Moderator Katie Kossev introduced Ryan Serhant, of Million Dollar Listing New York fame, with the disclaimer that his success was found way before we saw him on Bravo TV.

Moderator Katie Kossev introduced Ryan Serhant, of Million Dollar Listing New York fame, with the disclaimer that his success was found way before we saw him on Bravo TV.

Serhant failed forward from acting right into real estate but with apprehension at best. In 2008, a friend of his suggested he become a real estate agent because it was easy: just post some listings to Craigslist and rake in the commissions, right?

He said, “I don’t want to do this, real estate brokers are the worst.” But he did it and found that he loved the rejection in comparison to the rejection in acting. He quickly realized that “the harder I worked, the better my life could possibly be.”

He welcomed the rejection. Compared to acting, where job prospects hinge on appearances, he insists his looks haven’t had as great an impact on his real estate career. He’s just like, “If you want to buy from someone else, like have you met other people?”

From the beginning of his career he’s established a few routines and disciplines that have made him the success he is today.

The morning routine

Serhant wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every morning. At the beginning of his career, he said the most he’d ever made was $150 for hand modeling old AT&T phones, so with few connections and little experience, he was looking to differentiate.

He figured out that if he woke up two hours early, in the course of a year, it would add about 20 days to his calendar.

I knew that because I didn’t have the connections, I would out-work everyone, he said.

“That extra 20 days is a huge leg up on the competition, and I’ve used it to my advantage for the last 10 years,” Serhant said.


As a new agent, Serhant didn’t always know what to do with his day. He fell into a system of breaking his day into thirds, which he calls: finder, keeper, doer.

  • Finder: He uses this time to find business, generate leads and take care of the team.
  • Keeper: This time is designated to focusing on financial health, advertising budgets, etc.
  • Doer: He described this time as the “foot soldier” period of the day, where he knocks on doors, writes letters and other activities. Serhant said in the beginning, he’d walk up to pregnant women on the street and ask if they needed more space. It worked.

“[Keeper, finder, doer] literally changed my life because it gave me progress,” Serhant said.

Through his experiences he found his passion for helping people become better salespeople.

Let’s talk about balls

Kossev started the discussion by talking about how balls are a prevalent theme in Serhant’s book, Sell it like Serhant. In fact, Serhant said the original title for his book was actually Balls Up, but the publishers weren’t into it.

He described how salespeople often let their happiness hinge on getting or making sales, and he says it’s not a productive way to work or live for that matter.

So rather than live like that, Serhant believes in keeping as many balls in the air (opportunities) as possible. That’s how he protects his business against downturn and ensures his success.

Serhant is a champion of time management and discipline.

What are salespeople doing wrong?

The No. 1 mistake people make is that they actually try to sell. Serhant describes three types of salespeople:

  • There are the people who work just for the sale.
  • There are the tour guide/light switchers who work just for the clients, showing them property after property.
  • And there are those who work for the deal, which is what Serhant and his team try to do.

“People hate being sold to, but they love shopping with friends,” Serhant said.

So how do you make as many friends as possible, so that when your friends are ready to move, they call you? That’s the opportunity, according to Serhant.

About ego

“There’s a difference between ego and confidence,” Serhant said. No one is going to buy something from you if you don’t have confidence.

However, in reality when it comes to ego, Serhant said, “Real estate agents are waiters … so, like, real estate agents need to calm down.”

And being a salesperson is about being there for the client, in your actions, in the way you present yourself, in your habits.

“I wear a suit so that I show respect to the clients I’m with every day.” He says he’d wear sweatpants and not wake up before dawn if that wasn’t a factor.

“We live in the fucking future,” Serhant said. “We can do whatever we want every day.” And as Serhant has found, real estate sales is an incredible career for making the life you want.

Email Dani Vanderboegh

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