Some people collect stamps, coins, trading cards or action figures. Antony Gordon, Managing Director at Macias, Gini & O’Connell LLP (MGO), described as one of the fastest growing professional services firms in the USA and a top 100 Public Accounting firm, collects people. This is not because collecting people is a hobby, but because Antony is that rare combination of curiosity, charisma, insight, authenticity and humor that naturally draws people to him.
Antony grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. He started to develop his robust network as early as his high school years at King David and soon became the, “Big Man on Campus” at Wits University in Johannesburg where he secured the most votes ever achieved when he was running for student government. In 1985 before graduating Cum Laude with his first law degree, Antony co-produced ‘The Concert in the Park,’ the largest concert in Africa’s history (over 100,000 attendees at Ellis Park Stadium).
Antony was an exceptionally good student. “Many people think of Jewish South Africans as living affluent lives. I came from more modest circumstances. Because I was fortunate to maintain outstanding scholastic grades throughout my years at university, I qualified for academic scholarships. I attended Harvard Law School on a Fulbright Scholarship. The Sir Abe Baily Fellowship also made it possible for me to travel to the UK where I was based primarily at the London School of Economics,” Antony says.
While at Harvard, Antony met then President, Derek Bok, who was launching a campaign to raise one billion dollars for the Harvard Endowment. The Vice Dean of Harvard Law School at the time, Professor David Smith, was aware of Antony’s ability to put together large events, and he thought that Antony would be the right person to spearhead a music concert at the Harvard Football Stadium as part of the fund raising initiative. As part of this initiative Antony met with the late Larry Tisch, the CEO of CBS at the time.
Antony believed Mr. Tisch might be interested in expanding the proposed Harvard Rock Concert to a national TV event exclusive to CBS as a means of attracting young viewers - a demographic that CBS was struggling to attract at the time - back to CBS. Although the idea never materialized, Antony learned a number of important life lessons from this experience.
1. One of most important currencies in life is ‘relationship capital’ - who you know.
2. When you reach a person who has a significant sphere of influence, you need to do exhaustive due diligence and figure out how to add value.
3. When you finally get to the meeting, to be absolutely authentic - speak from the heart. Successful people are not impressed with trite responses or contrived suggestions.
After graduating from Harvard, Antony worked briefly for a law firm but soon recognized that working in a law firm would not be the best use of his talents. “Based on my personality and life experiences I realized that a vocation outside of the law would probably allow me to use my talents more effectively,” he adds.
Antony joined UBS and later Morgan Stanley. After leaving the bulge bracket environment, through an introduction to Peter Gerhard, one of the most senior traders at Goldman Sachs, Antony was exposed to the world of hedge funds and the alternative investment space at the most sophisticated level.
Throughout his career, Antony has worked closely with many celebrities and professional athletes. “One individual who played an important part of my life in South Africa was Solly Krok, one of the most successful and dynamic businessmen in the country. During one of his trips to LA, Solly suggested that I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, ‘The Tipping Point.’ One of the personality categories in Gladwell’s book is a “Connector.” It was like a light-bulb was ignited. The only remaining question was to figure out how best to parlay my relationships to add value to them while generating income for myself.”
The quintessential ‘people person,’ Antony has turned Dale Carnegie’s ideas outlined in “How to Make Friends and Influence People” into an art form. He has been able to do so because he follows two rules of thumb:
1. Always make more ‘relationship capital deposits’ before attempting to make a ‘relationship capital withdrawal.’
2. People don’t like to be sold or feel pressure. “If you can provide solutions and help keep people solve problems they will be predisposed to help you when it is your time to make a withdrawal.”
Macias Gini & O’Connell LLP (MGO)
A few years ago Antony was introduced to the CEO of MGO, Kevin ‘O Connell. Due to the multiple service offerings of MGO and the entrepreneurial culture of the firm, MGO presented the ideal platform for Antony to add value to the many influential relationships he had cultivated during the past 30 years. “I love how entrepreneurial the firm is. I feel blessed to have a unique opportunity to add value to a firm that is prepared to go above and beyond.” Of note is the fact that one of MGO’s wholly owned subsidiaries, Ello, is the leading professional services firm in the cannabis industry in America today.
At MGO, Antony works with wealthy families and influential personalities in the entertainment, business, and sports worlds. “I have observed that many of the rich and famous miss the spiritual side of life and often confuse fun and happiness. I try to help them understand what true happiness is, and how to deal with setbacks and disappointments. We have all had things happen to us that were not in the script. How we respond to the inevitable vicissitudes in life is often what distinguishes those who become successful from those who remain bitter victims.”
“Over the years, I have found that I often assume the role as a ‘life coach’ to many high profile public personalities. I always insist that they write out their life goals which I then help them break down into manageable time-lines. One of the areas that is underserved is assisting professional athletes to make a seamless transition from the field/court to the business world. The main focus in this area is helping these public personalities to use their celebrity status to create a passive source of income. There are very few professionals who have thought through these all important next steps. This is important work. If we don’t help them, their families suffer and many youngsters are denied a true life role model.”
Up Close & Personal
Antony is a highly sought after public speaker and has spoken at many Jewish conferences and retreats for the last ten years or so. He often shares the stage with notable thought leaders like Ben Shapiro, and Dennis Prager – the latter describes Antony as having a gift of the gab, someone who is not afraid to be real and who is also not afraid to burst bubbles. As well, Antony now has his own podcast, “The Antony Gordon Show” (https://mytuner-radio.com/podcasts/theantony-gordon-show-antony-gordon-1459194729), that debunks many myths perpetuated by pop culture.
Antony is married, and has 6 children, 2 of whom are also married. He wears a yarmulke and is all about being authentic in a world which tries to place form over substance. “I have seen and experienced more than most people through my life travels and involvement in numerous community activities and charity work. At this point of my life, I have been fortunate to have spent hundreds of hours counselling and coaching people. I am not afraid to share the truth and to ask questions that other people would like to ask. I could not have done this work 15- 20 years ago. I have spent many years gaining the wisdom and experience to impart. I have a lot to do before the curtain comes down. I try to live every day as if it were my last.”
Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category
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