Sept. 21, 2022

Sad vs. Hopeful – Fruits of Leadership in the Big Apple – with Eric Anton – [Ep. 138]

Sad vs. Hopeful – Fruits of Leadership in the Big Apple – with Eric Anton – [Ep. 138]

There has recently been a great migration of citizens from states like New York, California, and Illinois, to states like Florida, South Dakota, Texas, and Tennessee. Why? How might this trend affect you? Eric Anton is a highly respected commercial...


There has recently been a great migration of citizens from states like New York, California, and Illinois, to states like Florida, South Dakota, Texas, and Tennessee. Why? How might this trend affect you? Eric Anton is a highly respected commercial real estate broker who has seen the rise and fall of New York City over many years. He and Linda discuss examples of economic policies and leadership styles that have brought sadness or hope for citizens, and he provides suggestions for making a positive impact in your community and country. What’s the fruit of your leadership? 

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Transcript

Linda J. Hansen  

Welcome.  Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Prosperity 101 Breakroom Economics Podcast. My name is Linda J. Hansen. Your host and the author of Prosperity 101 - Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, and the creator of the Breakroom Economics online course. The book, the course, and the entire podcast library can be found on Prosperity101.com. I seek to connect boardroom to breakroom and policy to paycheck by empowering and encouraging employers to educate employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs.

 

My goal is to help people understand the foundations of prosperity, the policies of prosperity, and how to protect their prosperity by becoming informed, involved, and impactful. I believe this will lead to greater employee loyalty, engagement, and retention and to an increased awareness of the blessings and responsibilities of living in a free society. Listen each week to hear from exciting guests and be sure to visit Prosperity101.com. 

 

Thank you for listening today. Elections have consequences and policy matters. Policies decided by elected officials or unelected bureaucrats greatly affect you, your family, and your business. There has recently been a great migration of citizens from states like New York, California, and Illinois to states like Florida, South Dakota, Texas, and Tennessee. Why? And how might this affect you, the listener? We will explore this and more with my guest and friend, Eric Anton.

 

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's a real estate professional with over 25 years' experience and is currently Senior Managing Director at Marcus & Millichap, one of the largest and most successful commercial real estate firms in the country. He's a recognized thought leader in the industry, a sought-after speaker and is often quoted in leading industry publications. Eric is a repeat guest. And you may want to listen to the episode we recorded in July of 2020 entitled, How A New York Minute Can Save Our Country. Thank you for joining with me today, Eric. It's a pleasure to have you back on the podcast.

 

Eric Anton  

Thank you, Linda. It's been great watching you grow your audience.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Well, you are a part of that. And I always appreciate your input. So much has changed in America and in New York City since our last interview. If you could choose one word, how would you sum up the changes for the listeners?

 

Eric Anton  

So, I was thinking about this question. And I knew it was coming and I went through a couple of words. But the word that I think just describes my feelings is sad. You know, it's sad to see New York City pushed back on its heels like this. And I've been in New York essentially my whole career. I started in the real estate construction business in 1990. And, you know, things were rough back then. We were coming through that recession. And I remember all my friends, you know, I graduated from a good college. So did they and a lot of them couldn't get jobs for, you know, a year or two years. 

 

And so, at a pretty young age, I got involved with Giuliani's campaign – Rudy Giuliani in 1993. He was elected mayor in '94. And pretty quickly there became this feeling of, I wouldn't call it, you know, optimism, but hope. Whereas, there was very little hope before. And so, I use that word sad now to describe this feeling that, you know, since I've been in the city almost every year beginning in '94 with Giuliani and Bloomberg, things were getting better. They were getting better, every year a little better. Crime was going down. Murders were going down. Major criminal activity was going down. 

 

And so, by 1992-1993, it was rough in New York City and the crime was out of control. David Dinkins was mayor. The drugs were rampant. Drug crime was everywhere and street crime was everywhere. I remember people would buy these signs. You know, no radio in my car. This is before the digital age. And so, people were stealing radios out of cars every day. It was just terrible. 

