Barbara Corcoran is living the entrepreneurial dream. If you're a Shark Tank viewer, you know that Corcoran took out a $1,000 loan in 1973 that she eventually turned into a real-estate empire worth $66 million. But Corcoran is the first to admit that without the influence of her business-savvy parents none of that would have been possible. In a recent Inc. Founders Forum interview, Corcoran imparts some of the wisdom she learned from her parents that shaped her into the business mogul she is today. Take a look at some of her best life lessons below.
On when Mom doesn't know best:
"The only bad advice my mother ever gave me in her lifetime (and she gave great advice) was when I said I was going to start my own business when I was 23. She suggested that I stay as a waitress and build a resume and perhaps hold a job for a while… You ask someone who loves you whether you should go and take a risk, they will almost always tell you not to. Why? because their main concern is they don't want to see you get hurt. But let me tell you what's great about taking a chance. Whether you fall on your head or you're regretful that you ever tried it, I've never met someone who was sad about their life who tried something and failed. But I have met dozens of people who wish they should've/could've and never took the opportunities."
On her father's insubordination:
"(My father) would quit his job when the boss told him to do something. He would quit the job and had 10 mouths to feed... My father came home early from work, we all jumped to the table knowing he had been fired. It was an M.O. If he came home before 5:30 we knew he had been fired. And we all sat at the table early for dinner promptly at 6, because my mother was like a lieutenant. And he would say, "Guess what, kids?" And we'd all shout together, "You were fired?!" And that was the most exciting meal of the month. Because my dad would then tell us how he told the boss what he could do with his job. He for us was John Wayne in real life. You want to know what he taught us? Insubordination.
"Let me tell you what gets a lot of people into business for themselves. They just don't want to report to anyone. If I couldn't be in business for myself, I would rather go to jail and die, frankly, because to me it would be equivalent of it. My father taught us a great heaping of insubordination and I think that's why (his children) didn't want to grow up working for anybody."
On her mother's recognition of talent:
"She gave me a dozen lessons a week. In my family, out of 10 children nine are in business for themselves so she definitely created a family of entrepreneurs... What my mother did at home is she discovered in each of her children what their gift was. The minute she took that child home from the hospital, she'd unwrap the baby with however many kids were at home--7, 8, 9 kids--and say, "Meet your brother Tommy. He's going to be a magnificent dancer." And then she'd show us his muscular legs and we'd all go, "Wow! A dancer in the family." And of course Tom grew up to dance for the Alvin Alley Dance Theater and he became a dancer. As did each of us.
"Now for me, she said I had a wonderful imagination. So when I came home crying from school because the kids in the class gave me the wrong answers and I was labeled the dunce and I was shameful all the time about what I couldn't do in the classroom. You know what my mother's answer always was? 'Don't even worry about it. You have a wonderful imagination, Barbara Ann, and you learn to fill in all the blanks.'"