Published 09/30/14

Lessons from Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran

"Don’t be afraid to fail,” Barbara Corcoran, the brash investor on the hit television show “Shark Tank,” advised the Bryant community Monday night.

Corcoran shared with the audience packed with students, alumni, faculty, and staff her story of beginning life as one of 10 children in a family from a small town in New Jersey to becoming one of the most successful and well-known figures in the New York real estate market with The Corcoran Group.

“Find something you love, and think to yourself: how can this be made public?”

Imagination and creativity are two of the biggest tools to success, Corcoran told the audience.

“Find something you love, and think to yourself: how can this be made public?” she said. Her rise to success included landing film star Richard Gere as her first major client to forging a major partnership with Donald Trump.

Corcoran is now one of the “sharks” on the ABC television hit series where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch ideas for what they believe will be “the next great thing,” hoping the sharks will bite and invest in the enterprise. Her appearance at Bryant was part of the University’s Student Arts & Speaker Series (SASS).

After her lecture, Corcoran took questions from the audience. One student asked her if she believed in luck.

“I absolutely believe in it,” she replied. “But luck has its limits. A lot of people get lucky breaks, but the lucky breaks aren’t as important as the unlucky ones and what you do after they happen.”

Corcoran went through 20 different jobs before the age of 23. But in 1973, she took a $1,000 loan and developed a business that she eventually sold for $66 million in 2011. Since then, she has invested in more than a dozen successful businesses and has written several best-selling books.

“You can’t narrow yourself,” she said. “It’s dangerous. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into one thing. You really need to try as many things as you possibly can and see what hooks you. You still have one of the best traits that people look for and that is your youthful enthusiasm.”

Barbara Corcoran met with Bryant students including @guinnessey who shared this photo on Instagram:  "Giggles with Babs. Thanks for speaking at Bryant University, Barbara! We loved having you! "

Learn about the Oct. 15 SASS event with Marcus Luttrell, a decorated Navy SEAL, here .