Mike Bloomberg

Summary Notes


In "Bloomberg by Bloomberg," Michael Bloomberg candidly shares the evolution of his eponymous company from a small startup to a global powerhouse. He reflects on the challenges of maintaining entrepreneurial spirit amidst growing complexity, the temptation to quit, and the decision to buy back shares rather than go public. Bloomberg stresses the importance of adaptability, the folly of over-planning, and the value of a hands-on approach. He also delves into strategic media expansion, leveraging every opportunity to showcase the Bloomberg Terminal's capabilities. His unapologetic extremeness and dedication to building rather than buying, coupled with a deep understanding of history, have been instrumental in his success. Despite his wealth, Bloomberg's drive stems from the thrill of the challenge and the joy of competing, underscoring that the pursuit of more money alone isn't enough when one already has the "ultimate situation" of independence.

Summary Notes

Frustration with Complexity and Bureaucracy

  • Michael Bloomberg expresses frustration with the increasing complexity and bureaucracy in his company.
  • He reminisces about a time when the company operated with a "just do it" attitude without legal or bureaucratic hurdles.
  • Growth and management have become the primary focus, leading to a loss of simplicity and straightforwardness.
  • Over time, policies have become burdened with exceptions, and product offerings have overlapped, causing inefficiencies.

"Periodically, while surrounded by the fruits of our success, the profits, the power, the notoriety, I get frustrated and I dream of starting again."

The quote highlights Bloomberg's occasional desire to return to the simplicity and entrepreneurial spirit of the early days of his company, suggesting that success brings its own set of challenges.

Reflections on Entrepreneurship and Growth

  • Bloomberg contemplates quitting and selling the business for a simpler life but acknowledges that true entrepreneurs are driven by the challenge.
  • He questions the value of going public and prefers the autonomy of not having to answer to partners or stockholders.
  • Bloomberg emphasizes the importance of growth, risk-taking, and continual improvement in entrepreneurship.

"Real entrepreneurs never do, though, and I haven't either."

This quote underscores the persistent dedication and drive of entrepreneurs, which prevents them from stepping away even when faced with difficulties or the opportunity to retire comfortably.

Autobiography Insights

  • The podcast host discusses Michael Bloomberg's autobiography "Bloomberg by Bloomberg," which portrays Bloomberg's unapologetically extreme approach to business and life.
  • The book was recommended because of its insights into great investors and founders, and the host found Bloomberg's story particularly compelling.
  • The host emphasizes Bloomberg's deep historical knowledge and ability to learn from past successes and failures in the industry.

"And that is an awesome example of why this book moved up to Q. He is unapologetically extreme, and he sets the tone from the very, very beginning."

The quote reflects the host's appreciation for Bloomberg's extreme dedication and the tone he sets in his autobiography, which is both inspiring and instructive for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Core Product and Industry Understanding

  • Bloomberg distinguishes between the core product and the device that delivers it, using Kodak's failure to adapt to digital photography as a cautionary tale.
  • He stresses the importance of focusing on the core product, which for Bloomberg was data and analytics, not hardware.
  • This approach emphasizes adaptability and foresight in business strategy.

"We knew our core product was data and analytics, not hardware."

The quote clarifies Bloomberg's strategic focus on the essential value his company provided, which allowed for successful adaptation to changing market conditions.

Early Career and Dismissal from Salomon Brothers

  • Bloomberg reflects on his early career at Salomon Brothers and his eventual dismissal, which led to the creation of his own company.
  • He describes the mixed feelings of receiving a large severance but also the loss of a job he loved.
  • Bloomberg's determination and lack of regret are evident as he quickly moves on to start his own venture.

"After 15 years of twelve-hour days and six-day weeks, I was out."

This quote captures the abrupt end to Bloomberg's time at Salomon Brothers, setting the stage for his entrepreneurial journey and highlighting the unpredictability of corporate careers.

Founder's Mindset and Starting Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg discusses the mindset of a founder and the drive to create something new and impactful.
  • He shares his experience of starting Bloomberg L.P. at the age of 39 with the ambition to make a difference in the finance world.
  • Despite doubts from others, Bloomberg's self-belief and willingness to take risks were key to his success.

"We were motivated by an idea that we could build something new that just might make a difference."

The quote encapsulates the entrepreneurial spirit that drove Bloomberg to establish his company, reflecting the optimism and ambition characteristic of successful founders.

