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Use What You've Got
The advice from her mother that made Barbara Corcoran a business success

By: John Shepler

Barbara Corcoran went to take $200 out of the ATM machine.  After palming the cash, she matter-of-factly grabbed the receipt and gave it quick scan before pitching it in the trash.  Her checking account balance read $46,732,917.32.

A cruel mistake in accounting?  No, the receipt was accurate.  Barbara Corcoran had just sold her successful New York City real estate business and the proceeds were now in her account.  Not bad for a girl who started out sharing one floor of a three family house in New jersey with her parents and nine brothers and sisters.  Her secret:  inherited family wealth.  Not in dollars and cents.  The wealth she received from her mother was worth far more than a generous allowance or trust fund.  Mom's homey wisdom provided her with the foundation to start and grow an incredibly successful business.

Barbara Corcoran shares what she's learned in her book, "Use What You've Got & Other Business Lessons I Learned From My Mom."  It's really two stories in one.  Interleaved are two dozen childhood stories, each a lesson in life.  Along with each story is another story.  It's the adult experience of building a real estate business from scratch and growing it to a value of tens of millions of dollars.  This is a book that could be a step by step guide for anyone wishing to become fantastically rich selling real estate. But its more than that.  It's an excellent guide for anyone who wants to strike out on their own and isn't sure they have the right background to make it. You do. Your parents gave it to you when you didn't think they were saying anything important.

Mom's Pearls of Wisdom
Let's look at an example from childhood.  Mom said "Put the socks in the sock drawer."  Why?  Socks always go in the sock drawer for a good reason.  It's so you never have to ask, "where are my socks."  With nine kids, that question might be popping up every day unless Barbara's mom had established a designated drawer for the boy's navy cotton socks and a separate designated drawer for the girl's white nylon socks.  Actually, she went far beyond that and had a routine or production line for everything.  Kid's lunches were made in 2 minutes flat.  All of them.  That's the power of organization.

Years later, that childhood experience got applied at the Corcoran Group when Barbara organized her first office.  four different-colored index cards carried the listing information for the properties they were listing. Studio apartments on white, one-bedrooms on yellow, two-bedrooms on blue and three-bedrooms on pink.  Every property folder had the floor plan of the apartment stapled inside it and 10 copies in the the folder.  The agent who took that last floor plan had to make another 10 copies before filing the folder.  There were always floor plan copies when you needed them.

Doesn't sound too complicated, does it?  Like most business practices, it's not.  If everyone cooperates to maintain a system, it's amazing how efficient you can be.  When the systems break down and you can't count on finding what you need when you need it, that's when things take twice as long as they should and tempers flare.

See if you can figure out the business logic behind some of these other lessons:

#2: Paint the rocks white and the whole yard will look lovely

#11: Go play outside

#14: Go stand next to Nana and see how big you are!

#17: In a family, everyone helps mash the potatoes

#19: When there are ten buyers and three puppies, every dog is the pick of the litter.

#24: The joy is in the getting there.

Read the Bonus Manual
How often have you bought something and been a little dissatisfied that it didn't quite live up to your expectations.  That wont' happen with this book.  No only do you get the 24 lessons that apply equally at home and in business, but Barbara provides a bonus manual entitled: "What I Wish Every Salesperson Knew."

Read this part and keep it handy for reference.  If you are selling anything, and every business is selling something, then these tips from a multi-millionaire success in sales will do you good.  It's broken down into the topics: traits, rules, planning, phoning, customers, presenting, closing and slumps.

Now, there is one more thing.  Once you've become successful with the lessons in this sure you pass them on to your kids.  They may not grasp the importance of what you are telling them, but they will someday.




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