July 8, 2020

How A New York Minute Can Save Our Country – with Eric Anton [Ep. 26]

How A New York Minute Can Save Our Country – with Eric Anton [Ep. 26]

How can a minute of your time save our country? Eric Anton is a highly respected commercial real estate broker in New York City who has seen the rise and fall of the city over many years.  He describes the impact of leadership – good and bad – on the city, the state, and our country. Listen to hear his perspectives on how those examples can guide us as we lead in our businesses, families, and communities. Are you willing to use one minute of your time to preserve liberty in America?  If so, listen today! 

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Linda: Thank you for joining us today. My guest today is someone that I've known for many years and have grown to appreciate greatly, wonderful friend. His name is Eric Anton. Eric Anton is a real estate professional with over 23 years' experience in New York City and national capital markets business. He specializes in selling landmark properties and attracting international capital for New York City projects. 

Eric has completed more than $13 billion in transactions, which includes class A office buildings, apartment buildings, hotels, and dozens of large-scale development sites throughout the metropolitan area. Mr. Anton is currently Senior Managing Director at Marcus & Millichap, one of the largest and most successful commercial real estate intermediaries in the USA, where he’s responsible for growing the firm’s investment sales transaction business and co-chair of the firm’s Global Capital Team. 

Mr. Anton is a recognized thought leader in the industry and is sought after as a speaker and is often quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Financial Times, and other leading industry publications. He’s the eight-time recipient of the CoStar New York Power Broker Award and was awarded in 1999, Most Promising Commercial Broker by the Real Estate Board of New York. 

Eric Anton is a resident of New York City and is embedded in the fabric of the community. He is a board member of the Real Estate Board of New York, Commercial Real Estate Division, and is actively involved in several philanthropic and charitable organizations including the National New Leadership Board of Israel Bonds, Ronald McDonald House of New York, a past chairman of the Explorer division of the Boy Scouts of America, and a Director of the Seven Park Avenue Corporation.

He is a graduate of Brown University and holds a master's in real estate finance from Columbia University. And with that, I'd like to welcome Eric Anton.

Eric: Thank you so much. Great to be here, Linda.

Linda: Oh, it's great to have you here. You have always been an inspiration to me. I love your love of life and your professional expertise, and just the way you raise your family, everything. You've just been a great friend, and I'm honored to have you as part of this podcast today.

Eric: Thank you. 

Linda: Thank you. I know we have talked about how you got into real estate. Tell us a little bit about your background and what led you into this industry.

Eric: Sure. I grew up just outside of New York City. My father is an architect, retired. So, I was always sort of aware of the industry, but not really involved. A lot of people say their parents took them to the construction site, that sort of thing. That wasn't my upbringing, but I was aware of what my dad did. I was a history major at Brown University. I was studying European History, didn't really know what I wanted to do for a career, and I was really good swimmer. I swam all four years, I played water polo. I was really a student athlete, and I missed the Olympics and when you're finished with college, that's pretty much it. I had a great graduation, and then I had to figure out, “Wow, what am I going to do?” 

Through a friend of a friend, I was able to find a job as a marketing person with the largest construction company in the country. The headquarters was in New York City. It was a company called Lehrer McGovern Bovis. It's evolved, and now it's a company called Lend Lease. It's still one of the biggest in the world. It was good experience for me because I was 21 years old, I really didn't know anything. And I got lucky and then I sat next to a fellow who took me under his wing. He taught me a little about the business. He was an architect. He actually taught me how to read plans, how to understand value engineering, how to understand all the terminology with regard to construction. He took me out on sites once in a while, and so it was terrific. Having that mentor early on was excellent. That's how I got into the business. 

And then after three and a half, four years with that company, I got the real estate bug. I went back to Columbia University. I was able to get my master's in real estate finance. Undergrad, I didn't have many business classes. I was not a finance person. And frankly, I was terrified of finance. I didn't get it. I didn't have any experience in it and it was intimidating. 

When I finally arrived at Columbia and I started taking finance classes, it wasn't a big deal. It was pretty straightforward. It's easy. It's not statistics. It's not calculus. It's not trigonometry. It's really math. It's just understanding the terminology. So, I finished Columbia, I ended up going to work for a professor of mine, who was a senior executive at a company called Starrett. A very famous old school company was actually the company that built the Empire State Building. They had several divisions. I worked in the new development division. My job was to go out and try and make sense of new development deals. This was at a time in the market in the early 90s when it was tough, it was very difficult to put deals together. We were coming out of a recession. Unemployment was high, interest rates were high, and there just wasn't a lot of development happening, so we had to be creative. 

