Barbara Corcoran grew up in a working-class Irish Catholic family in Jersey – with nine brothers and sisters. But she used her charisma to conquer the streets of Manhattan and build the real estate company, The Corcoran Group. She then reinvented herself as a shark – on Shark Tank.
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00:00:00Hey everyone its guy here just a quick note to tell you that there is a little little bit of bad language in this episode so if you've got small kids around you just may wanna be mindful of that thanks she came to me and she knew I had
00:00:15a fire a lot of people because you could just see that everybody knew something was going to shake out and she said one should publicly fire me if you fire me she said no one else could be angry with you when you fire them and she was right
00:00:27so at that Monday morning meeting we always sat at nine thirty I said so surprised how bad things are we gonna have to make a lot of changes and it's gonna be very hard for me to do but the hardest change rules we fired my mother from NPR
00:00:47it's how I build this show about innovators entrepreneurs idealists and stories behind the movements they built I rise in on the show today how a Jersey girl conquered the streets of Manhattan builds a real estate company worth millions and then reinvented herself as a shark and shark tank
00:01:14one of the most surprising things about the entrepreneurs we've interviewed so far least surprising to me is that most of them are necessarily book smart street smart yes all of them but only a handful of people we've had on went to Lilly conversely use or were academic geniuses
00:01:32most of them I just figured stuff out along the way and use the tools they had which brings us to Barbara Corcoran who is probably the most likeable shark on the TV show acting as you're about to hear Barbro wasn't the best student in fact she didn't excel
00:01:49at school at all she had or rather has is something so much more valuable it's how she eventually build one of new York's most successful real estate firms but more on that later Barbara grew up poor a big Irish Catholic family nine brothers and sisters a cramped apartment
00:02:11in Edgewater New Jersey but even though they have almost nothing she remembers a childhood that was basically happy I mean we all had our issues as every family does %HESITATION but it was well organized my mother was like a drill sergeant so even though we all lived in
00:02:29such close quarters was meticulously clean and everything was put in order when my mother said after fingers we had a side yard of which we controlled it was a skinny little side yard but most of the house in Edgewater were back to back so we felt wealthy even
00:02:44are renting the ground floor we felt wealthy by comparison and also of my dad was a printing press for me I had to wear a suit to work in every other guy in the town seemed to work for the lumen factory or the coffee company in a uniform
00:02:58so I kind of thought of us as like the Kennedys like well we were at something you know at school it was a different story Barbara struggled a lot but every day when she gets home from school her mom was right there a she never told you what
00:03:15was wrong with you she always told you what she thought was amazing about you and she can one thing on each gets a each kid know what that thing was you know my thing which said I had a wonderful imagination so when I couldn't pass any subjects in
00:03:28school and I was really upset I remember distinctly when the nun from hell sisters Donna reed told me I'd always be stupid I was so upset to hear that works to get a label finally and my mother said all don't worry about it with your imagination you learn
00:03:41to fill in all the blanks so I did learn to read or write but I thought I could I could fill in the blanks and I I fell for it you know and she's right because I did have a good imagination or at least maybe I learned to
00:03:52have it because of her by the time she was twenty two Barbara was working as a waitress at a diner in New Jersey and one night during a shift an older man dapper confident charismatic walked in for a bite to eat and when Ramon Simone a walked into
00:04:09my life and set up my counter call which one it was a lucky break it was like you could tell that he was something else and he had a suit on and he didn't have just to suit he had like a pressed collar with a shiny tight and
00:04:25shiny shoes and he had all navy blue aviator shades I couldn't really see his eyes also he told me he was from the Basque Country and I know where that was but I it wasn't in New Jersey and he told me it was a warrior tribe of some
00:04:40kind like whoa cool now later I learned his name wasn't Ramon some home with an axe and his mother Vicky who I got to know many years later said his name was ray Simon big difference right and good good for him he exited up any wasn't from the
00:04:54Basque Country is four hundred forty fifth St Harlem but good for him again what a merchandiser right yeah until he had a lot to teach me okay and I got a new family tree his three girls who moved in with us after I moved in with him and
00:05:07you know we had children this is your first true love yeah well I'm not even sure he was a true love but I'm someone who is different than anyone I had ever met before older successful in life had a big car and I hate to be so tried
00:05:23as to say that impressed me but it was a Lincoln continental with real leather seats and when you offer me that ride home from the diner that first night I remember thinking he had sprinkled talcum powder on this one all of his seats because I was sliding around
00:05:38that that's just cold real leather so when you when you moved in with him was that I mean was that we would need your life is going to be any did you have bigger ambitions I'm too now honestly I have never had that thought and I I can
00:05:54even say along the way of building a successful life it's not like I really had any big thoughts about wanting to be successful I just had more of a curiosity as to see how far I could go that was it curiosity no one in my family had ever
00:06:12gone to college when I got into college I just couldn't believe it but it was all girls of college I had previously the year before been a nunnery that made nuns I forget what you call that and there were only thirty spots the richest opening they took me