Personal Background and Education

  • Bloomberg shares his middle-class upbringing and the values instilled by his parents, including hard work and intellectual curiosity.
  • He credits his high school honors courses for sparking his interest in learning and the importance of engaging children in education.
  • Bloomberg's time at Harvard Business School provided insights into predictors of career achievement, emphasizing street smarts and common sense over academic credentials.

"From my parents as a child, I learned hard work, intellectual curiosity, and the ambition to strive relentlessly for the goals I set."

This quote reveals the foundational values that shaped Bloomberg's character and approach to life, which later translated into his business philosophy and success.

Initial Financial Struggles and Early Success

  • Bloomberg describes his financial struggles at the start of his career, including student loans and a lack of resources.
  • Despite these challenges, his dedication and love for his job at Salomon Brothers set him on the path to success.
  • He highlights the importance of being a "doer" and having ambition, which are critical for achieving great things in one's career.

"I was smart, determined, found a job I loved and was good at. You're not staying broke for long."

The quote underscores the belief that intelligence, determination, and passion for one's work are powerful drivers that can overcome initial financial struggles and lead to prosperity.

Leadership Philosophy Influences

  • Bloomberg reflects on the different leadership styles he encountered at Salomon Brothers and how they influenced his own leadership philosophy.
  • He particularly admired Billy Salomon's approach to running the firm and appears to have adopted similar principles in his own company.

"The boss when I joined was Billy, as he preferred to be called."

This quote introduces Billy Salomon, whose leadership style had a lasting impact on Bloomberg and provided a model for effective management and company culture.

Influence of Leadership

  • Bloomberg reflects on the impact of leadership styles on an organization's culture and effectiveness.
  • He emphasizes the importance of decisiveness and consistency in leadership.
  • Bloomberg admires leaders who are approachable and open to discussion but ultimately make firm decisions.

"He was decisive and consistent as a leader."

This quote highlights the value Bloomberg places on leaders who can make decisions confidently and stick to them, ensuring clear direction for their team.

"If he ever harbored doubts after making a decision, I never saw it."

Bloomberg respects leaders who do not show uncertainty after a decision has been made, as it instills confidence in their team.

"He was easily approachable and willing to listen to everyone's views."

Approachability in leadership is seen as a positive trait by Bloomberg, encouraging open communication within the organization.

"But when he said we were going left, we went left."

The quote underlines the importance of a leader's final say in the direction of the team, even after considering input from others.

Comparison of Leadership Styles

  • Bloomberg contrasts two leaders, Billy and John, assessing their approaches to decision-making.
  • He views Billy's style as more effective due to his trust in his own judgment and decisiveness.
  • John's more egalitarian approach is seen as less effective due to perceived indecisiveness.

"John was a great leader, too, but I always thought he listened to too many people."

Bloomberg suggests that while listening to others is important, excessive consultation can hinder effective leadership.

"It made running the firm much more difficult for him."

This quote indicates that John's leadership style led to complications in managing the firm, as per Bloomberg's observation.

"Unlike Billy, John consulted all interested parties before making a decision."

Bloomberg uses this comparison to highlight the drawbacks of excessive consultation in leadership, which he perceives as leading to indecision.

Early Career Experiences and Work Ethic

  • Bloomberg shares his humble beginnings and the lessons learned from starting at the bottom.
  • He emphasizes the importance of hard work, dedication, and seizing opportunities for growth within a company.
  • Bloomberg values the ability to sell and the thrill of closing a deal, as well as the importance of recognition for one's work.

"I worked my first summer there in the cage, physically counting securities by hand."

Bloomberg describes his entry-level position, showcasing his willingness to start from the bottom and work his way up.

"I was too embarrassed to quit."

This quote reflects Bloomberg's determination and pride, choosing to persevere in his job rather than give up.

"Billy and John would stand over me, watching silently while I was on the phone with the customer."

Bloomberg recalls the pressure and motivation of having his superiors observe his work, reinforcing the importance of performance.

Entrepreneurial Mindset and Building a Business

  • Bloomberg discusses the rationale behind choosing entrepreneurship over investment.
  • He believes that creating a business that customers love is the surest way to achieve wealth.
  • Bloomberg reflects on the historical success of entrepreneurs who built businesses with concrete products and services.

"The surest way to get rich is to build a business customers love."

Bloomberg's philosophy centers on customer satisfaction as the key to a successful business and personal wealth.

"Great financial success comes from starting businesses with concrete products in the real world."