What we did was, we would approach government agencies, such as the MTA or the Port Authority, and we will try and put deals together wherein we would get control of the land and we would bring a little bit of money and put a deal together, maybe try and bring a tenant. So, it was putting all the pieces of development together, as opposed to just buying a piece of land and spending a lot of money. It was a hard slog. We got a couple of deals done. It was great experience. 

Then, after a couple years there, I had a lot of responsibility. I wasn't making a lot of money. I had a good business card, I had a nice title, but I saw a lot of my dopey friends making a lot more money in brokerage, being brokers, selling land, selling buildings. I said, “Maybe I could do this.” Eventually, that's how I got into brokerage, and I've been there ever since. So, I've been at four different brokerage firms over just about 20 years. The company now is called Marcus & Millichap. It's a very large firm. We have 86 offices around the US and Canada. We have 2,000 brokers across the US. We're the biggest company in the country that does what we do, which is selling commercial real estate. They have offices all over the country and I like it, because I get to work with people across the US and also run my own team here in New York City.

Linda: That's fantastic. You have said that you have a team, how big is your team?

Eric: We're currently 12 people plus an intern. It's a nice group. I call it one of the most diverse teams in the company. Probably it is. We have a Chinese person, a Korean person, a Jamaican woman, a Jew, a Catholic, a Presbyterian, a person from Vietnam, and we have an 87-year-old woman who I've been working with for almost 20 years. We have a super diverse team. [chuckles] We're as diverse as you get.

Linda: Yeah, that is great. I'm sure you enjoy leading them. I'm sure they enjoy working with you as well. You have talked about your history there. You've always worked in the New York area. I know you and I, we met through our involvement with politics. Because we care about preserving freedom, liberty, free enterprise, the opportunity to make a good living. We value that here in America. Your background in New York, we've talked quite a bit about the different policies regarding the different governors, the different mayors in New York, and how those policies have affected the state and the city of New York. 

Now, right now, as we're recording this amidst the coronavirus crisis, we are seeing how policies affect local communities greatly. You have shared with me how different policies have affected New York City back many, many years. Would you like to share a little bit about how the different policies of the various mayors have affected, not only the city of New York, but your business and the business client or the business atmosphere for your clients as well as other businesses within the city?

Eric: Sure. I'll take it way back. When I started working in New York City, David Dinkins was the mayor. In New York City, that year, I believe it was 1990 when we had 2600 murders in New York City. Just horrific statistic and it was really rough. You would not walk through parks, you would not go through the bus terminal unless you had to, and you would walk really fast and you would keep your eyes forward, you wouldn't look at anybody, and you were in fear. You were in fear walking through Times Square. You were in fear walking down 42nd Street. The boroughs had terrible crime. There were not a lot of development projects going on in Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx. Nobody wanted to live in the boroughs. You wanted to live in Manhattan where it was safe on the Upper East Side. Very few people even went downtown, or you moved to the burbs. If you got married and you have children and, you moved to the burbs. 

I remember one real estate deal I was looking at. I was a kid, I was 21 or 22 years old. I found a building in SoHo. SoHo was always been cool. I found this little building, five-storey building, 25 feet wide. I took my father down, again, he was an architect working at the time, and it was $250,000. I just felt it in my bones. "I know things are bad in New York, but this is a great deal." And he looked at me and he said, “Why would anyone invest in New York City? That makes no sense. It's only getting worse.” Needless to say, we didn't buy the building. Fast forward 20 years later, that building sold for probably $22 million. So, that was a mistake. The values in New York City exploded from 1990 to 2015-2016. Tippy top of the market, it was probably the end of 2015. 

Again, when I started, David Dinkins was the mayor. I knew he was doing a bad job. I didn't know why exactly, but I knew things had to change. There was a guy named Rudy Giuliani, who was a prosecutor who was running against Dinkins. He lost his first election in-- I believe, it was 1988, and he ran again the next election. In 1993, he won by a slim margin, very slim margin, and he became mayor. From that moment on, very quickly, crime was reduced and there were specific ways he did that. The welfare rolls, he knocked about half a million people off welfare. Why did he do that? Was that cruel? Not really. Many, many of those people were collecting two welfare checks. Why? Because the city didn't even check to see who was getting the checks. It was so badly run.

There were just so many things wrong with the city. But the real reason things started to get better is that they cracked down on quality of life crimes. Not only the murder and the mayhem and the robbery and burglary, but they cracked down on small petty crimes - jumping a turnstile, dealing small amounts of drugs, etc. What they learned very quickly was that the people committing small crimes were often the people also committing big crimes. So, the crime rate dropped very quickly.

