Executive Suite: How Barbara Corcoran Overcame Her Fear Of Failing

Every week The Grindstone interviews an influential woman in the world of business. We scour our brains and hearts to come up with strong, successful women who not only inspire us, but will also inspire you. No industry is off limits, no interview subject too controversial.

To kick things off we are talking to real estate legend Barbara Corcoran. After working about 20 different jobs by the age of 23, Corcoran took a $1000 loan to start The Corcoran Group.  It was a life changing move. Today, she has grown the business into a $5 billion real estate empire. Her latest book Shark Tales was released in March and her show Shark Tank took ABC’s #1 Friday night program spot in its fifth week.

Here is what the mogul, Today Show contributor and sassy lady had to tell us:

What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome in your career?
Myself. Fear of failing. Fear of being embarrassed. Fear of what others might think.

What is the most important piece of advice anyone has ever given to you?
The insult of having my business partner/boyfriend leave with my secretary saying I would never succeed was a wonderful motivator for me. That negative advice bent and determined me to prove him wrong. It was the most perfect insurance policy to ensure success.

Who were your role models growing up?
My mom was a role model for me in parenting and business. She raised 10 children on a shoe string budget but she also taught me how to succeed in business. She was a great model for being a motivator. When she would bring home each kid she would announce the gift that each child was going to bring to the family and without a doubt that child played that role for the rest of their life. It tremendously helped me build a sales organization. I just did a poor imitation of what my mom did.

Have you ever been passed over for a position by someone who was less qualified?
All the time. There are two reasons for this: Outside circumstances like someone’s related to the boss, longevity at a company so therefore they are entitled to it, personal preference of who you are reporting to so you have no control but things you are capable of overcoming are speaking up for yourself. There are many times I didn’t speak up for myself. That is a talent you need to learn. Women tend to hesitate and men do not. It is something women need to practice.

Has your gender ever affected your rise to the top – both positively and/or negatively?
Mostly positively. I was the only female who owned a brokerage business but they didn’t have to know my name, they just knew I was the girl. I wore a lot of red suits and short skirts. It affected me negatively in powerful meetings when business got larger and I was swimming with sharks. I felt invisible. Not feeling acknowledged is the worst insult in the world. You need to beef yourself up.

Photo: Corcoran Group

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