  11. Conserve your energy and focus on just surviving the treatment.
  12. The treatment is long, really unpleasant and painful. Just realise the alternative is far worse.
  13. If you are lucky and live there are side effects. Some are visible and others are not. Rejoice and deal with it. The alternative is worse.
  14. If you survive, take every step to avoid remission.
  15. Sometimes, there is nothing you did to get cancer, it just happens.
  16. Plan for the worst-case scenario to make it as good as possible.
  17. Be willing to look for other opinions – be open minded and not closed minded.
  18. Even experts make mistakes.
  19. Be radically open minded and triangulate with smart people.
  20. Push for the opinions of others.