00:06:25act that basically now realize it to anyone but on that was just a lucky break and it didn't interfere with my work I was holding three jobs all the way through college I've always worked around the clock so it just kinda happened you know the right one thing
00:06:40led to another so how did you find your your way to to real estate I was working as a receptionist for the G. phony brothers here in New York City answering the phones a million times a day good morning should funny brothers this is after I quit my
00:06:53job as a waitress and who were the different brothers Joseph Jeff when he was a large real stakeholder in Manhattan he owned probably fifty apartment buildings in New York so well yet they're they're very wealthy it was Joe and his other kind of gadfly brother Andrew who ran
00:07:10the business but chose really the power they hired me and then within a couple of months Ramon said to me you know with your personally barber you'd be great real estate sales I said okay I'll try it I mean why not and I think I'd count of twenty
00:07:22two judge may be twenty three but then I thought why not give it a whirl and ray gave me the thousand dollars I start my own firm just like that yes sure sure mon gives you a thousand Bucks and then how did you did you start your own
00:07:38realistic I'm the only person I knew was a mystery to phony and I asked him if he would just let me rent one of his apartments the same building where I answer the phone every day and he gave me a listing try to rent apartment three L. and
00:07:53so when I saw three L. and what he was asking if it was three thirty a month or so roughly there I looked at everything and not hide aways it's it was a dungeon he gave me the worst one made it was a challenge maybe nobody corrected who
00:08:04knows it was in the back was like a super department but when I saw the listing and looked in the New York times and saw reams and reams of add sets red identically one bedroom three forty one bedroom three thirty five one bed it was all the same
00:08:18I'm thinking how do I spend my three line it wisely because remember at a thousand dollars divided by my overhead and I knew I had seven weeks to stay in business according to my math okay and so I asked him if you build a half wall to divide
00:08:32the you know straight part of the living room from the L. next door with a double entrance and I told my thought I could get in three sixty a month which some of the twenty twenty five dollars more than he wanted yeah and he said he yeah he
00:08:43built a wall and I got a forum because my head then read one bedroom and Dan for the same price that everybody else is offering a one bedroom I got that first Sunday I must have gotten sixty phone calls while tenants and site easily rented that apartment and
00:08:57then got others and got others and just build from there and you were you were basically making up commission off each rental I made exactly what the %HESITATION what they were monthly rental was and when I rented that first apartment I did them the smartest thing in the
00:09:11world knowing I was ahead of the game because I collected the commission within a week that's what's beautiful about rentals you have to wait for a sale closing so I collected that check for Mr Forney I cash in city bank and I ran right over Bergdorf Goodman's and
00:09:24I blew it on a new coat and it was the smartest Santa could have done because I dressed like a poor kid from major water nothing left you know I just looked not the part but I bought the fanciest damn coat a brown or white herringbone was real
00:09:37pearl buttons down three quarterly for real for not fake fur and I wore that call for the next three years and you want to know it was the smartest thing I could have done with the money because in I felt powerful gender thing I just felt like a
00:09:51long cool man I'm damn cool girl I am but what would you which is called a business it was called corporate symbol with an accent on the see mall I kept the axing because I really thought it was pretty sophisticated right with this because because Raymond and I'm
00:10:06part of this right yes so it was a while you were like why you were going out and working as an agent to rent apartments what was Raymond's Monday were mon Simone as a record for a moment to see home little flash there Amer mon Simone was building
00:10:21one family houses in New Jersey usually classes of three or four houses and making a very good living and that went on for probably three years or so as I recall and then one day we drove to his accountant's office in Hackensack New Jersey and he had me
00:10:36wait in his car with the car and he comes out he said well guess what I'm bankrupt I thought it was a joke and then moved immediately out of his fancy apartment and moved into his mother's Hackensack house and that was the bad years where we he kind
00:10:51of had a goal not undercover but had it come up from the earth all over again and he did he was a great entrepreneur but it took about three years and those were the the very very tough years but lucky for both of us on the rental business
00:11:05was paying for itself and we're able to eke out a salary were you you were running this from your from from that apartment Gerard no no no no no no I had an office I initially ran Corcoran Simone of from an apartment I shared with two roommates on
00:11:20eighty six street but then when I could afford to I. sublease to desk from an accountant on east sixty eighth street and by the time we moved in to Ramon Simone's mother's house we still had the office on sixty street we we already had I guess maybe ten
00:11:35or eleven deaths occupied by rental agents so you were going into Manhattan everyday yes definitely it was like a it was like the land of oz you know the minute I stepped foot into Manhattan up I I saw for what it was like where have you been all
00:11:51my life well this is like the the violent nineteen seventies in New York when Europe was bankrupt like the son of Sam never like what was it like to I mean was was it hard to to get tenants to rent apart make it's crazy to imagine today if
00:12:06course but back then was it was it hard to get people to rent no would save my **** in those days was you had corporate America very well implanted in midtown granted it was dangerous you wouldn't dare park your car on the street you know gets broken into
