Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rejection or Opportunity?
Many endeavors have quirky beginnings, but I’m willing to bet this stands alone in its surrealness. “Yeah, I met Barb in California. I originally thought she was a whore, but it tuned out she was just renting apartments....Boy was I wrong.”

Indeed, at the time she was just using her apartment as her real estate office, but the steady stream of people would raise some eyebrows.

 Most people would find almost being evicted because the landlord thought she was a prostitute debilitating, not to mention soul crushing. Horrified as she was, she chose to see the good in the situation. It got her a chance to talk to her landlord who was the one who got her started on her career as a multi millionaire.

“If I hadn’t almost been evicted as a prostitute, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet my landlord, ask for his listings, and leave with a new apartment to rent.” That’s one way to put it, I guess.

She says, “The eviction notice and it’s happy ending taught me that opportunity hides in the worst situations, when the timing’s not right, and when everyone agrees that the most prudent move is to lie low. Finding opportunity is a matter of believing it’s there.”

“Handling rejection is 90% of what sales are all about.”

I remember reading a then, unknown, Barbara Corcoran’s book Use What You’ve Got years ago. My mother, who thought I’d find it inspirational, loaned it to me to read. It was very inspiring, but I had nowhere to apply the insights. I gave the book back and I had all but forgotten her until her name started appearing in news and business journals, and of course Shark Tank. This coincided with my own business planning, which is providential because she is not only very inspiring, but has firsthand knowledge from testing it out herself.

To look at the glamorous, confident business mogul, you would think that all she does is win. You would never know that she’s had her share of rejection. She’s a master at turning bad things into good things. When her business partner and boyfriend of 7 years broke up with her to marry the company secretary, no doubt her blood boiled. Adding insult to injury, he said as they were splitting the business, "You know, you will never succeed without me."

She turned her hurt into power and got the best revenge. She eventually sold the company for $66 million.

"I knew when he said that, I would rather die than let you see me not succeed," says Corcoran. "Thank God for the gift of the insult." She is now considered a real estate mogul and is a popular TV personality, but she didn’t know it would turn out that way.

“I consider your rejection a lucky charm, because everything that ever happened in my life came on the heels of failure,” is what she told the producers of Shark Tank when they initially rejected her. 

Wow! What if we all thought that way? What if we all redefined rejection as opportunity? Most of us spend a large part of our lives, eschewing rejection. By reconsidering it, we take away its negative power.

"You have to be great at handling rejection, and then more rejection, and then still more rejection." 

It’s easy [and common] to get excited about something and very soon, realize you are in over your head. Barbara found this out when she was invited to speak at a group of 800 homebuyers at a seminar. Excited for the publicity and the opportunity, she jumped at the chance. Excepting her waitress experience, she had never spoken to large groups. Her opening joke fell flat as she forgot the punch line and it was a downward spiral from there. She went back to her seat in agony, leaving the moderator with his mouth open. She decided then and there to reinvent herself. This would not define her.

She could have wallowed in her defeat. Most people would have. She decided she needed a crash course in public speaking. But not in a conventional way. The next day, she pitched a course on real estate to NYU. She said she was an “excellent speaker.” They bit and she ended up teaching there for 5 years. She soon became that “excellent speaker.”

Failure and rejection were the doors to ultimate success for Barbara Corcoran. How many times were the same doors were presented to others [including myself] who walked by because they didn’t want to be hurt?

c. 2015

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