Michael Rubens Bloomberg / b. 1942 / Massachusetts, USA / Businessman, Co-Founder and CEO of Bloomberg, LP, politician, Mayor of New York City
Banks and Venture Capitalists
Banks and venture capitalists can be the worst enemies of entrepreneurs. They create doubt in entrepreneurs’ minds, with their insistence on detailed game plans before they lend. They want five-year projections in a world that makes six-month forward planning difficult, even for stable and mature businesses, and they insist on “revenue budgeting” when no one knows what the new product will look like or who’ll buy how much. And worst of all, they think an originator will be helped by their oh-so-insightful views on how he or she should run the new business. Often, they kill off what’s different, special, and full of potential.Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, revised and updated edition (2019).
Bloomberg on Bloomberg
Re: Bloomberg’s performance in college:
I was the one of those students who made the top half of the class possible.Reported by Clea Simon in “Bloomberg extols ‘moral leadership’ at Business School,” Harvard Gazette, harvard.edu, May 30, 2019.
We’ve been down that path before. Every year, the first $500 million of city sales tax revenue still goes to retiring Big MAC [Municipal Assistance Corporation] bonds issued to bail the city out from the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. And that dead weight of debt will burden the city budget through fiscal 2008.
No, we’re not going to repeat that mistake. I have read that history, and it’s not pleasant. Like all parents, I love my children dearly. I want to leave them: hope and opportunity, not our problems. We will not borrow our way out this time. I was elected to stand up and face the music now. And rest assured, I’ll do exactly that.Reported in “Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2003 State of the City Address,” gothamgazette.com, January 23, 2003.
And, as I would learn later on in my life—at Salomon Brothers and in my own company—it’s the “doers,” the lean and hungry ones, those with ambition in their eyes and fire in their bellies and no notions of social caste, who go the furthest and achieve the most.Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, revised and updated edition (2019).
Did I want to risk an embarrassing and costly failure? Absolutely. Happiness for me has always been the thrill of the unknown, trying something that everyone says can’t be done, feeling that gnawing pit in my stomach that says “Danger ahead”. Would it be nice not to have uncertainty, to sit back and “veg out”? When the phone rings constantly, when people keep demanding attention, when I desperately need time to myself, it seems an attractive notion just to “chuck it all.” But then nobody calls, nobody stops by, and soon I’m nibbling my nails and getting irritable, and I realize that’s not what I want. It sounds good. In reality though, I want action, I want challenge.Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, revised and updated edition (2019).
Every morning when we get up, we relish the day’s upcoming battles. They keep us alive, and they keep Bloomberg’s corporate family thriving. We can’t wait for tomorrow. Who says we can’t do that? What do you mean they’ll beat us? Have them put on their boxing gloves, and send them into the ring. We’re ready!Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, revised and updated edition (2019).
Those enterprises that see new needs and react more quickly, win!Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, revised and updated edition (2019).
If you have to compete based on capital, the giant always wins. If you can compete based on smarts, flexibility, and willingness to give more for less, then small companies like Bloomberg clearly have an advantage.Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, revised and updated edition (2019).
A better way to evaluate a company is to talk to the experts. No, I don’t mean journalists or analysts. I mean those who really know what’s going on and what the potential.Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, revised and updated edition (2019).
If you’re going to succeed, you need a vision, one that’s affordable, practical, and fills a customer need. Then, go for it. Don’t worry too much about the details. Don’t second-guess your creativity. Avoid overanalyzing the new project’s potential. Most importantly, don’t strategize about the long term too much.Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, revised and updated edition (2019).
When I saw that screen light up that day in the Merrill Lynch offices, I lost any residual doubt that Bloomberg could make it. We had picked just the right project. It was big enough to be useful, small enough to be possible. Start with a small piece; fulfill one goal at a time, on time. Do it with all things in life. Sit down and learn to read one-syllable words. If you try to read Chaucer in elementary school, you’ll never accomplish anything. You can’t jump to the end game right away, in computers, politics, love, or any other aspect of life.Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, revised and updated edition (2019).
Any friend of fossil is a friend of mine.Reported by Tim McLaughlin in “New York’s Bloomberg takes SUV to green car event,” reuters.com, June 14, 2007.
We’ve made New York the safest big city in the nation, in part by adopting tough gun laws and proactively enforcing them. Every state in the Union has citizens killed by guns coming from other another state, and every state is powerless to stop the mayhem. Until Congress gets tough on trafficking, guns will continue flowing to our streets from states with much looser gun laws.Speech, Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore; reported in “Mayor Bloomberg Delivers Opening Address at Johns Hopkins University Summit on Reducing Gun Violence in America,” nyc.gov, January 14, 2013.
The whole purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations, not to run away from them. A micro-aggression is exactly that: micro. But in a macro sense, one of the most dangerous places on a college campus is the so-called “safe space,” because it creates a false impression that we can isolate ourselves from those who hold different views. We can’t, and we shouldn’t try—not in politics or in the workplace. Graduates, in the global economy, and in a democratic society, an open mind is the most valuable asset you can possess.Commencement Address, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, April 30, 2016; accessible on youtube.com, posted May 24, 2016.
New York City
We’ve shown the world that New York can never be defeated, because of its dynamic and diverse population and because it embodies the spirit of enterprise and the love of liberty. And because no matter who you are, if you believe in yourself and your dream, New York will always be the place for you.Address, Republican National Convention; reported in “Text of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Speech at the Republican National Convention,” washingtonpost.com, August 30, 2004.
We’re the world’s second home, the place where every religion is practiced and every culture is celebrated.Address, Republican National Convention; reported in “Text of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Speech at the Republican National Convention,” washingtonpost.com, August 30, 2004.
New York State
Government by three men in a room has turned New York State into a national symbol of governmental dysfunction. Enough is enough!Reported in “Mayor Bloomberg’s 2007 State of the City address,” gothamgazette.com, January 17, 2007.
I don’t know if Bernie Madoff got his idea from there, but if there’s ever a Ponzi scheme, people say Madoff was the biggest? Wrong. Social Security is, far and away.Reported by Zack Budrick in “Bloomberg called Social Security a ‘Ponzi scheme’ as mayor,” thehill.com, February 26, 2020.
The key questions are more important than ever: What is the problem? How valuable is the solution? Can we provide it profitably? Where will our competition come from? When I started out with computers, I believed what the manufacturers’ promotional materials promised. I grew into a skeptical, non-trusting cynic, but one who believes more than most in the potential technology has to improve our lives. What I learned on the journey was that we are all humans, and technology exists to serve us, not the reverse. The challenge is to resolve people issues, not software ones.Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, revised and updated edition (2019).