This quote encapsulates Bloomberg's view that tangible products and services are fundamental to building a lasting enterprise.

The Importance of Flexibility and Loving Your Work

  • Bloomberg stresses the significance of staying flexible and adapting to opportunities.
  • He advises against rigid planning and advocates for taking chances and making spur-of-the-moment decisions.
  • Loving one's work is seen as essential for success and happiness.

"Take lots of chances and make lots of individual, spur of the moment decisions."

Bloomberg encourages an entrepreneurial spirit that embraces risk and quick decision-making.

"The more you work, the better you do. It's that simple."

This quote underscores Bloomberg's belief in the correlation between hard work and success.

Advice for Young Professionals

  • Bloomberg advises young professionals to prioritize learning over immediate financial gain.
  • He suggests that working at the best firms and learning from smart people can lead to greater future success.
  • Bloomberg highlights the value of reading biographies and autobiographies to learn from the experiences of successful individuals.

"Novices should go to the best firm they can get into and then listen and learn."

Bloomberg's advice to young professionals is to seek environments that offer the greatest learning opportunities.

"I've consistently figured out who the really smart people were to hang around with."

This quote reflects Bloomberg's strategy for personal growth and success by associating with intelligent and capable individuals.

Unapologetic Extremism and Persistence

  • Bloomberg describes his unrelenting drive and competitive nature as key factors in his success.
  • He believes in the value of persistence and the compounding effect of knowledge and skills.
  • Bloomberg views failures as opportunities and expresses a willingness to embrace risks for the thrill of the unknown.

"I would be tougher than the rest."

Bloomberg's competitive mindset is encapsulated in this quote, showing his determination to outperform others.

"Did I want to risk an embarrassing and costly failure? Absolutely."

This quote exemplifies Bloomberg's acceptance of risk and his pursuit of challenges as sources of happiness and growth.

Entrepreneurial Mindset

  • Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, emphasizes the importance of taking action and learning through experience.
  • Michael Bloomberg advocates for a vision that is affordable, practical, and fills a customer need, then executing without overanalyzing.

Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. He's got this amazing book called let my people go surfing. And he says in that book, the entrepreneurial way is to immediately take a forward step. And if that feels good, take another. If not, step back. Learn by doing. It's a faster process. This is now Bloomberg. 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 your new project's potential.

The quote from Yvon Chouinard highlights the importance of action and learning from direct experience in entrepreneurship. Bloomberg's quote complements this by stressing the need for a clear vision and the courage to pursue it without getting bogged down by overanalyzing or second-guessing.

Building the Product and Sales

  • Bloomberg emphasizes the importance of focusing on product and sales above all else.
  • He shares his experience of running product development and sales simultaneously from the start.

If you're working on product, he's like, listen, you should work on your product and sales first and then everything else after. At Bloomberg, we always built the product first. Selling is the only process we run simultaneously with development from the very start.

This quote underlines Bloomberg's approach to prioritizing product development and sales, suggesting that these are the foundational elements of a successful business.

Startup Challenges and Solutions

  • Bloomberg recounts the challenges faced while developing a new product with a strict deadline and limited resources.
  • He describes the emotional rollercoaster of startup life, alternating between euphoria and terror due to the high stakes and uncertainty.
  • The approach to problem-solving involved breaking down problems into manageable pieces and distributing tasks based on individual strengths.

We weren't just putting out fires, we were adjusting to major earthquakes when some new software bug forced us to start over. But every day we got closer to building the machine we had promised.

Bloomberg shares the intense pressure of startup life, where setbacks like software bugs can feel like major disasters, yet the team continued to make progress toward their goal.

Leveraging Unique Strengths and Client Feedback

  • Bloomberg discusses how he leveraged his company's unique strengths and the importance of client feedback in improving the product.
  • He highlights the value of having demanding, yet fair and honest clients who contribute to the product's success.

They wanted us to succeed. When they said something didn't work, they could show us it didn't work, so we knew for sure it didn't work. And more important, they would help fix the problem, because they would tell us under what specific circumstances it didn't work.

This quote illustrates the constructive role that client feedback played in refining Bloomberg's product, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and clear communication.

Early Days and Hands-on Leadership

  • Bloomberg reflects on the early years of his business, where he was involved in every function, from sales to manual labor.
  • He expresses nostalgia for the hands-on, improvisational nature of the startup phase and the satisfaction of seeing the product come to life.

