‘Shark Tank’ Star Barbara Corcoran Says People Skills At The Heart Of Entrepreneurship

Barbara Corcoran says an MBA is worth it, if you want to get promoted in a large corporation. If you’re an entrepreneur, the degree “gets in the way.” In an interview with Bloomberg, the Shark Tank star said an MBA is not the key to success. Street smarts and people skills are far more valuable.

Speaking about herself and her successful entrepreneurs, Corcoran said their greatest asset is not the ability to read a financial statement.

“What we are very good [at] is thinking on our feet, being street smart and sizing up people. What do you build a business on in the end? It’s people.”

Corcoran also rejected the interviewer’s suggestion that the ability to say “no” is fundamental to success.

“The truth of the matter is, I am pretty much a yes girl. I say ‘yes’ and ‘yes,’ and then I will and manipulate my way to the ‘no,’ where they don’t even really know about it. That’s all people smarts.”

The hallmark of successful entrepreneurs is how they deal with the bumps in the road, based on Corcoran’s experience with her Shark Tank investments.

“Thinking on your feet. It’s like an obstacle race. How do you jump over the next obstacle. Not feeling sorry for yourself. Plain out street smarts.”

Last year Corcoran told Entrepreneur that she struggled in school. She discovered she was dyslexic when her son was diagnosed. Corcoran said those who achieve academic success don’t necessarily make the best entrepreneurs because they don’t know how to be flexible.

Corcoran eventually built a real estate empire in New York before becoming a Shark Tank star. She is not the only shark on the panel with a learning difference. Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary also have dyslexia.

When challenged about his business knowledge by a business school professor in an episode of Dragons’ Den, Robert Herjavec bluntly stated that he did not have a business degree. O’Leary said a business degree has “nothing to do with success.”

A Bloomberg report from November, 2014, found it takes several years for MBA grads to make back their educational investment. The study looked at post-MBA salaries of graduates from prestigious and less-than-prestigious schools. Benefits from the MBA include promotional opportunities, alumni networks, and contacts, over and above an eventual increase in salary.

That study focused on in-house salaries. It did not look at the potential benefits of an MBA for entrepreneurs, whose return is based on the success of their businesses.

Shark Tank and its companion program Beyond the Tank air Fridays on ABC.

[Barbara Corcoran main image courtesy of ABC / Shark Tank]