Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran is beloved for her often unconventional advice: she’s never saved a penny of her hard-earned cash, believes the best money she ever spent was on a coat, and says you shouldn’t necessarily have to work hard to get rich.
And despite living in an increasingly competitive world, the real estate mogul revealed she doesn’t aspire to excel at everything she turns her hand to. In fact, she aspires for the opposite—to try and fail a lot.
Corcoran, who reportedly made her fortune by selling her New York real estate company for $66 million in 2001, made the remarks at a Bank of America and Mastercard’s co-hosted event last week.
The audience at the ‘Make Every Move Matter’ event held in New York last Wednesday heard Corcoran’s philosophy on failure, caring for your team—and why she tried her hand at TikTok in her 70s.
Corcoran said she embraces failure, explaining: “I don’t aspire to the idea that everything you do has to be good. I aspire to the opposite.
“If you try everything, you try everything kind of like a buck shot versus sharp shooter. I would much prefer to tempt all new angles on what I’m doing and be right most of the time, but the fact of the matter is I’m not.”
Her successes come down to “judgement, brainstorming and counsel from [her] team” Corcoran said, but even then “we’re wrong two out of three times.”
Getting it right is a case of trial and error, she said, with wins only emerging if the team “keep going at it, keep going at it, keep going at it.”
And her team’s willingness to try something new and see if it works is evident: when TikTok began booming during lockdown Corcoran hopped on the app and started sharing her stories—she’s now got more than a million followers.
“Would you have guessed TikTok would work? I got it as a sidewinder, but it wasn’t, it was essential,” the 74-year-old said. “My point is to try everything. So, you know what other things have led to unexpected growth and success that you thought was never going to work.
“And it turned out to be one of the best things you’ve done.”
‘Hit me again’
Learning how to deal with rejection and come back stronger is also a key skill, Corcoran said at the event, which marked Women’s Small Business Month.
“I have seen more people go down because they take rejection personally,” Corcoran said. “I found that the superstar salespeople that I employed over the years and my great entrepreneurs all have the same thing in common when you hit them: they bounce back up and ask you to hit them again.”
Indeed, the businesses backed by Corcoran haven’t all necessarily gone on to huge success—and it’s impacted the business titan’s finances as well.
Earlier this year Corcoran said 90% of her Shark Tank investments haven’t made her a single dime, but even then she doesn’t regret investing in any of the businesses.
It hasn’t stopped the entrepreneur from holding back on making deals. According to Sharkalytics, a data site monitoring the show’s deals, Corcoran has invested nearly $5.5 million on air in 53 deals.
‘They don’t work for me, I work for them’
It’s also well known Corcoran likes to invest alongside CostPlusDrugs founder Mark Cuban, and it turns out teamwork is also a key part of her philosophy.
Although her tactics on getting rid of negative employees is well known—in April she said she “loved” firing people on a Friday—Corcoran also holds herself to the same high standards she expects of those on her payroll.
She told the audience of her fireside chat in New York: “You build great character within your own firm by truly caring about the people that work for you.
“My attitude always from day one was that they didn’t work for me, I worked for them. I never got confused about that.”