The “Shark Tank” star explains how overcoming a fear of failure opens the path to innovation and achievement.
Barbara Corcoran’s name is practically synonymous with real estate. As a frequent fixture of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Corcoran has become an icon of business savvy. But if you ask her, she’ll tell you that success isn’t born. It’s a skill that’s honed by how you face setbacks. “The best piece of advice I received from my mother, a housewife and mother of 10 kids,” recalls Corcoran. “‘Don’t be afraid to fail or you won’t learn a thing.’”
Staying in the game
Corcoran, a straight-D student who held 20 odd jobs before the age of 23, learned the power of not giving up long before she considered real estate. “On the flip side of every big flop is a large opportunity if you’re smart enough to stay in the game and find it,” she says.
With a stick-with-it attitude, she eventually started her first real estate venture with a $1,000 loan. Her rise to the top included a legal showdown with Donald Trump over millions in unpaid commissions, and a market crash in 1987, when she kept her office running by mortgaging her home and teaching night classes.
Through all this and more, Corcoran has made a name for herself by staying ahead of the curve. One of the ways she’s done that is by talking to young people, many of them in the odd jobs she used to work, to find out what their needs are and stay one step ahead of the trends. “You’ve got to keep your eyes and ears fully open to change,” advises Corcoran.
Technology is fundamental
Real estate, at its core, is an industry founded on communication. Keeping up with tech innovation, says Corcoran, is crucial for any entrepreneur looking to succeed. “I’ve learned the importance of being proactive and trying to get ahead of the curve,” says Corcoran, who used videos to showcase apartments long before the internet. She also built and advertised a real estate website 5 years before her competitors.
With new apps for connecting buyers and sellers, 3D-technology for viewing spaces and who knows what else in the future, knowing what tools are out there is vital in the real estate industry. “Real estate technology is booming and for good reason. It’s an industry ripe for innovation,” says Corcoran. “New tools are helping brokerages and realtors move faster, more effectively, and with more efficiency … it’s a wave that’s taking off and if you’re not riding it, you’re being left behind.”
Thinking outside the box
While new tech offers new opportunities, Corcoran stresses that it takes creativity and flexibility to act on them. “The real estate industry is rapidly changing and full of opportunity for up-and-coming real estate professionals,” she says. In this competitive field, it’s crucial to not just keep up with trends but to be trendsetter yourself. “Remember that the old boys get cocky and fall asleep at the wheel,” Corcoran adds, “It’s the new kid on the block that owns tomorrow.”