Barbara Corcoran is featured on the cover of the March 2013 Success magazine. Since I don’t watch Shark Tank, I had never heard of Barbara. She is a 64-year old NYC realtor who started Corcoran Group, a real estate brokerage firm, in the 1970’s. She sold it in 2001 for $66 million. After reading the article, I googled Barbara and watched an hour-long presentation she gave in January 2013 at a business conference. In describing her life story, she boiled down her rules for success:
1. Be a good rebounder. After watching hundreds of agents come and go from her company, she believes those who succeed have an inherent ability to move on quickly from rejection. Life is full of disappointments. Accept it, be disappointed, figure out what you learned, and move on. Those who wallow in rejections and disappointments do not succeed.
2. Perception is reality. Also known as “fake it ‘till you make it.” Always be projecting what you are seeking to achieve. Holding yourself out with the attitude of confidence and success breeds and attracts success.
3. Everybody wants what everybody (else) wants, and nobody wants what nobody (else) wants. The market follows trends. Barbara told a story of having 80 condos that were not selling. She created a campaign of scarcity, a “top secret” sale for her “best” customers, a “onetime special” sale– and sold all 80 in one day.
4. Expand before you’re ready. Always be looking ahead. There’s never a perfect time to make a move, so you must take calculated risks before you feel 100% certain.
5. There are only two kinds of people: Expanders and Containers. An Expander and a Container together create great results. She watches each prospective hire in interviews to see which they are.
6. Shoot the dogs early. Barbara’s company had a policy that a new agent had to make a sale within 3 months. If not, that agent’s boss could continue to work with him or her for 3 more months, but if there had been no sales within 6 months, “the system” obligated the person be let go. Barbara constantly watched the “bottom 25%” of her producers with a system to clear out the dead wood. Any “complainers” were let go because they are poisonous and cancerous to a business.
7. Fun is good for business. Barbara became known for wacky events and parties, including both those within her company and those for customers. Fun breeds creativity. Fun creates your culture.
8. Bad times are the best time to move ahead. When you’re a small company competing against the big boys, they always have more money to throw at things. They will always be able to outspend you, but big business is afraid, slow, and risk averse. Small businesses must use their strengths of agility, speed, and risk taking to move ahead during the time periods when the big companies are holding back.
9. You have the right to be here. Barbara learned from an early age that you cannot be afraid to fail. You cannot be afraid to go for it knowing that you might not get it. You must project the attitude that you have the absolute right to be in the room fully equal to anyone in the world. Barbara told a great story about her run-in with Donald Trump-if you really want to see Barbara in action, watch her presentation for more entertainment and war stories.
Barbara survived through many ups and downs and went out on top– a role model for success.