Barbara Corcoran: When You Fail, Get Over It

Barbara Corcoran at Inman Connect on Wednesday.

Barbara Corcoran at Inman Connect on Wednesday.

Who doesn’t love Barbara Corcoran? The venerable real estate mogul who built The Corcoran Group, New York’s largest brokerage, brought the sharp tongue she’s become known for as a “shark” investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank” to Real Estate Connect on Wednesday. One of the most talked-about speeches of the day, Corcoran had the crowd in stitches as she recounted her life and career, as well as her early competitive spirit. (At one of the 20 odd jobs she held by the time she was 23, Corcoran devised a plan to woo customers from her blonde, large-breasted co-worker by tying red ribbons to her pigtails and “being the sweet one,” she said.)

But the biggest takeaway from Corcoran’s session didn’t come in a grand monologue about building a multimillion-dollar company or investing in 22 startups over the years. It came in a passing comment she made at the tail end of her 20-minute talk: “The thing about the most successful salespeople is that they don’t take very long to feel sorry for themselves when they fail,” Corcoran said. “I’m very, very good at bouncing back.”

That should be a lesson to every agent and broker. Hard times will come and go, and you won’t be successful at everything, but you have to get right back up and keep going. Corcoran said she’s invested in venture companies “on gut instinct” and came out on the losing end a fair amount of times. She even almost lost her spot on “Shark Tank” when producers of the show told her at the last minute that they decided to go with another personality, she said. (She wrote them a scathing letter expressing her disappointment, which convinced them that she was a “shark” after all and deserved to be on the show.)

But what all of you should know is that successful people don’t win them all. They just don’t allow themselves to be losers for very long.

Graham Wood

Graham Wood is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at

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  1. Barbara is great! She has an amazing story and is a role model for anyone seeking success in their lives.