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Ryan Serhant’s new Netflix show premiered on Friday. Intrigued but skeptical?

We get it. Reality TV isn’t exactly known for its deep dives into how most agents operate. But Owning Manhattan has been racking up positive reviews and, as of writing this, ranks #3 in TV shows on Netflix. 

Serhant’s master storytelling hooked us within the first seconds of episode one, which had plenty of inspiring moments, some practical advice and a healthy dose of Serhant’s signature hustle

So, seeing as how today is Serhant’s birthday (happy 40th!), we’re sharing five takeaways for real estate agents from episode one of Owning Manhattan.

Spoiler alert: This post includes some storylines from the first episode of Owning Manhattan. 

Find Your Fire

The series kicks off with a powerful anecdote that gets straight to the heart of Serhant’s driving force. As a 10-year-old boy, he drove past a cemetery with his grandfather, who asked him, Ryan, do you know who’s in there?”

He went on to tell Serhant about all the possible answers—artists, mathematicians, athletes—before telling him why he’ll never know who those people are:

“Because cemeteries are full of wasted potential.”

And at that moment, Serhant knew he didn’t want to live an ordinary life. 

With the third quarter of 2024 officially underway, now is a perfect time to reflect on your “why.” Is it financial freedom? Leaving a legacy? Uncover your core motivation and let it fuel your journey. 

Bet on Yourself

It’s no secret that Serhant is one of the most successful and well-known brokers in the world. After selling real estate for 12 years and being on Million Dollar Listing New York for 10 years, he started his own brokerage, SERHANT.

Even with all this success, the show kicks off with an audacious goal: to take SERHANT. from the #6 brokerage in New York City to #1.

“I don’t want to be sixth at anything. I want to be first.”

Ryan Serhant

SERHANT. started about 2.5 years ago and currently has about 350 agents. It’s up against real estate franchises and companies backed by billions of dollars—and it’s all funded by Serhant himself.

“I walk the plank by myself every day. If this doesn’t work out, there is no Plan B for me. Plan B is…bankruptcy. So it has to work.”

Ryan Serhant

Real Estate is About Selling

Let’s be honest, reality TV thrives on drama and outrageous visuals. Owning Manhattan is no exception, showcasing multi-million dollar penthouses and fierce agent completion. But beneath the glitz, Serhant makes one thing clear: real estate is about selling.

 When speaking about agents at his brokerage, Serhant spelled it out: 

“We want agents who are incredibly hard-working, have a great book of business—I want multi-million dollar producers. I want the best of the best to work here. And if can’t sell, you can’t be here.”

Ryan Serhant

Viewers even get a glimpse of Serhant’s sales skills in action, when talking with Kayla Lee, a top SERHANT. agent, as they tour a $250 million property—one that only 3,000 billionaires in the world can afford.

Lee tells Serhant that while the penthouse would be perfect for her clients, they are tough negotiators. Serhant doesn’t skip a beat with his response:

“Honestly, if it were up to the developer, we would have priced it at $350 million. At the current square footage, at $250M, it’s just over $14,000 a square foot. The penthouse of that building (points to the building), sold not that long ago for $20,000 a square foot. So we’re already at a discount per foot.”

Ryan Serhant

Top Producers Put in the Hours

The first episode shows that it doesn’t necessarily matter what you did before real estate—or how long you’ve been in the business. What matters is putting in the hours needed to secure and sell deals. 

From Serhant reviewing his schedule to glimpses of top producers on the SERHANT. team, it’s obvious that these agents aren’t sticking to a 40-hour work week. 

“I would say I work 85 to 90 hours a week. I start working from around 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and then again around 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.,” Jade Shenker recently told the New York Post

Chloe Tucker Caine, a former Broadway performer and one of the show’s newer agents, also spoke about hours she puts in, saying, “How many hours are there in a week? Because that’s how many hours I work. I was literally answering calls from the delivery room.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to give up valued family or personal time. But these mindsets highlight that when going after a lofty goal, no one is going to hand it over. Success hinges on relentless hard work. 

Resilience is Necessary

Even the most successful agents face setbacks. The episode showcases Serhant’s disappointment after missing out on a coveted sale. Instead of focusing on the loss, he channels the energy into motivating his team and strategizing the next move.  

To ignite a competitive spirit and showcase the ultimate Manhattan trophy property, Serhant gathers five of his top agents in a jaw-dropping setting: a $250 million penthouse overlooking the entire city. It’s in that setting he delivers the final line of episode one:

“This listing is now your listing. I want you all to work your networks… and the first one to get it sold…you’re going to get $10 million.”

Ryan Serhant

No doubt that sentence will fuel high drama and cutthroat competition throughout the series. But it also begs the question: how would you sell a $250 million penthouse?