NO! NO! NO! or…why Entrepreneurs and Actors Should Never Take No for an Answer

Thanks to my membership in 85 Broads, I had the GREAT pleasure of spending yesterday at the WOBI conference Business on Edge: Igniting Your Vision, which was headlined by Barbara Corcoran.

It was an incredible day, but one story in particular a blew my mind …

Kathryn Jones and Barbara Corcoran at MOBI conferenceAfter a long vetting process Barbara Corcoran finally received her contract to appear as a Shark in the Mark Burnett show Shark Tank– a job she wanted so badly that she had uncharacteristically signed the contract as is. Contract signed, a jubilant Barbara celebrated by buying a new wardrobe for the show. One day later Barbara got a call from the production company – “We are so sorry Barbara, but we have decided to cast another woman instead.”

So what did Barbara, who wanted this job so badly she could taste it, do? She wrote Mark Burnett a letter telling him he had made a mistake and offered to fly out to LA to audition one on one against the woman they had chosen instead of her.

Burnett took her up on her offer –  Barbara flew out to LA – and landed the show.

Amazing story about how self-confidence and drive and tenacity win the day, right?

But here is the best part. Once on the set Barbara learned that the producers had sent out 27 contracts for the 5 shark positions. 22 highly accomplished entrepreneurs had gotten the same “thanks but no thanks” call that Barbara did. Of those 22 entrepreneurs, Barbara was the only one who contacted Mark Burnett insisting he reconsider – and Barbara Corcoran booked the show.

(I have always heard that Billy Crudup did something similar to book his first Broadway role in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia – although this 1998 article suggests something slightly different).

For those of us who have chosen to start businesses or lead an artistic life those choices often mean a life full of passion but also a life fighting a big uphill battle towards our own personal mountaintop, with NO the most constant refrain ringing in our ears. May we all face that climb with Barbara’s tenacity and  self-confidence and may we always hear “No” as a resounding “YES!


  • Eric Hamilton October 5, 2012, 8:42 pm

    Nice article

    • Kathryn October 6, 2012, 4:21 am

      Thank you Eric! Seeing Barbara Corcoran made me think of you! I remember your picture with her!


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