What Keeps Bob Lieber Up at Night?

Question: What keeps you up at night?

Bob Lieber:  I think that figuratively and literally it is trying to plan for the surprises.  As I mentioned, it's a tough job because there are so many competing things that are going on all the time.  And making sure we communicate, and making sure we plan, that we can make every kind of preparations possible that -- the other night when I literally got up in the middle of the night was because I knew I had five things that had percolated into my head while I was sleeping, and I said, I just need to make sure that this doesn't get away from me, so I wrote them down and then in the morning went back into city hall and talked to my colleagues and said, these are the things we need to focus on.  So I think those, in the literal sense, is what keeps me up at night.

I think the more figurative part of what keeps me up at night -- what I think the biggest risk to New York City is -- is that I think our country needs a wakeup call a little bit about how we're positioning.  For better or for worse, this is a global economy now.  It is a 24/7 market around the world, and it's much more relevant today how the United States fits in with what's going on in Asia, what's going on in Europe -- Eastern Europe, Western Europe -- what's going on in Africa.  So I think we need to be more mindful of how the United States presents itself.  And one example, I'd say, is that New York City is a city of immigrants.  There are over 130 different languages that are spoken in the borough of Queens.  I mean, that's unbelievable.  But the immigrant population and the opportunity for people to come to New York and to get the chance to start a business, to raise a family and raise their children with great prosperity is something that we can't lose.  And I think when you see the partisan politics that are going on right now in Washington, D.C. and even what's going on in Albany, it really threatens not just New York City, but it threatens our entire nation in terms of what we're trying to do.  So that's one of those things that it's harder for us to have a direct influence on, it's harder for us to have direct control about.  So those are some of the things that may figuratively keep you up at night, because what happens away from what you're doing can have a material impact on how the city is affected by it.

Recorded on November 20, 2009

He thinks our country needs a wake-up call a little bit about how we're positioning ourselves.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Brain study finds circuits that may help you keep your cool

Research by neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal.

Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP/ Getty Images
Mind & Brain

MIT News

The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver's license. As you start your mom's car with a stern-faced evaluator in the passenger seat, you know you'll need to be alert but not so excited that you make mistakes. Even if you are simultaneously sleep-deprived and full of nervous energy, you need your brain to moderate your level of arousal so that you do your best.

Keep reading Show less

34 years ago, a KGB defector chillingly predicted modern America

A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
  • The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
  • According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
Keep reading Show less

How pharmaceutical companies game the patent system

When these companies compete, the people lose.

Top Video Splash
  • When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
  • When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
  • Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation the same as product invention. Companies should still receive an incentive for coming up with new products, he says, but not 20 years if the product is the result of "tweaking" an existing one.