Mike Bloomberg in "Bloomberg by Bloomberg," by Mike Bloomberg

On Corporations: Given $10M upon being fired from Salomon Brothers in 1981

So there I was, 39 years old and essentially hearing, "Here's $10 million; you're history." One summer morning, the managing partners told me my life at Salomon Brothers was finished. On Saturday, Aug. 1, 1981, I was terminated from the only fulltime job I'd ever known, and from the high-pressure life I loved. This, after fifteen years of 12-hour days and 6-day weeks. Out!

For a decade and a half, I'd been an integral part of the country's most successful securities trading firm, even of Wall Street itself. Not just in my head. If my press was to be believed, in everyone's. Suddenly, though, needed no longer. I was a general partner. An owner rather than an employee. Nevertheless: Fired!

The Salomon Brothers Executive Committee had decide to merge the 71-year-old partnership with a publicly-held commodities trading firm, Phibro Corporation. For 63 of us, it was our last meeting as Salomon partners.

Of course, there was the $10 million I was getting. America's a wonderful country.

Source: Chapter 1 of "Bloomberg by Bloomberg," by Mike Bloomberg Aug 10, 2001

On Principles & Values: Started Bloomberg company after Salomon Bros. fired him

[Upon being fired from Salomon Brothers in 1981], if they'd said, "We have another job for you"--say, running the Afghanistan office--I'd have done it in a second. Was I sad on the drive home? You bet. But, as usual, I was much too macho to show it. And I did have $10 million in cash and convertible bonds as compensation for my hurt feelings.

I ordered a sable jacket for my wife, Sue. While I was never embarrassed to say that I'd been fired and was now running a small start-up business, I'm tougher than many others (or, perhaps as a psychological defense mechanism, I have convinced myself not to care what others think). But I was worried that Sue might be ashamed of my new, less visible status and concerned I couldn't support the family/ A sable jacket seemed to say, "No sweat. We can still eat. We're still players."

On my last day of work, September 30, 1981, I picked up the jacket. Sue was delighted. Next morning, I started Bloomberg, the company. The rest is work in progress.

Source: Chapter 1 of "Bloomberg by Bloomberg," by Mike Bloomberg Aug 10, 2001

On Corporations: Built up a $1.3B company from scratch over 20 years

It had been 20 years since we started the company--refugees from Wall Street motivated by an idea that we could build something new that just might make a difference in the world of money and investing. We were too young and too insignificant for anyone to warn us then that we were crazy to think we could create a company that could challenge the giants of financial media. So we didn't hesitate. Within a year, we had our 1st customer and 5 years later, our 1st overseas office. By 1989, our annual sales were approaching $100 million and there were now more than 400 of us selling a machine that had a small, growing following.

We added magazines, radio, and television--all tethered to the 24-hour machine--that made us unique as a multimedia company catering to the people with the most at stake. We were never satisfied and that drove us to work harder and build more. By May 1997 we were able to install our 75,000th Bloomberg computer terminal, bringing our annual sales to $1.3 billion.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p. v Aug 27, 2001

On Free Trade: Open borders for trade encourage entrepreneurship

America really is the land of opportunity and home to more start-up enterprises than any other country. In this country, banks, venture capitalists, and stock exchanges are all accustomed to funding new ideas. The United States has a culture that prizes innovation, its social hierarchy is built around merit, and it rewards the risk taker. Open borders for trade, publicly funded research, and favorable tax laws encourage entrepreneurship. The results speak for themselves: greater job creation, higher equity values, a diverse and constantly improving selection of products for us as consumers.
Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p. 61-2 Aug 27, 2001

On Crime: Too much news radio is "all crime, all the time"

We bought a New York City radio station, WNEW, 1130 Kh on the AM dial. Our programming would be an extension of our other news coverage: politics, diplomacy, lifestyles, science, business, markets, the economy, war and peace. We would not do sensationalism. Our general standard would be: If I wouldn't want my children listening to it, it's not suitable for us to broadcast. Those wanting "all crime, all the time," the staple of much news radio, could go elsewhere.

