I so enjoy sharing terrific women with you here on the DARE Force Blog. My admiration and kudos go out to Barbara Corcoran and Sara Blakely. These are two DARE-ing, over-40 women, who rose from various challenges, and through grit and determination made great successes of their businesses and their lives. These are two impressive women who followed their drive and dream, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. We can learn from them!
BARBARA CORCORAN : Real estate tycoon
Barbara Corcoran is an amazing, DARE-ing, over-50 woman. And not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She grew up in a little town in New Jersey, with nine brothers and sisters and not much money. A poor student in high school, she floundered from job to job until her early twenties. Then, borrowing $1000 from her boyfriend, (equivalent to about $5000.00 in today’s terms) she founded The Corcoran Group, an extremely successful real estate corporation in New York. She sold this business in 2001 for 66 million dollars! You may have seen her; Barbara is the real estate contributor to NBC’s TODAY Show, and an investor/shark on the reality show “Shark Tank.” Author, speaker, and entrepreneur, this “Have a Plan and Get it Done,” over-50, DARE-ing woman is inspiration, motivational, and often outrageous. Her book, “If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails,” is a terrific and entertaining read. She tells it like it is!
At the Inc. Conference for women entrepreneurs last fall in New York, I had the pleasure of hearing her speak; engaging, charismatic, funny, and enlightening, are the words that come to mind. I came away with further confirmation of my long-held belief that you can achieve anything with the right mindset, the right attitude, the right energy. She shared with us that the biggest mistake she made in her life was falling prey to the belief that she was stupid. Struggling in school as a young girl, she hadn’t learned to read by the third grade. Yet she says this set her up for a lifetime of trying harder, going the extra mile, not taking anything for granted, and being a “meticulous preparer.” She had to constantly prove she wasn’t stupid!
That kind of fortitude and character is what politicians are really talking about when they praise American spirit.
SARA BLAKELY: Creator and Founder of Spanx.
I love Spanx! I have struggled with trying to wear a nicely fitting pair of slacks, and groaned over seeing that unsightly panty-line. Spanx founder Sara Blakely solved this, with her invention of legless pantyhose, and has built a hugely successful company from it. Yay for her!
SPANX® is available in 35 countries, and offers a whole line of great products such as bras, panties, slimming apparel, swimsuits and active-wear. The visibility of these products is huge – you hear about them everywhere from major news networks to SNL to sound bites on the infamous “red carpet” at all the award shows! In addition to keeping butts covered, SPANX also shapes the world by focusing on their mission: To help women feel great about themselves and their potential.
It was a stroke of genius from Sara, yet she had a very hard time getting any manufacturer to take her seriously. Ten clothing manufacturers in the South turned her down cold. So, spending $5,000 of her own money, she had a prototype made, and flew all the way to Dallas to meet with a buyer from Neiman Marcus. She blithely persuaded this buyer – super-sophisticated, ultra-glamorous denizen of retail diva-dom – to follow her to the ladies room where she modeled her white pants “before” look, and then put on her Spanx and modeled her “after” look under her white pants! The woman ordered on the spot.
The rest, as they say, is history. With supreme focus, Blakely grew her “baby,” with fortitude, tenacity, hard work, and attitude.
I recently met Sara at a New York Inc. conference for women entrepreneurs, and was so impressed with this woman. She is an adorable, funny, energetic 41-year-old woman, who knows herself and her public, has a wonderful sense of humor, plus drive and smarts.
In her speech, she told us of her dad, who was so influential in the growth of her character; she learned to drive on through discouragement, all the way to ultimate success. She told us how her dad encouraged her to fail. He would ask her what she had failed at that week, and was disappointed if there was nothing. Sara presented the concept that failure is not the outcome – real failure is not trying.
My hat is off to both Barbara Corcoran and Sara Blakely, two inspirational DARE-ing over-40 women. They show how DARE-ing really gets done!