00:12:21sirens were always going off everywhere so was not easy but fortunately you had employees young employees coming into New York City who had to live there working for these corporations if not for that I don't think I would have stayed in business because I went door to door
00:12:37and knocked on all these corporate personnel departments to try to get business I saw with the traffic was coming from and I had great accounts that fed their people to me one after another after another and so I had a huge edge over my other small competitors because
00:12:53I had a steady stream of people coming at me yeah that was key or I don't think I could have stayed in business so how did you make the transition from renting from looking for renters to selling apartments really quite by accident I had gotten a referral of
00:13:07a young engineer from union carbide I don't recall his name and I lined up a whole bunch of stuff to show like I usually did because I had learned by then and sales if you could control someone's time they can go to anyone else and I would say
00:13:19I'll pick you up at the Drake hotel now new name at nine o'clock and be aware we won't be finished at least five thirty this faith can entertain going with another program camp and then I would tell midway to I've got everything set up for tomorrow who just
00:13:33control park them in your garage and all that the character Africa so I had this young guy and I showed him the first two apartments he said well one of my going to see the ones for sale I said I'm no different he said no I want to
00:13:46buy something I was like all crap so I said well that's excellent so I said I was going to take on a tour of all new Yorkers was very important for him to learn all the neighborhoods to see what he could choose from to see what he react
00:13:59to best and that the next day we would show him the sale apartments of course I had no sell apartments site got a minute taxi walked around every street showed him every re place in town and then that night I went home and I hit the floor running
00:14:13I dropped him off at like five fifteen as early as I could called every single apartment where the owner and which is very common in those days and said I am a young engineer he's looking exactly for your apartment on Sutton place he's looking for a small tears
00:14:28I read in the add back and all but he must see it tomorrow yes come on over and I booked everything that night and the third apartment we saw he bought the next day that's what got me in the sale business and when I got that commission check
00:14:40in my head it was thirty eight thousand five hundred so it's at six twelve on I can do the math anymore shame on me but six percent of that do you know what I I got that check in my hand on closing and I thought god has given
00:14:53me this to open up the sales department I hired to sales agents and that was the birthing of the sales business wound and all the while you're still I mean just to button ray is still part of this thing he's still in your life yes ray was still
00:15:08part of my life because that was within the first seven years we stayed together for seven years until he married my secretary which is really like so emotionally discouraging for me a real up people week he he cheated on you with your secretary yes she was kind of
00:15:26innocent they fell in love I was angry with him but of course direct commander at her as women tend to do and so %HESITATION when I wanted to fire her because I said I I can't come in the office every day ends your fiance they were getting married
00:15:39three months is very fast I'm mortified I was mortified and %HESITATION and then he moved Tina into our combined office I had a look at them through the glass while I was really at such a stupid thing I must been so young at heart to be so injured
00:15:52over some stupid thing but here's the thing I said I have to fire said no I'm not controlling partner you can't fire me he he owned half of this company and only on fifty one percent and that's how I found out the value of that one percent %HESITATION
00:16:07that's how it works now yeah but that didn't last for long one year later I I stomped in their family build my courage and told me I was in in the business I said ray Allen and the business and says how we're going to do it we can
00:16:20do it like a football after we got fourteen sales people you can pick the first topic the second I got a thing so we each got seven okay like their children in a divorce I didn't know what was happening and we also had close to seventy some odd
00:16:35thousand dollars in receivables which I remember at the time thinking half of that would get me through a month and have over it you know and so I had the ability to take my half of the money and start all over and lucky for me I went to
00:16:49my landlord in our existing billing we were on the eighth floor and I asked him if I could lease another floor we had always paid the rent on time and he rented me the eleventh floor above rate which I love being about him is that we are sick
00:17:02I really need a sure he started he he started his own company and then you stayed there and renamed it %HESITATION pokes among the S. Weiss names Pogue and I moved up to eleven took my seven people I told mom Monday would be moving in there like called
00:17:17now we're we moving to I said it's a surprise because it was a surprise to me even but by Monday you could open an office in New York you could buy the desk down on decrepit forty second street have those guys actually physically run the desk up to
00:17:30the location well they did you could order following which I did on late Friday morning and had installed on Saturday and by the time my agents came in a column of the weekend gave the new address which is simply a different floor they came in they had all
00:17:43this stuff in a neat box on top of the new desks like nothing had happened it is a question of our I mean is it that I mean are you are you just sort of hard wired as a tough person I mean that that I mean emotionally the
00:18:02Bussmann pretty rough right I mean in this the guy that you're with for seven years you think you're in love and and in meanwhile he's having a fair well Hey listen the truth be known I'm not at all hard person I mean the idea ask any woman who's
00:18:21been cheated on any guy you feel like such a fool and you burn so deeply inside now I could barely walk Irisa decimated by that it was a night even so much lost faith in him I mean you're allowed to fall in love let's be real with somebody
