By Ryan Serhant
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National bestselling author and star of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing and Sell It Like Serhant shows readers how to restructure their approach to money so they can achieve success in business and life.
Big Money Energy is the feeling you get when you encounter someone who is massively succeeding at life. They're the ultimate picture of self-confidence. There's no bravado, no bragging—they know they have BME and so does everyone else. You get Big Money Energy by being 100% committed to making your vision a reality . . . and that vision has to be BIG.
Ten years ago, Ryan Serhant, billion dollar broker and costar of Million Dollar Listing New York was living paycheck-to-paycheck and didn't even own a suit. Serhant realized that while he couldn't change his circumstances or the balance of his bank account, there was one thing he could change—his energy. The energy you give off impacts every area of your life, from how much money you earn and how much power you have, to who you socialize with and the jobs you get.
Determined to leave his low-rent lifestyle behind forever, Serhant took life-changing steps that resulted in his getting cast on television, graduating to seven-figure sales, and doubling his income every year for the next decade. Serhant is now the CEO and Founder of SERHANT., a multi-dimensional real estate brokerage and media company, and averages a billion dollars in sales every year.
In Big Money Energy, Serhant will show readers how he tapped into his Big Money Energy to crush his goals and achieve huge success, earning his first million before he turned thirty. Whether you're a self-made entrepreneur, a corporate executive or barista, Serhant will teach you how to climb the ladder to success better and faster than anyone else.
If you want Big Money Energy, this is your blueprint. This book is an inspirational, lively guide for anyone who is ambitious enough to dream big and is committed to doing whatever it takes to conquer them.
I have changed the names as well as some identifying details throughout the book. I’d also like to add that while it’s been over a decade since my first sale, I can still remember the addresses of every single apartment I’ve ever sold. However, I cannot say that I can remember all of the details about conversations I’ve had with people. I’ve made an attempt to recapture these conversations to the extent that my memory allows.
There’s no way you’re going to accept an average, run-of-the-mill kind of life. You don’t have to. You want massive success. Your vision for your life is huge. You’re going to crush your goals and take everything you do to extraordinary new heights. Bigger isn’t just better, it’s everything.
When I answered the phone in my office on a random Tuesday morning in 2009, I thought it would either be a broker calling to scream at me because another one of my clients had just pulled out of a deal, or the usual “Hi. I’m looking for a cheap two-bedroom apartment that me and my six best friends can be stuffed into.” But before I could start reeling off information about listings, the woman on the phone shared that her name was June Shen. She worked for a large oil and gas company in China, and she was looking to buy an apartment in New York. This was, to say the least, unexpected. I had never sold an apartment to someone from another country before.
“Okay, that’s… GREAT!” I said. “What are you looking for exactly and what’s your budget?”
“$2 million or so, but if we need to spend more, we can.” Chills went up my spine. My jaw didn’t just hit the floor—I swear it detached from my face and floated down gently in a cloud of sparkles. $2 million? In the middle of a recession while everyone is losing their jobs?
I had done some small sales under $1 million in the first half of 2009, but nothing this big before. Then I asked her another genius question: “When do you plan on moving to New York City?”
“Oh, we would never do that. This is just an investment for my daughter.”
“How old is your daughter?”
“Oh, she’s not born yet. But she will be soon.” Wait. What? She was buying an apartment for a baby… who wasn’t even born yet? “So, Ryan, I’ll be in town for a couple of days later in the month. Can you help me out by showing me some apartments?”
While I was tempted to say, “I’d love to help you, but I’ve never sold a seven-figure apartment before and I have no idea what I’m doing,” I responded with “Oh YEAH, I can help you find the perfect apartment because it’s what I was BORN to do.”1 Oh my God. Then I hung up the phone and started to panic.
The reality was that I was a brand new real estate agent in Manhattan, living a very hand-to-mouth, commission-check-to-rent existence in one of the most expensive and intensely competitive cities in the world. And I was really struggling. I’d wake up every day and think, Oh, it’s morning. Hello, anxiety. How are you doing this fine day? What’s going on, dread? You hanging in there, li’l buddy? And then I’d go about my day, acting like I had my own personal storm cloud following me around everywhere I went. This wasn’t what I wanted—I craved success.
