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Featured Entrepreneurs >Barbara Corcoran

Barbara Corcoran, Founder of Corcoran Group

A few weeks ago, we brought you an exclusive interview with Julie Aigner-Clark at the NY Times Small Business Summit. I also had the privilege of meeting the Keynote speaker there, Barbara Corcoran. This week, I will share with you our one-on-one conversation, including some of my favorite parts of her speech.

My first impression of Barbara was that she was extremely down to earth. Growing up in New York City, it is next to impossible to not have her name branded in your mind as the "Queen of NY Real Estate." However, by the end of our conversation I felt so comfortable, it was as if I had know her for years. Both in our personal conversation and in her speech, she emphasized that everything is really based on perception and most things are actually based on bulls**t. I found this refreshing.

Barbara Corcoran started her real estate brokerage with a $1,000 investment and eventually sold it to Cendant for a reported $66 million. Now she owns a TV production company, and gives speeches and seminars on real estate and entrepreneurship.

Below is my favorite highlights from her speech. To see Barbara at her next speaking engagement visit:

How Barbara got started:
• Her boyfriend gave her $1,000 for her to start the business and in return he took 51%.
• They hired 12 sales people and worked together for 7 years.
• The boyfriend ended up marrying their secretary. - For 2 years Barbara dealt with it and finally ended the partnership. They divided up the sales people. He stayed in the space and she left the office the same day. - As she left, he said to her "you will never succeed without me."
• This statement became her driving force.

She learned some powerful things over the years:

1. She published a report and mailed it to everyone in the NY Times. She never heard from anyone, but two weeks later it was quoted on the front page of the real estate section. She was shocked!!!
• She realized she had a partner and that partner was publicity. She went from a nobody to a somebody in a split second. Once she was in the NY Times, she started branding. She realized reporters didn't need opinions, they needed statistics. Then when they call you, they ask for your opinion.
• The first reporter that called her got the quotes. She took the calls right away, no matter what she was doing.

2. She made a list of what Madonna would love looking for when she was on the market. As Barbara said, "What Bulls**t!" This generated her a lot of press.
• When Hillary Clinton was running for senate Barbara sent a list to the press of what Clinton should be buying. - This got her on TV again and again. As Barbara put it, "perception creates reality."

3. If you are going to grow a business, it is never the right time.

- She bought double the office space then she needed. She said there is nothing better than putting a gun to your own head. Buy more then you need.

4. She got a partner who handled the business
• Barbara is an expander, her partner is a container.
Expander = Publicity
Container = Finance

4. Always choose attitude over experience.

5. She rid herself of complainers - "they suck your energy!!!!"

• As Barbara put it, "shoot the dogs early."

6. Her Innovation Methodology

• The little guy has the corner in innovation, while the big guy has the corner in money. - Her company was small, young, and innovative - All the good ideas are from the lowest people on the totem pole.
• If you put Barbara in a management meeting, she got nothing.
• When people started complaining about things inside the company, that is when she said, "I knew I was on to something."

7. Her dad was a role model for fun. As she put it, "You can never have too much fun."

8. Barbara said she is great at failing.

• She fails miserably. What she learned is that no one is watching and no one gives a damn except yourself. - People who succeed don't stay low for long when they get the rejection.
• People who get hit and pop up are great at failing. Those are the ones who are successful.

About selling The Corcoran Group

• She said it is very hard to sell your name.
• Looking back, she said she didn't need to sell her company. Instead she should have taken a sabbatical for 1 year. If she had come back after 2 years the company was worth double the money. - VERY INTERESTING POINT.

Finally Thoughts:
• What was tough for her was the belief that she had the right to her opinion and that she had the right to be there. She was scared to death the first time she went to Donald Trump's office.
• In addition, getting over her own insecurity was one of the toughest parts of being successful. -Even now, every so often she has negative voices in her head that say she got lucky with the Corcoran Group.


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