Anthony Scaramucci is not to be underestimated. Those who did it made a big mistake, former President Donald Trump included. Initially, the media portrayed Scaramucci through a superficial lens, but those who knew the SkyBridge Capital founder from Wall Street knew there was more to the story.
When Scaramucci invited me to SALT NY, I was in London, on a hiatus from Washington DC. After five years now of covering the White House, I felt exhausted and running on empty. In my mind, SALT NY came as the litmus test to see if it was me or the environment. I needed a sign. Inspiration. Motivation. Conversation. Whatever.
I needed a change.
Plunged back into the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, the City I moved away to cover the White House, I stepped out of the Penn Station on 34th Street and Eighth Avenue.
I’ve looked around the City after a year in the grip of a pandemic and could not recognize it. All areas around Penn Station looked like a “Crazy Hospital.” The Sun was at the Zenith, so I decided to walk to the Midtown East where I was staying to see the effects of the pandemic for myself.
On the crosstown walkway from West to the Eastside, I saw people eating from the pavement, a man started urinating in the corner two feet away, and the feeling of sadness overcame me. The odor in the air was so strong that I pulled the face mask on so as not to inhale it.
What happened? Can SALT turn the tide for the City that never sleeps? I wondered.
Day one at SALT NY at Javits Center started with a bang. Scaramucci introduced on stage the Democratic Nominee for the NY Mayor, Eric Adams. “New York won’t be anti-business anymore,” he said. Speaking from his background in law enforcement, he promised to make it safe again. Scaramucci said that he and Mike Bloomberg have endorsed him and backing financially.
Next stop, crypto.
Crypto is fascinating. In a few days, SALT NY presented the most prominent crypto players in the world.
Crypto is the new word for individualism, big ideas, and departure from the old world of finance. Crypto is bold. Many say it is equivalent to the early days of the internet, but I would say it’s like the discovery of America or space travel. It’s a new way of looking at things, and it will change the world. It’s an evolving story I am writing about.
At SALT NY, I have found the most stimulating space for people who do not know limits, who are enthusiastic about everything nontraditional, and confident with the fact that there is no linear path to success. They have all experienced trial and error. They failed and picked themselves up. Made money. Lost money. Made money again. They were fierce to carve out their own path in any way they saw fit.
At SALT, I’ve got the first-row seat into the most spectacular large-scale operation that runs smoothly without a glitch. How then the story former president pitched that Scaramucci was “incompetent” and “chaotic” could ever be true?
SALT is running like a Swiss clock, and the discipline Scaramucci has to start every single morning with an opening high-energy speech at 8 AM to inspire people was on full display.
The first day I observed how Scaramucci interacts with people in the Green Room, on stage and off the stage. He stopped with every person at Javits Center who wanted to introduce themselves to him and pose for a picture. He even gave his phone number to every single attendee. “Just text me if you need anything,” he said.
“Anthony is a really good person,” his employee from Skybridge told me. “SALT is his baby,” she said about her Boss running tirelessly around to greet everyone on and off the stage.
The genuinely global forum Scaramucci created is one of the most exciting places in the world. SALT NY is on top of innovation and cultural shifts.
What’s incredible about SALT is that it brings together a very positive group of people. People like Jon Najarian are naturally upbeat. Kevin O’Leary indeed is Mr.Wonderful. Mike Novogratz moves with ease and crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried is astonishingly plugged into real life. They all have some personal stories that motivated their nontraditional journeys to meteoric success.
Anyone can perform for a moment in front of the TV camera. What’s common to all these power players at SALT NY is how easy-going, open, and kind they are off-camera.
That’s where the world of business is very different from Washington DC, the System’s place and the traditional way of looking at things.
In the crypto community, I felt at home. Decentralized, non-institutional, all opposite the solemn one thought of the System and the Washington swamp.
If Scaramucci managed to formulate one great message at SALT NY is that it’s okay to be nontraditional, independent and walk the new frontier.
Every morning at SALT, the great business titans would start to flock into the Green Room, where they would take official pictures. The fresh pastries and Italian (what else!) coffee would await the SALT goes. No tension, no negativity, no stress, just the flow.
There, Kevin O’Leary introduced me to his protégé Jordan Fried, the CEO of Immutable Holdings, the blockchain holding company and owner of NFT.com where O’Leary is the investor. It turned out, in his beginnings, Jordan just decided one day to leave the US and fly to Hungary and live there without knowing a word of Hungarian. For that, you have to have the courage. That’s what I have found as a common theme at the SALT forum Scaramucci created. These people can see and then follow the connections others can’t. They all have courage to act and run with the new. They all love to communicate and enjoy meeting interesting people. They don’t waste time to connect.
Enter Paris Hilton. Dressed in all black with runway-perfect slick ponytail, she came to SALT NY for a lunch talk about her experience with NFTs and crypto. I talked to her briefly. Paris Hilton is popular.
Day 3 was dedicated to the matters of national security. It opened at 8 AM with Generals John Kelly and H.R. McMaster. “We must stop pretending that we did not surrender Afghanistan to terrorists,” said McMaster. “Taliban is a terrorist organization,” General Kelly shared his thoughts on withdrawal. “We are still at war,” he added, “just because you withdraw from it does not end the war.”
When Page Six published a hit piece that SALT struggles to sell tickets, I asked Scaramucci if it was true. Flash forward to the past three days, Javits Center was packed with people on and off the stage. Scaramucci pulled it off. He revived New York City back to life.
SALT sparked the conversation on crypto. SALT talked Afghanistan. SALT partied with Chainsmokers at Marquee. New York, the engine of America, is up and running. Back in Washington DC, I can report that the American dream is still alive.