The Enduring Ambition of Michael Bloomberg

The First 15 Years Building the Bloomberg Empire

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Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg started his eponymous financial data company in 1981, a company that in 2022 did more than $12 billion in revenue and one that he still owns 88% of today.

As a result, it’s made him one of the fifteen richest people in the world.

Today, we’re diving into his story and how he built the juggernaut this is Bloomberg.

To write today’s deep dive, I read the book Bloomberg by Michael Bloomberg, the revised and updated edition published in 2019. For the full story, I highly suggest you check it out.

Let’s get to it.

Early Days

Michael Bloomberg grew up in Medford, Massachusetts, a town just outside of Boston.

From his parents, he developed the attributes that would one day contribute to his outsized success:

But from them, as a child, I learned hard work, intellectual curiosity, and the ambition to strive relentlessly for the goals I set—all of which would serve me in good stead at school, during my capitalist education at Salomon, and in creating my own company later on.

Michael Bloomberg

Just like Travis Kalanick would many years later, selling Cutco knives in high school, Michael gathered sales experience early in life, selling Christmas wreaths door-to-door to pay for his Boy Scout summer camp lodging.

Bored throughout most of high school, two honors courses in history and literature piqued his interest and had a profound impact on him:

The exposure to history and culture opened my eyes to a whole new world. What a shame all the preceding time was partially wasted. It was an early lesson for me in how we, as a society, must find a way to better engage our children in the joys of learning.

Michael Bloomberg

He also learned the value of studying history:

I developed a sense of history and its legacy, and remain amazed at how little people seem to learn from the past; how we fight the same battles over and over; how we can't remember what misguided, shortsighted policies led to depression, war, oppression, and division.

Michael Bloomberg

While few of his high school classmates went to college, with vocational training instead being the focus, Michael took a different path.

The work ethic he displayed throughout his life was apparent early on and led him to Johns Hopkins University:

While in high school, I worked after class, on weekends, and during summers for a small electronics company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The technical genius of the company recommended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. I was interested in science, and she knew people at the school's Applied Physics Laboratory. Since I had to go to college someplace, why not?

Michael Bloomberg

At Johns Hopkins he honed his people skills, skills he’d put to good use years later, by becoming president of his fraternity and even his class.

After Johns Hopkins, he attended Harvard Business School, graduating in 1966.

He described his time there as “well spent” but had no idea what he’d do after:

What would I do with my life? With twelve weeks until graduation, I had no plan for how I'd turn an expensive education into a living. I hadn't given it any thought, nor had I signed up for recruiting interviews.

My good friend, Steve Fenster, a Harvard classmate who later would become a member of my company's board of directors (five years before he died of cancer), told me to call the firms of Salomon Brothers & Hutzler, as it was then named, and Goldman, Sachs & Co., and to say I was desperate to be an institutional salesperson or equity trader.

Michael Bloomberg

Whatever path he chose, he was determined to succeed.

Salomon Brothers

Ultimately, Michael chose to work at Salomon Brothers over Goldman Sachs.

While he’d make less money, it was a better culture fit, an important component for him and why he said he’d never leave:

While many of the top firms coveted distinguished lineages, manners, accents, and Ivy League educations, Salomon was more of a meritocracy that prized go-getters, tolerated eccentricities, and treated both PhDs and high school dropouts disinterestedly. I fit in. It was me.

Michael Bloomberg

At Salomon in June 1996, even as a Harvard MBA, he started from the bottom:

I worked my first summer there in "the Cage," physically counting securities by hand. It was a pretty lowly start for a Harvard MBA.

We slaved in our underwear (it was virtually an all-male industry back then), in an unairconditioned bank vault, with an occasional six-pack of beer to make it more bearable.

Every afternoon, we counted out billions of dollars of actual bond and stock certificates to be messengered to banks as collateral for overnight loans.

Michael Bloomberg

Of course, he worked his way up the ladder, putting in more hours than almost anyone else, and building relationships with the higher-ups:

I took the subway to work and read the office copy of the Wall Street Journal upon arrival, to save the fifteen-cent newsstand cost.

I came in every morning at 7 a.m., getting there before everyone else except Billy Salomon. When he needed to borrow a match or talk sports, I was the only other person in the trading room, so he talked to me. At age twenty-six, I became a buddy of the managing partner.