 

Real estate was going up. New neighborhoods were being developed. It was just this feeling that every year things were getting better, the culture of New York City, the international flavor of the city, the food scene in the city, every year getting better and better. And since the summer of 2020, I think sad is the word. But even Before that with the previous Mayor de Blasio, it was negative. You know, the feeling was negative. We have bad management. Management counts. 

 

Everybody's been working for a company where the senior management was bad or the boss was bad. You know, didn't care, didn't show up, didn't appreciate you, didn't know what he was doing. And hopefully, we've all been in companies or organizations where the management is good. You know, people understand the objectives. The communication is clear. The words are clear. You know, all of that. And so, it's a sad time in New York, and hopefully, we can turn this around.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Well, I certainly hope so. It is such a beautiful city. And it has been sad to watch. So, I think your word is a good description. It just breaks my heart to see what has happened to New York City and to hear reports from business owners and individuals from New York City who have watched the decline. And as they watched the decline, you can hear the heartbreak in their voice and see it on their faces when they do interviews, that this has been their life.

 

And, you know, you've been in New York City for so many years. And like I mentioned at the beginning, you've seen the rise and fall, and most recently, the crime uptick. Can you talk a little bit about that and how those policies have impacted the citizens of not only New York City, but the state of New York?

 

Eric Anton  

Yeah, crime is not only expanding in New York City. All the cities in upstate New York are having this problem. And really beginning with de Blasio there was this feeling that, "Yeah, sure. Crime went down." But the police were using aggressive tactics and minorities were being – were suffering because of this. There was something called – what do they say – search – stop and search. You know, where you could say – police would stop anybody that they wanted to and they would frisk – stop and frisk. And the general consensus was, "You know, this is not fair and we have to stop doing this."

 

And the Giuliani administration used it, but the Bloomberg administration quadrupled down on that. And it was effective in that guns were taken off the streets, crime – major crime went down. But there was a legitimate concern about, you know, the abuse of power by the police. "Okay, that's legitimate." But fast forward a year and a half or two years later, to anybody can walk into a CVS and take $1,000 of stuff and walk out, and do this every day. It's madness.

 

So, we'd like – we've gone over the deep end because of perhaps a, a tactic that was overused or abused, to allowing sort of criminal behavior be normalized. And so, we see this all over the country, you know, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago. It's crazy. You can't have, you know, criminals walking into stores and just, you know, taking what they want and walking out not be punished. You know, the New York Post in New York City has these articles. They show up. Repeat offenders, 150 arrests for shoplifting, and they just keep doing it. So, it's – we've kind of lost our minds.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Yeah. Excuse me – it is insane and it has been something that we've seen, you know, like you mentioned, San Francisco and these other areas of the country. I know, Illinois just passed laws that are really damaging in terms of safety and security for their citizens. And, you know, when we have this rampant crime, you know, nobody wants to be there. But in addition to the rampant crime, talk to us about the tax policies in New York City or New York state.

 

Eric Anton  

So, you know, those three states that you mentioned, California, New York, and Illinois, the taxes are just so high. It's so difficult for new businesses to get a foothold in the city. And the unionization continues, you know, the push by unions to infiltrate all types of businesses. The federal bureaucracy is also difficult now. So, you know, if I'm opening a business, and I have a choice to go to Florida or go to California, it's a no-brainer. You see tons of companies in California moving to Texas. And you see tons of companies from New York moving to Florida. That's kind of the migration pattern. You see Elon Musk moving to Texas. You know, you see Citadel moving from Chicago to Florida. 

 

So, if you raise taxes to an obscene level, people will leave. You know, rich people can vote with their feet. And so, usually what happens is that's, you know, the incentive, to push rich people away and just make life worse for the lower class. So, tax policy is a direct effect on quality of life.

