By Nick Markola CIMA®/
Just this week, after approximately 40 years, New York reclaimed the title of having the highest skyscraper in America. The New World Trade Center was officialy declared the tallest US stracture surpassing the Willis Tower (ex Sears Tower) in Chicago. It is very fitting that one of our own was voted this year as the manager of the year in Manhattan. The US is the Global Superpower and the beacon of hope for all. It was long established that Manhattan, or the New York City is the capital of the world. A delineating symbol of the US might, or the global dominance of Manhattan, is its breathtaking skyline Skyscrapers that adore the Manhattan skyline were influenced or built by many of the Europe’s elite. Today, they are managed by some of the most skilled managers in the world. On November 2, 2013, in a Hollywood type red carpet ceremony at the famed Roosevelt Hotel, one of the most skilled managers in the world was recognized for his impeccably work and awarded the highly coveted Manager of the Year award. Anton Markola is the first Albanian and possibly the first ever person from South East Europe to receive such an award.
Great minds came up with the concept of sky scrapers and build them into the sky. Now we adore the architectural beauty that symbolizes the superpower of the United States and sets Manhattan apart as the capital of the world. We are indebted to the great minds, architects and engineers for giving us the skyscrapers. It also takes extremely skilled individuals to manage such marvels. Some of the most crucial deals in the world are negotiated in these breathtaking structures. Some of the complex transactions that shape the entire world take place in them. Some of the most influential people in the world live and raise families in these world renowned buildings. Negotiations that shape lives the world over are, on daily basis, held in these wonders. Moreover, the world always looks to the US for hope and guidance. Whenever there is crisis in the world, or a big deal to be made, everyone asks when the Americans are coming. As the beacon of hope, the world is used to turn to Americans for most important needs. Who do Americans turn to when they are in need? When it comes to military intervention, Americans turn to highly trained Navy Seals. When it comes to managing their homes and temples of business, Americans turn towards the most skilled managers. They turn to the elite managers, with a multitude of great kills, many of them Albanian. They turn to someone like Anton Markola.
A highly skilled manager is not required to only have managerial skills. Elite managers need to have three distinctive sets of skills. They need to have excellent management skills, great technical expertise and outstanding communication/people skills. As part of the managerial skill set, they need to be able to multitask, manage projects, large staff with high number of employees, guide them and motivate them to always do their best and deliver superb top of the line results. Elite managers need to posses great technical skills as they interact with many vendors. Many try and fail in this field due to the lack of sophisticated skills. Some of the technologies currently utilized in skyscrapers resemble technologies used in aeronautics. In terms of the third skill set which covers communication/people skills, top managers must be excellent communicators and have a keen ability to connect and work with different people. People skills also are required to motivate the staff, lead them effectively and constantly mentor them. Being a successful manager is a team sport. Like every good coach that needs to prepare and motivate the players, a good manager needs to always do the same with his workers. If you only have one or two of the skill sets described, that is not enough to make it into an elite manager. All three skill sets are the bare minimum for an elite manager such as Anton.
Intellectually handicapped ones believe that being a successful building manager, is just being a super. In reality, being top manager is anything but that. It requires dedication, lots of hard work and above all, it requires solid education. Anton holds a degree from the US, a law degree from the University of Prishtina and a multitude of certificates, from the US, in various fields where he stays competitive and abreast of latest thinking and technologies.
Who Is the First Albanian to Rise to the Top of Management Field?
Anton Markola comes from a small village called Kllezna in the Muncipality of Ulqin which sits approximately mid distance between Ulqin and Shkoder. Kllezna is known to some for the medieval town of Shas. Despite its relatively small population, Kllezna has one of the highest college level education rates per capita of any Albanian place. A month before Anton turned four years old, a major tragedy struck our family. Our father Mark unexpectedly passed away at the very young age of 31. This was very traumatizing for our entire family and it was the hardest on our mother Maria who was only 26 years old when our father passed away. Anton learned early on about responsibilities. In fact, at a very young age, he became the man of the house or the head of the household which brought responsibilities and obligations. First four years of elementary education, he completed in Kllezna. Next four years, from grades 5 through 8, he attended elementary school in Katerkoll (Vladimir as it is also known). This required that he, on daily basis, walk over 6 kilometers to and from the bus, or walk over 12 kilometers to and from school, rain or shine. By the time he turned 14, our family moved to Ulqin so Anton could attend high school. This is the time when he began working and holding full time summer jobs to help our mother provide for the family. While many of his 13-14 year old peers were busy tanning at the beach or playing ball, Anton was busy doing manual labor jobs to help our mother raise money for the family and pay for our future education.
Life under communism was hard. Life for a widow with two small children was even harder. Anton early on saw our mothers pain, suffering and hard work and understood the importance of doing something with your life. He was always a great student in school and top of his class with excellent grades. He received countless awards and honors for being an excellent student. He accomplished all this with a simple philosophy that, sooner or later, hard work pays off and our mother’s words that after every storm comes sunshine, always rang true. After high school, he decided to pursue a University Degree in Law from the University of Prishtina in the mid 1980s. Anton wanted a university degree and diploma, but he wanted no part of dropping out or spending a decade as a student in Prishtina. He knew how hard it was four our mother to provide for us and pay for his education. At the end, he knew that he had a family to take care off in Ulqin and he did what he does best. He worked very hard and completed his law degree from the University of Prishtina in a relatively short term, of just 4 years. A feat that just a small percentage of students accomplished, typically the smartest and hardest working ones. Once again he was in the top of his class.
