One of the hottest and newest shows currently trending is Netflix’s “Owning Manhattan”. The brand-new show stars real estate mogul, Ryan Serhant, and his team of agents as they try and dominate the New York market, while pushing the limits of business and branding.

Regardless of being a reality show rooted in drama and confrontation, which as members of the cleared community, we generally try to avoid, this show has a lot of business lessons to be learned about going out for the job you want, portraying the type of candidate/employee that you want to be, and always striving for more.

As a recent New York transplant, a professional in the branding space, as well as a dabbler in real estate, the show, which released all episodes on June 28, was quick to hit ‘my list’. It didn’t stay there long as my wife and I binged the entire season, and it has been on my mind ever since, just simmering.

The 7 lessons hidden in Owning Manhattan

Ryan Serhant, founder and CEO of Serhant, was first thrust into reality real estate back in 2010 when he was cast on Million Dollar Listing, another show based on the New York market, and that continued for nine seasons. There is a lot more to who and what Serhant is, including being a hand model early in his career, but what I want to focus on is the amazing lessons that can be learned about brand management by simply watching the eight episodes of season one of “Owning Manhattan”.

1. Stay Hungry, but don’t expect to get fed.

In the last few episodes of season one of “Owning Manhattan,” there is a lot of talk regarding Serhant agents being approached and poached by competing agencies in the NY area. This leads to a lot of the lesser heated discussions by the cast of the show, but it still leads to a great conversation about what Serhant represents being a newer company, taking on the scene of NY real estate, and how their competitors want to retaliate against an invading force.

As far as branding, this looks good on Serhant and its agents because it shows that they, not only as a company with a very niche market but as a brand, are threatening the companies who have been in the local market for much longer. There is a new player in town, and you might need to work a little harder to keep what you thought you deserved.

2. Learn from your network, both good and bad.

In episode six, Ryan Serhant is forced to come down hard on two of his agents for using company assets to bad mouth another agent, which itself is another lesson that we will explore later, but how he deals with one of the guilty agents is one of my favorite moments in the entire season.

Coming off of an embarrassing moment of what can only be considered bullying, two of Serhant’s younger agents who are very focused on using social media to grow their network are taken aside by the CEO. The specific conversation that I want to focus on is Ryan’s conversation with “next-gen realtor” Jonathon Normolle, which is held in an apartment that is very much still under construction. The whole scene is meant to be a lesson. The construction is a way to reflect that we are all a project in the works, that amazing things start as nothing, and since we are all under construction, we can all be made better. At least that is what I took from it.

Prior to the conversation, Ryan Serhant narrates about a moment that he had with a previous client where he essentially threatened Ryan’s life if he didn’t meet his end of the deal. And I felt like that was a powerful anecdote to communicate before Ryan took the same essential lesson, with far less of a murder-ish tone, and told Jonathan that he should be using his platforms to become great, and not just be ‘noticed’. Ryan’s ability to learn from his past relationships, good and bad, is what allows him to speak with confidence and esteem while showing his team that they too can be great, as long as they stay hungry and get the job done. Make the deal.

3. When you are in charge, you can’t do everything.

In episode seven, after some big news that affects Serhant, Ryan is forced to call an all-hands meeting. This is less of a ‘wolf-of-wall-street’ moment and more of a ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment for the agents at the company. This was a necessary moment that the leadership of the company needed to have to ensure that a very specific message reached every ear in Serhant, and by the end of the meeting, it was clear that the message had been received.

That message was that agents at Serhant if they wanted to remain at the agency, needed to stay focused and stay professional. As well as if they don’t want to be there – if they don’t want to stay hungry – if they don’t feel like they can hang at the very apex of luxury real estate, they should leave.

The real tell was those who didn’t take that moment seriously. Some agents didn’t feel the need to show up to the meeting on time, as well as agents who felt that it was a good time to crack a joke. Advice for anyone reading this, not the time to be late, and not the place for a joke. Again, this is only my opinion.