I would stay later than everyone else except for John Gutfreund. When he needed someone to make an after-hours call to the biggest clients, or someone to listen to his complaints about those who'd already gone home, I was the someone. And I got a free cab ride uptown with him, the No. 2 guy in the company.

Making myself omnipresent wasn't exactly burdensome—I loved what I was doing. And, needless to say, developing a close working relationship with those who ran the show probably didn't hurt my career either.

Michael Bloomberg

Lesson to be learned here for the youngsters. Put in the time and build relationships.

But Michael had fun too, living by the “work hard, play hard” mantra:

It's said that 80 percent of life is just showing up. I believe that. You can never have complete mastery over your existence. You can't choose the advantages you start out with, and you certainly can't pick your genetic intelligence level. But you can control how hard you work.

I'm sure someone, someplace, is smart enough to succeed while "keeping it in perspective" and not working too hard, but I've never met him or her. The more you work, the better you do. It's that simple. I always outworked the other person (and if I hadn't, he or she would be writing this book).

Still, I had a life. I don't remember being so driven or focused that my job got in the way of playing in the evenings and on weekends. I dated a lot. I skied and jogged and hit the town more than most. I just made sure I devoted twelve hours to work and twelve hours to fun every day. The more you try to do, the more life you'll have.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael also learned a valuable lesson on patience after he wasn’t made a Salomon general partner when he thought he should’ve been. He didn’t quit, just kept working at it, and was eventually made general partner a few months later in 1973.

Not long after, he was given responsibility for all equities at Salomon, a big responsibility.

But the upward trajectory didn’t last forever.

In 1979, after struggling performance, his upward climb at Salomon reversed course.

Instead of continuing to lead equities, he was reassigned to Information Systems, the group that was responsible for both keeping the firm's books and providing the analytical tools the traders and salespeople needed.

Two years later, he was out.

Starting Bloomberg

After 15 years at Salomon, Michael’s time there had come to an end:

On Saturday, August 1, 1981, I was terminated from the only full-time job I'd ever known and from the high-pressure life I loved. This, after fifteen years of twelve-hour days and six-day weeks.

Michael Bloomberg

He didn’t leave empty handed though.

Michael received $10 million in cash and convertible bonds as compensation, part of Salomon getting acquired by Phibro Corporation.

Not a bad deal.

Still, Michael would’ve stayed at Salomon forever had he not been fired. He loved working there that much.

After Salomon, it was onward and upward:

Afterward, I didn't sit around wondering what was happening at the old firm. I didn't go back and visit. I never look over my shoulder. Once finished: Gone. Life continues!

Michael Bloomberg

But what was next?

It’s something he started to think about during his last month at Salomon:

While finishing my last month at Salomon, I decided to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee. After a decade and a half as a loyal corporate soldier, I'd be my own general. Great. Enough of concept, however. Specifics pay the rent.

Unfortunately, until I actually stopped working at Salomon, I didn't have much time to plan my next moves—or even to worry. I worked my usual 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. twelve-hour shifts right up to the last day and seldom discussed my next career with anyone.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael’s Last day at Salomon was September 30, 1981. The next day, he started his company.

But what would it be exactly?

Here’s how he thought about it:

What did I have the resources, ability, interest, and contacts to do? The question led me back to Wall Street.

It was obvious the economy was changing and services were taking a bigger share of the gross domestic product. My talents, my experience, my financial resources, the momentum provided by the American economy—everything fit.

I would start a company that would help financial organizations.

Michael Bloomberg

Thinking through the idea further, Michael was looking for a hole in the market:

But nobody had more knowledge of the securities and investment industries and of how technology could help them.

All I had to do was find a value-added service not currently available. I conceived a business built around a collection of securities data, giving people the ability to select what each individually thought the most useful parts, and then providing computer software that would let non-mathematicians do analysis on that information.

This kind of capability was sorely lacking in the marketplace. A few large underwriting firms had internal systems that tried to fill this need but each required a PhD to use and weren't available off the shelf to the little guy.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael thought he could “provide a far more sophisticated system at a fraction of the price” compared to what the largest securities companies offered and, by sharing expenses over many users, he’d have a cost advantage.

Another advantage?

Independence.

Equally important, the advantage I had of not being a broker/ dealer, of being beholden to no one, would give my product an independence others couldn't possibly claim. And best of all, nobody was currently doing it.

Michael Bloomberg

Though he just had a huge windfall from Salomon Brothers, his new company had modest beginnings:

I rented a one-room temporary office on Madison Avenue. It was about a hundred square feet of space with a view of an alley, a far cry from my previous place of employment, Salomon's multi-acre forty-first-floor trading room overlooking the New York harbor.

I deposited $300,000 of my Salomon Brothers windfall into a corporate checking account.

Michael Bloomberg

He also didn’t start the company alone:

At the end of 1981, I recruited four former Salomon protégés, three of whom are still with us today, nearly four decades later: Duncan MacMillan, who helped assess what our potential customers might want; Chuck Zegar, who created our software infrastructure; Tom Secunda, who wrote many of the first analytics; and one other guy. In our broom closet of an office, we celebrated our start on day one with a bottle of champagne.

Michael Bloomberg

Soon after, he rented a second temporary one-room office next to the first.

He also expanded the team, hiring some programmers in 1982 and 1983 and later his first salespeople in 1985.

Just like Scott Farquhar of Atlassian did years later, Bloomberg and his team brought in revenue early on through consulting:

Right after forming our company, we did some consulting. It brought in cash, gave us exposure, and helped provide us with Wall Street legitimacy that would later lead to work for more clients. And it brought our first sale: to Merrill Lynch & Co.

Michael Bloomberg

They made $100,000 for six months of consulting work, but, more importantly, were introduced to Ed Moriarty who was running Merrill’s Capital Markets Division.

Bloomberg didn’t yet have a product, but Michael was hoping Merrill would be their first customer.

When in the meeting to pitch Ed on a product Bloomberg could build for them, Michael had to overcome Hank Alexander’s argument that Merrill could build it internally.

Hank ran Merrill’s software development but in the pitch meeting, Michael got the better of him:

Then Hank made his fatal mistake. "Well, if you don't give us anything new to do" —which was clearly not a practical scenario "we'll be able to start in six months."

And that was my opening.

"I'll get it done in six months and if you don't like it, you don't have to pay for it!" I practically shouted. "Since Hank can't even start for half a year, there'll be no time risk. And since you only pay if it works, no cost risk either."

Moriarty got up. "Well, that sounds fair enough," he said, and he left the room.

I don't think anybody had seen a decision made at Merrill that fast. Even I was surprised. But from Ed's point of view it was a "no-brainer." He didn't have any downside; it was win or break even for him. Hank just sat there, speechless, as did everyone else.

Michael Bloomberg

They had six months to build a product.

Lucky for them, negotiations on the deal took a few months which gave them additional time.

Still, it was an ambitious deadline for a new product that didn’t yet exist.

The First Product

This is the early 1980s and most people on Wall Street weren’t very familiar with PCs at the time.

Michael’s solution was to make the product as simple and easy to use as possible.

To do so, they’d have to develop hardware as well as software, no small undertaking:

Merrill wanted its traders to be able to enter a transaction and automatically update the firm's positions themselves. That wasn't a big deal, you would think.

But the only systems Merrill had for trade entry used massive, unreliable, and complex terminals that wouldn't fit on regular-size desks, much less in the typical, salesperson/trader's small cubicle. They connected these terminals to a single, large mainframe without backup. This wasn't what the market needed.

We built our own compact, low-priced workstations so we could give the reliability that a single-purpose, single-user machine provides.

Michael Bloomberg

Those workstations, later called Bloomberg Terminals, were purpose-built for the needs of their future users:

By comparison, we, with our own "closed," custom-built hardware and software, could focus on a single task with perfect machine compatibility.

We designed our own color-coded, easy-to-use, small keyboard for the limited space our customers had in front of them.

We built a customized square enclosure for the display screens we'd chosen, so users could stack them up vertically.

We engineered our electronics to support keyboards and screens over great distances; that way, the actual computer didn't have to be at the user's cramped, dirty desk (the way PCs have to be), but could be kept separate, "down the hall," in a life-prolonging, temperature-controlled, and dust-free machine room.

Desk space doesn't sound important unless you don't have any.

Michael Bloomberg

All of this development wasn’t cheap.

They’d eventually spend $4 million of Michael’s $10 million Salomon Brothers earnings.

Halfway through development, Michael was worried, not only about the costs but whether Merrill would understand the value of what they were building.

In June 1983, they delivered their first product to Merrill, relieving Michael of any doubts:

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.

Michael Bloomberg

After the first Terminal was delivered, Merrill immediately wanted more than their allotment:

For our first product delivery, we built twenty-two Terminals, keyboards, and screens. Our plan was to install the twenty Merrill Lynch had ordered and then use the two others ourselves, for development and backup.

