- ABC/John Fleenor
- Barbara Corcoran is a real-estate mogul and an investor on the ABC series “Shark Tank.”
- She says business people should play up any advantage they have – even if that advantage is being attractive.
- “I wore flashy bright-colored suits, short skirts, I had great legs. That was my best asset. I flaunted them, no doubt about it,” she says.
- Common sense and intelligence matter, she says, but you need something to help you stand out.
- That point has caused some controversy and gotten her considerable media attention.
Barbara Corcoran knows how to make the most of things.
On an episode of Business Insider’s podcast, “Success! How I Did It,” Corcoran told US editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell that over the course of her career, she’s taken every opportunity to stand out.
To make it in an industry traditionally dominated by men, she said, “I wore flashy bright-colored suits, short skirts, I had great legs. That was my best asset. I flaunted them, no doubt about it.”
Corcoran told Shontell that the”dumb blonde” card – or the “dumb anything” card, for that matter – can come in handy. “People underestimate you,” she said.
When asked if those are good strategies for women to use even in a Harvey Weinstein world, Corcoran replied, “of course” because “all marketing is good marketing.”
“Any opportunity you have to stand apart from the pack – which starts with you, if you’re owning the company, you’re the leader of the company, you’re a billboard. As are your managers…So sure, I would do the same today.
“The great advantage I had – and still have, because I travel mostly in a man’s world still – is just by being a woman I stand apart from the pack. I never saw it as a liability. I saw that as an advantage. Like, ‘Look, I’m the only girl in the room.’ They might not remember my name but they’ll say, ‘The girl in the room,’ where they wouldn’t say, ‘One of the 50 boys in a room.’ Right? So no, I think you just have to play up whatever you can to get positive attention, because attention brings business.”
When Shontell then asked if “you can get ahead just by brains instead of beauty as a woman,” Corcoran basically said no.
“I don’t think anyone…Listen. Think about what a consumer has: They have ears, they have a mouth, they have a nose, and they have eyes,” Corcoran replied.
“So you’re asking, ‘Can you get ahead trying to ignore the eyes of the consumer?’ No. ‘The eyes of the boss of the colleague?’ No!”
Corcoran’s point about standing out as a woman is controversial
Corcoran has been beating this drum for a while. In 2003, she published a book titled, “If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons in Your Pigtails.”
In 2016, Corcoran remarked in a since-deleted tweet, “I find running a #business in a man’s world to be a huge advantage. I wear bright colors, yank up my skirt + get attention.” The tweet generated significant media attention – and controversy. Corcoran appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and defended her stance, adding:
“It is not an easy game to build a business. You have to be thinking all the time and using every bit of common sense and great intelligence to work in business. That’s a given. But assuming you have five people with equal intelligence working equally hard, the person who knows to grab attention is going to be the one that gets noticed and gets put ahead.”
To be an effective marketer and rise through the ranks, you have to use everything at your disposal, she said. “You’re in a visual world,” she told Shontell. You don’t just have to look good, Corcoran says, you have to smell good too.
“You have to use everything. You have to be well-spoken, communicate clearly so people aren’t trying to figure out what the hell you’re saying. You have to look good. You have to look the part. You even have to smell good – you can’t go into work smelling bad – you’re not going to get ahead on that one, right? So you’ve got all your barrels going. You know, you just have to use every advantage you can.”