But I had convinced myself that success was reserved for other people. Success was the domain of those who were more confident, better educated, well connected, smarter, richer, better looking, bolder.
It felt like everyone was raking in the big bucks but me. At work, other realtors were getting clients with much larger budgets, while I was stuck with clients looking to live life on the cheap, living in fear of a negative bank balance just like I was.
My constant worry was about money. In fact, it consumed me. Before I spent even one dollar on anything—a sandwich, subway ride, bar of soap, pair of socks, or new toothbrush—I had to ask myself, If I buy this item will I still have enough left over to pay my rent? Every dollar was accounted for, and there were never enough of them. I was tired of being the guy my lawyer and finance friends bought drinks for out of pity. I wanted to be the guy who said, “I’ll get this round!” instead of nursing a seltzer I pretended was vodka, because that’s all I could afford.
I knew I was never going to get out of this cycle if I kept renting out studios and out-of–the-way one-bedroom apartments. I was sick of waking up and going to bed worried about money. The worry felt like a pain in my side—it never left me.
But the problem was, I didn’t even want to do business with myself!
Nothing about me said, “Let me help you spend millions of dollars.” I didn’t even own a suit! I felt low rent, looked low rent, and acted low rent. Why would June Shen want to buy a fancy apartment from someone like me, who was dripping with desperation? I’d been living like that for years, and if I didn’t make some serious changes, I knew I could look forward to living the same unsatisfying life forever.
That day, as I looked at my closet and contemplated how many times I had worn the exact same button-down shirt to meet clients, I realized that June Shen knew nothing about me other than my name was Ryan and I was a real estate agent in New York. She didn’t know that I looked like the kid who got picked last in gym, or that I had never sold a multimillion-dollar apartment, ever. She had found me on the internet because of an open listing I had posted, and she called me by chance, at random. For all June knew, I could be rolling around in a giant pile of $1,000 bills while I was talking to her. This was an opportunity to present myself in the way I wanted to be seen. This was a chance to wipe the slate clean. June needed to meet the bigger version of Ryan, the person I had often dreamed about becoming while lying in my studio apartment, the one without a bathroom. That bigger Ryan was confident, energetic, and closed deals for breakfast. I wanted June Shen to meet me as that guy, someone who was already successful, not some kid.
I started thinking about the picture of success I wanted to present to June. I had to be brutally honest with myself. My fifth-year-college-student look wasn’t going to cut it. I dug out my Macy’s credit card (that I had never used) and purchased the nicest-looking suit I could afford.
Taking the subway wasn’t going to send the right signal either. The successful brokers in my office took their clients around in town cars. I googled “limo service New York City,” clicked on the first link, and rented a black SUV that looked very well used but came with a driver to take us around. (Nowadays there’s Uber!)
My credit card was seeing a lot of action. With a new suit and a black car booked, I decided that I’d be the master of New York streets. I went crazy studying everything about the blocks of New York before June’s arrival. It was intense, like I was studying to take the LSAT! I studied street names, business locations, tourist sites, you name it.
The deals I had made thus far as a new agent had been generally limited to Murray Hill and the Village and the outer boroughs—I had barely even set foot in the nicer parts of town where the apartments were more expensive and appealed to more affluent people.
But I had to seem knowledgeable, and without hesitation. She needed to know that I really knew what I was doing, but I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know what clients usually asked before buying an apartment that cost millions of dollars, so I also memorized every fact about each building I was going to show her: when it was built, the architect who designed it, the developer on the project, and who else lived there. For weeks I forced myself to learn and be prepared for any question June might ask me. I researched the land the buildings were built on so that I could give her some history about Manhattan. If a celebrity lived in a building we were looking at, I knew about it. If a scene from a movie was shot there, I knew all the details. I took note of all the playgrounds so I could point out the places where little June junior could play. At one point I really needed a snack so I stopped in a coffee shop. I noticed the guy who was working there was named Bob. I thought, Wow. If I bring June here for a coffee and I know Bob by name it will seem like I’m in this expensive neighborhood all the time! I’ll appear like a big-time agent just by association!