Needless to say, we installed all twenty-two in their trading room. They wanted them. And who were we to argue? We needed the revenue.

Michael Bloomberg

The deal with Merrill was significant for Bloomberg, earning them a one-time development fee of $600,000 as well as $1,000 a month for two years for each of the 22 Terminals installed.

Of course, as with any startup, there were struggles, especially with reliability early on, but they constantly improved the product, creating a first-mover in the industry:

Our product would be the first in the investment business where normal people without specialized training could sit down, hit a key, and get an answer to financial questions, some of which they didn't even know they should ask… it all began with a simple premise: putting more information at people's fingertips, more quickly and more accurately than they could otherwise get it. 

Michael Bloomberg

The early days, as Michael later described, were the most fun he’d ever had in business.

For the first three or four years, he managed many of the functions that would later become entire departments at Bloomberg which, by 1984, officially changed its name from Innovative Market Systems due to a potential trademark conflict.

Soon after, Michael made several moves to rapidly expand the business.

Growth

One big win that fueled the growth of Bloomberg took place in 1987:

In May 1987, after returning to New York to cover Wall Street and revise the bond tables for a new money and investing section, Winkler learned to his horror that I had just convinced the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press that Bloomberg should be their sole supplier for daily U.S. government bond prices, instead of the august Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

For decades, the Fed had been the authoritative, impartial source for U.S. Treasuries. The daily prices of United States Treasury bonds and bills help determine every company's borrowing cost, everyone's personal finance interest rates and the perception of the United States as a strong or weak country. Every stock and bond trader around the world pays attention to U.S. Treasuries.

Bloomberg, then a five-year-old company with less than 150 employees, would become the definitive source for the key market that told all the other markets what to do. That, needless to say, made me very happy.

Michael Bloomberg

The Wall Street Journal essentially gave Bloomberg free daily advertising with this agreement, a phenomenal deal for Bloomberg.

Another important piece of Bloomberg’s growth around this time?

The evolution of their partnership with Merrill Lynch.

While it had always been a mutually beneficial partnership and Merrill even invested $30 million in Bloomberg for 30% of the company, there was a clause in the deal that stunted Bloomberg’s growth - exclusivity.

At the time, Bloomberg agreed not to sell its products to Merrill’s fourteen major competitors for five years.

In 1988, with three years to go on the arrangement, Michael began negotiations to get Bloomberg out of the exclusivity clause.

After a year, Merrill’s president, Dan Tully, finally relented, realizing his company’s investment in Bloomberg would be worth far more if other companies were allowed to buy Bloomberg subscriptions.

Sure enough, Bloomberg continued to expand:

By the late 1980s, Bloomberg had established offices in New York, London, Sydney, and Tokyo, with more than five thousand customers spread over forty countries. We were growing 25 to 30 percent annually and adding staff almost as fast as our business enlarged.

Michael Bloomberg

This growth provided challenges too, especially regarding office space, but they found creative solutions:

One time, though, we were so out of space in our New York sales office, a carpenter came in on a Friday night after everyone had gone and cut eighteen inches in width from each desk. We then added new ones of the same type in the reclaimed space. It was hours into Monday morning before anyone figured out why suddenly everyone had a seat. As I always maintain, if you really want to do it, there's a way.

Michael Bloomberg

At one point in the late 1980s Michael Miller, a technology writer at the Wall Street Journal said of what Michael was doing with Bloomberg:

Sounds like this guy Bloomberg is doing to financial information what American Airlines and United Airlines electronic reservations systems have done to the travel business: become influential by getting everybody hooked onto their data.

Michael Miller

Hooked on data.

This could describe Bloomberg’s customers for decades to come.

And this data they’d use in their next frontier—news.

Bloomberg News & Broadcasting

To launch Bloomberg’s foray into news, Michael enlisted the help of Matt Winkler, a WSJ reporter he previously met in 1988 when he was working on a story about him.

Michael’s pitch to Matt was the same one he gave to all employees:

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. They've built the better mousetrap. They're doing something important. Giving the little guy the information he needs to fight. Having fun. Staying ahead.

Michael Bloomberg

Matt Winkler started on February 5, 1990.

The timing turned out to be impeccable.

With the news industry cutting back, just as Bloomberg was expanding, they were able to hire many competent reporters.

But wait.