 

I remember having dinner with Rick Scott, who's the current senator from Florida. At the time, he was governor of Florida. And he was telling me, "You know, I wake up and I go to bed. And all I worry about in between is how can I make business better. How can I make taxes lower? How can I reduce regulation? Why do I do that? Because I know if I make it easy for business, good for business, attractive for business, I'm going to have plenty of money for education and welfare, and programs and health care, and roads and bridges and everything else." It all flows from having a strong economy and an attractive place to do business.

 

And if you look at it nationally, it's the same thing. Our foreign policy, our military, our foreign aid, et cetera. Everything comes from a strong economy. If our economy is weak, how can we project power around the world? We can't. You know, we used to have a 600-ship Navy. Now, I just heard we're at like 259 or so. And so, that's a major difference, right? We have China threatening in Asia. We have, of course, the situation in Ukraine. If we're weak at home, if our tax policy is not good at home, if our regulations crushed business, it affects global affairs because we are the leader in the world in so many ways.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Exactly. I recently interviewed Grover Norquist from Americans for Tax Reform. And he mentioned how the population in Florida now is bigger than New York, but the budget is half and –

 

Eric Anton  

Yeah, it's true.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Yeah. And the reason why is because of the reckless spending and the things that they choose to spend their money on. And their taxes are lower in Florida. Their population is higher, but their budget is lower. And so, it's amazing to me that Florida can offer so many benefits to people that, you know, people want to move there. When their tax rate is low and their crime is low, their business environment is so much better. It's just amazing to me that they can do that and successfully, while New York is saying they need more money.

 

You know, it's like take a look at the states that people are moving to and take a look at the ones people are moving from. You know, you have all this domestic migration unlike any other time in American history and it's all about the business environment. I mean, healthy businesses are what provide for families and it's what provides for the economic security and strength of our nation.

 

Eric Anton  

Yeah. If you're a New Yorker and you move to Florida, or if you're a California and you move to Texas, you immediately become 12 percent smarter – 12 to 14 percent smarter. [Laughter] You just save 12 to 14 percent of your money and, you know, so – and I've always thought that that people are smart. Anyone – any individual no matter what class, no matter what city, they know how to spend their money better than government. I've always felt that and I see it day in and day out. The government is not efficient.

 

Government has certain responsibilities that no other group or entity or private organization can do. They have to defend us. They have to keep us safe, et cetera. They are in charge of the Post Office. But as much of life as can be pushed down to the state, the city, the local town, or the family, the better and more efficient. And frankly, happier you are, right? You want control of your life. I don't want to be told where to spend my money. I don't want bureaucrats to tell me how to run my business. It should be safe, of course. All those obvious factors, but we've gone, you know, kind of far afield from our founding principles, I think.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Oh, we definitely have. But it's because of people like you who stand strong to the principle and help create jobs and healthy businesses that are helping to turn this nation around. I know that you are also involved in a lot of philanthropic organizations and you serve on several boards. So, you really tried to, you know, put your money where your mouth is and put your time where your mouth is because you are an example, in terms of, you know, really serving your community and making it better. 

 

So, whether that would be New York or Florida, you know, we know that there's people like that all over. And so, we want to encourage anybody listening that, you know, you can make a difference. You can make a difference wherever you are. And I'm thankful, Eric, that you are still in New York, and a positive voice and a positive influence on the city and the state. You know, you've got elections coming up in New York. You can bring in new leadership with your gubernatorial race.

 

And there's a lot of positive things that can be on the horizon for New York – New York State and New York City. And hopefully, there can be a rebirth. I know how much I've enjoyed going to New York and just really enjoying the people, the city, and always felt very, very safe. I don't know that I could say that now.

 

Eric Anton  

Yeah, I don't want to leave New York. I love New York. It's where I raised my kids. And you know, I've been there so long. But this is a critical election in like 54 days. And the Republican candidate, Lee Zeldin – he's a personal friend. He's a terrific guy. I think he is exactly right on all those policies. And it's amazing.

 

You know, I lived through the Giuliani years and the Bloomberg years. It's amazing how fast things can get better, just by changing policies, changing attitude, giving real leadership. I see it in business. I see it in real estate transactions. I see it everywhere. You know, leadership can move people to do incredible things. 

