- He controls his life story. Fired from Salomon Brothers, a firm he loved, Bloomberg started his own financial information company that changed Wall Street.
- He exceeds expectations. Building his firm from nothing to $20 billion, of which his personal share amounts to about $13 billion, Bloomberg defied naysayers with a product (“rivers of data”) and its outward expression (“the Bloomberg” computer terminal) that everybody wants. Likewise, he took over as mayor of New York on Jan. 1, 2002, with a city in deep hurt and a $6 billion deficit. He brought it back from the brink.
- He takes risks. The new mayor had two choices to deal with the budget: raise taxes or cut services. For him, it was a no-brainer. He jacked up property taxes, figuring that low crime, good transportation and clean streets are fundamental to tourism. As his approval ratings plummeted to about 30%, he tripled the city’s marketing budget and put real marketers in a nonprofit firm he started called NYC & Co. Last year, the city pulled in 44 million visitors, up from 35 million in 2002. His goal: 50 million by 2015.
- He welcomes complainers. Bloomberg sees his city as a company, voters as customers and city employees as talent. On being called a “technocrat,” he says: “What was I hired for?”
His most practical achievement: A 311 hotline to troubleshoot glitches in city services from trash to power lines. Since the hotline was established, emergency 911 traffic is down by 1 million calls, wait times for building inspectors fell from 40 days to less than a week and the city saw a crackdown on rats and noise.
New Yorkers now give Bloomberg a 70% approval rating.
- He understands the power of images. Three examples: (1) He rides to work on the subway. (2) He heaved a moribund film office into the dustbin and replaced it with a team that’s generated $2.4 billion in new film-making business in less than two years. (3) He makes budget presentations himself, using simple charts and tables.
- He rolls over setbacks. Denied his bids to build a football stadium and host the 2012 Olympics, Bloomberg pushes on. “In business,” he says, “you reward people for taking risks.”