Being dyslexic gave her the freedom to make her own decisions, from choosing her business to picking the colours for her brand. This liberty to dictate her own path came from her dyslexic condition, which inadvertently propelled her to author her own success story.
Corcoran also recounted the insecurities she developed due to her struggles in school. She spoke about the stigma of being different and how it fundamentally shaped her mindset. However, she views this difference as a strength, asserting that it prepares dyslexic individuals to handle rejection and motivates them for life.
Despite the inherent challenges, she believes it is essential to embrace failure. She explained, “When you fail early at something – and something so important as school, which is how children define themselves … failing is like second nature, you almost build up a hard crust [so] that it just doesn’t bother you.”
Barbara Corcoran’s tenacity is evident in her analogy of being a “Jack in the Box”. She described herself as someone who, despite being hit repeatedly, always bounces back. This resilience, she claims, is a gift that has allowed her to repeatedly face adversity and still come out victorious.
She emphasised the importance of understanding failure as an integral part of life. She said, “Failure, if you want to get ahead in life, is half of what life is. If you don’t know how to fail and get back up, you don’t move ahead in anything. So it’s the greatest attribute to have.”
Interestingly, dyslexia seems to be a common trait among entrepreneurs. As pointed out by Kate Griggs, the podcast host and founder of the charity Made By Dyslexia, Barbara Corcoran isn’t the only Shark Tank judge with dyslexia. Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary have also been diagnosed with the condition.
Corcoran’s story is a testament to the fact that dyslexia, while a challenge, can also serve as a catalyst for success. Her determination and resilience to overcome her learning disorder and become a successful entrepreneur provide an inspiring narrative for all dyslexic individuals.
Corcoran’s journey of self-discovery began when her son, Tom, was diagnosed with dyslexia in the second grade. This diagnosis sparked a realisation that she had been living with dyslexia all her life. This revelation helped her understand her past struggles and fuelled her determination to succeed.
Corcoran, the second eldest of 10 children from New Jersey, held over twenty jobs before turning 23. Yet, she built a successful career in the real estate business in the 1970s, eventually selling her firm, The Corcoran Group, for a staggering $66 million in 2001.
The Lessons In Dyslexic Thinking podcast has previously featured other prominent figures like Richard Branson and NYC mayor Eric Adams. The podcast aims to shed light on the experiences of dyslexic individuals and highlight how dyslexia can shape one’s perspective and contribute to their success.