Anton returned to Ulqin in 1989 with a University Diploma and big dreams for his future. Anton managed to get a highly coveted job as the Public Prosecutor in Ulqin. The winds of war in the region began blowing and Montenegro was not spared. Politics of the situation played a negative part and being an Albanian Catholic was a liability. Being highly educated, young and ambitious was even a bigger threat to the weak ones that called the shots. For mysterious reasons which are unknown to this day, Anton was forced out as of the highly coveted job as the Public Prosecutor and found himself unemployed. Shortly thereafter, he was also drafted by then national army. We were both drafted, and both refused to fight the unjust Yugoslav war. We fled the country overnight and Anton moved to Brussels in Belgium. In 1992 Anton made the famous journey that many Albanians have done before him. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean and came to the United States, settling with our uncle in the Bronx. A young lawyer began his new life in the adopted country in the early 1992. He began a new journey in the best country in the world. Growing up under communism meant that in school, instead of English, he learned Russian as foreign language in school. This unfortunately meant that he began his life in the US without speaking a word of English. He did not know how to speak English, but he knew what he has learned in life thus far. He knew that hard work will offset everything. Typical of many other immigrants, Anton began his new life as a legally trained lawyer doing dishes and bussing tables at restaurants. While many highly educated people would have been depressed and discouraged by having to work such menial jobs, Anton was anything but discouraged. He was very happy. He never ceased to believe in hard work and saw this harsh beginning as just that; a harsh beginning that would lead to greater tomorrow. Boy did it lead to great things. Shortly thereafter he began with real estate and management then started managing large properties. Along the way, he was very fortunate to marry his wife Anna, a great lifelong partner with whom he has two great boys, Mark and Joseph. It is too early to tell what the boys will end up doing in life, but both share a simple trait from the parents and that is the trait of hard work. While Joseph could be a scientist or a businessman, my bet is that Mark will follow the previously paved path to a law school. At the end, he knows he is my favorite older nephew.
Anton’s hard work resulted in moving up the corporate ladder. He currently manages one of the crown jewels of the real estate in the world, a skyscraper that towers over 78 stories over Manhattan. Anton currently represents a well known real estate powerhouse of Douglas Elliman where Mr. John Janagelo is his mentor and close friend. In fact, it was Mr. Janagelo who early on saw Anton’s great potential, his outstanding skill sets and took him under his wing, making him one of the most trusted folks at Douglas Elliman, their go to person and one of the top Building Managers in the world. Very often, when Douglass Elliman is looking to demonstrate its might, Anton is called in to handle the job. In part, thanks to Mr. Janagelo vision and guidance, an Albanian immigrant from Ulqin was mentored and groomed into one of the elite global managers.
America is a land of opportunity. It is the only such place in the world where you can come in as an outsider, equipped with nothing else, just with a desire to succeed and strong work ethic, where you can make dreams come true. Anton’s hard work and stellar success in managing some of the most complex skyscrapers in the world did not go unnoticed. People that Anton works with and interacts are fully aware of his excellent quality work. Even his competitors are aware of what top level manager he is and are taking notice. They all came together this year to pick the best manager there is in business and their work was cut out for them. They easily picked Anton as the Building Manager of the Year for 2013.
The ceremony of recognizing the best in business was held on November 2, 2013 at the world renowned Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Our family could not have been more proud. Our seventy year old mother often complains of knee pain. Due to some miracle, that night she had no pain of any kind in her knees and despite being a short lady, under five feet, she stood very tall and could not hide the proud smile the entire night. Her life partner and husband passed away 43 years ago and this night she could be very proud of the work she did raising their children. Anton’s wife and boys were very proud too. The boys decked up in expensive and neat tuxedos looked like real men now, mingled with the attendees and were very proud of their father’s accomplishment. By coming to this country with nothing and accomplishing so much in short 20+ years, their father set the bar pretty high for them. Hopefully, they will pick some of the best traits from the father and will surpass him. We all are rooting for that as we want them to make the family and all Albanians even more proud. As the younger brother, I was happy and proud beyond description. All I could think is that every brother would wish to see a brother succeed like this in life. The gala dinner honoring my brother was a great honor for our entire family. It was a great honor for all Albanian Americans to celebrate such an amazing success in a country of over 300 million. It is everyone’s dream to see the US. Millions and millions of people globally dream of making it in the Capital of the world. Only a handful, at the end, succeed in making it in NYC and Anton Markola made it. He is a true testament that, sooner or later, hard work pays off. Anton’s motto has always been that dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.
There are many reasons why America is a superpower and the greatest country in the world. Americans know how to innovate, how to lead, how to share and know how to inspire. They also know how to spot a good talent, recognize it and train that person well. When it comes to their security, they know how to pick the best navy seals and train them. This year, American’s demonstrated that they are also capable of making the best managers in the world and picked an Albanian for the Manager of the Year. Only in America sky is the limit and Albanians are making great use of that in many fields.