As a businesswoman, entrepreneur and “Shark” on ABC’s show “Shark Tank,” Barbara Corcoran has experienced some real ups and downs throughout the course of her career. Climbing the glass ceiling was hard enough, but Corcoran also reflects on the internal battles and blows to her confidence over the years. “Worse than not being taken seriously was being dismissed by the men I competed against,” she says. “They really didn’t see me at first and that would be very off-putting and shake my confidence to the core.” Corcoran describes the experience as repeatedly feeling invisible.
In order to stay afloat — let alone move forward — she discovered that the only thing she could control was her reaction, and it was time to make an adjustment. “I learned that I had to get my own attitude on straight…I simply made a mental note of the occasion, who I was with, and then I went out to prove them wrong,” she says. “You’ll know who I am, just wait and see.”
For Corcoran, making that mental note is the single best reaction you can have when you’re feeling diminished. Remembering the first two seasons of “Shark Tank,” Corcoran can now look at the situation and realize that she was being ignored, even though she had already built a successful business. “I didn’t come in and interrupt with enough power, and they sensed it and would just mow right over me and ask their question on top of mine, so I never got answers to my questions,” she explains.
“It’s not about what you’ve been through, it’s about your self-talk,” Corcoran advises. “That’s where it’s won or lost, right there.” Corcoran reminds us that competition isn’t always experienced externally, but sometimes the biggest battle is with ourselves. “The real challenge is what you’re saying to yourself, not what they’re saying to you.” The “winners,” Corcoran says, don’t have the ability to feel sorry for themselves, at least not for more than a few seconds.
When asked about gender diversity, Corcoran emphasizes the importance of all diversity. “I think it’s not just about having…equality among women and men, but [between]…all different nationalities, languages and backgrounds,” she explained. With a diverse team, you learn from each other and can appeal to your even more diverse customer base. But the common trait between successful team members is always their work ethic. “As long as they had that in common, they worked well as a team with respect for each other.”
Zoe Alexander, [email protected]