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5 Success Secrets I Learned From Million Dollar Listing New York

    5 Success Secrets I Learned From Million Dollar Listing New York

    One of the most important things when learning ANYTHING is the ability to see examples of what you’re trying to learn in action.

    Oddly enough, a great source of such examples can be reality TV.

    But not just any reality TV. Most of it is pure crap (unless you want to learn how to be a nightmare of a housewife).

    One TV show that actually DOES contain extremely useful examples of success in action is Million Dollar Listing New York.  (Sure, it has it’s fair share of focus on confrontations and drama, but overlook that. Unless you’re into that sort of thing, that is.)

    Their newest season (Season 5) is actually about to start airing in the US this Thursday (April 21, 2016) at 9/8c on Bravo. So check it out!

    Now, I’ve been a fan of this show for the very reason I mentioned above, and I’ve learned a TON from it. All three of the stars have created their success from scratch, so I think we can all learn something from them!

    I tried to cross Houston Street but got caught on the median. Waiting for the light to change, I remembered standing in this same very spot 6 years ago, on my way to show a rental apartment that I didn’t rent, and trying to memorize lines for an audition for a role I didn’t get in a free play. It was a time in my life when I was really thinking about my options – studying for the LSAT so I could go to law school and get a REAL job, move back home to Colorado and just figure things out because I was basically out of money, or stay in New York and stay positive and wake up every single day saying READY SET GO and not quit. The last option was by far the most difficult, because it took effort to create something for myself that only I believed in. It was terrifying. There was no rule book – no guidelines. Going home would have been easy – like staying in bed – it was the comfortable, safe choice. Going to law school was what I was supposed to do – I went to a liberal arts college – it was within the dotted lines. 6 years later I’m standing on the same median in the same city negotiating what will be the biggest real estate deal of my career the week before my first movie comes out and 3 weeks before season 4 of my hit TV show premieres. Not only am I happy I didn’t go to law school, but I’m reminded of one of my favorite poems, one that gave me courage through school and beyond, one which ends with this: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

    A photo posted by Ryan Serhant (@ryanserhant) on

    (Thank you Ryan for posting that. If you haven’t read the full caption…do it now, then continue reading below)

    In celebration of season 5, here are 5 success secrets that I’ve learned while watching and observing Million Dollar Listing New York:

    (Want more tips? We created a beautiful PDF with ALL of the secrets listed here PLUS 5 additional tips that aren’t listed here — 10 in total. If you want it, click here to download it FREE!)

    1. Take leaps of faith. Do things before you’re ready, and before you THINK you can.

    This was a big shift for me, and I felt so much freer when I really noticed this and internalized it after watching season 2 of this show (although it shows up in every season — probably every episode, actually).

    This is something that is very easy to logically understand (I think we all “get” this) but actually doing it is much harder. That’s why it’s so valuable to see it in action!

    Being able to throw caution to the wind, disregard our natural tendency to think “That’s impossible because I’ve never done that before…or no one’s ever done that before…or that goal seems too lofty”, and simply say “I can 100% do this!” is really important.

    That’s what we call a leap of faith. You don’t truly know that the goal you have in mind is possible. You have no “evidence” or “proof”… but that doesn’t matter.

    What does matter is taking this leap, believing you can anyway (even though you don’t have “proof”), and working super hard to achieve it. The best time to start is NOW. You’ll never be “ready”.

    And there are so many examples of this on Million Dollar Listing New York, which is one reason that I love this show.

    Season 2 is chock-full of fantastic examples, such as…

    1. Luis finding the “impossible” property.

    In episode 1 of season 2, Luis meets with a potential client and learns that he’s looking for a property to renovate for an almost impossibly low price. Not only that, but the client had already been working with other brokers who were looking for the same thing.

    But he doesn’t admit defeat before giving it his best shot. Instead, he takes a leap of faith and tells his client with confidence that he will find something perfect for him.

    “I love impossible. It’s more exciting.” – Luis D. Ortiz

    Here’s the important part in this exercise…think about how you would feel in this situation. You’re agreeing to do something while a big part of you is screaming “it’s impossible!!” inside your head. Not only that, but you’re actually saying you can do it with full confidence to a client…it isn’t just inner dialogue. That’s scary!

    And that’s the point…scary is good. Scary doesn’t mean you can’t do something. It just means that it’s a bit of a stretch for you right now.

    Key point: when you really stretch yourself, you won’t be successful 100% of the time. But it’s REALLY important to accept that (it’s part of the game) and not let it defeat you. Which brings me to #2…

    2. Be able to quickly bounce back from failure

    (Make sure you read the caption above!)

