What I learned from Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran.

Recently, I eagerly anticipated hearing Barbara Corcoran speak at a conference. I was not disappointed. I learned things from both her prepared message and responses to audience questions. What I did not expect, though, was the power of a woman who spoke from the stage for just a few minutes prior to Barbara emerging. Both women inspired me, even though, on the surface, they were complete opposites.     

The “Other Speaker”

The woman who appeared before Barbara was originally from Sudan. She lives in the United States now and had been a recipient of a Habitat for Humanity home. The conference organizer wanted her to share a bit about her experience. She didn’t speak for a moment, as she appeared to take in the massive surroundings and gather her strength. Then she shared that, in Sudan, a woman was not allowed to stand and speak in front of a crowd. She was clearly moved, as were all of us in the audience. She also described how, to be eligible for a Habitat home, she had to increase her income first. She continues to improve herself and her situation, including taking English classes. Determination, resilience, achievement. She represented all of these traits.

Barbara Corcoran

Barbara was born and raised in New Jersey. Her credentials, also noted on her website, include “straight Ds in high school and college, and 20 jobs by the time she turned 23.” She overcame challenges to become the success she is today, but challenges do not end just because someone is successful. She observed the power of the insult as a motivator and encouraged the audience to be great at failure. Great salespeople do not stay down long was part of her message. Indeed, we are all salespeople in some respect. Her advice also included asking good questions (I wonder if she agrees with the value of asking why). I thought she was refreshingly candid and down to earth. Determination, resilience, achievement. She represented all of these traits.


These women are not so opposite after all. Setting goals, facing obstacles, finding a way to succeed. It does not matter that their goals are/were different. I was reminded of the importance of speaking up, which is quite different than simply being loud, and learning from missteps along the way. Their respective stories represent two extremes and most of us are somewhere in between, but they made me consider what is possible. Everyone has an opportunity to be better, regardless of their past. I felt renewed, professionally and personally.   

About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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