I woke up the day of my appointment with June feeling ready to go, though I had barely slept since I was so nervous. The SUV picked me up at my apartment in Koreatown, and as we drove uptown to June’s hotel, sitting in the back seat, being driven to a multimillion-dollar client, I realized that I was experiencing a level of calm and confidence I had never felt before. The nerves from last night were gone. For once, I was going to meet a potential buyer, filled with positive energy. Remarkably, I didn’t feel afraid of falling flat on my face.
When we pulled up to the corner where her hotel was, I noticed a very exhausted and very pregnant Chinese woman standing there in a baggy, wrinkled track suit. I rolled down the window, feeling just a little bit like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman. “June? Hi! I’m Ryan!”
June weakly lifted up a hand to indicate that, yes, it was her. I got out to open the car door for her, she slid in, leaned against the door, and immediately fell asleep. Oh, okay, well—the flight from China is really long.
We spent the next couple of days following the same pattern: I’d pick up June, she’d get in the car and take a nap. I’d wake her up when we got to the property we were looking at and she would get out and walk around the apartment in total silence. Oh my God, is she sleepwalking? What do I do? You’re never supposed to wake up a sleepwalker, right? But then we’d get back to the car, and she’d say, “I don’t like it” (so she was awake!) and immediately fall back to sleep.
The afternoon of her last day in the city it was very hot and humid. We still hadn’t found the perfect apartment for her unborn child, and I’d racked up so many charges on my credit card I had no idea how I would pay them off. June needed a drink and a snack, so we got hot dogs and bottled water from a street cart, and we headed to the Rushmore, a brand new condominium building developed by Extell at 80 Riverside Boulevard. It was gorgeous. This was the opposite of what showing walk-up convertible three-beds with no A/C in Astoria, Queens, feels like. This felt GREAT. This felt right. This felt like my future, and I was living it.
June woke back up when the car pulled over, her half-eaten hot dog still in her hand. When we got inside the apartment, everything was different. Suddenly June Shen was wide awake—and she broke her silence! “I like this!” Yesssss. We started looking at the kitchen, and then the bathrooms, and by the time we got to the bedroom where someday her baby would sleep she said, “This is the one, let’s make an offer.” We got back in the car and June went right back to sleep while I bounced up and down, grinning from ear to ear—I was about to sell an apartment with an asking price of $2.5 million to a fetus! I. WAS. GOING. TO. BE. RICH!!
Fast-forward a few nights later, and after my first major negotiation with a developer, I’m standing in the lobby of the St. Regis Hotel at 3 A.M. The big greasy bag of cheeseburgers that a still very jet-lagged June requested I bring her was overpowering the lobby’s carefully cultivated scent of wealth and power. But I had done it! I had negotiated like I had been doing this for ten years, knocked $300,000 off the price, and sold June’s unborn child a $2.2 million apartment at 80 Riverside Boulevard. June was ready to sign the contract while inhaling curly fries.
I had managed to close a really, really big deal in the middle of a recession. It was a preview of what life could look like if I let go of my low-money mindset. Nothing else had changed in my life: I was still just a young real estate agent with no contacts. But while nothing really changed, everything did.
My parents came to visit me a few months later, just after the closing. I met my dad outside of his hotel before dinner and asked him to walk with me to the bank. I bank with Chase, and it can feel like they have ATMs on every corner of the city, which is great when you have checks to deposit, but bad when you don’t and they just remind you of all the money you don’t have. But for the first time ever (!!!), I was going to the ATM because I had a massive $24,000 commission check burning a hole in my coat pocket.
My dad stood next to me as I watched my bank balance shoot from a few hundred dollars to nearly $25,000. I couldn’t believe it. This was the most money I had ever seen in my bank account! My dad was proud, but I could tell he wasn’t as impressed as I was. To me, this achievement represented a massive, life-altering win. In my mind this was as good as it gets, and I was going to soak up every ounce of enjoyment from the experience. This money would cover rent for the next two years of my life! I could buy new shoes, I could go grocery shopping!!! Hell, I could even be Mr. Generous and replace the shower curtain in the bathroom I shared with twenty-five other people.
