She likes to say "nice goes a long way in business," and it's not often you hear that from a person who earned a fortune in the rough and tumble world of New York City real estate. "Nice" is not a word you'd normally associate with a show called "Shark Tank," but she is proof you can be nice and firm.
Her no-nonsense approach works on the air, and it sure is apparent in her office on the Upper East Side. There's a special area devoted to rows of photographs, some of which are upside down.
"These are all the entrepreneurs I've invested in," she said. "The ones that are right side up work out. The ones that are upside down aren't working out."
One of her greatest success stories is Pipcorn, a business that's grown steadily. The factory is operated by the brother/sister team of Jeffrey and Jennifer Martin.
"I think the biggest thing I've gotten from Barbara is to just believe in yourself and just to keep going, no matter what happens," Jennifer said.
Today, Barbra Corcoran is rich and famous. But she grew up as one of 10 kids in Edgewater, New Jersey, with parents who were "always a little behind in terms of making ends meet."
Her drive is extraordinary.
"Mostly, it comes from being a lousy student," she said.
The future real estate queen faced the challenge of dyslexia, explaining, "when you had a learning problem in school in those days, you were labeled dumb, and you didn't get any special help, and the kids all laughed at you."
She had the last laugh, of course, but their ridicule is with her still.
"Without a doubt," she said. "My aggressiveness and my insistence of making something of myself, and my competitiveness, and probably the whole bad shooting match that's not so healthy for you is an attempt to make up for those days."
If those days toughened her resolve, they also made her more understanding.
"Once you're in the position of speaking down to you, or making fun of you, or any of that negative category as a child, you can never look down or talk down to anyone for the rest of your life," she said.
It is this empathy that makes her a good mentor to her entrepreneurs.
"I've lived what they're living," she said.
It's clear Barbara Corcoran is a good judge of what is going to work and what isn't, thanks to the challenges she has faced. Hear more about how those obstacles helped her in this extended interview clip: