Ryan Serhant Says “Shouting It From the Mountains” Is Key to Success in Any Business

There are people who stay on message — and then there’s Ryan Serhant.

The celebrity real estate broker, who gained global fame for his appearances on Million Dollar Listing New York, is hyper-focused, direct and as polished as the gleaming surfaces of the mega-penthouses he sells in Manhattan. Not a bad look when you’ve just published your third book, a guide to branding oneself and one’s company.

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Titled Brand It Like Serhant: Stand Out From The Crowd, Build Your Following, and Earn More Money ($30, Hachette Go), the book takes readers through chapters designed as a step-by-step program that includes identifying a core identity, advice on using social media, and exhortations to “shout it from the mountaintop,” i.e. confidently and emphatically promote oneself. It includes exercises at the end of each chapter and even includes photos of Serhant modeling outfits and showing poses that do and don’t work on social media platforms and in branded content.

The book is based on Serhant’s success as a mega-selling real estate agent who founded his own eponymous brokerage in 2020. In the new book, he also shares advice from others, interviewing a slew of top entrepreneurs and experts, including fashion designers Rebecca Minkoff and Kenneth Cole, Resy co-founder Gary Vaynerchuk, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck author Mark Manson, and interior designer Athena Calderone.

Today, Serhant’s brokerage operates in eight states, has just over 500 agents and did nearly $3 billion in residential real estate sales in 2023. The company — which recently hired its first president, Josh Team (former president of Keller Williams) — also touts that it is the most followed real estate brand in the world, lassoing around six million followers across social media platforms (including Serhant’s “Listed” Youtube channel). He also runs an education platform called Sell It Like Serhant, which has 20,000 members from more than 110 countries, a significant percentage of whom aren’t even real estate agents.

Serhant — whose current listings include a $195 million three-floor NYC residence in the tallest residential tower in the world —  speaks with THR about his new book Brand It Like Serhant, his plans to star in a new TV show (“maybe it comes out soon”), whether he plans to expand Serhant to the West Coast, and his advice on how to tap into one’s core identity and promote it for business success.

What was the genesis of you becoming a book author?

So I spent from 2008 to 2017 basically writing as I was going about my life as a salesperson [and] everything that I was learning because I knew I would forget it. So how to work with buyers, how to work with sellers, how to build a personal brand, how to be confident in the moment, all of that. A good part of that turned into what my first book was, which was Sell It Like Serhant in 2018. That then became an online education business that then became a speaking tour that then became a TV show on Bravo called Sell It Like Serhant. And it’s all the sales tools you need to learn how to sell anything to anyone. And then I followed that up during COVID in 2021 with Big Money Energy, which was okay, now you have the sales tools, but if your palms are sweaty, if you don’t have the confidence, then it’s just going to be a toolbox that sits in your closet.

Central Park Tower Penthouse - New York City
Interior of the Central Park Tower Penthouse, listed with Serhant for $195 million.

And now you have your third book.

The final piece of what I’ve called my selling trilogy is then, “Great, you know how to sell. You have the confidence to sell, but if no one knows what you’re selling, it’s all moot.” And I looked hard for a brand manual, like a branding blueprint for today, and everything I found was old. It is dated now. Everything needs to be updated. So I want a book that teaches me how to use Threads, Twitter X, TikTok, and thought leadership across LinkedIn. Effectively, I want a book that teaches me a brand strategy system. So if I am just starting out in real estate or in fitness or in retail or apparel or I’m a writer, I’m going to build my own personal brand.

This is my longest and biggest book ever. It goes through everything I know on how to build personal and product brands in today’s world and beyond. And what I did differently in this one compared to the first two was I’m not the only person that has worked on building a brand before or thinks about it all the time. So let me go and interview a lot of different people and just get their thoughts across the board. So I want to talk to YouTube influencers, social media stars. I want Gary Vaynerchuk in there. I want Mark Manson who’s one of the biggest authors of all time. I want Kenneth Cole who everyone knows what a Kenneth Cole shoe is, but how does he think about brand and the social impact of brand? I want to talk to this amazing woman who is rebranding periods and creating period power with her brand of tampons and pads and not making it like something that has to be a secret and hush hush the way marketing always was, but actually bring power to something that half the world experiences every month. All that’s in there.

When you started your education platform Sell It Like Serhant, it was obviously geared toward teaching real estate agents how to sell better. How broad has it become now?

