I had the good fortune to hear Barbara Corcoran, one of the stars of the ABC show Shark Tank live and in-person a few weeks ago at a real estate staging conference. I was a speaker there as well but extended my flight that night just so I could see Barbara onstage and get the chance to meet her.
I've been a fan of Shark Tank since the beginning, and I've always admired how she carries herself, how she knows what she wants and is a smart and savvy female executive.
Barbara took the stage to a standing ovation -- this crowd was thrilled to see her, me included. As she started her presentation and started to tell her very personal story, I loved how funny and witty she was, but also poignant and a 'no holds barred' kind of gal. There were a few tech issues but she just rolled with it flawlessly. I particularly loved hearing her talk about her upbringing and her mother as well as what it meant to her to become a mother later in life.
As she was sharing her life lessons, I felt like I couldn't tweet fast enough. I wanted to soak in everything she was saying, but I also didn't want to miss a thing. I found it was so fascinating to become the student -- to be in the audience (versus my normal role onstage) and to really take in and be open to everything she was sharing.
I compiled five of my favorite "Barbara takeaways" that I think will resonate with anyone but particularly those of us who are entrepreneurs, working hard on our business but also leading a full life with family and children. It's not easy -- not even for a minute -- and so I loved Barbara's candidness about that -- something you rarely see from a successful woman onstage.
Here are my five entrepreneurial lessons:
1. You have the right to be here. This may be my favorite out of the five. Barbara says this is a mantra she says to herself when she has those moments of self-doubt. Those moments where we question who we are, our expertise, when we question if we have the 'right' to be at that meeting, or working with that client, or in that situation. Say it with me: "You have the right to be here. You have the right to be here. You have the right to be here!"
2. There is no such thing as balance. I so loved Barbara's honesty here. She talked about how hard she works and how there really is no thing as balance when you have a high-powered career and have a family. She said that her family doesn't call her at work and she doesn't get work calls at home. She has established that separation and boundaries, which I can only imagine, is very tough but needed. From my own personal experience -- life and business can blend together into one big hot mess some days!
3. Complainers are like people reaching into your pocket and stealing your money. I love this on so many levels. I love this so much I may make a bumper sticker for it. Ok, not really, but you get the point! She talked about the people she surrounds herself with now and when she was growing The Corcoran Group. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch. One negative person can bring down a team and a company if you aren't careful. Complainers are toxic -- complainers are the ones who always want to talk about what's wrong versus find solutions for what's right and what could be. I am a firm believer that a bad apple should not stay on with a company. Too often, especially in real estate, we see agents with bad attitudes stay with a company simply because the broker is scared of what it will look like if they lose that agent. I say (and I think Barbara would agree with me) -- go ahead and lose that agent. Lose the agents that are complainers and watch what happens when suddenly you are the only game in town not accepting every agent that can fog up a glass. Don't let anyone else steal your money!
4. There is nothing like the charm of a third-party endorsement and the power of the press quoting you as an expert. I could not agree more -- there is nothing more powerful than a testimonial from past clients, but even more is when reputable news sources quote you or reach out to you for your opinion. Your brand and reputation are instantly elevated when that happens. If you are a business owner, how aggressively are you trying to build relationships with the press and media?
5. Perception creates reality. In the same vein as 'fake it 'till you make it' there is a lot of truth in this. I remember when I first went out on my own to start my own consulting firm -- I remember thinking that I didn't really know what I wanted to do or who I exactly wanted to work with but I knew I had to create the right perception of me and my brand. Do not underestimate the fact that people are watching -- what perception are you putting out there? Are you busy and successful or waiting for something to happen?
I spent the plane right home that evening thinking about my experience and how I could start to implement some of Barbara's tips into my business.
One more take-away I had was that I was dreaming too small. "Why not me?" kept resonating in my head.
Why couldn't I be the go-to person that The Today Show calls when they need a social media strategist or Fox News, CNN, or any news outlet for that matter? I work with high power clients! I travel the country talking about social media. So why not me?
Sure there are a ton of social media -- dare I say "gurus" out there -- but that's not me. In fact most of the advice I hear social media strategists talk about -- I just shake my head -- not so much for what they are saying but how they are saying it. I'm passionate about what I do and the companies I get to work with.
So, did I get a chance to meet Barbara? Heck yes!
It was certainly humbling to meet Barbara after the event. I was so nervous! I shook her hand and think I shoved a business card at her and then I went for it.
I asked if we could take a #selfie together. She said "yes" and was so gracious. She asked me what I did and I don't even think I could say anything -- luckily the conference organizer said a few really nice things about social media and me and I remember Barbara saying what a great time it was to be involved in social media. I could not agree more.
So Barbara, I'm following your advice -- I'm telling myself, "I have the right to be here" and next time you see me, it could be right after your segment on The Today Show. Save me a seat, ok?
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