Dinkins was mayor for eight years and at the very end of his term, of course, 9/11 happened. That was a real shock to the system. We lived through the Depression of the late 80s, early 90s. Then, things started to get better when Giuliani was mayor. I could see year by year, neighborhood by neighborhood, things changing. Of course, 9/11 was horrendous, and the city came together, and Lower Manhattan was decimated, but Giuliani did a good job bringing us through that crisis. Then, there was a question, well, we have term limits in New York City, should we allow Giuliani to run a third term? There was general feeling, no, this is not the right thing to do. So, it turned out that Michael Bloomberg ran for mayor as a Republican against a very weak Democrat whose name was Mark Green, who is a shoo-in. There was no question he was going to be the mayor because after two terms, people get tired of one party, they want another party. He was a very politically connected fellow. But after 9/11, he was viewed as weak, and Giuliani was viewed as strong. Giuliani threw all of his weight behind Bloomberg, and Bloomberg won the election.

Bloomberg, it's interesting, he is a businessman, he's a billionaire, he made money, he started a company, but the things that he was most successful at, were not necessarily what you would have anticipated. He came into office, and he kept the crime down and, in fact reduced it to unbelievably low levels. So, every year, crime was lower and lower, lower. Murders went down, down, down until, I think, last year, we only had something like 400 murders, which is a staggering amount. So, Bloomberg created the sense that not only was Manhattan safe, not just the Upper East Side, not just Midtown, but other neighborhoods were safe. Williamsburg, Long Island City, Maspeth, Queens, the South Bronx. So, it became, for me, terrific because I could see the real estate values growing in these neighborhoods because crime was going down. Today, you have 21-year-old single women running down the waterfront in Williamsburg, not afraid. That would never have happened in the 90s.

So, that direct correlation between crime and quality of life in real estate values going up and jobs being created and construction and energy and all this good activity happening was because, I think, of the reduction in crime. That was the biggest single change to New York City. If you remember in the 70s and 80s, New York was a laughingstock, and so many movies were made about how awful it was, and there was a flight away from the city. The interesting thing about Bloomberg, people thought he was doing such a good job, there was an effort to allow him to run for a third term, which he did and he won. He just barely won, even though he's doing a great job and even though he's a billionaire, and he spent $150 million of his own money on that third election, I think he spent about $100, the first two, which is a staggering amount of money for a city election. He won a third term, so he was in office for 12 years.

To round up the story, we had 8 years of Giuliani, 12 years of Bloomberg, so 20 years of commitment to having New York be a safe city, and a growing city and attracting young, successful people into New York and into new neighborhoods. Unfortunately, now, for the last six years or so, we've had bad leadership. Bad leadership on the city side with the mayor and I feel very bad leadership on the governor's side for the entire state. It shows you how direct these consequences are. Your vote counts and leadership counts, and now we have a-- I would say almost a hyper-liberal, hyper-progressive city council and mayor. The entire state is one-party rule. So really, the entire city and state are run by Democrats. There's no accountability. There's no Republican challenge because there are so few Republicans. They can't push back. So, you see more and more corruption. You see just lack of accountability. 

The recent COVID problem with the nursing homes. Other states such as Florida refused to send sick people back to nursing homes. Their death rate in nursing homes was a tiny fraction of what happened in New York, which sent sick people back in order by the health department, and Cuomo saying they couldn't even test sick people to see if they were sick. They had to just let them back in these nursing homes. So, we had over I think 44% of the deaths in New York State. New York State, by far, is the worst epicenter of deaths. That's something like 25,000 deaths, and over 40% were in nursing homes. 

So just bad leadership, and it's directly affecting values of real estate, it's affecting people wanting to come to New York. I think this year, we could have as many as 200,000 people leave New York State and they're heading to states with low taxes and good leadership and low corruption and big job creation. So, they're going to Florida, they're going Arizona, they're going to North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas. It's sad for me, because I've seen 20 years of great leadership and now six, seven years of terrible leadership, and it's a direct effect on the economy and the happiness of people. So, that's the story of New York at the moment.

Linda: Thank you for that. For our listeners who maybe haven't followed it as closely, it just really shows leadership matters. I always say ideas have consequences, leadership matters, and it matters who's elected. And this is a perfect example. As I was growing up, like you said, New York was this place that you didn't go. This was not a tourist town. It was a crime town. I remember being through there a couple times and you didn't get out of your car, you just kept driving. But later, after Rudy Giuliani was mayor, the growth in New York, it was just such a beautiful rebirth, in a sense. And I remember being there many, many times. The first time I was there after Rudy Giuliani was mayor was actually in 2004 for the Republican National Convention.

