Fail Like Barbara Cocoran

Despite her $80 million net worth and tremendous success as a businesswoman and television personality, “Shark Tank” star Barbara Corcoran is no stranger to failure.  On her website she sites receiving straight D’s throughout her academic career and holding twenty different jobs by the time she turned 23.  However, that all began to change in 1973 when she co-founded a real estate business that flourished into such an exceptionally successful company that in 2001 she sold her business for $66 million to NRT Incorporated, the largest residential real estate brokerage company in the US.

Corcoran’s numerous successes over the past several decades can be linked to several key insights and philosophies.  Above all, she firmly believes that success and failure are irrevocably linked: all successful entrepreneurs know how to fail well and deal with rejection.  She is quoted saying, “You have to be great at handling rejection, and then more rejection and then still more rejection.”  She knows from personal experience that especially in the beginning, negative feedback always outweighs any positive encouragement.  She even, somewhat humorously, draws the comparison that starting a business is like having a baby.  That one has to regroup fast and keep pushing or else the business will never be born.

Recently, Barbara compiled an online class entitled, “The Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship: Pitching Your Business and Yourself.”  The goal of the course is to force people off the fence: to push them either to go into entrepreneurship or to keep their day job.  Within these online materials she highlights core philosophies that all successful entrepreneurs should have.  Here are a few:

Embrace Fear

Corcoran discovered that it works like this: every failure has an equally great upside if you’re willing to stay in the game.  The first time Barbara gave a presentation to a large audience, she lost her voice.  While many people would have probably avoided public speaking at all costs after this, Corcoran volunteered to teach a real estate night course at NYU.  She decided that she had two choices in this situation: to stay in hiding and be embarrassed and ashamed, or to learn how to do it right.  Her decision to teach at NYU not only improved her oratory skills, but she ended up recruiting one of her students, Carrie Chiang, who has become one of the top brokers in New York City. 

If Corcoran had given up trying to speak, she wouldn’t have taught the course and wouldn’t have met Chiang.  She believes that when you get hit hard, if you come back hard you always get rewarded.

Develop Immense Optimism

Simply put, in business optimism is more important than intelligence.  Sometimes being too rational can be dangerous and lead to countless missed opportunities.  Corcoran believes that you are going to have to become hopeful beyond all logic if you are going to be a successful entrepreneur.  She claims that you are going to have to see everything as half-full even when everyone else sees nothing in your glass.  She recognizes that rational analysis has its place, but affirms that too much can hinder progress. 

Create Pressure and Don’t Overanalyze

Sometimes you can’t study to be an entrepreneur, you just have to make a jump.  Corcoran believes that creating pressure is important.  She thinks that people under fire react more intelligently than those standing on the outside making careful assessments. 

This connects with the previous point that logic can sometimes be more hurtful than helpful.  Also, if you wait to discover the best way to do something, you’ll be waiting forever.  Corcoran doesn’t subscribe to the idea that there is a correct time to expand a business. Waiting for all the variables to fall into the perfect place will equal no results and waiting forever.

Fake It Until It You Are It

To be a successful entrepreneur you need to look and act the part.  Corcoran believes that if you follow this, soon without even realizing it, you will become the part.  Insecurity never goes away: even highly effective entrepreneurs like Corcoran say that they struggle with it daily.  The difference is that for Corcoran, insecurity is a motivator.

Additionally she states that, in general, women struggle with insecurity more than men.  Part of her solution is to ask herself: What would a man do?  She cheerleads herself and sometimes even thinks arrogant thoughts to propel herself forward.  She thinks things like: I have every right to be here as this guy does; I have the right to be as rich as he is.

Entrepreneurship requires right planning and successful control over emotional change. Inspirational people like Barbara Corcoran show us they we are not alone in the struggle of successful entrepreneurship. Moreover, she shows us that failure, pressure, and positivity are key components of entrepreneurial success. #BestAdvice



AboutDr. Roshawnna Novellus, aka "The Wealthy Yogi" is a finance expert, author, investor, and yoga enthusiast on a mission to help people achieve their goals through wealth building, entrepreneurship, and staying balanced while juggling it all.  You can learn 5 Ways to Multiply Wealth in 90 Days without Giving Up the Things you Love for free, and enter her contest to win a $50 Amazon Card.

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