    Why is this important? Well, it’s super important because if you’re truly going after big goals (by big, I mean they’re at least a bit of a stretch…which they should be) you WILL run into failure.

    It’s just part of the game of being successful at anything.

    What separates the people that achieve their goals is whether or not they let failure defeat them. Think about it… what’s the only thing that can stop you from accomplishing your next big goal? As long as you’re taking action, it’s failure.

    And with failure, all you have to do is keep going. No matter how down and out you feel.

    Barbara Corcoran, investor on Shark Tank and founder of a real estate firm that she sold for $66 million in 2001, has said that being able to quickly bounce back from rejection is the number one biggest success factor she has seen over the years. 

    There are a couple really good examples of this in action all throughout this show. Here are some of the most impactful:

    Luis working on 46 Lispenard

    In season 2, Luis gets a really challenging listing as a test in order to win the whole building. He puts his entire heart and soul into the listing but isn’t able to sell it. After that, you can see on the show how devastated he was…as anyone would be.

    But this is the key takeaway: you don’t let it completely defeat you. You get back up, and you find other opportunities.

    And that’s what he did.

    (His experience with the Lincoln Plaza condo in season 3 is another great example of bouncing back from a misstep fast.)

    “You have to actually enjoy being rejected” – Luis D. Ortiz (Season 3 “uncensored”)

    If you’re feeling bad because of a failure right now (actually I recommend this in any situation), go back and watch season 2. You’ll see this example in action, plus the next one…

    Fredrik after not being able to sell the marble house

    Also in season 2, we get a great example of bouncing back from failure when Fredrik ends up not selling the big marble house.

    The key here (and you can also see this in the previous example) is that it’s completely fine to feel bad about whatever happened. That’s not the issue…we are not robots with no emotions.

    But, the BIG learning here that you MUST take away from this is that you have to bounce back as fast as possible. Remember, this is much easier said than done. But just think of these examples the next time you stumble and that should help you bounce right back up!

    Ryan after almost losing the SoHo townhouse

    I thought the last two episodes in season 4 where Ryan lost the offer on the SoHo townhouse because the buyer was going to jail was another great example of handling failure like a boss.

    Ryan was devastated, as you can see on the show,  and the verbal abuse from his seller didn’t help either.


    He didn’t admit defeat. He fought back and figured out a way to get another chance with the seller and ended up closing a deal on the last episode of the season.

    “I think I was a lot more ready for rejection than most real estate agents, and it really is an emotional roller coaster.” – Ryan Serhant (link)

    3. Persistence

    (Read that caption…he followed up almost every day!)

    Persistence is a big key to success, and it goes along with the lesson in #2 above. If you really want something, never give up!

    There are so many examples on the show of how persistence has opened doors for all 3 of the stars, but here are a couple of my favorites:

    Ryan’s SoHo townhome example from above is actually another great example of being persistent.

    Actually, he revealed on a Bravo blog that the ending on the show wasn’t even the final ending to the story of that listing. He had to persevere for another couple months before the property was finally sold.

    That’s so tough to deal with emotionally but he lesson is…never give up!

    Also, I think the story of how Ryan was able to shut down Times Square to propose to Emilia is another example of persistence. Would you have gone through all of those phone calls and talking to different offices that he did just to get the opportunity to do it?

    Luis finally making a connection with Gerard Longo is a classic example of persistence paying off.

    In season 4, Luis connects with a big developer after being persistent. In fact, the developer said his secretaries were tired of hearing his name, so he agreed to meet with him.

    Think about it — the new, valuable relationship that he created wouldn’t have happened without simple persistence. It’s easy to overlook, but don’t. It can be the difference between success and failure.

    Fredrik and Derek’s search for an egg donor

    I like this because it’s not a business related example. It shows how successful traits carry over to all aspects of life, which is investing in your personal development is so important!

    Throughout the season 4, Fredrik’s struggle to find a suitable egg donor is documented. I’m sure that journey will continue to be documented in season 5 as we are updated on the progress of that story.

    But one of the important things to notice as you follow that story is the persistence that Fredrik has. How many of us would give up after a couple “no’s” and think something like “I guess it just isn’t meant for me to have kids”?

    And then give up.

    Seriously, put yourself in his shoes. He has gone through gut-wrenching rejection while trying to find and egg donor, but he is NOT going to give up. That’s the power of persistence.

    I think this is a great illustration of how…

    Persistence = success
    Lack of persistence = failure

    Sometimes, it really can be that simple.

    4. Hustle (Intensity)

    When you’re doing anything, and especially when it’s something that you’re just starting (a new business, new job/career, etc), you almost ALWAYS have to hustle in order to get that new thing off the ground. (This is one of the core mindset components that we teach at Mindset Academy.)