00:18:37else but it was that I fell out of love with myself she thought my god I was nobody before he found me he got me to believe in myself he put me in business he you know was my mentor he's a man of the world you know and
00:18:52all of a sudden he's going off to somebody else it was like I'm nobody I never I actually questioned whether I was capable of anything until he insulted me on the way out the door but he said he said you'll never succeed without me he he he was
00:19:11having an affair and then he would rub the salt in your wounds by saying you're never gonna succeed without me yes and you know what he knew me remember we live together almost seven years I was his business partner he may have even been wanting to motivate me
00:19:27knowing that I'm good when I'm insulted and you know I have learned that everyone of my great successes building the business the ones that were bell weather changes that I thought wow did that make a change there were always a result of an insult in a weird shows
00:19:41like it was like fuel to your fire he says this and you are I mean of course obviously devastated inside but you you just think that the greatest revenge is I'm going to prove that he was wrong what wasn't even a revenge thing honestly it was like I
00:19:57couldn't stand the idea that he might see me fail it is more the opposite and you wanna know some I gotta believe that was all tied into because it injured so deeply and became my motivation have to believe that that was tied into being the dumb kid at
00:20:13school because he was basically damning me to hell yeah yeah and that's how I felt in school every day like I'm a loser you'll go nowhere and so he hit my hot button for sure you know for sure so did you from day one when you go to
00:20:29the eleventh floor and you start your your company are you thinking I mean it back at me was he your main competitor was his company the one that you were owns now now now I moved off of that I just I was in survival mode figuring out the
00:20:44math knowing had six a six week run to staying busy you in six weeks you that's how much cash you have on hand here because I had a bigger overhead by they know in the beginning when my thousand dollars gave me a little bit long longer run because
00:20:56it was just one ad per week in The New York Times three line at whatever cost then analyze sublease charge my destiny now was more complicated when I moved to the eleventh floor I also had fourteen desk but I only had seven agent sends a problem you know
00:21:11that's a big overhead no no income and classified ads were really expensive at that time will they always were going up in price yes so then go very far but you know that was the bloodlines realistic pieces pre the internet if you wanted ever leave Razia you put
00:21:26an ad in the paper yeah where you freaking out you know surprisingly no I never freak out about pressure I never have because %HESITATION it is what it is you know I kind of matter fact miss another is something okay give it a shot if and when a
00:21:41friend about only got a my god it's gonna get against three if I get cocky and began like all this is no big deal I'm gonna get cocky so I just kind of okay this is what I got let's see how hard and fast like a run however
00:21:54I did have one vision I must admit today open the Corcoran group I remember sitting at that desk and paying the extra dollar a month for a pink princess phone you pay a dollar extra rent it was pink look fancy and I remember answering the phone sitting there
00:22:11and thinking I'm going to be the queen of New York real estate Barbara Corcoran in a moment how she actually did become the queen guy rise near listening to how I built this from NPR support for this podcast comes from the William T. grant foundation at WTAM foundation
00:22:50dot org welcome back to how I built this from NPR I'm gonna rise to at this point in Barbara's story she may have thought she was gonna be the queen of New York real estate but who's going to be an uphill battle she'd broken up with her mom
00:23:06on the split everything up she had a princess phone in her new office and **** to figure out how to get more attention for a company in one of the world's most competitive markets I distinctly remember the day I sat and pause and said to myself holy ****
00:23:26we are going to be successful what happened I came up with the idea of taking our eleven sales for the year we had eleven sales so far whatever time of the year that was and dividing by eleven which is good I was always good eleven times tables and
00:23:41I came up with an average sale price and I typed on piece of paper and I named it after myself the court the report and it looked lonely one number average apartment price and even say Corcoran group I just put average New York City apartment price and on
00:23:54the top I put the concrete report and then I thought it needed something more except empty and I put on the market I can remember some long winded like market report of conditions and trends in the greater New York City market there are some long thing to fill
00:24:08up the page and I mailed it out to everyone who wrote for The New York Times day everyone and I never heard from the times at all but about two weeks later I opened up the real estate section which was a jag Gandalf the portion the main generator
00:24:22that in the automobile section for the New York times before the engine and I opened it up and the front page read New York City prices hit all time low because we're in a recession again and the first line said according to Barbara Corcoran prison of the court
00:24:37and I'm like holy **** I can't believe this I knew my business is going to be successful you just made this in this I mean just took took your sales numbers which is on hand properties for your eleven polymerize you divide that defend it up and then you
00:24:52said he this is the average price of a Manhattan you know well I didn't really say never I put I put average New York City apartment press and now that sounds richly I could see now from where I sit that is missing I didn't intend it that way
00:25:06you know I didn't intend to trim it up with that long conditions and trends but you know it was amazing to me that that newspaper printed my number they liked your as you said sitting as this newsletter yeah but also there were no numbers remember there was there
