A shark visited the Gators’ University Auditorium Wednesday night, to the delight of the about 200 UF students.
Television personality Barbara Corcoran was the star of UF Student Government’s Accent Speakers Bureau event. The event, exclusive and free to UF students, began at 7 p.m. Doors opened at 6 p.m.
“You can’t build a business unless you realize it’s a series of overcoming obstacles.” Corcoran said.
Tickets to Corcoran’s show were available from Monday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Accent office on the third floor of the Reitz Union or the University Auditorium.
Because tickets to the event didn’t sell out, students could also get tickets at the entrance of the University Auditorium Wednesday night.
Corcoran, 73, is a businesswoman and investor, best known for her seat on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” She is also the author of multiple self-help and financial literacy books and the founder of the real estate firm, The Corcoran Group.
UF Accent Speakers Bureau, a leg of SG, presented Corcoran as its second speaker of the Fall semester after bringing TikTok influencer Josh Richards to campus in September, which some UF students found to be a controversial choice.
Richards was greeted with backlash from students who felt his $60,000 price was too high — something some students said influenced their vote for Change Party in Fall elections.
Anna Price, an 18-year-old UF business management freshman, attended Corcoran’s event, but had skipped Richards’. She felt she had nothing to gain from Richards, she said.
“I feel like Josh Richards was a little bit of a waste,” Price said. “I don’t know why that happened.”
Tyler Kahan, Accent’s senior accounting chair, said the agency chose Corcoran to speak because leaders liked that she’s a successful female entrepreneur.
“I personally felt that the students would love that, especially people in the business school who are into entrepreneurship,” Kahan said.
UF telecommunications professor Amy Coffey interviewed Corcoran about her early life, her difficulty in school and her strengths during her burgeoning career.
“For many, many years, I was out to prove to the world that I wasn’t stupid,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran explained how her dyslexia hindered her from doing well in school, but said her outgoing personality helped her to rise in the industry.
“Identifying talent is key in building a business is much more important than math,” Corcoran said.
During the Q&A portion, Coffey read a student-submitted question asking about Corcoran’s experience as a woman pioneering the investment industry.
“Forget you’re a woman,” Corcoran said. “If I had thought of myself as a woman, it would have just come in my way.”
When asked about her favorite pitch on Shark Tank, the audience erupted in laughter when Corcoran told an anecdote of a naked man who came in as a prop for a pitch.
“He dropped his robe, and I could have just reached out and touched him,” she laughed.
Ian Chehab, an 18-year-old UF business administration freshman, said he attended to hear advice on how to take action in the business world.
“I thought I should take advantage of this opportunity to be able to get free tickets to watch a very successful lady come and speak,” Chehab said.
Corcoran ended by encouraging her audience to take out their phones to record her as she did the ‘gator chomp.’ But she made sure to exit the stage with a final, signature line.
“And for those reasons,” she said. “I’m out.”
Contact Krisha at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @krishasang.
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