Why get into the news business in the first place?

It came down to this:

We had two choices: Be nothing more than a small specialist in the information industry and always vulnerable to Dow Jones cutting us off, or challenge the giants.

Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg also had a massive advantage in entering the news business - it didn’t need to be self-sustaining. They had revenue from their Terminal subscriptions to cover costs.

As with most aspects of business, Bloomberg took a differentiated approach to news from the start:

From the beginning, we tried to be different. We built a unique product: We combined text and analytics with computer-driven tours that let readers automatically see the calculations and graphs of what we wrote about.

Michael Bloomberg

They also used a subscription-based model and with Bloomberg news in the mix, the Bloomberg flywheel was in full effect:

Our purpose was to do more than just collect and relay news; it should also, ethically, advertise the analytical and computational powers of the Bloomberg Terminal by highlighting its capabilities in each news story.

This would make each story better and, at the same time, make it easier to buy more Terminal subscriptions (total subscriptions were then about 8,000 worldwide).

With our Terminal functions included, each of our news stories would be more informative than the competition's, and more people would want access to them.

More retrievals meant more rentals, which meant more revenue, which in turn meant we could afford more reporters and have more news, and so on.

Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg News had two dozen reporters and editors by the end of 1990 and grew quickly, competing against rivals like Dow Jones and Reuters:

No big company thinks a little start-up company will ever become a major competitor. Invariably, by the time the big guy catches on, it's too late. The customers have grown used to having a choice. And playing catch-up isn't easy.

Michael Bloomberg

But they dealt with a myriad of hurdles along the way: Getting accredited in Washington, D.C., entering foreign markets like Japan, and more.

To overcome these, they used a variety of tactics.

When The New York Times wanted a Bloomberg Terminal for free, something Michael didn’t believe in, they made a trade:

We told the New York Times that if we provided them with news items that they decided were fit to print, just like any other news-service stories the Times published, we might be able to get them a Terminal.

At that time, the credibility gained from having Bloomberg News stories published in the New York Times was worth more to us than any cash payment. It would directly counter the argument of those who were reluctant to recognize Bloomberg because we weren't "published" in the old-fashioned way.

The agreement would be simple enough to avoid any conflict of interest: The New York Times would decide what it published, as it always had. But when it published one of our stories, there would be the Bloomberg News byline and the Standing Committee's problem would be solved.

When Max Frankel, the Times executive editor, agreed to our suggestion in 1991, Bloomberg had its first newspaper customer. Within a year, every major newspaper in the United States asked for the same arrangement.

By 1995, Bloomberg News was published in more American newspapers than any other news service, after the Associated Press. We provided what so many newspapers had in short supply: an army of reporters and editors who do nothing but report and explain money, markets, companies, industries, and the economy. The newspapers, in turn, provided what we needed: access, distribution, credibility, and recognition for us and our products.

Michael Bloomberg

In Japan, they struggled as well, taking two years to gain full access to the same information as the locals.

But news was just the start of Bloomberg’s expansion.

In one of the few acquisitions Bloomberg made, they expanded into broadcasting in 1991:

First, we bought a New York City radio station, WNEW, 1130 Kh on the AM dial. For decades, WNEW had been the closest thing to your father's radio station. I guess that's one of the reasons it was for sale. Much to the annoyance of its loyal but dwindling listeners, we had no intention of playing Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby into the millennium.

The $13.5 million we paid (an amount that constituted one-third of its market value twelve months later) provided us with the station's broadcast license and a 50,000-watt transmitter—not their studios, not their record collection, not their people, not even their call letters.

Our programming would be an extension of our other news coverage: politics, diplomacy, lifestyle, science, business, markets, the economy, war, and peace. We would not do sensationalism.

Michael Bloomberg

Always taking a different approach.

It’s a theme of Bloomberg’s story.

They built technology to help them in that domain as well.

And they take a unique approach to leadership with new ventures:

In many of our new ventures, we don't appoint a manager at the beginning. We simply throw everyone interested into the deep end of the pool, as it were, and stand back.

It becomes obvious very quickly who the best "swimmers" are. We just watch who people go to for help and advice. And later, when we formalize a management appointment, no one's ever surprised.

Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg Today

The original Bloomberg by Bloomberg book was published in 1997, so the majority of the focus is, obviously, on the first 15 years of the company.

There’s a lot I couldn’t cover about Michael Bloomberg’s story, but it’s a remarkable journey, to say the least.

