Use What You've Got

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In Use What You’ve Got, Barbara shares her hilarious stories about growing up, getting into trouble, failing miserably, and then starting over again. In each chapter, she comes back to one of her mom’s unconventional lessons, and how it applies in the real world of business. Whatever your calling, the homespun lessons that work for Barbara will help you use what you’ve got to create success in your life. Whether you’re just starting out, fighting your way up the career ladder, or reentering the workforce, Use ...
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In Use What You’ve Got, Barbara shares her hilarious stories about growing up, getting into trouble, failing miserably, and then starting over again. In each chapter, she comes back to one of her mom’s unconventional lessons, and how it applies in the real world of business. Whatever your calling, the homespun lessons that work for Barbara will help you use what you’ve got to create success in your life. Whether you’re just starting out, fighting your way up the career ladder, or reentering the workforce, Use What You’ve Got is an owner’s manual to your most valuable asset.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It's hard not to share in Corcoran's delight as the New York City real estate giant tells her uplifting-and particularly American-success story. A product of Small Town, USA, Corcoran brings not only her smarts, but all those years of watching Mom manage a family of 10 kids, when she moves to the big city. Although young Corcoran suffers some set backs-after the stock market crash of 1987, she was forced to sell her home and move into an illegal walk-up with "the biggest cockroach in New York City"-the former D student manages to build her own empire, the Corcoran group, and find her prince as well. Corcoran reads at a leisurely pace, relishing every detail of each reminiscence. Her narrative cuts back and forth between her progress in the Big Apple and her memories of Mom and the kitchen. The intimacy of her telling will have listeners holding their breath through the scary parts and celebrating along with Corcoran as she overcomes each difficulty. Occasionally, the wealth of details and Corcoran's play-acting of the various characters grows tedious, but on the whole, her reading is as generous as her advice. Based on the Portfolio hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 2, 2002). (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Business Lessons Learned From Mom
Barbara Corcoran, the founder and chairman of New York's premier real estate company, the Corcoran Group, has much to say about her road to success. Use What You've Got is an exciting, funny and insightful autobiography that is full of tips and pointers for salespeople, entrepreneurs and business people alike.

Throughout each chapter, Corcoran describes how she rose from a diner waitress who borrowed $1,000 from a boyfriend to build a real estate company, to the owner of an $2 billion industry powerhouse. Her personable attitude and straightforward approach to business help her reveal 24 life lessons that she attributes to advice she received from her mother while growing up as one of 10 children in a small New Jersey home.

Each chapter in Use What You've Got delivers a timely lesson about life, business, and succeeding when the odds are against you. In the autobiographical part of each chapter, Corcoran tells a story about her early days as an entrepreneur. This is followed by a life lesson she learned from her mother, and a description of how she applied that lesson to her blossoming business and benefited from the advice. Somewhere in each of the chapters, she also flashes back to her childhood and describes a relevant situation that shaped her to become the founder of a company with more than $2 billion in revenues.

Paint the Rocks White
The advice that her homemaker mother gave her include gems like:

  • Paint the rocks white and the whole yard will look lovely. Corcoran describes the coat she bought with the first check from her new business and writes, "In it, I not only looked successful, I also felt successful." She explains that by dressing as a successful person, she was forced to measure up to her own new image. She writes that "perception creates reality," not vice versa.
  • If the sofa is ripped, cover it with laughter. When Corcoran's sister complained about the family's torn sofa, their mother took the opportunity to teach her children about the possibilities of finding the good in something bad. Corcoran updates this lesson with an anecdote that describes how she turned nearly being evicted from her apartment by her landlord into an opportunity to rent an apartment for him.
  • Use your imagination to fill in the blanks. When her mom taught her about using the gift of imagination, she was really learning important business lessons about thinking outside the box and seeing the big picture. Although she was having trouble at an early age because of her dyslexia, Corcoran was able to use her creativity to overcome a daunting obstacle.

A Lesson In Pie-Splitting
Offer the biggest piece, and yours will taste even better. This pie-splitting lesson paid off exponentially when Corcoran decided to strike out on her own and split up the real estate business she started with her ex-boyfriend. Offering him a bigger piece of the business made it easier for her to leave because she knew she had been more than fair.

Along with the 24 lessons from her mother and the ways she applied them to her growing business, Corcoran also offers many lessons about business and selling that have brought her great success over the years. These include five tips about preparation, three ways to spot a cheat, five big lessons about marketing, six personal beliefs about innovation, seven ways she used the Internet to build her success, three ways to choose the right attorney, and many more strategies for success.

After Corcoran delivers all of these tips, lessons and tactics that helped her rise to the top of the real estate business, and highlights the people who shaped her ascent, she offers a bonus section to her book that addresses salespeople directly. This "Bonus Manual" is called What I Wish Every Salesperson Knew, and it offers dozens of important pointers about selling and improving sales figures. The topics included here are: traits, rules, planning, phoning, customers, presenting, closing and slumps. Throughout this manual, she leaves her personal story behind and clearly states the important things that salespeople should know to improve their work and bring in more sales.