And I remember thinking, I never felt safer really than when I was in New York that summer. I grew to love the city as I explored the city, more so than I ever had on any other visit. And, like you mentioned, people running, women running alone. Over the years since then, I've been back to New York many, many times, as you know, and I've never hesitated to run alone. There's areas I'm not comfortable going, but for the most part, I've been able to run throughout the city and things. But now, as we've seen in the last few years, I would say, especially since with the COVID crisis and now the riots, and the lawlessness that we've seen in New York City and the whole efforts to defund police, it just goes right to what you talked about, people like law and order. People like law and order. They like to have a good quality of life. These quality of life crimes that you mentioned, they matter. They matter to people's lives and livelihoods, and they'll leave the city and you're seeing it. So, that has to be affecting those policies now that you see in New York City and in your state, absolutely have to be affecting your business and your team's business and across the country really, with what's happening in New York. Tell us how it has affected or the change since new leadership in this state.

Eric: It's terribly affected us. I can tell you that business is way down. When I was younger in the 90s, we go to cocktail parties, and everybody would talk about, “Hey, I'm buying AOL.” “I'm buying this.” “I'm buying that stock.” This was before dotcom bust. People were buying stocks, they're talking about stocks, they're trading stock. And then, move 10 years forward from that, it was like, “Hey, I'm buying a one-bedroom.” "Oh, I'm combining two-bedroom and a one-bedroom. I'm doing this real estate.” “Oh, I'm buying in SoHo." "I'm buying in Williamsburg.” It was all about real estate because things were really good and things were safe and people wanted to invest in New York. 

Now, unfortunately, people my age are like, "How do I escape? How do I get out of New York? How do I not have the state chase me for taxes if I move to Florida? Where do I go? How do I protect my kids? Where do they go to school?" Again, it's very depressing because we had such a good run for so long and it was good for everybody. Crime was down. Thousands of minority lives were saved by the effective policing in New York City.

So, yeah, absolutely. Every one of these policies affects business.  I come from very humble beginnings. I like to say my parents drove a 1970s Volkswagen Beetle in the 80s. We didn't have a lot. But my dad was an architect, my mom was an art teacher. So, we had a lot of art, music, and museums and that sort of thing. We didn't go on fancy vacations, but we did other great things like sports. I was always impressed with people that had a lot of money. I wanted to work for successful people. I never got a job from a poor person. And when we vilify the wealthy, and when we make it so difficult for people and families to stay in cities like New York, they have the ability to leave. They can go to Florida. They can go to a gated community. They can buy private security. The middle class, the lower middle class, and the poor can't. They're stuck. 

As you said, these policies matter, and how people vote matters, and how they spend their money matters, and who they support matters. Doing research into candidates and really understanding what the message is from these candidates and holding them to account, it truly matters.

Linda: It truly does. Often in my podcast, I talk about federal policies. We talk about national issues, international issues some, but we haven't always talked so much about at the local level. But what's happened in New York only gives us a great example. It trickles down to all sorts of towns across the country. You see it in small towns. The town where I raised my children, I can see effects of different leadership over different times and the economic stability of that town and what people need to do to create prosperity for their families. But we see this as the local level, so I really thank you for bringing that into light because whoever's listening, you might not live in New York, but you live in a local community, and it matters who your mayor is, it matters who the city council members are. 

And those people also, they're often the farm team for higher office. If they are poor leaders at the local level, they will be poor leaders at higher levels, and it tends to gravitate up. I know one time I had a person come to my door campaigning for city council. I started asking him about all sorts of issues from sanctuary cities to funding police, to human trafficking, to pro-life, all these different issues, taxation, which he was already talking about. But he looked at me, like I was from Mars, like, “Why are you asking me this?” And I said, “Because you'll get into office and then you'll want to go to higher office and then you'll want to go to higher office. And I want to know what you believe in.” I think he really didn't know how to take me. [chuckles] 

Eric: That's a great story. That's a great point.

Linda: Yeah. We all need to do that. It matters, and I say too, it matters whether you're leading a family, like you are, great dad, or whether you are leading a business or you're a leader in a community, leadership matters. We have to look at ourselves to make sure we're good leaders, but we have to hold our leaders accountable as well. You talked about how things have changed even with the COVID crisis, what do you think is going to happen in New York, now as we move forward?