“You think this is really something?” Dad asked. Heck yeah, I did. “It’s nice, bud, but you need to understand there is much more where this came from. Just look around. The world is full of June Shens. There are nearly 10 million of them in this city alone. They just don’t know you yet.”
Sure, $24,000 was a lot of money (especially when you had none), but what if my dad was right? What if at this exact moment, I wasn’t at the top of my game? What if this check was just the first step towards something much, much bigger? The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Not having to worry about rent was a huge relief. But only working to make rent meant that I was just surviving, and I wanted to do more than that—I wanted to thrive! I wanted more for myself than a handful of rent payments. I wanted it ALL. I’ll never forget standing there at that ATM with my dad and wondering how far I could really go.
GO BIG OR GO HOME
That khaki-clad, overly anxious kid who didn’t believe he’d ever be on the winning side of the game had finally scored, for once. And when I thought about it, I was still the same semi-anxious guy, but the little changes I had started to make inside made a difference. The truth was, not all that much about me had changed. I hadn’t undergone a drastic makeover. A new suit and a driver helped me feel more confident, but I realized that the secret sauce was how it enabled me to control my energy, and THAT is what needed to change to become the power broker I wanted to be. Instead of dripping desperation, I was able to exude the energy of a knowledgeable, capable, and confident businessman. I learned a very life-altering lesson that was the first stop in understanding how to manifest BIG success. I couldn’t change how much money I had in the bank or what kinds of clothes I could afford—but I could change my presence, I could work on how I came off to people.
When you can’t change your circumstances, there’s one thing you can change: your energy.
The energy you give out comes from the core of who you are as a person. Your energy can come off to others as influential and powerful, or timid and insignificant. I was a low-energy ball of sadness who picked up equally sad people wherever I went. If I was riding the subway, I’d inevitably end up sitting next to the saddest person in the world who would tell me all about her recent breakup with her boyfriend. If I was standing in line to buy a salad, it was almost guaranteed that the person behind me in line would open up about how they just got fired by THEIR JERK BOSS AND LIFE SUCKS AND UGH I HATE EVERYONE. Misery loves company, and so does bad energy. If you’re low energy all day, you’ll attract other low-energy work and clients. If you put negative energy out into the world, you’ll surround yourself with abuse because subconsciously that’s what you’re asking for. At the office, the positive, energetic people would go out for drinks after work sometimes. I’d watch them walk out of the office, smiling and laughing together like life was a grand party. I’d be left behind with Tim who was so low energy and so quiet he practically blended into the wall, and Harry whose main job in life was complaining about everything. This was not the club I wanted to belong to! I wanted to be happy like those other guys, but I felt like I didn’t fit in with them because they made a lot more money than me.
Selling that apartment to June was the first time I understood that when you control your energy and hold yourself to a higher standard, anything becomes possible. No matter how big and how bold, nothing will be out of reach for you, because changing your energy means winning the game and putting losing behind you forever. And I know it’s possible, because I did it. During the height of my struggles as a new real estate broker in New York City, I was essentially “Ryan Serhant, poster boy for how not to succeed at life.” I was desperate when I wanted to be confident, unsure when I wanted to be certain, slouching because I was too afraid to stand tall, and quiet when I should have spoken up. I knew I wanted to leave low-rent Ryan behind forever, but how would I get started?
The way I imagined big success as a kid growing up on a farm outside of Boston was lots of money in the bank, a closetful of suits, a fast car, and a sleek apartment, and who knows what else—was that even a possibility for me?
