How Barbara Corcoran Landed a Seat on ‘Shark Tank’ With ‘1 Perfect Email’

Barbara Corcoran of ABC’s Shark Tank knows both success and rejection. Often transparent about having dyslexia which caused a great deal of stress and struggle throughout her school years, Corcoran has learned how to fight when the odds are against her and land on top.

That resilient spirit has helped her become one of today’s most successful business owners and reality stars. Yet like many other things for Corcoran, her spot on Shark Tank wasn’t just handed to her. Apparently, she had to do some convincing for the producers to give her a shot.

“Shark Tank’s” Barbara Corcoran | JC Olivera/WireImage

Overcoming challenges

Corcoran is no stranger to adversity. She grew up in a small two-bedroom apartment with her nine brothers and sisters, and couldn’t read or write until she was in third grade. “I’ve wrestled with letters and numbers my whole life… My biggest fear all day long was that I would be called on to read out loud,” Corcoran said in her podcast on her series “Business Unusual.”

Corcoran battled insecurity due to her dyslexia, feeling she lacked intelligence. “I feel like my whole life I’ve been insecure about looking not smart,” Corcoran said, according to Entrepreneur reported. “So I feel like everything I do is a constant attempt to prove to whoever’s around me that I can measure up. I’m also proving to myself that I’m always running around with insecurity.”

Corcoran prefers to invest in those that have had to overcome some sort of obstacle. Many of the top business owners she’s invested in on Shark Tank had to combat some type of learning limitation like herself. “A lot of them were lousy in school, too,” she said of her entrepreneurs. Corcoran feels that entrepreneurs who have had a tougher road in life end up as strong, driven leaders due to constantly trying to prove “that they’re not dummies after all.”

The ‘best email of my life’

When producer Mark Burnett was putting together his Shark Tank panel, he recruited Corcoran as one of the show’s investors. Much to the real estate mogul’s dismay, Burnett later decided on someone else for the seat.

Rather than just taking ‘no’ for an answer, Corcoran got to work. “I sat down and wrote the best email of my life immediately,” she told AARP. “I told him that I considered his decision to be a lucky charm because ‘I’ve had all my big successes on the heels of rejection.’ I said he should consider inviting both of us to L.A. for a tryout. I’ve booked my flight and hope to be on that plane.”

Corcoran’s words clearly did the trick, where her persistence ended up changing Burnett’s mind. “I didn’t hear anything that day, but the next morning his assistant called and said, ‘When I walked your email over to Mr. Burnett and watched him read it, he said, ‘This girl is a real shark.’” Hence, a shark was born.

You gotta be tough

For Corcoran, resilience is the quality she considers most important in entrepreneurs. “After Shark Tank airs, after about three to six months, something goes wrong. The merchandise wasn’t delivered, or the product has a problem,” she told Showbiz Cheat Sheet in July. “Then I want to see what the entrepreneur does. Two-thirds of them don’t get over it.”

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That attribute in the business owners Corcoran has chosen over the years is what has made her investments profitable. “They don’t feel sorry for themselves. I’ve bought into 40-odd businesses, and the best entrepreneurs all have that trait,” the Shark Tank star said. “They may not be really-high-IQ people, but they’re extremely good at taking a hit.”

Corcoran clearly goes by her gut rather than grades and it has paid off big!

Read more: ‘Shark Tank’s’ Barbara Corcoran Reveals Why She Hired Someone ‘Within the First 5 or 6 Seconds’ of an Interview