We have surgery centers in Asia, we have supply chain managers. We have fundraisers for hedge funds. [We have] boat jet and real estate brokers, obviously. Just all these different industries that have come to us and every time they come we’re like, “Why are you here? Do you know what I do?” They’re like, “yeah, well sorry, but where else do I go? I need to learn how to sell more and build a bigger brand so I can generate more business.” So we help people get there. You don’t have to be super beautiful and bubbly and know how to dance with a hula hoop on TikTok to build a brand.

East Hampton - House - Real Estate - Serhant Listing

Let’s talk more about some of the tips you share. What about the third part of your book called “Shout It From the Mountaintop”?

Success begets success. We have a thing that we call the Serhant brand strategy system. Once you have your core identity, then you create consistent content, whatever that means for you. Then again, no one’s going to know what you sell if you don’t tell them. So what is your way that’s authentic to you to shout it from the mountain top to amplify your success? And I think a lot of people get confused that that’s bragging, and they don’t feel comfortable doing that. But you’re not bragging. You’re congratulating [for example] your client on another great article, on a great job building an amazing home that’s sold in record time. You’re not saying hats off to me for doing it again.

What are ways that you recommend someone figure out what their core identity is?

Write an essay about it. Do the work because that then is your lookalike target audience that you’re going to go after because so many people try to just put themselves out there as a brand or their product is a brand and they try to be everything to everyone, which in turn makes you nothing to no one. So go after that niche and let that niche carry you where you want to go. So once you know that core identity, then you go out into the world, you’re on social media, you’re at a party, you’re everywhere. That core identity leaves your lips or leaves your fingertips, and that becomes the perception that the world has of you, has of your brand, of your product. And then what happens? Then you leave the room, you put your phone down, you leave the networking event or wherever you were. Now people talk about you behind your back. So now that perception becomes reputation. Over time, that reputation becomes your brand and what you’re known for.

Ryan Serhant appeared on Bravo’s What What Happens Live with Andy Cohen in February.

You’ve said that Serhant is a media company that happens to sell real estate. What do you mean by that?

I mean, what is a traditional real estate brokerage anyway, right? It’s a real estate advertising company that holds licenses legally for other human beings to advertise real estate and then help people transact. I believe strongly when we started this that our core differentiator is that we have an in-house production company and we are a media company that sells real estate and sells it really, really well with the best of the best in the industry. And so if you’re a seller, you’re going to pay a commission. You want to get the most bang for your buck, I think at least I hope you do. So you might as well go to the firm that has the largest real estate brokerage following on the planet with the people that are the experts in your asset. And if you’re a buyer, you want to go with the people who have the most access. People reach out directly because you have that platform of awareness creation. And so I think that’s what we’re building and there’s fun technology that makes that actually happen and there’s a big team around it. So we’re not like Hollywood Reporter for real estate. We’re a new type of company and it’s growing quickly and we’re figuring it out a little bit every day.

Are your agents using AI to write listings and help with other marketing?

Serhant - Townhome - New York City

We use a significant amount of AI now. We put out our first product, [an AI tool] called S.MPLE.

Do you have any plans for the West Coast?

Yeah, eventually. Right now I like to be emergency flying distance. We’re opening up Georgia and then I’ll jump into South Carolina where we have great presence already. I can fly in the morning and can be back that night. Can’t do that in L.A. or in San Francisco, and it’s a different market. I look at publicly traded companies and see what their performance has been like in the West Coast after coming from the East Coast, and there’s a lot to learn about what not to do, and I just want to look at the mistakes and the wins of the people who have built great businesses before me and take the best, leave the rest.

What can you say about reports that you’re planning a new TV series, working title House of Serhant, with Netflix?

So Million Dollar Listing ended when I started the company in 2020. But I had a conversation with Bravo when I started the company and they said, “We’re happy to follow your evolution. We’ve been doing that for 10 years with you. We met you when you were 24 and going on dates in the Financial District and now things are different. That said viewers follow format and imagine watching Law and Order and one of the detectives goes off and starts their own detective agency. That would be a different show.” So I said, “Fair, no problem. We all evolve.” And so that show came to an end after a decade and I might be working on something new that I can’t talk about, but if I did, it would be awesome and it would be an evolution of the genre in a way that’s pretty crazy and maybe it comes out soon.

What do you predict the real estate market will be like this year?

I think we’ll probably see a slowdown probably in the fall just as people are really just going to want to see what happens with the [presidential] election. Inventory is still historically low. The country is short just over three million houses. It’s crazy. In good standard years, we’re seeing north of six million homes trade in the United States every year. Last year, was just over four [million] when you factor new construction. So that’s crazy. It was lower than 2008 [when] the world came to an end — and people were still buying houses.

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