After my experience with June Shen I realized that I had two choices: give up on myself or realize that I was a blank canvas that could be worked on. I was now going to be very deliberate about how I moved forward. I didn’t want to wait to start living bigger, and I didn’t want to depend on anyone else to give me that permission either. I wanted my power back—the power I lost somewhere along the way in my search for success. I wanted the power I was born with but had lost to social pressures and crippling anxiety. I was done holding back. I had made just one bold stroke, and my canvas already looked better! I was going to do whatever it took to transform the canvas of my life into something priceless. It wasn’t easy—I didn’t snap my fingers and watch self-conscious and broke Ryan fade into the distance. It took a lot of work, self-evaluation, and practice. As I started to let myself have greater expectations about what I was capable of, the more I accomplished, the more my career started to grow.
Examine the picture of your life right now—is it what you want? Really, is it? We’ve all had something we fantasized about doing, but we let fear hold us back. Or maybe someone told us our dreams were stupid. Being a magician isn’t a real career! Are you insane? It’s easy to talk yourself out of pursuing a dream if you’re worried about screwing up, going broke, or looking like a total idiot. The show was pretty good until the magician tried to saw that lady in half—my kids will be traumatized forever. What if your biggest desires could be a reality? What if you couldn’t screw up? Change your energy and the picture of your life will look entirely different. Right now it might be messy and chaotic, or too tidy and predictable. If you commit to thinking bigger, taking bigger actions, dreaming bigger, and opening your mind up to every crazy possibility, you can LIVE BIG.
1 That is literally what I said, word for word. Remembering this makes me cringe!
BE THE FUTURE YOU RIGHT NOW
ARE YOU A TOP-LEVEL REAL ESTATE BROKER WHO WANTS TO BE ON TV?
Description: Casting real estate brokers in New York City for unscripted television show. Are you a successful real estate broker selling high-end real estate in Manhattan? Bravo TV is holding auditions for a New York City based version of Million Dollar Listing. Click here to apply.
The ad on Curbed.com caught my eye right away. At that point in my life I wasn’t exactly a “top level” real estate broker, but I had started selling more apartments after meeting June, and a few of them were in the seven-figure range. I was definitely moving up in the world. I was now focused on my real estate career, but that was a relatively new decision. The whole reason I came to New York in the first place was to be an actor! I had spent the last two years of my life auditioning for television shows, plays, and commercials, and made very little money doing it. In fact, there was little to show for any of that time of my life, other than a brief appearance as an evil doctor on a soap opera and roles in some off-off-off-off-Broadway plays. Oh, and I was a hand model, as some of you may remember from Sell It Like Serhant. Yep—a professional one. I was paid to hold phones while the director yelled at me for not bending the metatarsal on my right ring finger seven degrees forward. My passion was to act. I had saved up as much money as I could and gave myself two years to give it a go in the toughest city in the world. What could go wrong?! Obviously I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It turns out you need a lot of money to live in Manhattan, and playing the role of a tree in a basement production of Macbeth didn’t pay too well. If I wanted more to life than constant stress about money, I had to face the fact that my acting career wasn’t going to cut it, so I got my real estate license to help pay the bills. I thought it would just be a survival job—a job that brought in enough to pay the bills while I worked towards making it on Broadway or landing a role in a movie. But then something surprising happened: I really started to like the business. I liked being a salesperson! The rejection wasn’t nearly as bad in sales as it felt at auditions. I didn’t take it personally if someone didn’t like an apartment. I also felt a thrill every time I closed a deal. It was satisfying to connect a person to something they wanted, and actually get paid to do it.
I figured the Million Dollar Listing opportunity, which combined television (my quickly fading dream) and real estate (which was turning out to be an area where I was really starting to shine), was a great way to take my career to a higher level.
I mean, at the very least I would have a better chance than most brokers. How many real estate brokers had acting training? It’s like this opportunity was meant for me!
I filled out the very short application that entailed writing down my name and email address (they were being really selective) and received a quick response:
Dear Top Real Estate Broker:
Thank you for applying to be on Million Dollar Listing: New York!
Report to the Hudson Hotel at 356 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019.
Your scheduled interview time is: 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010.
We look forward to meeting you!
My Macy’s suit was fresh from the cleaners, and I put on my best shirt and a new tie. I made sure my shoes were extra polished, and thankfully my hair was having a good day. I felt great! When I reported to the Hudson Hotel at my appointed time, it quickly became clear that not only did New York City have an unlimited supply of wannabe actors, it also had an unlimited supply of real estate brokers who wanted to be on TV. Awesome!