We started day one by ignoring the fundamentals of conventional radio: no murder and mayhem, no prima donnas. Gone were the breathless on-the-scene reporters stumbling over the usual banalities, the self-important producers, and the separate on-air anchor talents whose only talent was reading others' copy and whose egos never got quite enough massaging.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.115 Aug 27, 2001

On Corporations: Open physical plant at Bloomberg Press encourages creativity

I know little about book publishing and take zero credit for either its initiation or success at Bloomberg Press--except that I did institute the system where new ideas and the best people get together.

The leverage we gain from employing creative people and letting them do their own thing is incredible. Our open physical plant encourages innovation, and our flat management structure guarantees a well-functioning meritocracy. Fortunately, for us, others do it differently. Typical company politics elsewhere stifle the most free-thinking employees and discourage risk taking. The accounting oversight in most corporations prevents trying in a year the diverse creativity we institute in a month. Thank goodness. We've got enough competition as it is. Of course, not everything we try works.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.122-3 Aug 27, 2001

On Technology: Technology makes our jobs different but more productive

[On Bloomberg News], some technology lets us do things just not possible manually: for example, reporting from all over the world, even when communications are poor. Digital transmission gives us perfect fidelity no matter from where we're broadcasting.

We prepare our broadcasts, turn our voices into data, save the data just the way print is stored, and have the computer air the programs off the hard disk while we go on to the next story. Instead of voicing our stories several times during a 2-hour rotation, we do it automatically. The computer, not our valuable people, wastes time doing the repetition.

When we first started, people challenged the notion that a computer would compete with a "live" person. Today, old-line practitioners feel threatened. Technology makes our job different but more productive and more interesting. Technology frees us to do more creative work. Technology is responsible for the employment of more and more people, not fewer and fewer.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.126-7 Aug 27, 2001

On Corporations: Making change in difficult, in companies or technology

At age 28, I was finding out an eternal truth: making change is difficult. I was fighting the interdepartmental computer wars. In every organization, each group wants its own automation needs filled independently--a "we need it now" issue. Separate development, being more limited, is much faster. Each department fights to go it alone, pick its own computers, write its own programs, collect its own data, hire its own consultants.

In short the history of computing, this process has played out repeatedly. Users get tired of the formal information-processing department. Those faceless bureaucrats want justification for spending money on hardware. They insist on setting priorities other than "all of the above."

From the old big mainframes, to limited-function, distributed PCs, to centrally managed networked resources, no one's ever satisfied except the hardware manufacturers. For users, it's politics, not engineering. For the vendors, its sales. For me at Salomon Brothers, it was a nightmare.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.137-9 Aug 27, 2001

On Education: No computers in early grade school

Look to our schools for more of technology's failed promises. Every parent wants his or her child to be computer literate. We all believe those without PCs in elementary school are doomed to a life of poverty and illiteracy, so we spend millions to equip classrooms with computational abilities and Internet access. The results? For all purchases of computers in the classroom, our children don't read as well as before, have a worse sense of historical perspective, know less geography, and possess fewer mathematical skills.

Are we using technology as an excuse not to teach how to think and how to work with others? Is the money spent on hardware discouraging the best teachers and limiting the curriculum?

I vote to take the computers out of the classroom in the early grades. We should focus on teaching the basic skills of reading, writing, arithmetic, logic, concentration, cooperation, personal dress, social interaction, and hard work.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.152-3 Aug 27, 2001

On Jobs: 0

Women's groups cite Bloomberg as model place to be employed [At Bloomberg's company] the social contracts work two ways. The bible says you reap what you sow. Yes, we expect you to put in the long hours. You absolutely must show up for work even on those days when a lay-about seems more attractive.

Our everyone's worth. Our company creates opportunities: Management that's promoted from within, and transfers to other offices around the world, make us different.

Do our employment policies work? Compare us to our competitors or even to any similar-size organization. We have phenomenally low turnover, and we attract a pretty diverse labor force. Women's groups always cite us as a model place to be employed. Our assistance to young graduating students beginning careers is legendary.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.166 Aug 27, 2001

On Jobs: I'd like every company to be 50% male and 50% female

Maintaining gender equality as one grows in the international workplace is a real challenge. I'd like the company to be 50 percent male and 50 percent female at every level, in every function, in every one of our offices. (Remember, I have two daughters--and I want them to have the same opportunities as your two sons!) But many of our customers don't have the same policy. They don't care that the world's population is roughly half women and half men. Frequently, we go to high-level meetings where everyone not serving tea is male. Often, our clients will ignore our female manager and address all conversation to our male representative sitting in the meeting right next to her. (Even in our company, we have a manager in Asia whose wife walks a step behind her husband when they go out together. She considers it her rightful place. You can imagine the indignation when a young western woman visits them.)