00:25:24was no public data of apartment prices in it in the vacuum of no numbers I supplied a number and they wanted to do a story on the bad market and I put a label on it how bad it was right should did you start getting calls from people
00:25:38who set up what is quicken group we got instant credibility we called for listings on the for sale by owner ads and most of them had heard of us in one day simply because it was a time when everybody read the times of feeling page if you are
00:25:53looking to sell your home you're reading the front page of The New York Times real estate section without a doubt and when they didn't hear of us my broker started saying things like I'm sure you've read about us in today's times last week stunt that didn't take them
00:26:08long to use it so we got listings more easily we got credibility more easily and we got more phone calls and all clients we recorded as an expert that's it wow and so presumably that was the birth of the corporate report you even that didn't stop sending that
00:26:23that newsletter after I got it out every three months wow and eventually was enormous incredible have placed on thousands of sales you could really trust the information but initially if I had been a big company and I run it by attorneys vetting committee decisions that would have never
00:26:40gone out the beauty I had as a little guys I had the freedom to run but but also like this a late seventies in New York mean was real estate business was it a more welcoming place for a woman to to be leading a company or was it
00:26:57still I mean you know you hear about that time and you hear how women were sort of you know relegated to being secretary to type business like that did you feel like you were respected and treated with dignity no I never paid attention to that hunting give a
00:27:13crap really you know the the whole business was ninety percent female wasn't like women were not in the real estate brokers via but it just happened that all the firms were owned by the men right losses were all men okay so yes so there were no female only
00:27:29businesses that I competed with but that was was not even important detail what an important detail my mind was was that I had fourteen agents and the largest company in town at that point Douglas Salman had like maybe eighty ninety agents that seem to me like IBM itself
00:27:48again how my going to compete with the money I was on the apple did you know Barbara how to even run this business I mean I know we're talking now right early nineteen eighties and you've been working with ray for a few years but I mean you don't
00:28:02have an MBA you don't have a formal business background us right now you know how do you know how to deal with management issues had a deal we had to pay people would headed price things how did you know that stuff it's I think you make it sound
00:28:16more sophisticated than it is all he needed to know is how to work with people and that's all the business sector is all the work I do today it rests entirely any success or failure rests entirely on my ability to work with the people at hand so learning
00:28:34how to recruit people I learned how to recruit because I made friends with every store clerk every waitress every stewardess everyone I ever met I made friends with because I'm very friendly and if I saw a spark in them which was said to me sales personality I would
00:28:50say have you ever considered doing real estate sales I recruit everywhere everywhere I went I recruited and from what I understand you yourself actually didn't go out and sell many houses are many many parts right I soul I soul the engineers first house here and then for Merrill
00:29:06Lynch I got a referral of David Palmer was a really big weekend I sold him two apartments side by side on the Upper East Side any CD nine three two new content to the whole ups and like condominiums and a that was it that was it you didn't
00:29:20say hello any property at night you check you hire people that we is that what I guess you recognize that your talent was not in selling property but in but managing people now I was great at renting apartments however I realize that if I were to continue to
00:29:36sell because it's time consuming to be a great sales Persia a very time consuming I realize that if I were to continue doing that I could only build my business on the side and I just took a leap of faith especially when I sold David Palmer two apartments
00:29:50side by side for total value of was a little bit more than three hundred fifty thousand which today would be the cool enough say ten million dollar proper yeah it was a landslide victory for me I took that check I remember collecting your from the developer in eighty
00:30:03nine street and walking it to succeed through my office was skipping down Madison Avenue and seeing Georgy girl to myself I quit that day sales and I decided to use that money to hire three new sales people right there I knew I could afford it and then I
00:30:17hired six more and then ten more and then before you knew we had a thousand people I don't want to make it sound like it's over night but it was just said same methodology whenever I had spare money I would divide it by an overhead monthly figure out
00:30:29how many bodies I could afford like a mother paying for the kids and then I would go out and hire that many people yeah that's it was a simple formula never change and was really very useful yeah I'm I'm wondering many sounds like like in the first two
00:30:43years there was you know quite a bit of success but I mean in the short of time you must have hit the the stock market crash of nineteen eighty seven right and there's a huge I mean to have had that affect your business that was a blood bath
00:30:57for good reason when the economy crashes or even really waivers a terrible thing happens if you're in the real estate brokerage business of buyers and sellers do nothing nothing is terrible for brokerage a big sellers market is great because it's action horrible market is great because people have
00:31:15to sell but in the beginning when nothing happens you go out of business well what happened was the great majority of my competitors went out of business of the bad news to that is it's hard to stay in business a very good news and that is I realized
00:31:28I had lost half my competitors that's a motivator what happened to you guys a well I was really on the brink of declaring that it was over but I was ashamed and trying to make back the money I owed to various suppliers like my ad agency %HESITATION The
