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Barbara Corcoran's Secrets to Success

Barbara Corcoran's Secrets to Success
Image credit: Rex Larsen | The Grand Rapids Press
Guest Writer
min read
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NEW YORK -- What does it take to become a multimillionaire entrepreneur and business icon? At the World Business Forum in New York City on Tuesday, real estate mogul and Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran shared some of the secrets to her success.

"I really started my business education watching how my mother ran our house," Corcoran says. With ten kids and little income, her mother ran a tight ship. Most importantly, Corcoran says, her mother taught her children to try, even if they didn't succeed. "I learned to jump out the window with the belief that I'd learn how to fly," she says.

Related: Barbara Corcoran's Leadership Style: Rainbows and Steel-Toe Boots

Corcoran's thirst for risk made her far more innovative than her competitors. Now one of the most recognized female entrepreneurs in the world, Corcoran shares some secrets to her entrepreneurial spirit and rapid growth:

Hire resilient people. Working in real estate, Corcoran often had to hire salespeople with no experience. She learned to spot the people who were most likely to succeed -- the people that she calls superstars. They all had one skill in common: "When they took a hit, they didn't take a long time to get back up," she says.

In interviews, she looked for people who had overcome obstacles in the past; people who saw failure as a challenge to succeed, not an endpoint. "They led the company to enormous success," she says.

Related: Barbara Corcoran on the Secret to Handling Rejection

Live according to your greatest aspiration. When Corcoran got her first paycheck, she didn't spend it on rent or food; she headed straight for Bergdorf Goodman to buy an expensive coat. "If I looked like I was capable, then I was capable," she says. "Perception creates reality."

She applied the same principle to her business by writing media reports on real estate market trends, despite that fact that her fledgling business had low sales. The New York Times started quoting her as an expert, creating the illusion that her company was bigger than it was. "That gave me the power to build my brand faster than anyone else," she says.

Create the illusion of popularity. When Corcoran was struggling to meet her sales goals, she remembered a common truism: "Everybody wants what everybody wants." To make her properties appealing, she set up a secret sale and asked her salespeople to invite their best clients at a specific time when the properties would be revealed.

Over 200 people showed up for 88 properties. "They took worse apartments because they saw another 100 people behind them who wanted it too," Corcoran says.

Know you have the right to succeed. As a small fish in real estate's very large pond, Corcoran learned to tell herself, 'I have the right to be here.' That assertion gave her the confidence to blaze an ambitious path, even when she was the only woman in the boardroom.

Corcoran says she would repeat that saying anytime she felt out of place or overpowered, dispelling any insecurity. "That singular belief created my success," she says.

Related: Barbara Corcoran: 'The Joy Is in the Getting There'

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