This big bucks self-starter’s credentials include straight D’s in high school and 20 jobs by the time she’d turned 23. Corcoran credits her work as a waitress at a diner for helping her become the business mogul she is today.

During one of her shifts she met Ray Simone, a New Jersey home builder. They started dating and shortly thereafter, she borrowed $1,000 from him to launch her own apartment rental company. Over the next 25 years, she’d parlay that $1,000 loan into a $5 billion dollar real estate business and the largest, best known brand in the industry.

Fast forward to 2001; shifting her focus to family matters, she decided it was time to sell the company. She told her attorney to find a buyer for $66 million—her lucky number, the company was sold to NRT Inc. within just a few short days. After exiting the New York real estate market, she wanted to get back in front of the public in a fresh way, so she join the cast of Shark Tank. Her investments and public appearances have helped her multiply her millions and given her a prominent place among business leaders.

You can learn from Barbara’s vast business experience in her books

Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business, and Use What You’ve Got, and Other Business Lessons I Learned from My Mom