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Barbara Corcoran: You Can't Devote Yourself to Your Business and Children at the Same Time

Barbara Corcoran: You Can't Devote Yourself to Your Business and Children at the Same Time
Image credit: Zebit

From the outside, Barbara Corcoran is the poster-woman for “having it all.”

The Shark Tank star -- who sold her real estate empire The Corcoran Group in 2001 -- has authored several books, is an active mentor to a rotating list of startups and, thanks to her ability to mine her life story for digestible morsels of wisdom to feed the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs, is a regular contributor on the Today show as well as an in-demand speaker across the country.

Oh, and she’s the mother of two.

Related: Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran: 'All the Best Things Happened to Me on the Heels of Rejection'

Corcoran said on Tuesday that while you can have it all, she believes you can’t have it all at once. More specifically, Corcoran -- who had her first child when she was in her mid 40s -- firmly believes that if she’d become a mother at a younger age, she could never have grown the Corcoran Group into a 1,000-plus person firm.

Up until the birth of her son, Corcoran was able to devote her life to her company. She arrived at the office before anyone else and, every morning, would write a personalized Post-It note for each salesperson, detailing what he or she needed to get done that day. Her life was her work. Her employees were her family.

When she had her son about 22 years ago, that all changed. For one, her schedule was less rigid -- instead of 7:30 a.m., she’d get to work around 9:30 after dropping him off at daycare. But more important, her focus was divided. “Once I had a sibling rivalry playing out in my heart, I felt I could never succeed as well again,” she said.

Related: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Explaining Your Job to Your Kids

She realized it was time to sell the company when her star salesperson marched into her office and accused her of caring more about her son than her employees.

“She was right,” Corcoran said during a promotional luncheon for Zebit, which provides financial resources to employees. “I realized I couldn’t be spread one arm here and one leg here ... you can’t do that as a mom.”

So she sold the firm, and moved on to the next chapter of her life, one in which her work remained a passion, but a less all-consuming one.