We do what we think right--and let others discriminate or not as they wish.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.172 Aug 27, 2001

On Technology: Political will has not kept pace with scientific advances

From the time civil engineers separated the sewage system from the water supply (causing the single biggest jump in life expectancy ever), technology has been a boon to humankind. Smallpox has been eradicated worldwide at a cost less than what we used to spend vaccinating kids in the United States alone. Now we cure childhood leukemia routinely where before there was no hope.
Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.188 Aug 27, 2001

On Free Trade: American competitive position is strong against China and EU

America is as well-positioned as any large country could be. Its citizens speak English, the closest thing ever to a universal language. It has free internal borders with one currency, so manufacturers in the US have a single large market for their products.

Those countries previously enjoying double-digit growth through low labor costs are in for a rude awakening. When your raison d'etre is "cheap," no one makes much and anyone more desperate can undercut you anytime. Low wages, low profits, and low taxes where there are high social service demands eventually lead to serious unrest.

Much strife lies ahead. By comparison, America's labor force is mobile and willing, even anxious, to learn new skills.

America's concentration on value-added industries (as opposed to commodities businesses that compete based on price) puts it in a position to maintain margins and salaries, America's competitive position couldn't be better.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.194-5 Aug 27, 2001

On Corporations: Ludicrous to pay CEO bonuses when stock value rises

Compensating top management appropriately, particularly vis- -vis the rest off the employees, also influences how hard everyone works together and how well a company does. How much to pay the CEO? Try roughly the amount other competent managers make in our fields. Management skills generally are fungible across industries. The argument that someone is worth tens of millions of dollars in compensation per year is because his or her company's market value went up many times is so ludicrous that I've always been amazed anyone can espouse it as fair with a straight face. No one suggests the CEO reimburse the owners when a stock goes down.

My salary is equal to the lowest-paid full-time employee we have (currently, $19,000 per year). Everything else I get is from my share of the firm's earnings (and income tax regulations encourage me to reinvest most of that in research and development).

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.199 Aug 27, 2001

On Foreign Policy: Egypt shakes down Israeli tourists at border crossings

My niece, Rachel, was arrested in Egypt. In 1996, Rachael went sightseeing across the Israeli border into Egypt. When she came out of the ladies' room at a bus stop, the police arrested her, claiming they had found a gun in the bathroom. The protocol of this standard shakedown was to "confess" instantly and pay a bribe on the spot. Rachel, being Rachel, refused. We had to get Bloomberg's Jerusalem reporter, our London bureau chief, the Cairo bureau of another news organization, and a family friend in the State Department to prod the United States embassy for help. Such scams happen all the time. After she was released, an American diplomat warned my sister, "Now don't tell anyone about this. It would hurt our relationship with Egypt." Of all the dumb things. Who on earth is our guy protecting? How will other parents know to warn their kids? Talk about misplaced priorities. That diplomat never learned my mother's lesson of taking care of "us" before "them."
Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.205 Aug 27, 2001

On Technology: Publicity helps business, but it's best to say it yourself

You'd think I'd be blase about publicity by now. But the truth is, recognition is heady stuff, and receiving even insincere adulation is a kick.

Let's not forget the business reason to have bookstores globally displaying our logo. Name recognition improves access for our salespeople. Building a widely recognized brand and a favorable image in consumers' minds takes decades and costs zillions. Every bit of publicity helps; you never know which imprint makes the difference. With radio, television, Internet access, and magazines competing for the public's attention, the old adage, "As long as they spell your name right," applies more than ever.

Another thought was more prophylactic. If we don't, someone else will. Having a rogue writer out there taking journalistic liberties to commercialize the truth is dangerous. I'd just as soon get in our best shot first.

In the end, though, there was only one compelling reason to go ahead. I wanted to say something.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.252 Aug 27, 2001

The above quotations are from Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg.
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