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JASON OPPENHEIM dials into our Zoom call on a sunny Southern California day. He’s in-between conference calls for his prosperous real estate firm The Oppenheim Group, whose astronomical success with luxury properties led to the hit Netflix show Selling Sunset.

While the multi-million dollar homes and their awe-inspiring, one-of-a-kind views were the initial draw, it was the on-screen relationships and antics of the agents that has fueled its enduring popularity over five seasons. In 2022, the show expanded into Selling the OC, which follows Oppenheim’s team into famed luxury enclave Orange County, California, and in mid-December, the real estate mogul announced another expansion: an additional office in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Oppenheim has made a name for himself selling opulence and closing difficult deals, and he opened up to Men’s Health about why he loves his work, why he believes therapy is essential, and why presentation—in life and in real estate—is so important.

 

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This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.


Men’s Health: Two hit Netflix shows, a successful real estate group, a loving relationshipwhat skills do you find are key to your success?

Jason Oppenheim: I’m a very creative thinker. I have a ‘whatever it takes’ approach to everything. I’m also very detail-oriented. Success often comes in the details. That’s not the glorious part of work sometimes, but I think what always separates the best people in any profession are that most people can do the first 90% of any job, it’s the really impressive professionals that can excel in that last 10%, which is where the details lie.

Your family has been in real estate for generations. Did they give you any lessons or advice when you began The Oppenheim Group?

My dad would say ‘whatever it takes’ to just about everything when I was growing up. That was his motto. I never learned to make excuses or feel like a victim in any circumstance and just felt like if I worked hard and [did] whatever it takes… I would succeed. I had a lot of confidence in that regard. I was taught that by both of my parents. That’s perhaps even more important today because so many people are excuse-oriented. That ‘whatever it takes’ approach… I don’t think it’s taught by parents as much as it should be. I think that too many people are taught to make excuses and to blame other people. I don’t think that is going to create the drive and the success that we want from our younger generation.

When you’re looking for agents to join your firm, what kind of qualities signify someone will be successful?

I spend a lot of time in the interview process; I get personally involved. I have a pretty good read on someone’s ambition, if they’re into it for the right reason. If you’re coming into real estate because you think it’s sexy or you like watching our show, or you think you can make easy money, those are not reasons that are going to make you a successful real estate agent.

If you are really passionate about real estate—and there’s so many different areas about real estate where you can be passionate—and if you’re just a very hardworking person, you don’t make excuses, you don’t have unrealistic expectations, you’re smart, then you’re the right agent for The Oppenheim Group. That’s what I look for.

I don’t think experience is that important, if you’re willing to do the hard work.

Everything else can be taught?

I think that’s right. In fact, in some ways, it’s better that I can teach someone rather than having them learn the wrong way.

You take your role as a manager and your professional and personal responsibilities very seriously. How do you navigate office drama, especially with such high stakes—when you know it’s about to be shown to millions of people?

I’ve learned to not jump in and be as reactive as I used to be and to feel like I had the responsibility of having to solve all of the inter-office drama. I also realized that what seems like a big deal today probably won’t seem like a big deal in a month or six months. I’ve done a better job of taking a deep breath and letting things work themselves out, not feeling like it’s all my responsibility. It doesn’t have to be resolved immediately.

2022 people's choice awards red carpet

Oppenheim (fourth from left) with some of the cast of Selling Sunset.

Chris Polk/E! Entertainment/NBC//Getty Images

You give real estate tips on Instagram. What is something both buyers and sellers always overlook? What’s something that’s not talked about enough?

I don’t think you could overemphasize the importance of presentation. Even when I handed in a book report in the third grade, I would make sure it was printed perfectly, I would put it in a report cover with a plastic sleeve. I’ve always been someone who’s believed in presentation, and I think that there’s no profession where it matters more than selling multimillion dollar properties. Even building an office at The Oppenheim Group, I’ll spend a million dollars building an office when other brokerages will spend $50,000 to $100,000. Presentation matters in every single aspect of real estate.

Would you apply that to life?

Yeah! You only live once, so why not? I like to present myself well—with a nice car, with nice clothes. I just got a manicure. You can enjoy presentation and I think it matters. Enjoy it in that regard. Present yourself well and present other things in your life well. It honestly all comes down to one word which is pride. I think if there’s one thing that people can focus on more, I think it’s be more prideful in everything they do.

What’s the toughest sale you’ve ever closed? How do you keep a level head when things start getting rough?

