Real estate mogul and Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran is worth $80 million.

What would she do if she lost everything and had to start her career from scratch? Work as a waitress, according to a CNBC interview.


Photo Credit: JStone /

“You learn more in waitressing than you can in any other job, and I had every kind of menial job you can imagine,” Corcoran, who had 22 different jobs before she turned 23, told CNBC journalist Faroosh Torabi.

“Being a server is the best way to learn about sales,” she said. “It’s your charm, it’s the ability to have a conversation and get the coffee right away so they don’t have to ask for it. It’s knowing what they ordered last time.”

Her surprising answer teaches us two very important lessons about life and growth:

1. Your skills are your most valuable asset

Corcoran built her fortune from the ground up, from working as a secretary in a real estate company in her early 20s to borrowing $1,000 from an ex to start her own real estate firm in Manhattan.

She became rich when she sold her company for $66 million in 2001, and she negotiated hard for it — the initial offer was only $22 million.

So when asked what she would do if she had to start over, she could have said that she would work in the real estate industry again. It is, after all, what led her to success.

But by choosing waitressing as her plan B, Corcoran shows that she values learning before anything else. She knows that even if she found herself with literally zero money to her name, she would be able to rely on a priceless commodity: her acquired skills.

Remember the “teach a man how to fish” saying? It pretty much sums this up.

2. You’re never too good for a task or a job

We all have to start from somewhere, and having the right attitude is what helps propel us forward. The truth is, you’re not special, I’m not special, all of us have dreams and fears and needs and wants.

Perceiving any task as something beneath you is a disservice to yourself. There is value in every life experience and if you can recognize that, you’ll get a lot more out of the opportunities that are presented to you — and you’ll also be able to notice opportunities where others see challenges.

Also, Corcoran’s reasoning shows that being humble shouldn’t stop once you “make it.” In fact, studies have shown that humility offers a competitive advantage in business.

Think about it: Who do you look up to? And who do you want to be as a person?