Eric: Boy, it's really unclear. Just a couple of hours ago, the governor announced they may delay the third phase of opening. We're in the second phase now where office buildings can open, but under certain restrictions. Then, the third phase, I think, was supposed to be on Monday, the 6th. That would be limited restaurants, interior restaurants. I think that maybe pushed off a couple weeks. And then, the fourth phase is a full opening. So, it's getting further and further away. The good news is that the death toll has gone way down. I think yesterday we only had like four or five people die, and almost all of these people are above 75, 80 years old. 

So, in New York, the numbers are very good. Around the country, in the south, mostly Texas, Florida, and some other states, Arizona, their cases are skyrocketing. But that's somewhat misleading. Most of these cases are younger people, I think the average age is 35. It's mostly young people going out, going to bars, going to restaurants, going to movies, or just going to parties and getting infected and spreading that. That's not good, but it's not that bad. In other words, 25-year-olds, don't really get sick. They don't die and they don't go to the hospital. What they can do is infect the elderly, so we have to protect the elderly. But again, the media cannot be trusted because when you-- again, you read the headline, and the headline is cases double. Again, cases may double, but if deaths are going down or they're minimal, try not to be terrified. The media has terrified everyone to such a degree.

I live in New York and New Jersey, and I really feel it's been a brainwashing because I'll go out to a store to buy food or whatever it is and mostly women, they are absolutely terrified if I get within six feet, even approach them. I'm wearing a mask. They're wearing a mask. I think we've been brainwashed. The percentage of people that die is still so small if you're not over 70 and if you don't have another illness. We've been brainwashed by 24/7 news cycles that just pounded into us to be terrified to stay home. There's definitely no balance. I'm not saying the diseases isn’t real, the virus is real, it's dangerous, for sure. But the terror that the media has instilled in everyone, it's getting to the point where I think the cure is worse than disease. People terrified to go to their doctor to get treated for other illnesses, the suicides, the child abuse, the alcoholism, the domestic abuse, making people crazy, I think.

Linda: Yeah, it's really tough on people. You bring up a good point about not having the cure be worse than the problem. The way I look at it, of course, any death is a loss, and whether the death is from the disease-- I just have a dear friend who lost a brother to suicide, and he said it was directly related to COVID. It's a long story about that person's life.

Eric: Oh, it's terrible. If someone loses their job--

Linda: Yeah, it just a spiral downward for this person and it was just so, so sad. We look at it, and the way I look at it, I'm certainly not a doctor, but this disease is going to be with us forever. We can't live in a bubble forever. We have to get on with life. We have to reopen. We have to do wise things to protect people, obviously, and protect the vulnerable, of course, but we can't let our society fall apart and our economy tank because of this. Because without that strength of society, we won't be able to combat the disease anyway. So, yeah. 

Eric: That’s right.

Linda: It's really a tough call. When you think about people in the hospitals, everything and the businesses that need to reopen, there's just so much there as people have been vulnerable to fear. Then of course, now we have the riots, and it just adds to it. I just think it makes people more vulnerable to swallow cultural shifts that are really designed to take away our freedom. This is not necessarily all organic. You and I know that a lot of the cultural pressure to shift away from our American way of life and our system of government, this has been in the making for a long time. People were vulnerable. They're in their homes. They're not connecting with each other the same way. They're just seeing what's on the news. They're afraid. It makes people-- [crosstalk] 

Eric: People are told don't go to church. 

Linda: Yes.

Eric: Don't go to synagogue, stay in your home, which means watch TV and be brainwashed by this 24-hour news cycle which terrorizes you. The likelihood of you getting sick if you're outside in the sun in June, wearing a mask or not wearing a mask, is so small. Being outside is good for you, being outside is healthy. Being inside is not healthy. That's one simplistic analysis. But on every front, I think you better check what you're doing. If you're giving money to some of these not-for-profit groups that have sprouted up, you should go online and look at where the money is going because the money is not going where you think it's going. So, you've got to do your own research. You can't rely on the media, you can't rely on newspapers. You've got to be a little more clever and investigate and really understand what's going on and what's being demanded of you. 

People are encouraged to go to these protests, where thousands and thousands of people are on top of each other. But if more than 10 people go to a church, the priest is arrested, and it's insane, in a building designed for 400 people. It's crazy. People are rebelling. The reason they're rebelling is it doesn't make sense. People have an inner fairness gene where they get it. They know what's not fair, and they know what's not common sense. And I still feel like Americans lead the world in commonsense. When our leaders inundate us with non-commonsense with craziness, people rebel. That's why they rebel.

