& Fortune: Barbara Corcoran
'Jersey girl' trumped Trump with street
As a girl growing up in tiny Edgewater, N.J., Barbara
Corcoran would gaze across the Hudson River at the Manhattan skyline,
little knowing that one day she would reign as the queen of New
York residential real estate.
After all, she was hardly a born deal maker; severe
dyslexia earned her nothing more than straight D's in school and
dire warnings from the nuns. But what she couldn't accomplish in
school she made up for with a winning personality and a way with
Fresh out of college in 1973, she borrowed $1,000
from her boyfriend, quit her waitressing job at a Greek diner and
started the real estate company that would become to Manhattan residential
property what Donald Trump was to commercial development.
During the next 25 years, The Corcoran
Group became the premiere New York real estate agency, with 45 offices,
2,150 sales associates and employees, and an almost unfathomable
$5 billion in annual closings. Along the way, she invented the "one-day
sale" that once saved her company from disaster, and successfully
trumped "The Donald" in court.
In 2001, Corcoran sold her company to real estate
giant NRT to concentrate on her next conquest: to become America's
multimedia real estate authority through a series of brand-savvy
books and frequent television appearances.
Rags-to-riches stories don't get much richer than
Corcoran's. Bankrate spoke with the real estate diva about how to
take Manhattan -- and then the world.
Bankrate: You were one
of 10 children. Where did you fall in the mix?
Barbara Corcoran: Second
oldest, but I always felt like the oldest in the family because
my older sister was very young in spirit, heart and maturity, so
she was constantly in trouble. She created a great foil for me,
quite honestly. She made me look like the mature one.
Bankrate: Were you the
Corcoran: You know what
I was? I was the serious one because I was so busy trying to keep
a low profile, if not in my family certainly in my life, because
I had that reading problem (dyslexia). I was always trying to hide
that I couldn't read and write. I think that kept me undercover
all the time trying not to be noticed.
Bankrate: Did your dyslexia
cause others to doubt your intelligence?
Corcoran: I never
thought of myself as smart; in fact, I really did take on a label
that one of the nuns gave me when she said I'd always be stupid
if I didn't pay attention. I really did embrace that label that
I was stupid and fell for it. But, on the other hand, I always had
a really wild imagination, so I had this whole other world going
on in my head, in the classroom and out of the classroom. I always
had a great movie show going on and could imagine things better
than the other kids. It was downside and upside. The older I got,
the more I focused on the upside, thank God.