00:31:44New York Times but I own over three hundred thousand dollars and there was no business coming in there was no business now went on the market stops it's like it's like the silence yeah it's a terrible terrible thing and you have to remember you have sales people many
00:32:00of some supporting the family who have no money coming that's the worst part never mind the business it's a pressure on the people did you have to let people go all my gosh I always let people go anyway but it was interesting I had my mother working for
00:32:14me than for two years of my life because all of our kids are grown inches work at the five and ten on June fifteenth street walking across the George Washington bridge is getting older and said mom you can't do that you got to come to work with me
00:32:27she's she was delighted so she was a file clerk and boy did she keep she kept great file should color coded them tag them she was a genius at that but anyway when the **** hit the fan which is what my mother always called it by the way
00:32:41and again her my filthy mouth I'm she came to me and she knew I had a fire a lot of people because you could just see that everybody knew something was gonna shake out and it was fast and she said wanted to publicly fire me if you fire
00:32:54me she said no one else could be angry with you when you fire them and she's right I thought watching as her so at that Monday morning meeting we always sat at nine thirty I said to you know I've read snow so surprised how bad things are we
00:33:06gonna have to make a lot of changes and it's gonna be very hard for me to do but the hardest change roles we fired my mother because I can't afford to keep her on I mean it's been really close to going out of business if if if you
00:33:22had to make that decision well I was going out of business I owed the three hundred some odd thousand but I came up with a great idea to sell a burning man decks of and nobody wanted which is owned by equitable insurance would be he was like a
00:33:37big real estate is one of the he until his death about guess ten years ago he was so the largest developer New York him and had let Larry Silverstein were partners for many years who built the World Trade Center sure you know that name anyway %HESITATION he asked
00:33:51me to look at eighty eight apartment scattered throughout the city in a number of properties and he said I want to find out from you how you can sell them I knew every broker in town had been in to see them there was no way to sell them
00:34:01no one is buying were just they were the dregs of the market that someone didn't have kitchens are caught mid stream when the market collapsed so they were in a C. rated buildings everything was wrong with it anyway I went I visit maybe eight or nine of the
00:34:16apartments through the supers and right away after they were done as they were dumps they could not be so we need a market to sell my desperate market we had no market so anyway I went back and I told him there was no way to sell it except
00:34:29public auction if you want to do a public auction he said we can't do a public auction we don't want the publicity of a failure and I saw this nor the way you can sell these and I'll never forget what he said he said Barbara you're a smart
00:34:41girl you'll figure it out and I went back and thought about it and write in my head came a memory of my mom taken like seven or eight of us however many were born and down to Toms River New Jersey watching a puppy sale with the farmer lady
00:34:56across the street from my grandpa's house and my mother sat us on the grass and watched all these fancy new Yorkers arguing over puppies are little Jack Russell puppies really cute and anyway %HESITATION my mother said to us look at all these fancy people do you know why
00:35:11they all want those puppies because Louise smart enough to invite them all here at the same time and so that popped in my head and I went back to burning man Dick the next day as I have a plan on their price all the apartments alike same price
00:35:27well I priced all the one bedroom like all these two badges there like a ten thousand dollar difference between the categories right but somewhere on the twenty second floor is a gorgeous views somewhere on the third floor with no kitchen they were so uneven first come first serve
00:35:40gonna secret sale we're not going to advertise it announced to my sales people only let them bring the best customers but I need you to give me two years free maintenance you're not gonna love these two years anyway maintenance is like %HESITATION situation vis monthly maintenance yeah like
00:35:54a kind of kind of kind of fee monthly maintenance fee I said because it's gonna be race the terrible maintenance and they had nobody thinks beyond two years and pricing alike it's going to create a high death and so he said okay give it a whirl and I
00:36:07said we had a secret sale to myself I was really going to that Monday announced her closing the business that's how close we works out unconscionable but pressure is a wonderful thing in life isn't it makes you think and so I now announce to my people as a
00:36:20but get there early and don't bring too many people just a family member if you want your single best because we don't bring don't spread it around we don't have enough to go around and tell you arrived in the first year we had that makeshift office that morning
00:36:34at seven AM and we had a line of sixty people waiting to see those apartments to see those apartments and I'm telling our they have a little more than a million dollars net commissions and I close it was a closing they signed the contracts and the home it
00:36:50was like a fire sale and bought blower people happy they got the deal of the century job if they're really happy today but not as happy as I was that day he had because I went from being near desperation of being filthy rich in real estate tells a
00:37:04rich you got I went right out and I rented myself a full floor at six sixty Madison Avenue because I had the cash to do it and it it's like everything I've read about you people say you know barbarous talent wasn't about selling homes it was about marketing
00:37:18she was incredible marker is that apps absolutely right where did you is it just an instinct is a just trial and error is it is it just being you know kind of a hustler no I think it has more to do with a creativity it's on a black
