Saturday, June 22, 2024

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How Poland stands in the AI-era

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The number of people earning over PLN 10,000 (2,300 euros) gross per month increased to 1.5 million in Poland in 2022, according to a...

Polish Youth in Manhattan Skyline

JAKUB STANIEWSKI, 24-year-old Polish Director of Operations at the leading US real estate agency Serhant in New York City, but also social activist and founder of the Polish Youth Association, in a conversation with MAREK GIZMAJER.

This year you gave interviews to several Polish media that were amazed by your professional success at the leading US agency Serhant with nearly $ 3 billion sales in 2023. Given this number and Serhant’s present skyscraping offer in the heart of Manhattan I presume there are reasons to be amazed? 

Serhant is indeed best known for its deals among ultra expensive skyscrapers in Midtown Manhattan along 57th Street, the so-called Billionaires Row, a name that speaks for itself. Our present top offer is $ 195 million penthouse on the 129th floor in Central Park Tower, the highest residential building in the world and the second highest skyscraper in the United States. This 3-level apartment of 1500 sq.m with 7 bedrooms, 11 baths, library, ballroom and outer terrace is not only the most expensive home in the United States, but also the highest residence on Earth. The successful owner living 432 m above the ground would be the first New Yorker to see sunrises and sunsets unobscured by anything within 360-degree view spanning across four states. The panorama and silence are breathtaking. The Tower has two swimming pools, spa, basketball court and private club on the 100th floor. No higher structure can be expected in its neighborhood in near future because of height regulations, the so-called air rights. 

Amazing indeed. Who buys such luxuries? Have you personally attended any transaction of comparable grandeur and level? 

Our clients come from all-over the world. Businessmen, movie stars, celebrities, members of royal families. They value privacy so this is all I can say, but there are exceptions. In November last year Serhant’s team of Talia McKinney, in which I work, sold an apartment on the 88th floor in nearby skyscraper One57 for $ 34 million. It is situated just under a two-floor penthouse owned by Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Technologies and the 12th richest person in the world, who bought it in 2014 for $ 100 million setting the record of the city’s most expensive residence at that time. Now we market several other properties in Manhattan between $ 20 and 75 million. I know such numbers are dazzling but Serhant also offers many other sales and rentals in ten states at “down-to-earth” prices. We welcome all clients, even seeking rental for $ 2 thousand. They usually know what they want, but quite many don’t, so property agents cannot be just profit-oriented sellers. I’m rather an advisor or guide that makes friends and helps to make decisions. Sometimes I must be a psychologist skilled in asking the right questions. 

How did a 24-year-old Pole achieve such a skyline position? Was this your deliberate choice of career? 

No, it actually happened by chance. I was born in Lublin and came to the USA when I was five. When I completed schools in New York I simply liked talking with people, socializing and engaging in various activities. At university my friend became a property agent and my mom convinced me to try to follow him as my best skills were communicating and organizing, so I became an agent at his father’s company. One day the office manager left and I took over her duties. I love new challenges so this turned out to be the right place. I had to learn a lot but I coped with new tasks and at twenty-one I was managing the work of 120 agents with annual sales at $ 200 million. I was inspired by property broker Ryan Serhant, famous not only for record-breaking transactions, but also for best-selling books, public appearances, podcasts and TV shows. Serhant is the most followed real property brand in social media in the world. The agency exists for only four years but is ranked as 6th in NYC, although some of its competitors are here for decades or even a century. Apart from all that, Ryan Serhant is only 39, not much older than me, so I thought maybe sometime I would be working with him. One day I was.   

I can see you are born to engage, because after your busy work you are equally busy in the Polish community. 

In everything related to Poland! I love my first country. I graduated from a Polish supplementary school in Clark and I have been volunteering everywhere I could, like the Polish Supplementary Schools Council, the Polish Consulate, Pulaski Day Parade and Polish national elections. I have so many Polish friends that I thought we should unite and in 2019 I founded the Polish Youth Association. We organize various meetings, trips, webinars and workshops to reach, help and inspire young people. We also exchange knowledge and run an ongoing database of scholarships. Our goal is to support the most ambitious young Poles in the United States in changing the world for better. Now we have 3500 members in North America and Poland and we associate all Polish student clubs in the USA. We welcome every young person aged from 15 to 30m as well as mentors. We also organize annual Youth Balls. At this year’s ball for 400 people in NYC I had the privilege to announce the launching of our own scholarship program in honor of Eugenia Aniśko, a Polish activist and principal of my Polish school in Clark. Last but not least, we are going to publish a magazine on Poland, USA, the world and the Polish community in USA, featuring various subjects like history, culture, society, history and technology. The title and the website are ready, we are staffing the team of young writers and editors. Our motto is “Veritas ante omnia”. 

The last question seems to be obvious: do you have free time? 

Hardly. I’m still studying at the Empire State University. I like history and I spent a lot of time tracing back my ancestors. I was surprised to find many dozens, including a Polish knight fighting in the historic battle at Grunwald in 1410. Polish national artist Jan Matejko painted this battle and this distant cousin in the 19th century on the most famous Polish painting permanently exhibited in the National Museum in Warsaw. My three other cousins were decorated with the highest Polish war distinction, the Virtuti Militari Cross, in the 20th century. I also found out that many of my ancestors from past centuries were distinguished by coats of arms. After this discovery I simply had to design my own. It contains a motto from the tomb of my old Grunwald relative: “Non omnis moriar”. 

Polish youth on top of the Manhattan skyline definitely needs valor, and it will remain indeed. Thanks for talking! 

Marek Gizmajer
Marek Gizmajer
High-tech journalist