For the first three or four years in business, I did all of these functions. I worked full time selling our services. I negotiated all of our contracts. I was running the company.

Bloomberg reminisces about the early days when he personally handled every aspect of the business, highlighting the diverse responsibilities of an entrepreneur.

Selling the Vision

  • Bloomberg emphasizes the continuous need to sell, not just to customers but also to potential recruits.
  • He shares his pitch to prospective employees, showcasing the company's culture and mission.

We've got the best people in the world working here. All of them think they walk on water. All of them are workaholics. Once they come, they stay for the rest of their lives because they love it.

This quote reveals Bloomberg's strategy for attracting talent by selling the company's vision and the passion of its employees.

Leveraging Media for Business Growth

  • Bloomberg discusses the potential of leveraging media to achieve business objectives.
  • He shares a conversation with a reporter that led to the idea of repurposing company information as news to expand the business.

Mike, he said, you and the people you work with have created a terminal that explains more about why bonds fluctuate each minute, day and week than any collection of reporters ever could.

The quote from the reporter highlights the unique value proposition of Bloomberg's terminal and the opportunity to enhance its utility by adding text-based news, thereby creating a new avenue for business growth.

Content as the Core Product

  • Bloomberg clarifies that despite manufacturing hardware, the company's true business is the production and distribution of information and analysis.
  • He emphasizes the importance of understanding the core product or service and not being distracted by the means of delivery.

We are in the business of producing and distributing the world's most accurate, reliable, comprehensive information and analysis. That has been our mission from day one, and it has never changed.

Bloomberg states the company's mission, reinforcing that the essence of the business is the content it provides, not the hardware used for its distribution.

Personal Branding and Company Identity

  • Michael Bloomberg emphasizes the importance of personal branding in making a company and its products stand out.
  • He suggests that being authentic and leveraging one's unique understanding of their business can be more impactful than polished speaking or charisma.
  • Bloomberg shares his experience of how his company was small and unknown in the 1980s, with a product that could have been mistaken for a kitchen appliance.
  • He highlights the importance of having a personality behind a product, citing the example of Nike's association with Michael Jordan.
  • Bloomberg himself became the face of his company, making speeches and sales calls, which led to the renaming of the product and company after him.

"You got to be you. You know more about your business than anyone else. You think about it more, you care about it more, you're in the best position, then, to tell other people why it's valuable."

This quote underlines the significance of personal investment and knowledge in effectively communicating the value of one's business.

"Nike didn't just make sneakers. It pushed them with a mystique that could only come from Michael Jordan."

Bloomberg uses Nike's strategy with Michael Jordan to illustrate how attaching a charismatic personality to a product can enhance its marketability.

"I would become the colonel Sanders of financial information services."

Bloomberg humorously compares his role as the face of his company to that of Colonel Sanders for KFC, emphasizing the influence of a strong personal brand.

Media Strategies and Visibility

  • Michael Bloomberg discusses the strategic use of various media forms to gain visibility and promote his company.
  • He started with print news and expanded to radio, television, and online content, repurposing the unique data his company collected.
  • Bloomberg explains that entering radio and TV was a natural extension due to the company's information and technical know-how.
  • The media's tendency to write about themselves played to Bloomberg's advantage, as increased media exposure led to more public promotion.
  • He emphasizes the importance of leveraging technology to distribute content and suggests that entrepreneurs today can use modern platforms like podcasts and YouTube channels to achieve similar visibility without the need to own traditional media outlets.

"Radio and television provide our company with instant visibility."

This quote highlights the strategic use of broadcasting to increase company awareness and potentially drive product sales.

"The more exposure Bloomberg had to the media, the more they promoted us to the general public."

Bloomberg notes the reciprocal nature of media exposure, where increased visibility in the media leads to further promotion from them.

"Just like he just warned us early in the book, it's like technology is always going to revolutionize distribution."

Here, Bloomberg advises entrepreneurs to embrace technological changes in distribution channels to stay ahead.

Leveraging Unique Data and Content Integration

  • Bloomberg emphasizes the importance of utilizing unique data to create integrated content across different media.
  • He describes how TV stories, magazine articles, and radio segments all stem from the proprietary data his company has access to.
  • This strategy serves as a demonstration of the Bloomberg Terminal's capabilities, subtly marketing the product to potential customers.
  • Bloomberg stresses that the business is about providing information, not being tied to a particular medium of delivery.

"TV stories relate to magazine articles that relate to computer data."

