Barbara Corcoran is proud to be the only female shark on Shark Tank, one of the most popular TV shows for the past seven years. It’s just another accolade she can add to her already massive list, which includes the Realty Foundation Golden Apple Award and being named one of “New York’s 100 Most Influential Women in Business.” As the New York chairperson of the Young President’s Organization, she advises 500 of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.
How did New York Real Estate get its first Queen?
BORN INTO CHAOS
Corcoran, 64, knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur after learning how miserable it is to work for someone else. Her father was a printing-press foreman who would frequently lose his job by refusing to obey commands from superiors. The native of Edgewater, New Jersey, believes this is the primary reason nine of the ten kids in her family grew up to have their own businesses.
Her mother was major influence as well, mainly her habit of kicking her children out of bed at 7:30am on weekends and telling them “You’re wasting the day.” The house had just two bedrooms and one bathroom, but Corcoran says the captain of the family never became overwhelmed.
She told Business Insider:
“She was just super organized, definitely in charge, had everybody doing what she wanted, motivated everybody. She was just in charge. And so her house was her business.”
KEY ADVICE FROM A TRUSTED PARTNER
Corcoran’s biggest role model as an adult, however, was her first boyfriend, Ramone Simone.
He was ten years older than her when they started dating shortly after she graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas College with a degree in not business, but education. She taught for a year and waited tables at a diner, where she met Simone, who had his own real estate business. He drove a fancy car, wore fancy suits and to Corcoran, seemed to literally have an endless supply of money.
Simone also realized Corcoran was a perfect candidate for the real estate industry. Invigorated by his support, a 22-year-old Corcoran got a job renting apartments in a New York City building.
She quickly excelled, renting five apartments in just one week, but her boss showed her the same attitude he showed everyone else. After reviewing her incredible sales record, all he could say was “you’re just piss in the bucket,” Corcoran recalled.
“My world crumbled. He took your spirit away,” she added.
But this wouldn’t be the first time Corcoran found motivation from flagrant insults.
It was obvious to Simone that his then-girlfriend was ready for the next step so, in 1973, he loaned her $1,000 to start the Corcoran Group.
Corcoran described a key strategy to the Cooperator:
“Every time I had a spare dollar, I’d put it in a separate pile, take out the profit, reinvest it in one of two ways: hire another sales person or, whenever I ran out of room, I’d build or expand space.”
The company soon released “The Corcoran Report,” an analysis of the New York real estate market that is still viewed as the foremost guide to the fluctuations of the industry
A SLIGHT CHANGE TO THE ROSTER
Seven years later, Simone revealed he was marrying Corcoran’s younger, prettier, secretary. They divided the Corcoran Group into two companies, shattering Corcoran’s confidence and sending her into a year-long depression.
She vividly remembers Simone telling her “You’ll never succeed without me.”
This would turn out to be some of the best “advice” she’s ever received, Corcoran said, because she was certain she wouldn’t give Simone “the satisfaction” of seeing her fail. She grew their 14-person startup into a $5 billion empire that was eventually sold to NRT Incorporated for $66 million in 2001.
APPLYING HER SKILLSET POST-REAL ESTATE
Corcoran’s rocky path to the top taught her to embrace obstacles as opportunities for success.
This philosophy would benefit her once again when a TV producer first approached her with the idea for Shark Tank. She immediately agreed only to find out the producer had hired someone else after booking her flight to Hollywood.
Rather than feeling sorry for herself, she sent the producer a very interesting email:
“I said that all the best things happened to me on the heels of rejection and I considered his rejection a lucky charm. I cited half dozen similar situations throughout my career where obstacles turned into my greatest opportunities and asked to come and compete for the job.”
Corcoran continues to exhibit this persistent mentality on Shark Tank, even though one-third of her investments on the show have reportedly failed. Learning from these mistakes allowed her to spot gems like Pork Barrel BBQ, which she gave $50,000 for a 15% stake.
Pork Barrel sauces are now sold in over 8,000 stores, generating more than $10 million in sales.
Adversity worked its way back into Corcoran’s personal life when she was told her son, Tommy, had been diagnosed with learning disabilities. Teachers told her to erase the thought of Tommy having a bright future but she ignored them, and set out to find the best tutors available.
Tommy is now attending Columbia University, likely because he was born with his mother’s undying will to succeed.
Corcoran is proof that failure and rejection are not reasons to give up. The same can be said about not having the means to achieve your goals, and United Capital Source can help you bring these goals within your reach. United Capital Source has provided essential financing to countless businesses run by ambitious women. Hear their stories and begin building your own by calling 855-933-8638 or visiting our website.