    What is hustle (we call it Intensity) and why is it so important?

    Well, getting anything off the ground takes HUGE effort because you have no momentum. So that effort has to come from somewhere…YOU!

    It’s like pedaling a bike…you have to pedal harder to get going than you do once you’re already going as fast as you want to go.

    So lucky for us, we get a glimpse at the pure hustle that it takes to win at the highest level throughout MLDNY. (And I’m sure a lot of it is cut out, so multiply what you see by 10!)

    Here are my favorite examples:

    Fredrik launching sales at 11 N Moore

    In season 3 episode 4, we’re lucky to get an inside look at exactly how Fredrik sells out buildings as soon as they’re available.

    Does he do it by putting some flyers out, maybe doing an ad or two, and hoping the buyers come in?

    Nope, not a chance.

    Instead, we’re treated to a view of exactly how he does it. He brings his entire team into their makeshift “sales gallery” and has them all call their list of potential buyers together. Plus, he sets a goal that they continuously measure as they go.

    This team environment, all with a common goal, drives intensity through the roof. It’s the same effect that happens when you work out in a group versus by yourself — you simply work harder and it helps you get into flow.

    (And don’t forget the amount of hustle that went into generating interest, building a buzz, and creating a list of potential buyers beforehand!)

    Luis cold calling

    There are a ton of examples of how Luis has been able to make things happen by using pure hustle, but one of my favorites is his introduction to the show in season 2.

    In the first episode, he mentions that his strategy to generate business is to call everybody that has ever come to his open houses. That’s pure hustle…and that’s how you create results out of thin air.

    Then in the first episode season 3, Luis still shows how hustling via cold calling generates results with the Central Park listing he did with Todd.

    Ryan calling all those people on the crazy seller’s list

    Going back to the example that I’ve talked about twice already, in #2 and #3 (it’s a great example!), Ryan’s strategy to sell the SoHo townhouse (the second time) is a great example of pure hustle creating big results. (again, last episode of season 4)

    Remember, the strategy was to call all 22,000 (was it really that many?) of the seller’s personal contacts to find a buyer from that list.

    And they did.

    If that’s not hustle…nothing is. Just watch, appreciate the hustle, and make sure you’re hustling just as hard for your goals!

    5. The importance of appearance.

    This is a big factor that you see throughout the entire show in many different forms.

    Personal style and hygiene is one of the most obvious one, as all 3 stars have great fashion sense and look fantastic every day as they meet with clients. They’ve all mentioned at some point how important it is to present yourself as well as you possibly can.

    (Need a reminder? Go back to Season 3, Episode 1 and watch Luis giving Todd a makeover)

    Taking this one from another angle, you also see how important this is when listing a property and commanding top dollar. If you wanted to sell your home, would you take photos of it and bring potential buyers through with all of your clutter everywhere?

    Or would you clean it up and have a professional stager make it look amazing?

    Obviously, in an ideal scenario I think we would all have a professional make your home look great before trying to sell it, because that’s going to lead directly to more money!

    Do you not do business face to face every day like they do? Or do you not sell real estate?

    You might be thinking that appearance isn’t really important for you. Here are some things that might apply to you that also need to have a good appearance in order for you to get the best results:

    • Your website
    • Your business cards
    • Your work attire (this applies for anyone…think about when you go for an interview for your dream job, especially!)
    • Your products

    It’s basically anything that people that you interact with that matter see (clients, potential clients, customers, your boss, etc)

    Keep moving forward!


    I want to know: what successful traits have YOU learned from watching Million Dollar Listing New York?  Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

    Want to learn 5 MORE success secrets from Million Dollar Listing New York?

    I made a beautiful PDF with all of the tips listed in this post, plus 5 additional tips that aren’t included on this page.

    To see them, it’s completely free. Just click here to download it.

    One last thing.

    If you enjoyed this post, there are two things I want you to do…

    1. I want you to share this post with your friends now. I even took the time to make a beautiful image for you to share — you can preview it below in the blue box.

    2. I want you to thank Ryan, Luis, and Fredrik for showing their journey with the world. Follow them on Instagram as a quick “thank you!”. Just click the links below:

    Ryan | Luis | Fredrik

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    • Nigel Rankin

      Great article Peter, I’ve felt the same way about these shows – you need to do a similar article on “Sell It Like Serhant” as there’s more great examples there too (like the one where he takes his wife to the Grammys and says “when you go somewhere, let everyone know who you are and why they need you”, “make sure everyone knows if they want a home in NY they get it through Ryan”.