Linda: Let's hope they rebel against the craziness in this particular timeframe in history because there is a lot of craziness out there. One of the things that we've realized a little late maybe, and this goes into national policy but some state or local things too, that it has been our dependence on foreign governments for some of our essential products and our essential needs. I know that you work with international investors in real estate, everything, but you and I have talked before about some of the adversarial countries who have bought up a lot of land or businesses within the US with not the best of intentions. You've seen that firsthand in New York and throughout the country. I'd like to address that a little bit. How can we protect our nation against these foreign entities that come in in the guise of doing business, but they're really here to spy on us or to do us harm with our economy and with our culture?

Eric: Right. I'm in the real estate business, and the good news is no matter-- and I've seen this now cycle after cycle. First, it was the investors from the Middle East and then it was British and then it was the Japanese in the 80s, and now is the Chinese. In the last 10 years, all these investors came into America and they bought fancy hotels and office buildings, etc., Pebble Beach, Rockefeller Center. And they got killed because they thought they knew better. They came in and they paid top dollar for all these trophy assets, and the Americans just destroyed them. We sold it the high and then we bought everything back at the low, and that's great.

But there's a difference between companies with technology or medical companies and real estate. Real estate is not really important when it comes to national security. Unless, a Chinese company is buying a trailer park next to a military base. Now, that's different. They're not buying it for to collect rent from double-wides. So, there's always that aspect that has to be checked. But in terms of technology and companies, yes, then we have to study certain industries that protect us, military technologies, medical technologies, biotech, etc. Finally, the country is now using what's called CFIUS, which is the review process for foreign transactions. Foreign companies that come to America and want to buy companies or even real estate are reviewed by the State Department through this process. It's starting to happen now. We're starting to wake up. 

I know the Vice President and the President are very adamant, and also Senator Cotton who's done a terrific job on this. They are aware and focused on these vital military technologies. We have to be aware of what's going on. And when we woke up, and all of a sudden, we realized that 90 some odd percent of our penicillin and other critical drugs are made in China or other countries, it's a wake-up call. We have to protect our critical industries. I think most people would agree with that.

Linda: You brought up a good point about how this administration-- I know that the Trump administration has really worked to close some of those national security loopholes, in a sense in terms of cooperative research and development agreements with other countries, in terms of our technology and technology sharing. I'm really grateful for that because we've seen over and over again that when we give up too much territory, not necessarily land but in our intellectual assets, we make ourselves vulnerable, like we saw with the COVID crisis. So, I'm glad you brought that up and you've been alert to that. 

You are a conservative in a very liberal city. [chuckles] You've been bold and a leader. You are also a leader at your place of work. You lead a team, so you're basically an employer. You've shared with me some of the ways that you like to help your team to just stop to think about the blessings that they have of living in America and what some of our principles of government mean to their daily life. You shared a couple of examples, and I'd love that you share that with the listeners, because maybe they'd like to do the same thing.

Eric: Sure. I remember, maybe 10 years ago, I had a young guy who was working with me, and it was Election Day. I vote always early in the morning, it's just easier. I went to the office and I said, “Did you vote?” He starts laughing. I said, “Well, did you vote? Why are you laughing?” He goes, “No, I didn't vote.” I said, “Are you American?” He goes, “Yeah, of course, I'm American.” I go, “Why didn't you vote?” “I don't know.” I always push this stuff, but since then, I push it hard. So, every national holiday or just day of remembrance-- June 6th, I always ask my team, “What day is it?” They fumble and finally couple guys they start to remember, they've been with me now for a couple years. “Oh, June 6, D-Day.” “Oh, December 7, Pearl Harbor.” "Oh, Flag Day. This day, that day. I talk about it because you only really have two things in the world. You have your good name, and you have your country, and you have your family. But alone, you have your good name, meaning you want to be honest, you want to be known as somebody who's a good person. And you have your country, and without your country, where are you? So, I push that really hard. 

Now, I have seven or eight young people that work for me and I teach them three things. I teach them about movies from the 80s. I teach them about rock and roll, which they have no idea about. And I teach them about politics. I make it fun. I'll bring them in and I'll play rock and roll from the 70s, 80s, 90s. They don't know, they have no idea what it is. And then, we talk about politics.

It is a very liberal city. New York, they say there's three communist countries left in the world, North Korea, Cuba, and the Upper West Side. It's kind of a joke, but it's not a funny joke. I never push my ideology. I just ask questions. What do you think about this? What do you think about that? How do you think we should respond to this? When you just use the Socratic method, they start to realize that what they're hearing, what they're reading, what they're learning from their peers may not be 100% the right answer. I try and do it very cleverly and with humor. Always with humor. If anybody pushes back, it's fine. Nothing anybody says to me hurts my feelings. I think that's the biggest difference between the majority of conservatives in New York and the majority of Democrats. The vast majority of people or liberals and Democrats, they take things personally. I don't take anything personally. You believe what you want to believe. It's fine. But if we talk about something, don't go crazy if I have a different opinion, that's all.

