VetFamily: Barbara Corcoran
Barbara Corcoran is a businesswoman best-known for her role on one of America's top-rated TV shows, Shark Tank, by acclaimed TV producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice) that airs on the ABC Network. She is a self-made real-estate millionaire, possesses a commanding presence in the boardroom, and is a role model for business entrepreneurs across America. She is also the spouse of former FBI agent and retired Navy captain, Bill Higgins, who also pursued a career in real estate after his military service.
Although she did not grow up wealthy, Corcoran gained prominence as the owner of the Corcoran Group, a highly prestigious New York residential real estate brokerage firm which she started in the 1970s with a $1,000 investment. Clients included A-listers such as Jerry Seinfeld, Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Sean ‘Puffy” Combs, Giorgio Armani and Diane Keaton.
She attributes one of her early business successes to a tip from her husband Bill, who she met while both served on the same board of a company in the 1980s. After spending $77,000 to showcase videos of some of her properties for sale (a project which she called a "huge flop"), Corcoran chose to put the videos on the Internet in the early 1990s -- a bold step at the time.
"I decided to throw the old videos on this brand new government thing called the "Internet." I found it because my husband was a Navy captain and had just come home from playing war games on it in real time," she told Forbes. They married in 1994, and Higgins sold his real estate firm in 1997.
Corcoran also attributes much of her success to her mom who, according to her, ran the home like a military boot camp.
"In my household — which had two bedrooms, ten kids, and one bath — you would have recognized her as a phenomenal businesswoman," she tells Business Insider. "She was just super organized, definitely in charge, had everybody doing what she wanted, motivated everybody. She was just in charge. And so her house was her business."
After nearly twenty nine years of serving as founder and CEO of the Corcoran Group, Corcoran sold her firm for $66 million in 2001, after refusing to take an initial bid of $22 million. She then took a break to care for their newborn son but soon found the allure of business calling her back. She started advising on real estate for the Good Morning America and Today shows before she became a fixture on Shark Tank, a ratings success since launching in 2009. After successfully investing in a multitude of Shark Tank businesses, Corcoran co-founded Barbara Corcoran Venture Partners, an investor syndicate she currently promotes on the Angel’s List start-up platform for early stage businesses.
In addition to real estate, Bill’s career included a stint as an FBI agent—"He had more arrests than anybody ever," Corcoran said. And Higgins also held a top post in the Naval Reserve during the 1991 Gulf war. He later went on to a teaching fellowship after the 1997 sale of his family real estate company.
"My husband had a very strong identity and was successful in his life," Corcoran tells New York Magazine."Thank God for that. There’s no way I can control him. I wouldn’t stay married to him if I felt I could. I can readily take my business personality into the home. But he forces me to be a partner rather than the boss. It’s what keeps our marriage healthy. He won’t give me an inch of satisfaction. He won’t acknowledge my superiority."
Captain William F. Higgins, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1966, was a successful and highly decorated military man. He was thе Commander оf Southern Command, Nеw York Naval Militia; whiсh includes thе area оf Nеw York City, Lоng Island аnd thе lower Hudson Valley.
Hе played оn thе 1963 Navy football team, and played in the Cotton Bowl with teammate and NFL Hall of Famer Roger Staubach. Hе graduated frоm Naval Supply Corps School аnd thе FBI Academy.
While оn active duty with thе U.S. Navy, hе served аѕ Supply Officer onboard USS Fort Mandan and then affiliated with the Naval Reserve in 1975. Hе wаѕ recalled tо active duty during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, whеrе hе wаѕ stationed in Bahrain, assigned tо thе Navy’s Logistic Support Force. He later affiliated with thе Nеw York Naval Militia in 2004.