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Reality Star Offers 5 Tips To Success

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Barbara CorcoranBarbara Corcoran, the star of business-reality TV show Shark Tank, headlined the ASI Show New York in May with her special brand of Big Apple inspiration. Plus, take a look at nine unique and useful product that Counselor editors found during the show.

The list of titles that describe Barbara Corcoran is long and varied: Real estate mogul. Reality TV star. Author. Celebrity broker. Morning show commentator. Wife. Mother. And, according to ASI CEO Tim Andrews, “Firecracker.”

Corcoran added the title of ASI Show keynote speaker to that list when she took to the stage at ASI New York in early May to dish out advice to a rapt audience of nearly 300 entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

“Never be ashamed of who you are” and “A true American success story” flashed on the screen as Corcoran began her presentation to the tune of the theme song from Jaws, a humorous nod to her starring role as a judge on ABC’s Shark Tank, in which entrepreneurs vie for investors’ money.

“It’s a fabulous act of the universe to actually be in business for yourself, having nobody tell you what to do,” she said by way of greeting. “Congratulations for having the guts to run your own business.”

Corcoran kicked off with a no-holds-barred rundown of highlights from her life, including the story of the boyfriend-turned-business partner who provided the $1,000 seed money for a real estate business in Manhattan that Corcoran turned into multibillion-dollar business – by the way, without the help of said boyfriend, following a split the couple had early in the company’s lifetime.

Then, the New Jersey native with nine siblings who has laid down roots in New York after her real estate business took off there, offered five tips to success:

Perception creates reality. “New York City is a competitive town,” she said. “From day one, I dreamed a picture of who I would be. I had an image. I discovered the keys to the magic kingdom.” By billing herself as a real estate agent to the stars, she seized the city’s imagination, along with sizeable publicity, cementing her reputation.

Corcoran is also a big believer in using public relations and the media to build a perception of your company that makes it seem even bigger than it is. “Create storylines through information and data that your local business journals will be interested in,” she advised. “Give them lists of interesting information and make sure they know you’re the source.”

This approach, Corcoran said, will create the perception that you’re the top marketing and promotional products expert in the local area – and it will provide you with clips and online links that prove your value.

There are two kinds of people: Expanders and Containers. Hire people who balance out your team. If you’re unorganized, hire someone who can manage the business smartly. “You can’t just bring on like-minded yes-people,” Corcoran said. “Find out what you’re weakest in and then make your best hires the types of people that are best at those things.”

Shoot the dogs early. After you’ve hired people, if you find they’re not working out, then you have to get rid of them quickly. Corcoran used to rank all of her salespeople, and the bottom 25% were immediately put on a three-month plan to improve or they would be fired. It’s vital, she said, to quickly rid your business of underperforming salespeople or employees.

“Our system was clear and fair,” Corcoran said. “Everybody knew the rankings and would know if they would be in line to lose their jobs. Everybody knew what the rules were when they were hired so there were no surprises.”

Fun is good for business. On the other hand, Corcoran said, you need to create a fun and unique corporate environment if your company is going to find big success. “I created outrageous fun,” she said, “instead of just boring Christmas parties.” Her costume parties and picnics helped everyone in her office bond, creating a stronger team, while helping lure top people from her competitors.

“Fun is good for your business,” Corcoran said. “Be creative with it and it will help build camaraderie and togetherness among your staff. Why would you want to work for a boring competitor when you can have more fun here?”

Be great at failure. With new hires, Corcoran watches for how soon they recover from failure and whether they indulge in pity parties. “Failing well” is a sign of strength, she said. “It’s the key to success for entrepreneurs and salespeople. You have to enjoy getting knocked down and then getting back up again. The singular difference between people is when they take a hit, how long they take to stop feeling sorry for themselves.”

Barbara Corcoran - Online Extra