This quote captures the interconnectedness of Bloomberg's media strategy, showing how different content forms can support and promote one another.

"Bloomberg is in the business of giving its customers the information they need in whatever form is the most appropriate."

Bloomberg clarifies the company's mission to provide information in the most effective way, regardless of the medium.

Talent Management and Company Culture

  • Michael Bloomberg shares insights on talent management and fostering a creative company culture.
  • He believes in the efficiency of markets over central planning in selecting leaders within the company.
  • Bloomberg describes a process where no initial manager is appointed for new ventures; instead, natural leaders emerge organically.
  • He values employing creative individuals and allowing them the freedom to innovate, which he sees as key to the company's success in selling Bloomberg subscriptions.
  • Bloomberg also notes the importance of learning and staying informed, as knowledge gained can lead to future opportunities.

"We simply throw everyone interested into the deep end of the pool and then stand back."

This quote illustrates Bloomberg's hands-off approach to leadership selection, where the most capable individuals naturally rise to the top.

"The leverage we gain from employing creative people and letting them do their own thing is incredible."

Bloomberg acknowledges the benefits of empowering creative employees to innovate and contribute to the company's success.

Technological Innovation and Competitive Advantage

  • Bloomberg discusses the critical role of technological innovation in maintaining a competitive edge.
  • He recounts his experience automating systems at Salomon Brothers, which gave them a significant advantage for a decade.
  • Bloomberg echoes Andrew Carnegie's philosophy of always investing in the latest technology to stay ahead of competitors.
  • He advocates for smart hiring, focusing on software developers, salespeople, and reporters to create leverage through technology, sales, and content marketing.
  • Bloomberg's aggressive approach to business includes being prepared for challenges from established competitors and startups.

"When Solomon went to a knife fight, it carried a gun."

This metaphor illustrates the significant advantage Solomon Brothers had due to their technological innovations, likening it to bringing a gun to a knife fight.

"Find the very smartest people that you can, find, the most talented people in your company, and then give them freedom."

Bloomberg advises on the importance of hiring talented individuals and granting them the autonomy to excel.

Risk Management and Growth Strategy

  • Bloomberg describes his approach to growth and risk management, favoring small bets with limited downside and uncapped upside.
  • He prefers building from within and avoids high-risk gambles associated with large takeovers, such as the Time Warner AOL deal.
  • Bloomberg's strategy involves starting with minimal capital and a few people, ensuring that the company can pivot away from mistakes and explore multiple ventures simultaneously.

"I prefer starting with little capital that we can afford to lose and a few people we can always reassign to other projects."

This quote outlines Bloomberg's cautious yet opportunistic approach to expansion, emphasizing the ability to manage risk and remain flexible.

The Value of Oral Communication and Podcasting

  • Bloomberg highlights the enduring value of oral communication and its natural fit with human interaction.
  • He prefers audio over video because it allows for multitasking and believes podcasting is a powerful medium for learning and idea exchange.
  • Bloomberg draws historical parallels, noting that despite the invention of text-based communication like the telegraph, people preferred voice communication like the telephone.

"We exchange ideas more than information, and we do most of that orally."

Bloomberg stresses the fundamental human preference for spoken communication, which he believes is crucial for transmitting and receiving ideas.

Competitive Strategy and Power Laws

  • Bloomberg and Jeff Bezos share a similar competitive strategy focused on entering battles with an advantage rather than seeking fair fights.
  • They recognize the disproportionate rewards of being the best in a category rather than just one of the best due to power laws.
  • Bloomberg emphasizes the importance of avoiding competition with equally capable opponents and instead seeking to be the best.

"We don't want fair fights. We want to go into contests with an advantage."

This quote encapsulates Bloomberg's philosophy of seeking competitive advantages to dominate rather than simply compete.

Work Ethic and the Importance of Relationships

  • Bloomberg concludes with advice on persistence, resourcefulness, and the significance of work ethic in building fortunes.
  • He reflects on the impact of relationships over financial gain, urging individuals to prioritize time with loved ones over chasing extra dollars.
  • Bloomberg shares a personal note about missing his father and the pride his father would have felt for his achievements, demonstrating the lasting influence of parental relationships.

"The rewards almost always go to those who outwork the others."

Bloomberg asserts that hard work is the most controllable factor in determining one's future success.

What others are sharing

Go To Library

Want to Deciphr in private?
- It's completely free

Deciphr Now
Footer background
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon

© 2024 Deciphr

Terms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy