20 Things You Didn’t Know about Barbara Corcoran

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When Barbara Corcoran began working as a waitress in New Jersey in 1973, there was no way for her to guess she’d ever achieve huge financial and professional successes in the years that followed. With just a $1,000 loan, she and a former beau built a company that thrived and made great profits. However, her life hasn’t been all roses and champagne — Barbara suffered plenty of personal losses and setbacks along the way. Still, she’s become a master at brushing off roadblocks and achieving her goals in the face of adversity.

Barbara Corcoran’s rise from rags to riches is inspiring and proves that perseverance and dedication really can pay off in the business world. She built a multi-billion dollar real estate empire and is now a host on the popular ABC program Shark Tank. While she’s known for dishing out advice to would-be inventors and entrepreneurs, the high-powered businesswoman doesn’t divulge the details of her personal life as freely.

Here are 20 things you probably didn’t know about Barbara Corcoran.

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1. Barbara Corcoran went through a wide range of jobs before getting into real estate at the age of 22. She graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas College in 1971 with a degree in education and was a school teacher for one year. Next, she tried many different jobs including waitressing, renting out New York City apartments, selling hot dogs, dispatching newspapers, selling books, and serving as a house mother at a children’s orphanage. It wasn’t until 1973 that her boyfriend loaned her $1,000 to start a real estate company.

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2. Barbara Corcoran is a bestselling author who can write a pretty good memoir. Her books include If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails: And Other Lessons I Learned From My Mom, Nextville: Amazing Places to Live Your Life, and Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 Into a Billion Dollar Business. Corcoran also writes Ask Barbara, the New York Daily News real estate column, and is a columnist for The Daily Review, Redbook, and More Magazine.

Not long after starting her real estate company in the 70s, Barbara Corcoran began publishing The Corcoran Report, which details New York City real estate trends and provides industry analyses. The publication still runs today and stemmed from Barbara Corcoran’s realization that value is a great way to get an edge on the competition. She wanted to show that her real estate firm offered value and position herself as an expert, and the publication helped do just that.

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3. One thing that Barbara Corcoran won’t invest in is businesses created by the children and heirs of wealthy people. Why? Because she feels they don’t have a need to succeed, and their super cushy lives don’t drive innovation and the type of business attitude to which she can relate. On Shark Tank, Barbara Corcoran famously refused to invest in a venture launched by Ben and Eric Kusin, sons of the founder of GameStop.

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4. Ramone Simone is the boyfriend who lent Barbara Corcoran the money to start her real estate group and he suggested that she enter the industry, however, he’s also the same man who unceremoniously dumped Barbara to marry her younger secretary 7 years after the business was started. He formerly owned 51 percent of the real estate business before the split, and the drama from the fallout shook Corcoran’s confidence while also teaching her a huge lesson about resilience. After being upset about what happened for a year, Barbara Corcoran pulled herself out of her misery and learned how to see opportunity in every obstacle.

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5. The love triangle helped propel Barbara Corcoran to success. After Ramone Simone married the secretary both he and his new wife continued to work at the firm alongside Barbara, who tired of the relationship being shoved in her face. Simone told Corcoran, “You’ll never make it without me”, before she left to start her own real estate firm — since she’s now a multimillionaire, it’s safe to say that Barbara Corcoran proved him wrong.

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6. Barbara Corcoran eventually found the personal success to match her booming career when she married her current husband. She’s been married to Bill Higgins, a former FBI special agent, for decades and they have two children, Tom and Katie. Katie was adopted by the couple, and of all her accomplishments, Corcoran says she’s most proud to be a mother.

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7. Having kids has been expensive for Barbara Corcoran, and not just because of spending money on the usual diapers, formula, and activities. Her son Tom was conceived via in-vitro fertilization at a cost of $84,000 — Barbara Corcoran was 46 when she actually gave birth to her son, and the treatments enabled her to conceive at an advanced age. The process to adopt Katie cost Barbara $62,000. Corcoran has gone on record and said that she didn’t even ask about the price to adopt her daughter, as she was so wealthy when she and her husband went to adopt that the cost wasn’t an issue.

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8. Corcoran’s father encouraged her to keep pursuing entrepreneurship because after working for employers for his entire career, he wanted his daughter to be her own boss and actually enjoy what she did for a living. Barbara Corcoran’s mother wasn’t a business woman in the traditional sense, but she did accomplish a major feat by successfully raising 10 children in a two bedroom house. Out of her parents’ 10 children, 9 went into business for themselves instead of working traditional jobs and becoming employees. Barbara credits her parents, especially her mother, for inspiring her in all areas of her life, from her business endeavors to the way she handles her own marriage and children.

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9. While Barbara Corcoran acknowledges that a quality education has its advantages, she feels that formal education snuffs out good sense and street smarts. Barbara feels that the knowledge gained in a classroom isn’t the only thing that’s needed to navigate the business world, and lack of a formal education doesn’t mean that one can’t make it as an entrepreneur. When she was in high school, Barbara admits she wasn’t that into her studies and her report cards mostly consisted of D’s — she’s definitely proof that you don’t need a prestigious education or a glowing academic track record to make it in business.

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10. The producers of Shark Tank dropped Barbara Corcoran very shortly before it started taping because they wanted someone else to take her place. Barbara had already booked her flight to California, bought several new outfits just for the show, and was nearly devastated by the rejection. Still, she wrote an email to the producer asking for the chance to compete for the job — obviously she won out over the other person, because she’s been a Shark Tank judge for over six years.

It’s interesting to note that for three years, Barbara Corcoran was the only female judge on Shark Tank. That changed when host Lori Greiner was added to the mix, and the two women have since formed a close bond. Barbara Corcoran was thrilled to have another lady on the panel, and the two share great camaraderie and have fun teaming up together to gang up on the male hosts.


11. Barbara feels that high energy equals success and a great attitude can take one further than negativity. It’s one of many things that she looks for before investing in contestants on Shark Tank, along with a great presentation and the ability to intelligently answer questions and respond to objections. Corcoran feels that low energy people rarely succeed or make great salespersons, which is key to a company’s success. On the subject of negative attitudes, Corcoran equates it to a weight and encourages those who want to be successful in business or any endeavor to surround themselves with as many positive influences as possible.

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12. The investments that Barbara Corcoran has made during her time on Shark Tank have widely varied. She’s invested in food businesses, including Cousins Maine Lobster and Daisy Cakes, as well as clothing collections such as Grace & Lace and Hold Your Haunches. The latter is a line of innovative shapewear for women that’s sold through various online retailers and QVC.

One thing that Barbara Corcoran won’t invest in is businesses created by the children of wealthy entrepreneurs. Why? Because she feels they don’t have a need to succeed, and their super cushy lives don’t drive innovation or inspire the type of business attitude to which she can relate. On Shark Tank, Barbara Corcoran famously refused to invest in a venture launched by Ben and Eric Kusin, sons of the founder of GameStop. Though their idea was definitely feasible, Corcoran preferred to put her dollars into entrepreneurs with more tenacity and a hunger to win.

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13. Barbara Corcoran is no stranger to working extra long hours and she has no problems staying up late to get the job done. As a waitress in New Jersey she often took on 18 hours shifts to earn the money she needed to pay for all of her living expenses, and as a Shark Tank host, taping sessions can be up 12 hours long. Sure, it’s more glamorous taping on a television show than serving up dishes in a diner, but that’s still a long work day.

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14. Aside from being a real estate mogul and keen business investor, Barbara Corcoran has a firm called Barbara Corcoran Venture Partners. This particular company gives individuals and groups the opportunity to collectively invest in different companies. Those who join get the chance to invest in the same companies that Barbara Corcoran herself backs — considering her success at picking winners and spotting the potential of up and coming companies, partnering with her isn’t a bad idea at all.

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15. Shark Tank is just one of the TV shows that features Barbara Corcoran. She also makes regular appearances on programs including the Today Show, Millionaire Broker with Barbara Corcoran, and Good Morning America, as well as shows on the Fox network. Barbara Corcoran has several other TV ideas that have been tossed her way, and it’s no doubt that she’ll appear on other programs in the future.

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16. Corcoran has become such a recognized personality that she’s managed to increase her wealth through lucrative endorsements in addition to the money made from her business endeavors. Barbara Corcoran has been a spokeswoman for the UPS Store, Housefax, and several other companies and service providers. The endorsement deals combined with her earnings from television and media appearances, writing books, and making investments makes Corcoran a cool multi-million dollar sum each year.

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17. Barbara Corcoran developed the Entrepreneur IQ Test, which helps people decide whether they’re cut out to go into business for themselves. The assessment was developed via a collaboration between Corcoran, Green Light Partners, and MBA students from Columbia University. Corcoran acknowledges that not everyone is cut out to become an entrepreneur or even wants to, but this test is a handy tool for anyone that’s on the fence about jumping into the business world.

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18. Corcoran believes in sharing her secrets to success, and she has helped many of her close friends establish businesses and create multi-million and multi-billion dollar fortunes. Barbara Corcoran’s own estimated net worth is $40 to $45 million. Before selling The Corcoran Group for $66 million in 2001, the firm had annual revenues of over $100 million and 850 employees.

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19. Barbara Corcoran has the ability to excel at just about everything she touches, including social media. She’s followed by over 746,500 people on LinkedIn and has more than 465,000 Twitter followers. Many of Corcoran’s followers are aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals looking to glean her wisdom to get ahead in their careers, which is no surprise since she’s one of the most influential business owners in the country.

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20. Barbara Corcoran’s multi-million dollar sale of her real estate business in the early 2000s was due to her being super savvy and a bit sneaky. She suspected that NRT — the real estate corporation that eventually bought her business — would be a good buyer, so she hired a member of NRT’s board to be her acquisition attorney. When he estimated that her company had a value of $22 million, she told him to ask NRT to pay $66 million for it. After some negotiating back and forth, NRT finally agreed to pay her asking price.


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