Barbara Corcoran’s rags to riches story inspires young entrepreneurs everywhere. Therefore, it’s only fitting that she’s an investor on Shark Tank.
Her perseverance in New York City paid off, literally. Here’s her story.
1. She Was a ‘Sexy’ Waitress Who Turned $1,000 Into a $5 Billion Business
I found a picture of me wearing my Bergdorf Goodman coat and… yup…. that's Ramon Simone! pic.twitter.com/qQG68oER
— Barbara Corcoran (@BarbaraCorcoran) July 19, 2012
In 1973, Barbara Corcoran founded The Corcoran Group with very little capital.
While waitressing at a New Jersey diner, working 18-hour days, she met builder Ray Simone.
He was an older man, but they started dating and moved in together in New York City.
He gave her the money to start an apartment rental agency in Manhattan in exchange for 51 percent of the business.
According to Business Insider, she encourages women to wield their sex appeal to get ahead:
I would’ve never gotten the $1,000 to start my business if I wasn’t sexy.
She said that it was sheer luck that brought Simone to her:
I was waitressing one night and I was lucky enough to have Ramon Simone walk in and order his cup of tea at my counter instead of the other waitress’ counter.
By 1975, the couple had 14 agents. However, when Simone announced he was marrying his secretary, they had to split the business.
Simone told Corcoran that her real estate career was pretty much over, since, at that time, there were no female-owned real estate firms in the city.
She said in Fortune magazine, “As we divided the company in 1978, he said, ‘You’ll never succeed without me.’ ”
She sold the business in 2001 for $70 million.
It is now a $5 billion company and one of the biggest real estate firms in New York.
2. She Had 20 Jobs by the Time She Was 23
Some of Corcoran’s jobs included hotdog salesman, newspaper dispatcher, house mother for six orphans in an orphanage, and bookseller.
She told Bigger Pockets that she doesn’t regret any of her former work:
In terms of the jobs I had before I found my career at 23, hey, that’s not so bad, finding your own career at 23 after trying on 20 things that didn’t quite fit. I was thankful to try those on to know that they weren’t for me.
She graduated from Thomas Aquinas College in 1971, where she earned a degree in education.
The mogul admits to making straight D’s in her Catholic grammar school.
3. She Feels Fortunate to Be on ‘Shark Tank’
Corcoran feels like she’s in the “luckiest seat in the world” on the reality show.
That’s a coveted seat that every business investor in America would like to have, and I’ve got it. So I can’t imagine a more fun thing to do.
On the show, she invests her own money in fledgling businesses.
As far as what she is looking for in a manager when she interviews the contestants, she said:
But I’m always looking for a high energy level, because I’ve never seen an a person with low energy succeed. I’m also looking for someone who can present well, and who has intelligent answers to the objections I raise. But primarily, I’m looking for a salesman, because there is no such thing as a company that succeeds without a great salesman selling it.
4. She Has 2 Kids With Her Former FBI Agent Husband
Having early breakfast in Central Park on the big rock. pic.twitter.com/fVIqn8R9hz
— Barbara Corcoran (@BarbaraCorcoran) December 22, 2013
In a New York Times article, Corcoran explained how much it cost her to have her two children, one through in vitro fertilization, the other through adoption.
To conceive her son, Tom, it cost $84,000. She then adopted her daughter Katie, and that process cost her $62,000.
Their dad is Bill Higgins, whom Barbara met as he was running his family’s realty company. Although she’s a powerful career woman, she does not control her husband.
My husband had a very strong identity and was successful in his life…There’s no way I can control him. I wouldn’t stay married to him if I felt I could. I can readily take my business personality into the home. But he forces me to be a partner rather than the boss. It’s what keeps our marriage healthy. He won’t give me an inch of satisfaction. He won’t acknowledge my superiority.
5. She’s a Best-Selling Author
In her best-seller If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtail: And Other Lessons I Learned From My Mom, she shares the advice she received from her mother.
Working Mother called her memoir, Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 Into a Billion Dollar Business, “part memoir, part rough guide to business and 100 percent in-your-face glee.”
A New Yorker, she writes a real-estate column in the New York Daily News, called “Ask Barbara.”
She also been a contributor on Fox TV, Good Morning America and the Today Show.