‘I love firing people on Friday’: Self-made real-estate millionaire and ‘Shark Tank’ star Barbara Corcoran can’t stand negative workers

Barbara Corcoran on Shark Tank
Barbara Corcoran: “I have advised more people in their twenties to hit up their parents. There’s no shame in that.”
Christopher Willard / Contributor—Getty Images

Barbara Corcoran loves what she does. The Shark Tank star and well-known tri-state-area figure, famous for her namesake real estate firm that dominates the New York City market, has long talked about loving her work and how she came from a humble origin to build a multibillion-dollar business. She loves it so much, she just revealed, that she has made Friday a special day, reserved for firing her worst employees, as a little treat.

Corcoran guest-starred on the Diary of a CEO podcast a few weeks ago, and as many CEO interviews (sadly) do, it disappeared into the news cycle. But one particular passage popped recently in a viral TikTok, which naturally positions Corcoran on screen side-by-side with an attempt at ASMR, as hands mix some indiscriminate powder into slime.

“I love firing people on Friday,” Corcoran said, making no apparent effort to hide her glee. She even described in minute detail how she would drag out the process that would ruin her counterpart’s day, month, even their year: “I would stop by someone’s desk and say on a Wednesday, ‘Hey, would you have any time on Friday?’” She clarified that most workers should know what this means: “They should have heard about the rumors.”

Then she described her Thursday night/Friday morning routine: “I couldn’t wait till I came in to fire them.” 

Much as sharks are drawn to smaller fish (as friends sometimes and as food at other times), Corcoran said her firings are all about improving her team. “I picked out individuals who were negative,” she says, “And my attitude towards the negative person was they were ruining my good kids. Because people who are negative have to have someone else to be negative with them.” People who provide criticism are invaluable, she clarified, and the people earmarked for Friday firings were “chronic complainers.” 

Her comments ring somewhat similar to fellow entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk’s statements about a jerk-free workplace, and his desire to fire those who are negative to others. But Corcoran sees negativity as about having a bad attitude, which is a generally subjective demeanor. What Corcoran may be seeing as constant complaining could be a manifestation of a larger culture of discontent. 

Studies have shown that gossiping at work, while frowned upon by CEOs and bosses, can be beneficial in forming trust and collaboration between rank-and-file employees. Gossip is also usually a sign that discontent stems beyond just one employee deemed to be a bad egg. “When we’re already feeling disempowered, or there’s not equity in our sense of power, this is a way we might go capture it,” Dr. Scott Lyons told Fortune‘s Alexa Mikhail of gossip in the workplace.

On the other hand, real estate is known for being a cutthroat industry that is about relationship-building above all. She’s on Shark Tank for a reason, after all—she doesn’t have time to deal with workers she believes to be critical, negative, or not personable. Her gleeful descriptions of Fridays firing aside, then, it’s fitting in a sense that her organization be as lean, mean, and constantly moving as a shark. 

In the end, letting someone go is never easy, even in the dawning age of mass remote layoffs. But management experts recommend ways to make it easier, whether through having multiple conversations about performance or attitude before termination of being transparent about the reasons why the worker is being let go. Mark Zuckerberg was praised for his delivery of layoff news given the fact that he took accountability and gave workers good severance packages. But then there’s the Corcoran way, which, more like Elon Musk, is a swift message.

“I learned very early, after firing one negative person, never tell them why you’re firing them or you’ll get in a rat’s nest,” she says, adding that she’ll just opt for saying, “You just don’t fit the company.”

The shark stands still at the top of her empire, and she wants a constant stream of upbeat or seemingly happy swimmers underneath her.

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