Get to Know Barbara

Get to Know Barbara

Best known as the leading lady-Shark on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and as the author of national bestsellers, “Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 Into a Billion Dollar Business,” Barbara Corcoran is a self-made real estate tycoon. Shark Tank Barbara has ponied up her own money and invested in more than a dozen businesses, competing to make those deals for all to see, then shepherding them to success. Barbara is famously brash and blunt, bold and courageous, and a brilliant identifier of opportunity and talent (often invisible to others).

Barbara Corcoran knows how to deliver harsh criticism when it’s needed. But some fans of Shark Tank believe she crossed the line. Corcoran was certainly not the only shark to get on case. First to break down the makeup artist by telling her to hurry up with her presentation. He later claimed that there was nothing original about her business. Corcoran, who was a real estate mogul before gaining national fame as a venture capitalist on “Shark Tank,” said that while good ideas can arise from sitting around a conference table, the “really great, phenomenal” ideas are born of fun.

Successful leaders refuse to let setbacks define them. Instead they see these incidents as opportunities to improve their skills. Corcoran didn’t sulk around her apartment after her speaking debacle. She took action the very next day to transform herself into the communicator she knew she could become. For those of you who might be unaware, you should know that they allow investors to co-invest with other notable investors. That is, people who back a notable investor’s commit to invest in their future deals and agree to pay them carry, or a percentage of the profit of a fund.

When Barbara Corcoran launched a real-estate brokerage in 1973 in New York City, she didn’t care all that much about real estate. “I knew how to sell things,” she explains. “And I didn’t like working for other people. A good sign that you should be an entrepreneur is if it bugs you to work for someone else.” Not only was Corcoran good at selling apartments, but she also excelled at marketing herself. After she was quoted in a New York Times article about real estate, Corcoran realized that getting press was good for business. In 1981, she launched The Corcoran Report, a biannual examination of New York City real-estate statistics and trends. “Reporters depend on statistics for stories,” she says. “I figured if I could dole them out, I’d always get quoted.”

Corcoran also had a knack for stunts, long before Shark Tank. Once, she had her supposedly Native American bookkeeper (she was actually Hungarian) “smudge” an apartment to rid it of bad vibes. Three newspapers covered it. And when two Park Avenue co-op boards instituted a “pet interview,” Corcoran invited press to report on her dog-training class. “A picture of me shaking hands with a dog wound up on the front page of the Daily News.

It’s much better having another female in one way because we have a camaraderie and can gang up against the guys, which we don’t often do, surprisingly. I don’t know why we don’t. I’m going to try to do that next season the best I can. It’d be good for the show. I was in a man’s world. Even though you think of brokerage as a female business, it’s worked by women but owned by men. So everybody in my ballpark that I competed with, it was in a business owned by men and usually second or third generation. So I’m used to that. You can stick me with a bunch of men and I’m my best. If you stick me with women and I have to switch off from female topics to business, I’m not as fluid. I’m not used to it.