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Strategy Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran says working women can have it all — but there's a catch

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Barbara Corcoran explains why having it all is possible, but it might not look exactly how you thought it would.

Real-estate mogul, investor, and "Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran. play

Real-estate mogul, investor, and "Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran.

(Jin S. Lee/Business Insider)

  • Barbara Corcoran was a real-estate mogul before she became a judge on "Shark Tank."
  • She built up her real estate empire in her 20s, 30s, and 40s, and then she started focusing more on motherhood.
  • She explained at IGNITION 2018 that her story is proof that women can have it all, but not at the same time.

Michelle Obama and Indra K. Nooyi say women can't have it all. And Sheryl Sandberg is sick of people only wondering if women can balance work and family — when, meanwhile, folks rarely ask men if they're spending enough time with their kids.

But Barbara Corcoran — real-estate mogul turned "Shark Tank" judge — said at IGNITION 2018 that women actually can have it all. It just won't happen all at the same time.

"You can have it all, but I don't believe it's possible to build a huge business and at the same time be a doting mother without the guilt and with the satisfaction of raising the child," Corcoran said. "I’m the most organized person I've ever met and, if I couldn't do it, I'm wondering who could do it."

Corcoran said "having it all" can happen at different parts of your life. In her case, she spent her 20s, 30s, and 40s working tirelessly.

"I had from 22 to 46 to hyperfocus on building one thing, not a family, but my business," Corcoran said. "I worked like an animal, 24-7, long hours. Nothing interfered with my thoughts of where I wanted to go."

Read more: Barbara Corcoran explains why she secretly 'couldn't wait' for Fridays — the day she fired people

At 46, Corcoran had her first baby, Tommy. Her schedule then changed drastically. She couldn't come in first thing in the morning anymore — and what's more, her priorities weren't all in The Corcoran Group anymore.

"It wasn't because I was tired of my work," Corcoran said. "I was divided. I wanted to be a phenomenal mom and I wanted to be phenomenal at work. And they fought with each other in my heart."

She ultimately sold The Corcoran Group for a cool $66 million in 2001, and became wholly involved with her son and daughter. "The most satisfying thing I've ever done in my life, the most fulfilling thing I've done, is being a parent," Corcoran said. "And you know I love business, but it can't measure up for me."

Still, there are certain perks that come along with being a multimillionaire parent — namely the ability to afford pricey fertility services that make motherhood possible later in life. Egg freezing costs more than $10,000 in many cases, while the average couple who goes through in-vitro fertilization pays $19,000.

And Corcoran recognizes the role that her financial freedom played in helping her have it all.

"I had enough money to pay for five years of in-vitro," Corcoran said. "If I hadn’t had that money, I couldn't have had kids. I would have missed that."