00:37:35and white game marketing it's this is a softer side of things right it involves exaggeration involves an accu men for seeing what a story line is or what would capture people's interest in it definitely includes people smarts and you know when I actually started realizing I was best
00:37:53when things are bad because I would go into any bad real estate cycle in say say fifteen position pecking order within the industry and I would come out of it needs position because a lot of people got knocked out down to you you decide I guess in early
00:38:09two thousand and two thousand to sell the core group to get out yes why did you decide to sell and you love the game you love that that Chico energy and that like pressure so why did you choose things happened one I had my first baby a forty
00:38:24six I gave birth to my son Tommy after eight years of in vitro that was nothing short of a miracle something I desperately wanted to finally happen once I had that child my heart changed or not into played out my heart every day I was home and my
00:38:38grand old age nursing my son and feeling guilty about it because my kids had at work or wish by rumors pirate and so it took me about four years and then I'm a wonderful thing happened one evening Estrin I were doing the corporate report numbers as it was
00:38:52your partner yes as for my business partner we're doing the court report numbers one night which took us hours because we wanted to have accurate numbers are very particular both of us I don't know why my first report had no accurate number it was just a lot of
00:39:06by then we're very respectable and making sure over numbers are accurate and we also did monthly a report of who control the market share on listings because his was no MLS in New York Stillman you Alice is the multiple listing service that showed you who had what listings
00:39:23like you could just go to one place to see all the listings now and we broke the market into price categories in east and west side of town %HESITATION downtown so we had those categories and we go through the listing cannot together and she'd say five seventy five
00:39:39ever website I put a stroke he had a categorized by all the top agencies in town the top seven and then that night we did all the add up and we could clearly see the courtroom was number one we had more listings in every category from highest to
00:39:55the lowest uptown downtown East West not by a lot but a smidgen over brown Harris Douglas element and I turned to Esther Dyson let's Seles chewing just like him big thoughtful mood but also to be a fair it was the first year that I had made over a
00:40:13million dollars myself and I think it is probably worth something he sold it for sixty six million dollars waiting Shashe and Wharton because I remember being on a ski lift with my refer brother John who still lives in Edgewater we were out in Utah I think and we're
00:40:30going to put your left and I get on my cell phone call from my attorney who said I've got great news is that I have an offer of twenty three million dollars a seat it I said ten twenty three million what does yep one two three million dollars
00:40:45all cash and I said great come back when you get sixty six million cash and he said why sixty six million I said because it's worth it and I hung up and I said to my brother John just twenty three million thinking that John mentioned a seven twenty
00:41:01three dollars any support why just say sixty six percent my lucky number and which they those those accountants kill themselves to try to figure out why sixty six was until closing I've got great satisfaction telling a whole bunch of all was my lucky number and once I proved
00:41:20it did you want when you sold the company did you did you regret it I'm I would have to answer that honestly on some level yes and in a more important level a not I felt an enormous sense of freedom to be a phenomenal mother and so that
00:41:43was exactly what I wanted and I had the enormous satisfaction of knowing I had become the queen of New York realistic and financially now set for life at that point yes but I never understood how much I loved the people I work with and how much that team
00:42:02meant to me it was my life blood I had found them recruited them train them lived with them gotten through good times bad times I had sales managers eleven of them that I toward made toward me where it's such a tight team yeah end I felt terribly lonely
00:42:19and I really thought I was going to get depressed and probably needed shrink because I really didn't know what to do with myself I yearned for good morning barnacle morning fire good morning MRS and all of the hoopla that went with being somebody in a business it was
00:42:33gone said that part I thought tonight do what did I do to myself until of course I I don't wanna say reinvented myself starting all over again and trying to build a new career I mean that's that's the thing right because I mean obviously you did it could
00:42:49go on and and and build a second career because I think most people listening to this would know you as as when the sharks in shark tank not as the head of the of the corporate group yes do you want when you're on that show do you I
00:43:01it seems like you have a bias toward people who you know who have similar background to come from no money I'm very biased they have a much better shot at succeeding why a lot of reasons up the more desirous they've never had the fancy vacation the delicious new
00:43:19car the %HESITATION the private schools the higher education in many instances and they aspire to it us so they get more satisfaction out of climbing that lettering getting to it %HESITATION end of they've seen their parents struggle through life to give them whatever they've given them the more
00:43:39appreciative they don't take things for granted and you know what else which I should have started with the totally free from expectations do you know how how lucky I was to never work for a second ever think I wonder what my parents think of this her goal was
00:43:58was just let's see how far I could go I had nothing to lose and nowhere to go but up to now offering that is to take risks so they're they're not risk aversive and you strive harder so so I really am biased I'm not saying that you can
00:44:11succeed I mean god willing I have I have privileged children I hope they'll succeed it's much harder for me not to let them feel my success even if I don't say a word you know and so they're not as free as I was you know god bless them
