Swimming With the 'Sharks': Barbara Corcoran Shares the Three Traits of Successful Business Leaders

03/27/2015 02:14 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2015

They say that the meek shall inherit the earth.

Not in New York City.

In New York City, Barbara Corcoran says, sometimes "you have to be a little pushy."

Hard to believe, but the street smart, assertive Corcoran wasn't always so bold and brash.

Corcoran, who went from being a straight D student in high school to building a real estate colossus she'd sell for $66 million, used to be a little shy and timid. "I had to teach myself to speak up," she says.

These days, if there's anyone who can swim with the sharks, it's Corcoran.

As one of the stars of ABC's high-stakes reality show "Shark Tank," Corcoran goes head-to-head with four other self-made multi-millionaire tycoons, bidding on the business ideas of budding entrepreneurs hoping to make their dreams a reality.

On the show, Corcoran says, she's looking for a solid business plan. But more than that, she's looking at the person. "You have to look the part, too. If you're someone who's lackluster on your feet, I'm out."

Pluck, gumption and a lot of chutzpah can take you far. Corcoran says - whether you live in New York City or not. So if you have the right person running the show, the business is going to take off.

In a recent episode of "All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett" Corcoran talked about three traits all successful business leaders should possess.

Rise above rejection

When Corcoran was first offered a role on "Shark Tank," she signed the contract immediately and told everyone she knew she'd be Hollywood's next big star. And then, just before she was set to fly out, she was told by the production company that they didn't want her anymore.

Corcoran, as you can imagine was mad. But she wasn't going to wallow in self-pity.

Instead, she wrote a brief email to Mark Burnett: "I consider your rejection a lucky charm, because everything that ever happened in my life came on the heels of failure." Corcoran proposed that she compete with the other woman for the spot. The rest, as they say, is history.

Corcoran's done it time and time again in her life. "I know how to stand up and keep pushing forward," she says. "That's how you succeed."

Be tenacious

It's how you react in when things don't go well that shows what kind of person you are, Corcoran says. She watches people to see how good they are at taking hits. If all you do is whine and feel sorry for yourself when something doesn't go your way, "that person will never hit the finish line."

Real winners, Corcoran says "get back up and say, 'Hit me again.' "

That kind of tenacity is hard-wired in top leaders.

Follow your gut

Intuition can often be more powerful than intellect. It doesn't matter what kind of a decision you have to make, Corcoran says. The best business leaders trust their guts and are ready to seize the rewards.

Don't waste a lot of time weighting the pros and cons. "If you're a decent person who works your buns off, the minute you make a mistake, you'll think of an angle to make the most of it."

You don't want to hesitate.

"The minute I'm thinking about something, that's my priority. If you don't do it right then and there, life has a way of letting the minutia crap get in the way."

And then, whatever you decide to do, be prepared to work hard. Nothing worth doing, Corcoran says, is going to be easy. That's what's really going to push your business -- and your life -- ahead.

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a primetime television and radio host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives on C-Suite TV and All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett on CBS on-demand radio network Play.It. Hayzlett is a global business celebrity, speaker, best-selling author, and Chairman of C-Suite Network, home of the world's most powerful network of C-Suite leaders. Connect with Hayzlett on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or