Barbara Corcoran was the keynote speaker at the 2011 Handcrafted Soap Maker’s Guild conference in Miami, FL. After she was introduced she came dancing up the aisle, music blaring to the cheers and excitement of the crowd! It was a great kickoff to the conference. The air was filled with excitement…we knew something good was coming…and she didn’t disappoint!

Barbara Corcoran has a wonderfully inspiring (and very entertaining) story to tell. Coming from a household of 12 that lived on the bottom floor of a multi-family 3 story house Barbara rose to be the queen of New York real estate as well as an investor/shark on Shark Tank (ABC). She shared with us 6 lessons that contributed to her success.

Lesson 1 – Perception creates reality

Create the perception of being successful and powerful. Dream up what you want to be and live it. This will get you noticed.

Lesson 2 – All the good ideas come from the outside

Get outside of your office or workspace to get ideas. Find motivation and inspiration from museums, the zoo, walking down the street…a neighbor’s kitchen.

Lesson 3 – Don’t underestimate the power of recognition

Prestige and recognition not only motivate people but make people remember you. Barbara stayed for a book signing after her talk. In line I listened in on how she greeted each and every person. When someone went up to get their book signed she picked out something about that person and commented on it. She noticed I had dimples and told me how cute they were and to flaunt them. She commented people on their smile, their hair, their outfit, their business name (if they gave her a product)…just anything. What a powerful thing…I’ll always remember how she liked my dimples.

Lesson 4 – Shoot the dogs early

This is a saying that I had never heard before. It means to get rid of people that aren’t pulling their weight or maybe bringing your company down. If you don’t have an employee that is doing good…don’t wait 3 months to fire them…let them go now. She also talked about complainers. She hates complainers. Complainers just suck the life out of people and your business. When two or more get together it’s even worse because they feed off of each other. Get rid of them. They’re dogs also.

Lesson 5 – Fun is good for business

Especially in her industry (real estate) top producers can work anywhere. She had to create a fun environment that made them want to stay. Anyone can pay them the same salary, benefits and perks…but she had to make sure they were having fun and didn’t want to leave. She also stressed that you should have fun outside of the office. Try to plan lunches and getaways to get your employees outside of the office. (See Lesson 2 – your team might come up with some good ideas!)

Lesson 6 – There are two kinds of people…expanders and containers

Both are equally as important. Expanders are people that have BIG ideas, motivation and drive. Containers are the organized ones. The two types of people help balance each other out. She made sure she had one of each in every department of her company.  Maybe you’re an expander.  Consider finding a container to help you out in your business.

I also wanted to share the first important business lesson she realized. You must have a gimmick.

“A gimmick is a unique or quirky feature that makes you stand out.” –

Think about all of the soap sellers on Esty and other online venues. What makes those certain few stand out the way they do? Find your gimmick.

Be sure to check out her book, Shark Tales, detailing her inspirational true story.