00:44:26it's harder for them do you feel I mean when you were a kid you were told that you are smart do you feel now that you've convinced yourself that you are smart well yes and no I'm certainly street smart I'm certainly people smart I'm I have it instinct
00:44:44when trouble is brewing where is the best accounts in the world away to the wall had some so I trust my math instinct in me I think I'm a smart person for sure but more than that I think I'm an enormously hard working person and I have great
00:44:57confidence from my ability to work hard to anything and I think I'm very good at not feeling sorry for myself and I think that's important how how much of your of your success do you think is is because of just skill intelligence hard work and and how much
00:45:13of it is luck well I do believe in luck I've had many many many lucky breaks including meeting Ramon at the diner that night right has the beginning or the very good luck of having my parents as parents not bad right yeah once you grow up are you
00:45:31make your own luck definitely make young lock up I think all the lucky breaks I had were more result to me staying in the game and just believing something would break just hang around long enough that's more important and lock in my opinion being aggressive at every opportunity
00:45:47and standing up for yourself yes more important unlock fibre card grand by the way she was initially rejected for her spot on shark tank they went with a younger woman so Barbara wrote a letter to the producer and I said I consider your rejection a lucky charm because
00:46:09everything that ever happened in my life came on the heels of failure the next day the Calder said he reconsidered and I hope you know what happened and please do stick around because in just a moment we're gonna hear from you about the things your building but first
00:46:37a quick thanks to one of our sponsors Pitney Bowes those provides technology that helps retailers turning US online businesses into global once today our global ecommerce solutions enable retailers to sell online two hundred twenty countries and territories Pitney Bowes the craftsmen of commerce visit need those dot com
00:46:58slash craftsman Hey thanks for sticking around because it's time now for how you build that and this one comes from Arielle Rivera he lives in west in Florida and about ten years ago Arial found himself scrambling at the last minute to buy something thoughtful for his girlfriend's birthday
00:47:18I don't believe the gift was actually very good Hefley's chess I think like a pop the top just some random get that I give an act so a box of chocolates not super creative right but Arielle actually is created in fact he's a graphic designer so we thought
00:47:32well maybe I'll at least do something cool with the wrapping paper so I think I had my picture just on my computer and I just clipped out the head really quick and I I decided to just repeat on a piece of paper with a funny background so he
00:47:45duplicated his face fifteen times in the photo shop them onto a back drop like a cheesy yellow starburst pattern any printed the whole design on to plain paper he wraps the chocolates and then he handed the gift to his girlfriend Vanessa and her reaction all my god this
00:48:03is hilarious and you know like what what did you do it wiser phase under his feet it was so funny and clearly it worked because it's three years later Vanessa in our yelled got married she also happens to be a graphic designer and now and again they would
00:48:19do the same thing they would make wrapping paper for friends and family and put their faces on it and just about every time we give to somebody like you start a business out of this you should you should make a website you should make websites so eventually Arielle
00:48:32and blessed did just that and at first it was it was tough because we are not web designer and so you know I mean now I guess we are but back then we werent but after some trial and error they started the website and they named their business
00:48:46give crap my face so you upload a photo they duplicated and print dozens of your tiny little faces onto what ever image you choose we have the statue of of David the Mona Lisa the Cupid biting grown we have anyway when are you on the desk that launched
00:49:03a few years ago I got a few hundred orders at first and about a year and a half later over a featured the wrapping paper in her magazine when he finally hit in BC over holding our paper in I think she's in our kitchen holding up a box
00:49:18wrapped in a paper which I know that I printed for her it was wild it was really wild and thanks in part to Oprah Arielle and SS sold about five thousand orders of wrapping paper last year not enough to pay themselves just yet so they're still keeping their
00:49:33day jobs as graphic designers right now they've got to printers they're still working out of the garage and also raising two kids so it's either talking about the business or talk about the kids pretty much I live now that's Vanessa club veto and ari el Rivero of west
00:49:49in Florida to find out more about their company gift wrap my face had to our Facebook page and of course if you have a story about something your building please tell us about it go to build dot NPR dot O. R. G. Hey thanks for listening to the
00:50:06show this week if you want to find out more or less in the previous episodes you can go to how I built this dot NPR dot O. R. G. please also subscribe to the show if you haven't already through I tunes or however you get your podcast you
00:50:21could also write to us that's H. I. B. T. at NPR dot O. R. G. and you can send us a tweet is at how I built this our show was produced this week by roundup Delphi ten regional music composed by Ramstein Arab Louis thanks also to Neva
00:50:35grant cenit Mexican poor and Jeff Rodgers R. intern is clear brain I'm guy rise even listening to how I built this hi it's Rachel Martin with NPR news and you know what we're doing something new and we want you to be part of it it's called up first
00:51:03it's the morning news podcast from NPR it's a way for you in about ten minutes or so to get up to speed on the news of any given day the most important stories the biggest ideas the stuff you need to know as you go through your day up
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