This multi-millionaire real estate mogul credits a fake Rolex as being the secret to his successLuke Benedictus
Ryan Serhant is a wildly successful man. As the face of TV shows such as Million Dollar Listing New York and Sell It Like Serhant, he’s become one of the world’s most well-known real estate brokers, while running his own New York firm and also becoming a bestselling author along the way. Consequently, Serhant’s net worth is now estimated at US$30 million. But in a disarmingly honest Facebook post, the 38-year-old credits a fake Rolex with supercharging his success. “About a year into my sales career, I decided to buy a fake Rolex,” he writes. “And it changed my life!
Serhant explains that when he started out in the real estate game, he didn’t take much pride in the image he was projecting to clients. “I was essentially wearing whatever I had in my closet; clothes that felt comfortable,” he says. “And, if you dress like a typical twenty-something, you’re likely going to attract other typical twenty-somethings (or people that behave like them), and they probably won’t be able to provide the money or opportunities that you’re looking for.
“If I wanted to get attention from the ‘right’ audience – people that could afford seven-figure homes – I had to look like I was already working with those types of clients.”
“Manhattan is the land of well-cut suits, expensive handbags, designer shoes, and watches that cost more than a year at your average university.
Consequently, Serhant decided he need to polish up his look to make himself appear like a mover and shaker. So he headed into New York’s Chinatown. “I wanted to buy a ‘symbol of success’ that would make me look like I dealt with high-end clients,” he writes. “And that’s how I ended up with a fake Rolex.”
Essentially, Serhant decision was to fake until you make it. Perceiving a gold Rolex as one of the conspicuous markers of success, he wore a cheap knock-off version not only to exude the image to other people but also to change his self-perception. “I felt more like a top-performing agent… which made me act like a top-performing agent!” Serhant said.
“It sounds funny, but I was essentially just pretending. I was pretending to be the version of me that I was inspired by: the one that dressed well, worked hard, and over-delivered for clients. But, in pretending to be that person, I became that person!”
Serhant points out that he’s not suggesting other people buy a fake Rolex themselves. But he does argue that a bit of kidology can prove strangely effective when it comes to your self-belief. “If you want to get to the next level, pretend,” he said.
“Pretend to be the version of you that is outgoing and has lots of confidence. Pretend to be the person that over communicates. Pretend to be the person that works really hard.
“And, eventually, if you pretend for long enough, you’ll transform into that person.”
There’s quite a lot to unpack here. On the one hand, buying a fake Rolex (or any knock-off watch) is something that’s hard to condone given the products come from a criminal industry known to exploit terrible working conditions and child labour. Serhant’s tale doesn’t do much to change lazy stereotypes about the moral rectitude of real estate agents either. (Notably, the last story we ran about a person who was unrepentant about wearing a fake Rolex also turned out to work in real estate, too.) Yet moralising aside, there’s also something undeniably powerful about Serhant’s candour in speaking about his career journey and early struggles.
Plus, science suggests he was onto something, too. Psychologists from Northwestern University have found that what you wear can affect how you think and even perform. In an experiment, researchers found that students wearing white lab coats performed better on cognitive tests than those who didn’t sport them. The phenomenon is called “enclothed cognition” and the researchers say it proves that “clothes systematically influence wearers’ psychological processes”. Or as the old saying puts it “dress for success”.