Barbara Corcoran Says Trying To Find Work/Life Balance Is A ‘Phantom Chase’

In a recent interview with Fast Company, real estate mogul and entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran said she gave up years ago on trying to achieve some sort of balance between her thriving business and personal life. She said her secret has been to compartmentalize her day into segments.

Corcoran is a real estate legend. 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.  In 2001 she sold her real estate business for $66 million. Today, she is the well-known female face on ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank, an author, speaker, and investor. The woman is busy, to say the least.

“I feel like I’m living my life in one of those spinning doors but why those doors avoid crashes is because they have those glass panes that separate the people going through them. And I very much compartmentalize because I gave up years ago on the concept that you could actually have balance in your life, I think it’s a phantom chase if you’re running after that,” she told Fast Company.

And compartmentalize she does. Her days are totally segmented. Her mornings are spent doing media, either live interviews or post tapes. Then in the afternoon she completely switches to her entrepreneur businesses. Then she leaves her office at 6 pm on the nose and at 6:30 she turns her phone off (gasp!) until she wakes up the next morning. When she gets home Barbara says she is in total mom and wife mode. She does not turn the phone back on until 6:30 am. Then she checks her messages, works out and gets the kids off to school before she heads back to the office at 8:30.

Things that may help with her compartmentalizing that you may want to keep in mind is that her apartment is right beneath her office (that would definitely help with commute stress) and she considers her assistant Gail to be her greatest power tool.

This idea that achieving this miraculous sense of balance has been a discussion lately on The Grindstone. Last week’s Executive Suite featured DailyWorth CEO Amanda Steinberg, who said:

“I don’t strive for a concept of balance — I never have. It almost seems like a silly idea to me — that life should play out in some sort of contrived separation between “work” and “relaxation” or “family time.” As a CEO and mom, I’m always working and always “mom.” They exist in an almost blended fashion. I lean in both directions depending on which needs me more in that moment.”

Jezebel’s Katie J.M. Baker wrote of the Steinberg’s interview, “We’re particularly pleased she tackled the impossible and unnecessarily stressful concept of balance that women are too often expected to achieve.”

Both of these women seem to believe the same thing but they are approaching it in different ways. While Steinberg sounds like she just doesn’t get angry at herself if she has to do work while she is with her kids, Corcoran chooses to segment her different roles so there is no overlap. Both tactics seem to be working for these successful ladies.


Photo: Corcoran Group

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    • Toni

      I find Barbara to be very inspirational. I look forward to seeing who and what she will invest in on Shark Tank.