In the 2019 version of the book, Michael described the culture that made Bloomberg a massive success:

The culture that we created at the very beginning continues to define who we are: We are still a company that will outwork our competitors, take more risks than they will, serve our customers better, invest more in the long term, and place greater emphasis on transparency and teamwork. The design of our physical environment is still the same no private offices.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg’s Wisdom

In each edition of the Just Go Grind newsletter, I like to include a few more quotes at the end from my research into the founder who is featured, sharing their wisdom.

On evaluating companies:

When I look at a company, I pay little attention to its accounting statements.

A good accountant with a creative mind can make numbers paint any desired picture. No one understates revenues and profits when they're trying to show off. Presumably, the financial situation is always equal to or worse than stated.

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 is.

First, I call those most knowledgeable, the customers. "Do you plan to buy more or less of this company's product?" I ask. "Are there competitors coming along with better offerings?" Then, I call the other insiders, the headhunters. "Do people want to go to work at this company, or are they trying to leave in droves?" Management, accountants, and other outsiders can say anything they want. Clients and employees rarely lie.

Michael Bloomberg

On culture:

Another tenet of Bloomberg philosophy is that our main asset is not our technology, our databases, our proprietary communications network, or even our clients. It is our employees.

Improving the rest is far less important than the care and feeding of ourselves and the maintenance of our culture. Physical plant, compensation politics, personnel policies, promotion, training, and so on—all of these at Bloomberg are designed with our culture in mind. The prospect of losing our culture—open, nimble, innovative, driving, caring, cooperative, unafraid of risk—is a bigger threat to our company than any outside competitor.

Michael Bloomberg

On understanding what business you’re in:

The technology that we pioneered in the early 1980s has long been ancient history. But we never made the error that so many others have: mistaking their product for the device that delivers it.

Executives at Eastman Kodak, for instance, thought they were in the camera and film business, instead of the photography business. The digital photography revolution passed them by, and after more than a century as one of the most innovative companies in the world, they filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

At Bloomberg, we got out of the business of building physical computers as soon as PCs began taking off. We knew our core product was data and analytics, not hardware.

Michael Bloomberg

On developing products:

At Bloomberg, we've always built the product first. We think about accounting and shipping much later in the process, when those functions become important, at the point where we'd better stop and refocus or get into trouble.

Selling is the only process we run simultaneously with development from the start. That gives us feedback as we build and makes the customers part of the evolution process (they come to believe it's their product).

Michael Bloomberg

On planning vs. doing:

Both at business and at home, I've never let planning get in the way of doing.

Life, I've found, works the following way: Daily, you're presented with many small and surprising opportunities. Sometimes you seize one that takes you to the top. Most, though, if valuable at all, take you only a little way.

To succeed, you must string together many small incremental advances—rather than count on hitting the lottery jackpot once. Trusting to great luck is a strategy not likely to work for most people.

As a practical matter, constantly enhance your skills, put in as many hours as possible, and make tactical plans for the next few steps. Then, based on what actually occurs, look one more move ahead and adjust the plan. Take lots of chances, and make lots of individual, spur-of-the-moment decisions.

Don't devise a Five-Year Plan or a Great Leap Forward. Central planning didn't work for Stalin or Mao, and it won't work for an entrepreneur either.

Slavishly follow a specific step-by-step strategy, the process gurus tell you. It'll always work, they say. Not in my world. Predicting the future's impossible. You work hard because it increases the odds. But there's no guarantee; much is dependent on what cards happen to get dealt. I have always believed in playing as many hands as possible, as intelligently as I can, and taking the best of what comes my way.

Every significant advance I or my company has ever made has been evolutionary rather than revolutionary: small earned steps— not big lucky hits.

Michael Bloomberg

On competition:

Bloomberg philosophy may sound strange to "outsiders," but not to those who matter—us. We've always assumed that even if we're paranoid, they probably are out to get us.

While you're reading this, we're thinking about how our competitors are plotting to take the food from our children's mouths. They must be attempting to beat our quality, provide better functionality, undercut our reputation, and mislead us as to their direction. And if they aren't, they should be.

Michael Bloomberg

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to read the book by Michael Bloomberg, which includes way more details than I could include in this piece, check it out here.

Best,

Justin

P.S. Interested in sponsoring Just Go Grind and reaching 22,000+ founders, investors, and operators?

P.P.S. Want to work with me 1 on 1?

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