Shark Tanks Barbara Corcoran: Not Defined by Dyslexia

Barbara-Corcoran-DyslexiaShark Tanks Barbara Corcoran was born March 10, 1949 in Edgewater, New Jersey. She was the second of ten children and shared a two-room apartment in Edgewater, New Jersey with her siblings and both parents. Despite her mother’s encouragement and ability to pick out the special qualities in all of her children, Barbara had difficulties outside of the home.

At school, she struggled to read. She didn’t fit in with her peers, and she often felt alone and believed that she was stupid. No amount of mother’s love could help her overcome the feelings of isolation she experienced. It was, however, her mother’s encouragement that allowed her to use her imagination to such an extent that she could see situations and outcomes without second guessing. This unique talent would help her create one the most successful real estate businesses in New York.

Barbara graduated from high school with a D average. She then went to St. Thomas Aquinas College where she earned a degree in Education. After graduating in 1971 she taught for one year and then moved on to a different job. In total, she had 23 jobs by the time she was 20 years old. She still struggled to read, and her dyslexia remained undiagnosed. Her self-esteem continued to be a problem, but she pressed on determined to succeed.

She was working as a waitress when she met Ray Simone. The two began dating and soon moved in together. While their relationship didn’t last, the $1000 loan she had gotten from him to begin her small real estate business in New York City flourished. Through hard work, imagination and determination, Barbara’s business grew into a multi-billion-dollar affair.

She went on to create the “Cocoran report” which shows sales statistics that are compiled and sent to reporters. This allowed them to see how the market was moving and it was not a typical industry behavior. In fact, Cocoran would single handedly blow the lid off of the secrets and mystery of the real estate market with her reports and honesty. She shared information willingly and while this earned her respect from the media and the public, in real estate circles, some were unhappy with her openness.

It wasn’t until Barbara’s son was diagnosed with dyslexia in the second grade that she finally realized what she had been struggling with all her life had a name. By this time, she was one of the most well known real estate executives in the country.

Barbara believes in delegating tasks. In areas where she feels others are stronger than her, she will happily pass to the best person for the job. She doesn’t mind giving credit to the person who did the job either and treats employees with respect. In a world of cut throat business practices and high competition, her honesty and down-to-earth attitude keeps her employees happy.

Today the Cocoran Group reportedly does close to $5 billion dollars in sales and has over 1000 agents in New York City; Palm Beach, Florida and The Hamptons. Barbara sold the business in 2001 for near $70 million dollars, she continues to serve as chairman of the board.

Barbara still worries that others will see her as stupid. The struggles of her school years have left their scars, but those scars have not prevented her from growing a successful business, writing several books, becoming a nationally recognized TV personality and real estate commentator, and public speaker. In fact, one might argue that without the difficulties faced during her years at school, she would have never developed the talents of imagination and visualization that allows her to boldly break rules, create new business ideas and succeed where so many others might fail.