The lobby of the Hudson Hotel is dark and moody with a quiet and sophisticated vibe. But that day it was packed from end to end with real estate brokers who were all trying out for the same job as me. Why exactly did I think this was a good idea? I went from feeling like Superman to Bizarro.1
I sat down on a plush velvet couch, my self-esteem sinking deeper into it with each thought. I was selling more, and I was finally getting comfortable in my career. My inner-Superman was cheering me on: “You are a great broker, Ryan! This opportunity is perfect for you! Go get it!” But then my inner-Bizzaro said: “Why are you back at an audition?” Then he laughed (maniacally), because auditions went so well the first time?! “The world of film and television didn’t want you before, why would they want you now?”
I had talked to my friend David about it. He didn’t hide the fact that he thought it was an idiotic idea: “Really, Ryan? How will being on a stupid reality TV show be good for your business? I wouldn’t hire a lawyer from a TV show—why would someone hire a television real estate broker?” he said with a grossed-out expression.
My mom’s reaction wasn’t much better. After a long sigh, I could practically hear her eyes roll through the phone. “Who will take you seriously if you’re running around town selling real estate on television? I wouldn’t hire someone from Survivor to sell our home. You will make a joke of yourself,” she said.
All of my insecurities were resurfacing, and the longer I waited, the larger my doubt grew. My inner monologue went like this:
Who am I kidding? I’m not a top broker. That’s a joke. I’ve only been in real estate for a year and a half! Just a couple of years ago I was sharing a bathroom with a dozen other people. I just moved into a legit studio apartment (with its own bathroom!), but I don’t have the cash to buy furniture! WHAT KIND OF TOP REAL ESTATE BROKER EATS DINNER WHILE SITTING ON THE FLOOR?
Sitting there I felt more ridiculous and stupid by the second. Apparently, I was trying to prove to myself that I didn’t make good business decisions, RIGHT??
More time passed. And what did I know about selling million-dollar listings? Or living in them, for that matter? NOTHING!
I was the kind of businessperson who rejects bigger deals because he’s too afraid to handle them, because he’s convinced he’ll fail. Occasionally, someone would toss a great lead my way—one of my finance buddies who had a client with a $10 million budget looking for a place. Rather than seizing these huge opportunities I’d say, “Thanks, but that’s not really my thing.” Whaaattt?
- A Porchlight Books' Business Bestseller (January 2021)
“Big Money Energy is like a mentor for anyone with a big dream they want to make a reality! Ryan Serhant guides readers to find their confidence, overcome self-doubt, and exceed their own expectations.”
—Barbara Corcoran, NYT bestselling author of Shark Tales and Use What You’ve Got and Other Business Lessons I Learned from my Mom
"Serhant shows us it's not enough to just have goals, but to chase our dreams with a verve and joyous energy. Highly practical and infectiously fun."
—Mark Manson, NYT bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Everything is F*cked
“This book isn’t just about changing your energy—it’s about taking control of your life. Big Money Energy provides an actionable blueprint that readers can use to create positive change now.”
—Mel Robbins, international bestselling author of The 5 Second Rule
- “Big Money Energy is the ultimate primer for success. Ryan Serhant shows readers how to exude positive energy, own a room and make their biggest dreams a reality.”—Daymond John, NYT bestselling author of The Power of Broke and Powershift
“In Big Money Energy, Ryan Serhant shows readers that when positive energy is mixed with self-confidence and topped off with a heavy dose of hustle. . . anything can be achieved.”
—Sophia Amoruso, NYT bestselling author of #GIRLBOSS
- "Inspiring."—Justin Klinger
- "In his new book, Big Money Energy: How to Rule at Work, Dominate at Life, and Make Millions...[Serhant] gives his best advice for anyone who'd like to follow in his footsteps."—PEOPLE.com
- On Sale
- Feb 1, 2022
- Page Count
- 240 pages
- Hachette Go