Why Soundview Likes This Book
Use What You've Got presents an inspirational story about one woman's success in business and life while delivering great advice that can be applied to many of life's struggles. Corcoran's simple secrets of success are delivered in a an often hilarious page-turner that overflows with homespun wisdom, some great jabs at Donald Trump, and many time-tested lessons about making the most of what you have. Copyright © 2003 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Kirkus Reviews
A New York City real-estate bigwig ebulliently describes the creation and life of her business, pegging her account to anecdotally rich advice acquired at her mother's knee. In the fierce, insular NYC property market, it takes a tough and smart customer to survive, let alone get ahead, and Corcoran is just such a creature. She grew up not poor, but mighty cramped, with nine siblings and one bathroom on their single floor in a three-family house in Edgewater, New Jersey. Corcoran explains that she quickly learned to have a sense of humor and a nimble pair of feet, while her mother doled out the homespun wisdom. All of this might simply be cute, except that Barbara Ann actually applied Mom’s horse sense to the running of her business; she draws parallels between the situations in which her mother offered the advice and those in which she made use of them at work. None of Mom’s counsel will sweep you off your feet: perception can create reality; maximize the positive and minimize the negative; be honest and fair; don't be afraid to bully the bully; organize yourself ("socks are always in the sock drawer"); "offer the bigger piece, and yours will taste even better." What makes Corcoran different is the way she deploys them every day in a business better known for secrecy and backstabbing. No shrinking violet, though mercifully free of bluster, she has some dishy stories about her days in the market, especially regarding Donald Trump, "the King of the Least for the Most." But readers will likely be more enamored of those flashbacks to her youth and the ways in which the Corcoran family made vibrant what could easily have ground them down. Mom takes the cake here, but you have to toast BarbaraAnn for applying her dictums. The business she’s in is almost beside the point: Corcoran could be selling plumbing supplies, and the story would still fly. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593160159
  • Publisher: Listen & Live Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged, 3 CDs
  • Sales rank: 1,016,668
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 4.94 (h) x 1.10 (d)


10 Kids, 1 Bath

My mother always says my memory is bigger than my life. Well, here's what I remember. I grew up beneath a giant cliff on the bottom floor of a three-story house in New Jersey. It was a sliver of a town called Edgewater, and it was two blocks wide and one mile long, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. My house was easy to find - it was the brown clapboard sitting right below the gigantic L of the flickering Palisades Amusement Park sign - and through most of my childhood it was home to twenty-one people.

Uncle Herbie and Aunt Ethel lived on the top floor with their two teen daughters. Nana Henwood lived in the front half of the second floor; the Roanes and their two Peeping Tom sons lived in the back. My family, the Corcorans, lived on the ground floor - the best floor, we thought. We were six girls sharing the middle room we called "the girls' room" and four boys sharing the back room we called "the boys' room." My parents, Florence and Ed, slept on the black vinyl Castro convertible in the living room. But I never saw my mother sleep. In fact, she only sat down during dinner and later for about three minutes in the tub of our one bathroom. Although Mom was perennially pregnant, she was always on the move - a blurry blue Sears housedress topped by a wavy blond perm and supported by two sturdy speed-walking legs. She had bulging purple varicose veins that grew with each child, and I was always worried that they were going to pop. But they didn't.

On any given day, Mom could be found in one of two places: the outside landing where she hung the laundry, or the kitchen where she jogged between the ironing board and the oven. It seemed my mother could do a hundred things at once, all the while keeping at least one of her blue eyes on her ten children. "Watch yourself, Eddie!" she'd shout down from the landing to my oldest brother in the side yard. "Remember, you're a born leader and all the boys are watching you!" Then she'd vroom down the fourteen wooden steps, hip the laundry basket through the banging screen door into the kitchen, and dump it onto the table. "You're the absolute best helper, Ellen," she'd say as my eager sister did the folding. "You're going to make a wonderful mother!"

Shortly after noon, Mom would begin preparations for dinner, served nightly at six o'clock sharp. "Barbara Ann!" she'd yell down the basement stairs as she peeled potatoes. "Come on up here and take Florence, Tommy and Mary Jean. They need some entertainment and if you're going to be a star, you'll need to practice." And that was my mother's genius. She kept her house going by putting her finger on the special gift she saw in each of her children, and making each and every one of us believe that that gift was uniquely ours. Whether it was true or not, we all believed it. It was Nana Henwood who predicted my destiny.

Besides being almost a midget, my grandmother also had the honor of being our bedtime masseuse. While my mother packed our lunches for the next day, Nana would make the rounds and spend a few minutes with each of her ten grandchildren, rubbing our backs and whispering happiness into our ears. One night when I was eleven, Nana came to my bed and found me crying. Dark hair had suddenly sprouted all over my arms, and I was hiding the two bearded limbs under the covers.
"Let me see your arms," Nana coaxed.
"No," I cried, "they look like Dad's!"

She pulled my arms from beneath the covers and rubbed them. "Hairy arms!" she beamed proudly. "That means you're going to be rich!"

A few years later, hoping to fulfill Nana's prophecy, I got my first job as a summer playground supervisor. By the time I turned 24, I'd have 22 others.
It was my 24th job that made me rich. How did I get there?
First, I believed Nana's words.
More important, I used what I learned from my mother.

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