Shark Tales That Will Make You Swim

by Guest Contributor on May 11, 2011

Guest post by Melinda Emerson

“Shark Tales” by Barbara Corcoran is a hilarious and honest tale of how a business empire was built, and I loved every minute of reading it!

Her inspiring story of how she beat poverty, dyslexia, made D’s in high school, didn’t finish college, and survived a no-good boyfriend to start The Corcoran Group, which she sold nearly 28 years later for $66 million, is a remarkable story that could encourage anyone.

I believe that no one becomes who they are by accident, and this book confirms my theory.

Barbara is truly a product of her Catholic working class New Jersey family. One of 10 kids, she often reflects on situations from her childhood to handle business and personal issues. The book skillfully weaves her childhood stories of lessons from her mother with business lessons we can all learn from.

Barbara was influenced heavily by how her mother skillfully managed her huge clan, and made each of her children feel like they could do anything. Armed with her mother’s sage advice, Barbara used empathy, creativity and playing nice as her secret weapons in business.

In the end, she built a nationally recognized $5 billion dollar real estate business.

Chapter 9 (It’s Your Game, Make Up Your Own Rules) is my favorite chapter. It’s about when Barbara discovered the power of public relations. Two of the best stories in the book are when she took on Donald Trump and won, and later when she wouldn’t take no for an answer from Shark Tank creator Mark Burnett. Her tales are bold and motivating. It made me love her more than I already did from her regular contributor gig on the Today Show.

After her initial business success which made her an industry giant and multi-millionaire, Barbara wasn’t ready to retire and struggled initially to reinvented herself. I was amazed by how transparent she was about her insecurities throughout this book, but especially after she hit it big.

Her humanity is what makes this book such a great read.

For all the Shark Tank fans, she also gives tips on what attracted her to the deals she cut on Season one of the ABC primetime series. She shares the inside scoop on what it takes to catch her eye for investment.

Her principles include: Trust Your Gut, You Can’t Fake Passion, Dress The Part, Do Your Homework, Fancy Talk Don’t Work, Pushy People Deliver, You Gotta Have a Gimmick, Everybody Wants What Everybody Wants, Step Apart From the Crowd, Expand Before You’re Ready, Be Willing to Flop, Shoot the Dog Early, Fun is Good Business, and Pick Good People.

I would add another principle: Barbara Corcoran always made her weaknesses her strengths by facing them head-on and working hard to learn. I believe she wants to help as many people as possible hit it big in business.

More from Women Grow Business:

Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as “SmallBizLady,” is one of America’s leading small business experts. As CEO of MFE Consulting LLC, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She also hosts #SmallBizChat weekly on Twitter for emerging entrepreneurs.  Melinda is the author of the national bestseller Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works. Forbes named her on of the Top 20 Women for Entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. For more tips on starting or growing your small business, subscribe to Melinda’s blog or connect with her onTwitter.


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