Barbara Corcoran of ABC's reality show "Shark Tank" regaled an audience at the California Association of Realtors conference in Long Beach with stories and advice from her career as a real estate broker in New York City.
Corcoran sold her real estate firm in 2001 for $66 million and joked that she is "quickly blowing it on 'Shark Tank,' " in which she and other venture capitalists invest in up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
During her appearance on Tuesday, Corcoran shared some tips on building a thriving business. Among them:
1. Become a "big mouth," or your own PR machine. "Perception creates reality," Corcoran said. In 1981, she put together a report on trends in the luxury apartment market in New York City and, in a "Catholic miracle," found herself quoted in The New York Times. She later sent out a list of the types of features that pop star Madonna should look for while apartment shopping and landed on TV. The spot helped turn her into a magnet for celebrity clients. (Never mind that Madonna wasn't one of them.) "Then I had no choice but to run like hell to keep up with my own image," Corcoran said.
2. Excel at failure. "I am great at getting hit and getting back up," she said. Corcoran's best agents had one thing in common, and it wasn't their backgrounds, their connections or how hard they worked. It was, she said, "How long they took to feel sorry for themselves when they got hit." She learned to hire agents who could absorb a blow quickly and move on: "Those were always my superstars."
3. There's no such thing as work-life balance. "I paint giant lines between my work and my family." That means she doesn't check her cellphone or take work calls when she's at home. It also means she doesn't take family calls when she's at work.
4. Fun is good for business. Surprise field trips and outrageous parties are great for building teams, she said. Her most innovative business ideas came "when we were laughing, when we were drinking too much." For one soiree, she had guests "come in your underwear." For another, they had to cross-dress. In the cutthroat New York real estate market, she said, her best recruiters were "my own salespeople bragging about the fun."
5. Always carry your "empowerment card." Real estate was a man's world when Corcoran entered it, and the men running it largely ignored her. She came to rely on her own healthy arrogance and the realization that "there's no private license" for success. Too many people get stuck over-analyzing how to walk through a door, she said. "Just walk through the damn door."
She was a hit with the real estate agents.
"She's hilarious and talks like a sailor," said Phil Immel of Dana Point.
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Original headline: Shark Tank's Corcoran offers tips for success
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