Linda: Yeah, treat them you'd like to be treated. 

Eric: That's it. It's not personal. It's an idea. We're all Americans. Hopefully, we're all Americans and we believe in some of the most important things that make us special.

Linda: Right. Well, we see that being attacked quite a bit now. I thank you for your bold leadership and not being afraid to speak up for America and for American history, especially even at this time. Thank you for working with your employees that way, and I'm sure that's an encouragement to our listeners. For those listening, I encourage you to do the same thing. You can do it by asking questions. You can ask them about their own family history. Maybe they had someone who was at Normandy. Maybe they had someone who was at Pearl Harbor. They can learn from these things. Sometimes, they just haven't paused to stop and think about the sacrifices that were made so that they can be free or have the opportunity to prosper and work with you in your jobs.

You brought up voting, asking them about voting. It made me think about mail-in voting. Right now, there's the whole big push for mail-in voting. As we know, absentee voting is legal, and we can go through a process. Every state has absentee voting. We can go through a process, we prove identity, we apply for absentee ballots. We do not have to go to the polls to vote., Now it seems the left or progressive -- I hate labels, but there's a big push for mail-in ballots, which can just become such a hotbed for voter fraud. I'd like your thoughts on that and how you address that with people who push mail-in voting ideas.

Eric: This is a new war that the Liberal Democrats are pushing. It's only about a month or so old that it's been really a hot button. But I think it's absolutely ready for incredible corruption. I think Stalin had a quote, he said, “It's not who gets the most votes, it's who counts the votes.” When you have to go and pull the lever and sign in and check your name and sign your name, and check your ID, it's just harder to cheat, period. It's just harder to cheat. If you're going to mail 150 million ballots out-- we just mailed out all these checks for the stimulus bill. 1.2 million went to dead people, checks, big checks. Imagine how corrupt and disorganized and what a mess it will be if we do this via voting.

There should be certain times that you actually do something for your country. When the Star-Spangled Banner is played, you stop playing a video game, you stand up. When it's voting day once every four years or every two years, you go and you vote. I get the fact that the virus is dangerous, etc., but I think we can have an election. If we can have protesters by the thousands marching in the streets and rioters fighting with the police, we can have people vote. Maybe it's we spend extra money and we start at 5:00 in the morning instead of 8:00 in the morning and we go to midnight instead of 9:00. Whatever it is, we can do it. And people should go and vote. 

I saw this great video, I can't remember who did it. But it was interviewing students on campus about having to show voter ID. It was leftist after leftist saying, minorities can't be expected to have IDs, it's discrimination, it's this and that, and on and on. Then, this reporter goes to a substantially black neighborhood and interviews people in the neighborhood and he says, “Do you have a problem with showing your ID?” “No. No problem.” “Do you have a cell phone?” “Yeah, everyone I know has a cell phone.” “Do you have a computer?” “Yeah, I have a computer. I can look up where to go and it's no problem.” So, it's this arrogant, liberal, narratives that the poor can't be bothered with getting an ID, they don't know how to get an ID. It was just such a striking thing. He goes into the neighborhood, "Do you have an ID?" "Of course, I have an ID." Every single person he interviewed. It just shows you that what you're being told by the media not 100% true.

Linda: Not 100% true, exactly. I believe that every state has a way for people if they can't get a driver's license or maybe they can't afford an ID, there are ways to get state ID cards. So, for every legal citizen, there is an appropriate path to have an ID card and to vote legally. I look at it and I think you sometimes have to show an ID to go into a bar if you're a certain age, or under certain-- [crosstalk] 

Eric: I have to show an ID to get on a plane, to go in a bar, to buy liquor [crosstalk] to do anything, to literally do anything.

Linda: Right. But somehow people say we shouldn't have to show an ID to vote and that is dangerous for our nation. Well, I just really appreciate the time that you've taken here. You’ve really have shown that you can be a conservative. You can live out your values. You can be bold as a leader, and you can make a difference. As you think back to your years of leadership, what types of things make you feel the most proud? I don't mean that in a prideful sense, but I mean, a sense of accomplishment, like you made a difference.

