How Barbara Corcoran Turned $1,000 into an Empire
I genuinely wish Barbara Corcoran would run for President. Not because she’s rich. Not because she has any kind of political experience (she doesn’t). But because of her humility and wisdom.
Barbara Corcoran did not grow up rich. She lived in a two-bedroom apartment with ten siblings. She struggled through school due to her undiagnosed dyslexia and was often considered the “dumb kid” in school.
She worked 22 different jobs before she became rich. It wasn’t until she met a guy in real estate that her life began to change.
1. Where Is Barbara Corcoran Now?
Now, everybody knows Barbara Corcoran for Shark Tank, a TV show where entrants get to compete for the attention of investors. Corcoran is one of those investors.
Her years of experience in real estate gave her a keen eye to suss out the best investment opportunities and shy away from bad deals. She’s the kind of investor Trump wishes he could be.
When sizing up contestants, Cocoran looks at whether the contestants can stand up to the scrutiny of the “sharks.” She herself muscled through a hard life when she was younger and always hires people who can do the same.
But before you start to think that Corcoran is some hard-ass with a penchant to hold herself above others, know that Corcoran never forgets where she came from.
While she is worth millions, she flies economy instead of first class. She even saves up her airline miles for relatives rather than use them for possible upgrades. Although, Corcoran does bring a gourmet meal onto the plane. She believes that it’s your responsibility to make the best out of every situation you’re in.
She waited until her 40’s to have children, but once she did, they were taught humility. When her son was five, he asked on a plane, “Why can’t we sit in those big seats?” Her reply? “Get a job.”
It sounds harsh, but when you’re raising children who never knew want or worry, you have to teach them the value of work. Gordon Ramsey treats his children similarly. He doesn’t let his children sit in first class with him because they “haven’t worked nearly hard enough to afford [it].”
Sold Her Company
Corcoran sold her real estate company for $66 million in 2001. It was a company of over 800 employees that she had built from the ground up.
She sold the company because she wanted to focus more on her children. But Corcoran, having lived a life of hard work, couldn’t just stay home. She began making appearances on shows like Good Morning America and the Today Show.
Then, in 2009, Mark Burnett asked her to join a reality TV show Shark Tank. This is the Barbara Corcoran we know now. Successful, rich, and a full-fledged TV personality.
But how did Corcoran get here? It all began with a $1k loan and a budding romance.
2. How Barbara Corcoran Turned $1k Into an Empire
In the 1970’s, Barbara Corcoran was a waitress at the Fort Lee Diner. She was only 21. She met a guy named Ramone Simone who offered her a ride home.
The two became friends and about a year later, Ramone suggested they start a real estate company together. They pulled out a one thousand dollar loan and split it evenly.
Naturally, they called the company Corcoran-Simone.
The off and on romance only lasted seven years. They broke up the company when Simone decided to marry Corcoran’s secretary.
At that point, Corcoran had one thousand dollars to invest again and she began her own company, the Corcoran Group.
Her First Sale on Her Own
Every entrepreneur remembers when they made their first dollar on their own without the help of a boss or a partner. It’s usually a fond memory.
Corcoran’s first sale was an apartment rental for the Gifunni Brothers, a building where she secretaried previously. It was an L-shaped studio apartment.
When she went to place the ad, she noticed that every other apartment offer read the same. She went to Gifunni and asked if they’d be willing to build a partition so she could advertise a den. The super agreed and she placed an ad that said, “1 BR Plus Den: 340.”
All other ads read, “One bedroom 320 a month.” She got 80 calls the next day.
Splitting the Business
Corcoran-Simone hadn’t officially split off at this point. And Simone showed up looking for his half of the new business. They split the clients 50-50 and Corcoran eventually moved a floor above.
She says that her choice to move up a floor was a positive psychological move. Being below the guy that dumped her for her secretary would have hampered both her mood and her ability to work.
Over the next twenty years, the Corcoran Group went from a one-woman show to a company of over 800 employees. Barbara Corcoran built an insanely successful career off of that one sale.
What Can We Learn From Barbara Corcoran?
Corcoran saw something other people didn’t. While her move to build a partition to create a “den” in her apartment rental was a gimmick, it set her offer apart from others.
When selling either a product or yourself, find a way to set what you’re doing apart. This could mean honing in on a vertical or merely flaunting what you’ve got. Are you better at something than most people? How can you use that to help or impress others?
Barbara Corcoran devoted her later years to setting herself apart. She claims that even now she works harder than anyone her age.
If you want more entrepreneurial advice, check out Shoemoney’s Shoeintology.