4. Be innovative.

One thing that really sticks out about Serhant agents is that they are given a lot of freedom when it comes to how they find, meet, and work with their clients, and even more so how they make that final deal on a property. In a couple of episodes, we even see that the agents, some of whom are very popular on social media, will use their influence and follower count to sweeten up a real estate deal. This is a really out-of-the-box way for a company to operate, risky at times as seen in several episodes, but also a very modern way of looking at how deals are made and how to reach more corners of the globe using different types of networks. It is very innovative, especially in a unique market like real estate.

It is pretty cool to watch a show where the CEO of a company allows the staff to use assets such as camera crews, budgets, podcast equipment, etc., to push the boundaries of how they seal the deal. One such event happened in episode eight, where one of the agents was given a unique retail space to sell, but because of the lack of interest in a retail space that had a living space on the top floor, the agent had to think outside the box to garner interest.

This is where the innovation came in and the agent decided to film a music video on that floor to show that not only was the space huge and livable, but if the owner decided to use it for more creative means, the choice was theirs. And in that same breath, the opportunities and options were limitless for the buyer. Again, such an innovative way to sell a property by broadening the imagination of the customer.

5. Be your brand.

A lesson that Ryan Serhant taught passively throughout the show was an invaluable one: branding. Branding is such an important topic that a lot of companies, especially newer ones, don’t put a lot of value in. Branding, both in the long and short term, can make or break a company, and clearly Ryan Serhant knows this.

You can see throughout the show that Ryan knows his brand. It is luxury, it is class, it is customer service, and it is blue. Everything is Serhant blue. His clothes are blue, his office is blue, his cars are blue, and he is consistent with it. Consistency creates recognition, and recognition gets you customers and a return on investments.

There is even a discussion between Ryan and his ex-assistant, now top-agent, Jordan, about his suits, car, and other things in his life being blue. He is so proud of it, and it makes all the difference in the world when you can gain customers just by them seeing color that makes them recall your name.

6. Every single person who works for you represents you.

This leads back to the last lesson, which was branding. It also ties back into a reference I made earlier about learning from your network, the good and the bad. The incident that I am referring to was when two of Serhant’s ‘Next-Gen Agents’ used company assets to bad-mouth another agent. The assets included a podcast, which turned into a lot of digital fallout for not only the agents but for Ryan and the Serhant company.

Every single person who works in a company wears a name tag, wears those colors, clocks in, and has your logo on their clothing somewhere is a direct representation of that company and when things go wrong, which they do, the eyes come back to you.

A valuable lesson that all employees should learn, especially with technology growing and spreading at a historical rate, and communications being as fast as they are, damage control is getting harder and harder to implement in time. When something happens, and it is their responsibility, it automatically becomes the responsibility of everyone in that leadership structure.

7. When successful, you will always be a target.

Throughout the season, Ryan Serhant is constantly brushing off the idea or the discussion of failure. He is confident in every discussion, pitch, deal, etc. that failure is not an option for him, which is awesome to watch. But in reality, the competition, just like those that are trying to poach his agents, is waiting for a mistake to happen. They are waiting for agents to screw up, to create a rift in the company, waiting for Ryan to make a bad move, or for anyone to fail a deal. And Ryan is completely aware of this.

If failure occurs at all, there will be blood in the water, and other companies will try and swoop in a enact damage control to make their company seem like they saved the day. All this does or should do is create more motivation in employees, agents, and leadership to work that much harder knowing that if they fail, it means more than just what happens today.

We, not just brands, can take a lesson from each of these topics. Brand management doesn’t just apply to companies; it applies to us as individuals, as candidates, and as humans. If you represent a brand, consider all of these lessons, if you are applying for a job, consider how you look and apply some of these lessons. Having a brand can set you apart now and in the future.

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Aaron Knowles has been writing news for more than 10 years, mostly working for the U.S. Military. He has traveled the world writing sports, gaming, technology and politics. Now a retired U.S. Service Member, he continues to serve the Military Community through his non-profit work.