Barbara Corcoran: A Millennial’s Inspiration

By Ryan Long, Head of Stage Design

Everything good in my life happened on the heels of rejection.

I discovered her on TV but never knew her full story until recently. We’ve all seen it, the popular TV show Shark Tank. Barbara Corcoran is famous for turning a “one-thousand-dollar-loan” into a real estate empire. In her speech “Risk-Taking, Failure and How to Get Back Up,” Corcoran has many things to share about success and failure in both professional and personal relationships. Hearing Corcoran’s Story for the first time had a profound effect on me at a time when I was going through a break-up much like Corcoran and in my final days of college. So much so I felt obligated to write about it and share it with others that were facing the same struggle as mine.

In her talk given at “The Growth Conference of 2013,” Corcoran presents nine principles to live our life by. Her experience and advice really resonates well with what many young people experience at the start of their careers and in personal relationships.

At TEDx Syracuse University over the past three years and now in our forth year, many quality stories of failure, success, and advice have surfaced. Every year I feel as though I have become a better and more knowledgeable person as a result of the event and the speakers’ talks. TED talks call for understanding where understanding is needed and for the sharing of “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

Last spring, when I was preparing to take the NYS licensure exam to motivate myself, I began researching successful real-estate agents and investors. Stumbling upon Barbara Corcoran’s full story, I was immediately shocked and listened intently. So many of the headlines and stories of today are aimed at young people or as society has labeled them, “The Millennials.” So much so, it seems like the older generation has forgotten what it felt like to be lost. When I listened to Corcoran’s full story, I knew it embodied what my demographic needed to hear and that it embodied the beliefs of the TED organization. It was truly an idea worth spreading.

As a young twenty-something, I am always wondering where life might take me. Too often, I feel as though I am given advice that is too obtuse or hard to relate to. It is even more difficult to find advice applicable to both the work place and in personal relationships. In this talk, Corcoran does an excellent job of explaining how the two cannot exist separately from one another. Corcoran stresses the importance of “play” and its presence in the work place, which can be used to build a “culture,” culture being one of nine points Corcoran makes in her speech. The full hour-long speech will be linked below along with other talks Corcoran has given.

Hearing Corcoran’s story from the very beginning gave me the immediate sense that she was empathetic, that she could relate to being a person of my age. That she too faced a similar existential crisis that so many youth face everyday. This empathy Corcoran displayed ultimately captivated my attention. Building her story quickly, my heart broke for her as she described the callous gift she received from her longtime boyfriend and how she came to realize it was “a gift of a lifetime,” because it ultimately drove her success. Barbara Corcoran’s story is possibly the most valuable message that all Twenty-Somethings need to hear. It’s all about “How well you can take a hit, and how long you take to feel sorry for yourself.”

This philosophy comes to light at every step of Corcoran’s career and her personal relationships from early on in her career being traded away for her much younger secretary by her love and business partner to more recently being initially passed up for another woman in the TV show “Shark Tank,” a show that until its third year was failing. The decision to not hire Barbara Corcoran was ultimately reversed. Corcoran explains, “Everything good in life has come to me on the heels of rejection.”

For an abbreviated version of her story, watch a talk Corcoran gave for “World of Business Ideas.”

To see the talk that initially inspired this article and learn what Barbara Corcoran has to say about all nine points, you can watch the full one-hour video of her speech.

Corcoran shares with us more detail about the successes and failures of her career in a “TED Talk” given at NYIT. In this talk, we gain more insight into how Corcoran thinks and makes ruthless, wildly successful business decisions! Never did Corcoran shutter in the face of competition whether it was at an early age working at a diner or the days of the “dot com boom” when she bought all 17 of her competitors’ web domains.