Almost every deal is tough, but I enjoy tough deals. I really do. I’m selling an extremely tough deal right now. I’m trying to sell a house for seven million dollars right now that is completely torn apart. It has literally been torn down to the studs and it needs to be completely rebuilt. It could not be more complicated. I thrive on complicated deals and I enjoy them and I think it’s probably where I’m best.

What are some factors you think that makes you thrive in those situations?

I enjoy creative thinking and problem solving. It’s something I excel at. It’s like a puzzle. It’s a logical puzzle, and I like that. I like figuring things out, making things work. I like adding value too, and I think I add value in complicated deals. Most people can do a simple deal, you don’t need me.

How do you pivot or solve it when something isn’t working? What’s a tactic you might try?

I just make it work. I believe there’s an answer to every problem, and I think that I am capable of finding that answer. I really can’t remember a problem that I haven’t been able to figure it out and solve. I don’t think it’s a testament to me as much as to the fact that I believe every problem has an answer.

Who or where do you go for business advice?

My brother. He’s the smartest, most creative guy I know. I trust him more than anyone else on the planet, including giving me the best possible advice. I feel more confident if we agree on something. It’s a built-in best friend/confidante/advisor. He can play devil’s advocate very well, so he’s the perfect person to run complicated or important decisions by. I don’t remember the last time I made an important decision without him.

Do you guys typically agree or does he always bring a different perspective?

[On] important things, we usually agree, but we often will bring different perspectives. We’re both lawyers, and we’re both very capable of… cross-examining the other person and arguing different viewpoints, even if we don’t believe them. Just to make sure that we’re thinking things through and making the right decisions. We do that all the time, on just about every big decision we make.

world premiere of netflix's "the gray man" arrivals

Brett and Jason Oppenheim.

David Livingston//Getty Images

Do you find your legal background has been extremely helpful in pivoting to real estate?

Absolutely. My legal acumen is extremely helpful [in real estate] because you’re dealing with contracts all the time, as well as business managers, lawyers, you name it. More importantly, it taught me how to think creatively, analytically, and [to] problem solve and that’s a skill that applies to just about any profession.

You’ve had a few high profile relationships. What makes for a solid, loving foundation of a partnership?

Trust and respect are the two most important things. I’ve had that in my relationships. That can’t be overstated, the importance of respecting your partner and trusting your partner. Communication is important to me, and it’s an important part of any relationship that I could be involved in.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I don’t have a typical day at all, which is probably one of the reasons I love real estate.

Today, I woke up early, got a coffee, watched a little bit of the World Cup game, got a manicure, took about ten or fifteen phone calls, did a podcast, this interview, then [will] get dressed and go to the People’s Choice Awards.

E-mails, texts, and phone calls is most of my day, mixed in with a nice lunch with my girlfriend. I like to enjoy the finer things too, whether it’s a manicure or a nice lunch, or a little bit of TV at the end of the night—and fun things too, like the People’s Choice Awards. Red carpets are fun.

You said in a recent interview you only eat two meals a day. What other things do you find work best for you to stay healthy?

I like to get in the gym, even if it’s just for 25-30 minutes. I’ll get bored if I go to the gym for more than 30 minutes, but I’m a big believer in just getting to the gym, even for a quick amount of time. I eat twice a day but I don’t eat particularly healthy, I just don’t eat that much.

I just go to the gym and do whatever I feel like doing, or whatever I haven’t done in a few days. I just screw around and have fun with it. If you can’t enjoy it, you’re not going to do it. So I make sure I enjoy it.

You have so much going on. How do you manage it all? What keeps you on track and balanced in your life?

I enjoy being busy. I enjoy work, I really do. I’m happier working than not working. I’ve done a much better job, through therapy and maturity the last few years, in not being as reactive and thinking through things more methodically and not getting overwhelmed.

It’s made me happier, but at the end of the day I just enjoy it. I have no problem balancing a lot of things at once and enjoy the purpose that it provides me. I enjoy creating success around me and seeing other people succeed around me. I really enjoy that, and so the balance that I create is because I really love what I do.

You mentioned therapy is something that’s been very valuable for you.

I started it because my brother and I wanted to work on our relationship, and I just continued it individually because I really was getting a lot of help and insight into how to be a better boss, how to be a better person. I have a list on my phone that I’ve created with my therapist to review more often. I can’t even tell you how helpful therapy has been for me, in understanding myself better, and being a better person, which has allowed me to be a better boss, a better boyfriend. I couldn’t recommend it more strongly.

Just like I go to the gym for my body, I go to therapy for my mind and I think it’s equally as important. I don’t think there’s a person on this planet that wouldn’t be helped by therapy.