Eric: I think the last two years, I've felt that way more than ever. I started at this company three years ago. I came by myself. I was recruited to start a team, I started the team. Almost three years ago, I hired two young guys. They were very young and very inexperienced, didn't know much about the business at all. Now, two and a half years later, they're successful. They're making a lot of money. They can provide for themselves. It's just great to watch. So, I love that together, we're building this team, but I do take a sense of pride in developing young people to be successful and be able to make a living for themselves. 

Linda: Yeah. That's great. You have been successful yourself as an individual and a businessperson and as a community leader. As we close here, I know we're running up on our time, but do you have any closing thoughts for the listeners? Maybe the employers who are leading their employees and hoping that their employees will vote in such a way that will promote business-friendly policies? Or maybe it's a different listener who's never ever heard anything like this, but any closing thoughts?

Eric: I can't remember the fellow’s name. He's terrific. He was the former president of AEI. It'll come to me in a second. He just wrote a book and his philosophy was, you're never going to convince somebody of anything if you look down on them, if you treat them with contempt. He said to convince people to come to your opinion, effectively you have to kill them with kindness. You have to be warmhearted, apply warm-heartedness. I think that's just such a great weapon to get people to think outside of what they're trained to think.

I think the last 40 years the teachers in this country have done a terrible disservice by saying, “Oh, dates don't matter. You don't have to know dates.” That's the only thing that matters. Dates totally matter. 100% they matter. If you don't know what came first and what came next and why, you know nothing. You don't know history. You can't understand how to vote properly, how to view issues if you don't have a sense of history and what went wrong, what went right, what worked, what didn't work. We know exactly what worked in New York City over the last 20 years, and we know what's not working now. And we're doubling down on what's not working. When you don't have a sense of history, when you don't know intellectual philosophy history, you're bound to repeat the mistakes.

What I would say to all the people that own businesses and have employees, if you spend maybe one minute a week, literally just one minute a week, giving young people an idea or something to look at or something to read, I think it goes a long way.

Linda: You mentioned the dates that people need to remember, and how knowing these dates and the progression of history helps us to understand how to be better today. Right now, at this season of history, we are seeing a lot of people tearing down statues. They're not just tearing down those who maybe were racist or whatever, but they're just erasing our history. You mentioned how important it is to understand the dates and how people progress over time in their thinking and in their evolution in terms of economics and government’s growth. What would you say to the people who are trying to erase our history right now?

Eric: I think it's absolutely a terrible thing that they're doing. I think it's bad for our culture. In Poland, Auschwitz is still standing where a million people were killed, million Jews were murdered. Why do the Jews not demand that's destroyed and liquidated? Why? Because they want people to remember. They want history to be real and to see it and to touch it. These statues tell a story. Maybe it's not all a pretty story, maybe it's a bad story, but it's still a story. It's a story that needs to be understood in the context of that period of time. So, judging George Washington or Ulysses S. Grant by the standards of 2020 is an insane thing.

In 20 years, we will be judged by a different set of standards and we may not hold up very well. But that doesn't mean that you burn buildings down or destroy statues or destroy art. The counter to that is more art, more statues, more books, more commentary, more discussion, not destroying. That's the message I would give to all these people. You're destroying our history. Why don't you create something instead of destroy?

Linda: Great point. That's just really a great point, very wise. We can learn from history and when we look at it in light of today, it changes it. We can't take it from today and put that same lens on it because everything was different. You bring up some great points for that. I often remind people that Ronald Reagan was a liberal until he worked at General Electric. General Electric wanted their employees to understand free enterprise principles and the policies that would help General Electric be profitable and thrive so that they could provide more jobs and more benefits and things. 

So, they had a book club, and it was that through that book club that Ronald Reagan really began to open his mind to the economic philosophies that eventually helped to bring down the Berlin Wall. So, I tell people you never know who you might be educating, whether it's a dishwasher in the back of your restaurant who's 16 years old with his first job, or somebody who's fresh out of college, but just was never exposed to any of this. We never know that we might be educating a world leader who will fight for freedom for millions of people. So that effort to educate, like you said even a minute a week, is really, really valuable. So, thank you for that. 

Well, with that, I always like to let listeners know how they might contact you if they'd like to. Could you give your contact information?

Eric: Sure. If you just hit the internet and type in my name, you'll get me. It's Eric Anton. A-N-T-O-N. And the company is Marcus & Millichap. Millichap with two L's, so just Eric with a C, A-N-T-O-N, and you'll get all my contact information and the company information.

Linda: Well, thank you, Eric. I really appreciate your time with us today. I thank you for the example you've given and we're just really grateful for that. So, thank you.

Eric: Super. Thank you, Linda. You're a pro.

Linda: Thanks.

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