New York Times
August 24, 2013
Bloomberg Shares a Few Secrets of His Success: Be Early, Stay Late and Hold It In
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
Featuring:Dr. David Samadi, Chair, Urology, Lenox Hill Hospital
He went from Eagle Scout to Wall Street titan, designed a machine that sits on bankers’ desks around the world and reshaped notions of New York City government.
On Friday, asked to convey the magical formula that has catapulted him to the elite of American political and corporate life, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ticked off a few of his tips for success: arrive early, stay late, eat lunch at your desk.
Oh, and don’t go to the bathroom so much.
That last recommendation — peculiar and abstemious, yet positively Bloomberg — was tossed off by the mayor during a riff on his regular radio program, and it prompted no small amount of mockery.
Even for a citizenry accustomed to a mayor who relentlessly tinkers with the minutiae of daily life, this bit of personal advice may have been a touch too, well, personal.
“If you think about it, this advocacy fits hand in glove with the soda ban,” wrote one wag on Twitter, referring to the diuretic nature of cola.
“Mind over bladder,” wrote another online wit.
Late in the day, an editor at New York magazine made clear he had taken the mayor’s advice to heart. “Just went to the bathroom,” Dan Amira, the editor, posted on Twitter. “Feel like a failure.”
Mr. Bloomberg, no stranger to dispensing work advice, had tucked his restroom recommendations into a broad prescription, saying, “Take the fewest vacations, the least time away from the desk to go to the bathroom or have lunch.”
It remains unclear if Mr. Bloomberg follows his own advice to the letter.
Several of his current and former aides declined to discuss the subject for the record — “I don’t think I want to be commenting on the mayor’s urinary habits,” said one — but a few shared their thoughts on the condition of anonymity, so as not to offend the subject.
One former City Hall official pronounced himself stunned that Mr. Bloomberg apparently demanded strictness in that particular matter.
“He drinks more coffee than anybody I’d ever seen,” the official said. “He drinks coffee like you and I would drink water if you were running a marathon.”
“It gives you a sense of the discipline,” the aide said, sounding somewhat awed.
Stu Loeser, Mr. Bloomberg’s former press secretary, declined to comment about the mayor’s bathroom-related beliefs.
But Mr. Loeser said the advice was in keeping with Mr. Bloomberg’s broader philosophy of efficiency and hard work.
“He’s not into lollygagging,” Mr. Loeser said.
There are no policies in effect about bathroom use at City Hall, according to a spokesman for the mayor, Marc La Vorgna.
Mr. Bloomberg does indeed eat lunch most days at his desk, a task made easier by the copious amounts of complimentary, low-calorie snacks and drinks available in the City Hall bullpen, as the office is called.
Mr. Bloomberg was an early adopter of providing free food in the workplace, instituting the practice at his media company as a way to encourage employees to mingle more and spend less time away from their desks.
His firm, Bloomberg L.P., does not have a formal policy about bathroom use, although several disgruntled employees complained to Gawker last year that the restrooms in the company’s Manhattan skyscraper were designed to discourage lingering — citing small space and a nonstop feed of Bloomberg Television.
Asked about the mayor’s advice, David Samadi, chairman of the urology department at Lenox Hill Hospital, said he admired Mr. Bloomberg’s push for efficiency, but thought he had picked the wrong example for it.
“As a urologist, you always discourage people from keeping their bladder full,” Dr. Samadi said in an interview, noting that resisting the urge to urinate could lead to kidney problems over time.
Dr. Samadi added that a few minutes spent in the bathroom each day might cost a company less than footing the bill for an employee’s long-term medical bills.
Plus, he said, “I don’t think it’s going to affect productivity, unless you’re out every hour.”