- Barbara Corcoran is a founder of the real-estate behemoth The Corcoran Group.
- In 2008, she was offered a position on ABC’s “Shark Tank” — only to have the offer rescinded.
- So she took about eight minutes to write a powerful letter to the studio owner that persuaded him to give her another shot.
- Ultimately, Corcoran got the position. She said that standing up for herself via the letter was a matter of “self-pride.”
Anyone who was friendly with Barbara Corcoran in 2008 knew she was going to Hollywood.
Corcoran, a founder of the real-estate behemoth The Corcoran Group, had just been offered a part on the ABC series “Shark Tank” and was delivering the news to everyone she knew.
On an episode of Business Insider’s podcast, “Success! How I Did It,” Corcoran told US Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell that she was so excited about landing the “Shark Tank” gig that she “signed the contract and sent it back without even reading it.”
From there, things went downhill, she said.
“They call and say they have changed their mind; they have invited another woman for the one female seat,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it. It was like Ramone Simone” — Corcoran’s former business and romantic partner who ultimately left Corcoran for her assistant — “all over again. It really felt like that, like how could that be? How could that be?!”
Corcoran said she was “near tears, honestly, because I couldn’t imagine why something I envisioned” wasn’t going to come true.
“I already had bought two new suits and signed autographs,” she said.
But Corcoran wasn’t one to resign herself to a disappointing fate. She told Shontell:
“At least I had the presence to get angry, right? And sit down and write a very potent text to Mark Burnett, who owned the studio. And I had the people sense to make his assistant promise me over the phone that if I wrote it she’d print it out and walk it over to him.”
The letter began: “Mark, I understand you’ve asked another girl to dance instead of me. Although I appreciate being reserved as a fall-back, I’m much more accustomed to coming in first.
“I think you should consider inviting both of us to LA for your try outs.”
Corcoran went on to list why she deserved to participate.
For example, she said she “had all my big successes on the heels of rejection,” including from a teacher who told her she’d “always be stupid” because she couldn’t read. (Corcoran later told The New York Times she had dyslexia.) And Corocan said Simone had told her, “You know you’ll never succeed without me!”
Corcoran told Shontell that writing the letter “made a nine-year difference in my life.”
“Think about it — just for writing an email that took about eight minutes,” she said. “But it was really more than that. I was standing up for myself. That’s why I earned it.”
The next day, she said, she got a call saying she could compete for the seat.
Corcoran shared with Shontell some of the lessons she learned from the experience, including “the importance of standing up for yourself.”
“I had learned that over and over again, because even if it doesn’t work, you feel self-pride,” she said. “You’d think if you really tried something and you didn’t get it that you would feel embarrassed, but I never found that to be the case. I felt self-pride that I tried, and then, of course, so many tries you wind up getting a few yeses along the way, and this happened to be one of those yeses.”
Read the full text of the letter:
I understand you’ve asked another girl to dance instead of me. Although I appreciate being reserved as a fall-back, I’m much more accustomed to coming in first.
I think you should consider inviting both of us to LA for your try outs. Here are my reasons why:
1. I do my best when my back’s against the wall. I love the heat of the competition as I’ve learned it brings out my best. I’ve had all my big successes on the heels of rejection and frankly, it’s right up my alley. There was Sister Stella Marie in 5th grade who said I’d always be stupid just because I couldn’t read. Then there was the New York old boy network trying to lock me out of their real estate fortunes, until I became their largest competitor. Then there was The Donald himself who wrongly swore in court I’d never see a penny of the $US4m commission he owed me for saving his arse and making the largest land deal in the city’s history. And of course there was my ex-partner Ramone Simone who parted with the words, “You know you’ll never succeed without me!” I consider your rejection a lucky charm.
2. If you have both ladies in LA, you can mix it up a bit and see which personalities make the best combination for your show. I’ve found in building teams myself that the combination of personalities is always more important than the expertise or strengths of single individuals. You may even drop a man for me because, believe it or not, I’m just as smart and mean as the next guy.
3. Last, I’ve known from the get-go the shark role is a perfect fit for me. Everything I’ve done so far in the business and TV worlds has made me ready. My style is different than the other sharks’ and your audience would fall in love with me. I’ve watched thirty-seven dragon episodes so far and know I could rival the best shark on each show in shrewdness and personality. It seems to me that the same two sharks steal most of the shows and I know I’d be one of them.
The reputation you have in your field is equal to the reputation I have in mine, Mark. I know you’re the best at what you do and I trust you’ll reach the right decision. I’ve booked my flight for the 6th and hope to be on that plane.
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