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Senior Managing Director | The Opes Group LLC

Real Estate Mogul Barbara Corcoran Shares Her Thoughts On Failure

Failure is scary. Nobody wants to fail. It’s an instinct ingrained in our consciousness from birth. But, ask any tenured professional, in any industry, and they will tell you that they have failed at least once. Sometimes these failures are small; oftentimes, they are large. And the wonderful world of entrepreneurship is no stranger to failure. In fact, most tenured entrepreneurs actually embrace it. They understand its importance and they welcome the opportunity to learn and grow.


In order to really illustrate this point, I thought I would take a look at one of the most successful real estate moguls in recent memory. Barbara Corcoran, who you may know from the popular television show Shark Tank, built her real estate empire with nothing more than a $1,000 loan and gumption. Now, she travels the globe offering sage advice to hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs, all while still investing in independent businesses and her net worth is an estimated $80 million. And even with all of that success, the most fascinating aspect of her rise to success is her experience with failure.


You’d expect her failures to occur early on in career, but Barbara’s led a long life of failure. Throughout her entire academic career, Barbara was far from the exemplary student, earning straight Ds constantly; she’d also held more than 20 jobs before she was 23-years-old. However, she was able to gain enormous success after founding a real estate company and selling it to NRT Incorporated for $66 million.


Even after that enormous triumph, Barbara had many challenges coming her way. For example, she lost her voice the first time she’d given a public speech to a large crowd. Instead of cowering in fear, she decided to face it head on and volunteer to teach a course on real estate at NYU. Not only was she able to learn more about public speaking, she also met Carrie Chiang, who would go on to work for her and become the number one salesperson in New York City.


Because of Barbara’s experience with failure, she was able to avoid being replaced on Shark Tank. According to her, after signing a contract stating that she would be the sole female judge on the show, she was going to be replaced last minute by another female. Instead of taking the loss, she decided to email one of the show’s producers and suggest that both females meet and compete for the spot. Needless to say, Barbara won.


During an interview with Business Unusual, Barbara explained her relationship with failure. “As I built my real estate empire, I got very good at failing and I got even better at getting back up. It seemed to be all my best successes always happen on the heels of failure. I learned early to fail and I also learned that insult can be a great motivator.”


This philosophy rings true for any entrepreneur. Situations that may seem dire in the moment, may actually be blessings in disguise. The important part is to keep pushing forward. Hopefully you can take this information to heart and achieve the success that you are seeking.