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.

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