Barbara Corcoran’s story is an inspirational rags-to-riches story that would surprise many Shark Tank viewers.
The now real estate mogul who sold her company, the Corcoran Group for $66 million in 2001, was not always as successful and confident as she is today.
From being a D student all her life in school to working in 20 different jobs by the time she was 23, Corcoran’s story of remarkable success against all odds is a reminder that it is possible to turn hardships into opportunities in both life and business.
In school, Corcoran had a difficult time reading and comprehending. She failed many times and was confined to the ‘D student’ category. She only found out that she had dyslexia when her son was diagnosed with the reading disorder in his second grade.
Corcoran, who worked at a diner as a waitress in her teen years and early twenties was undeterred by her poor performance in school. With just $1000 borrowed from a boyfriend, she started a small real estate firm in New York City and for 25 years grew the company into a multi-billion brand.
She says if you avoid labeling and seeing yourself as a loser, it is possible to be successful in business. In fact, many of the most prosperous and innovative entrepreneurs on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank never performed well in school.
Lesson: Your ‘weakness’ should not be an excuse for not pursuing your goals.
Listening to Corcoran speak to her audience or watching her issue tangible, no-nonsense criticism and advice to entrepreneurs on Shark Tank, you would be blown away by her mastery of public speaking and communication.
But, she wasn’t always so good at conveying her message. In fact, at the start of her real estate career, she experienced a major blunder during a speaking event. When she got on stage, she was so frightened that she couldn’t get herself to utter a single word. To the dismay of the audience, Corcoran dejectedly slumped into her seat.
Without letting that incident set her back, the following day Barbara proposed a real estate course to a university and she was allowed to teach the course (which involved speaking, obviously) for five years.
Entrepreneurship is not an easy ride—false starts, financing, productivity, operations all these are challenges that are typical to most businesses. Yet, only those who can quickly dust themselves down over and over again are able to get ahead of the game.
From just $1000, Barbara was able to build a renowned, multi-billion dollar businesses. Without a doubt, the competition in the real estate scene in New York was competitive—there were many other bigger, established and well known property firms.
But, she was determined to change her ‘not so easy’ life. At that time, Corcoran could only raise $1000 and that’s exactly what she used to fire up her company, the Corcoran Group into a respected brand.
Many times, people give excuses or simply give up because they ‘don’t have what it takes’ or lack the resources. But, there is never a good enough time to get started or to do what is required to push your life or your business forward.
During the 1970s recession, most real estate firms were not ready to expand into newer markets. However, small as her company was, Corcoran took the opportunity to invest and expand where nobody else would dare.
You just need to make do with what you have.
In Barbara’s words, “the meek do not inherit the earth.”
Barbara Corcoran is a testament that failure and challenges often carry with them the fruits of success. The reason why she is utterly prosperous today is that she learnt how to leverage her disadvantages and failures and make the most of them.
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