 

Eric Anton  

And the flip side is when you're depressed, when you're sad, when you don't believe there's a future, you know, nothing changes, it only gets worse. I remember, in the '90s people were like, "You know, why would you ever invest in real estate in New York City? It's only getting worse." Like, it's only a matter of time. You know, it's just a matter of who can, you know, make it worse slower. [Laughs] And then Giuliani came in. And it was like, "Wait, maybe we can turn this around. Maybe we don't need all this welfare cheating. Maybe we can stop criminals from, you know, preying on innocent people, that sort of thing." So, hope and leadership can really work miracles.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

You know, it really can, and we could see how fast the economy shifted during the Trump years, whether people love or hate Trump. You know, I always say his policies were great for everyone. I mean, it really lifted people up and out of poverty in so many ways. The jobless rate was so low for every sector of society. Homeownership was up. Gas prices were low. You know, we had so much positivity and momentum. And it really helped us to be a strong leader in the world.

 

So, you brought all that up. How much leadership matters, local involvement – you mentioned that earlier in the episode, and you exhibit that in your own life. And before we close, is there anything else you'd like to say to the listeners or anything that you'd like to encourage employers or employees in the workplace regarding how to impact policy?

 

Eric Anton  

You know, I think it's – we're in such a sensitive time, a sensitive age where people are terrified to speak their mind, to say what they feel, to voice their opinions. They're afraid of being canceled or whatever, you know, shunned. And I just feel like if you can be a little tough at work, at school, at wherever you are, and just say what you believe and not be beaten into submission or into silence, I think that's critical.

 

You know, I'll leave you with this. My funny thought is I get in a taxi cab and depending on how long the ride is, if it's 15 to 25 blocks, I can convert that taxi driver into a real capitalist. Right? So, I just start talking about, "Hey, do you want to pay more taxes or less taxes?" "Oh, less tax." "So, you know, so you're not for this candidate," and they just – they've never been talked to like that. You know, they think one way because that's all they hear. And so, you know, I guess the closing thought is, don't be afraid to talk. And that's what made our country great, you know, freedom of speech is still our most valuable asset.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Well, I appreciate that. I do that with all my Lyft drivers, too. I talk to them. And it's amazing what conversations can be had in a short ride. So, thank you for speaking up.

 

Eric Anton  

That's true.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

And, you know, I'll close with a quote from Edmund Burke. You know, "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." And I think that would include saying nothing. You know, we need to speak up and speak for truth, and we need to speak truth to power. And we need to stand up for the rights that we have as Americans. So, thank you for doing that. Thank you for taking time. If people want to reach out to you or learn more about the Anton Group and the real estate that you are involved with, please share your information.

 

Eric Anton  

Sure. Our website is AntonGroupNYC.com And you can e-mail me. Call me on the cell anytime.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

That would be wonderful. And for those who might be interested, what would be the key areas that you focus on with your business?

 

Eric Anton  

So, we're in the real estate business. We sell investment property in New York City, all types, hotels, office buildings, apartment buildings, development sites. And we also help developers raise money for projects. So, we are working on some really interesting multi-family projects, hotel projects. And last year, we sold the Martinique Hotel. And we submitted that for Most Ingenious Deal of the Year Award. And actually, we beat out 28 other firms. We won first place. I've been trying to win that award for 20 years. So, we had a great year last year. So, we're in all aspects of the real estate business.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Well, congratulations. And so, anybody listening, if you want to be a part of the rebirth of New York, and you want to invest in property in New York, please contact Eric. So, thank you again, Eric. It's so great to have you on the podcast and I look forward to having you again.

 

Eric Anton  

Thank you so much. Cheers.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Thank you again for listening to the Prosperity 101 Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share, and leave a great review. Don't forget to visit Prosperity101.com to access the entire podcast library, to order my newest book, Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, or to enroll you or your employees in the Breakroom Economics online course. You can also receive the free e-book, 10 Tips for Helping Employees Understand How Public Policy Affects Paychecks. 

 

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