Barbara Corcoran says women have a 'great advantage' over men

With companies like Uber under fire for cultures rampant with sexual harassment and reports uncovering gender discrimination in start-up funding, real estate dynamo Barbara Corcoran is looking to level the playing field.

"Men can get halfway up the mountain and say, 'It's my mountain, I'm the king of the mountain.' But women have to get to the top, set up camp and decorate the kitchen before they'll say, 'I think I had something to do with this!' " Corcoran recently said in an exclusive interview with AOL Finance.

Prior to landing her "Shark Tank" gig, Corcoran famously founded The Corcoran Group in 1973 on a $1,000 loan from her then-boyfriend, a company she later sold for $66 million in 2001. While she had a natural knack for sales and marketing, the entrepreneur initially struggled to be heard in boardrooms with the biggest developers in New York, because she "wanted to be a nice girl."

From within the boardrooms, Corcoran crafted a helpful mantra: What would a man do? When spoken over or brushed aside, the question helped her speak up, raise her hand, take credit and be heard -- something you'll still see her do on "Shark Tank," as "it's very hard to talk over those men."

She also leveraged what she calls a "great advantage" of being a woman.

"I used my feminine charm as much as I could. "How handsome you are,' I'd say. I've never met a man who didn't believe he wasn't handsome. And then I'd take my piece of the pie," she said.

"I used it all. Whatever knife drawer I had -- male or female -- I pulled those knives out and used them."

RELATED: See what Barbara Corcoran and other business leaders looked like in high school

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What famous business leaders looked like in high school
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What famous business leaders looked like in high school
Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban may have ditched his wild 'do, but otherwise, he hasn't aged a day since he took his senior portrait in 1976!

(Classmates.com/Reuters)

Barbara Corcoran

"Shark Tank" star and real estate magnate Barbara Corcoran was a cheerleader in her heyday -- and she hasn't lost any of pep since 1969.

(Classmates.com/Getty)

Barbara Corcoran

We weren't kidding!

(Classmates.com/Getty)

Barbara Corcoran
(Classmates.com/Getty)
Warren Buffett

The business magnate was quite the dapper young man in 1947.

(Classmates.com/Getty)

Steve Wozniak

These days, the Apple co-founder opts for more casual looks than his tux in his 1968 senior portrait.

(Classmates.com/Getty)

Steve Jobs

Wozniak's business partner, Steve Jobs, rocked the man-bob in 1972.

(Classmates.com/Reuters)

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren had the same penchant for plaid suits in 1957!

(Classmates.com/Reuters)

Paul Allen

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen looked totally current with his Warby Parker-esque frames in 1969.

(Classmates.com/Getty)

Bill Gates

Plaid shirt? Check. V-neck sweater? Double-check. Bill Gates' style sure hasn't changed since the 8th grade in 1969.

(Classmates.com/AP)

Paul Allen and Bill Gates

Adorable! Allen and Gates have taken their friendship from the computer lab to the basketball court.

(Classmates.com/Getty)

Oprah Winfrey

Before Oprah was one of the biggest TV personalities and businesswomen in the world, she was voted "Most Popular" in her 1971 high school yearbook.

(Classmates.com/AP)

Oprah Winfrey

Love those peace sign earrings!

(Classmates.com/PA)

Michael Bloomberg

No doubt 1960 Debate Club helped prepare Michael Bloomberg for a future in business and politics!

(Classmates.com/AP)

Michael Bloomberg

Just take a look at those determined eyes ...

(Classmates.com/AP)

Marissa Mayer

These days, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer speaks sans notecards. Here she is at her 1993 homecoming dance.

(Classmates.com/Getty)

Marissa Mayer

The only thing that's changed since this 1993 debate is Mayer's hair -- the CEO went from a wavy brunette to a straight blonde bob!

(Classmates.com/Getty)

Donald Trump

Trump's soccer days are behind him -- but his competitive spirit lives on.

(Classmates.com/Reuters)

Donald Trump

He even had a bit of the same combover in 1964!

(Classmates.com/AP)

Marcus Lemonis

"The Profit" star Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises, rocked a 'fro in 1988.

(Classmates.com/AP)

Abi Heller

We wonder what Classmates.com and Intelius CEO Abi Heller's former schoolmates think of his biz!

(Classmates.com)

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Due to her playful mantra verbal tricks and an eye-catching signature crimson wardrobe, Corcoran by all accounts was able to succeed in a male-dominated industry -- and she's now encouraging other women to do the same. The famous founder has partnered with T.J. Maxx for The Maxx You Project, which aims to encourage and mentor real American women to pursue their passions.

Corcoran recently sat with 80 women in a one-day intensive workshop to demonstrate how to craft business plans and elevator pitches to help turn their dreams and ideas into a reality.

"We're in a different world. We still have a tremendous amount of stereotyping. What I like about The Maxx You project is the emphasis is on you -- what's individual about you, what's the inspiration that gets you going," she said. "These women have no idea how powerful they're going to feel once they get out and do it."

Eighty percent of women feel they are stereotyped by society into specific roles and expectations, according to a recent survey commissioned by T.J. Maxx, but Corcoran has proven that it's more than possible to break the so-called mold.

"Women are amazing. They do things differently than men do and to great advantage. I built a huge empire with women when everybody else was a guy, and you know what? That was my secret sauce."

See photos from the Maxx You Project workshop:

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Barbara Corcoran mentors women for The MaxxYou Project
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Barbara Corcoran mentors women for The MaxxYou Project
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: Laila Ali and Barbara Corcoran team up with T.J.Maxx to host The Maxx You Project Workshop, encouraging women pursuing their dreams to let their individuality shine, on Saturday, July 15, 2017, in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for T.J. Maxx)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: Barbara Corcoran (L) and Laila Ali team up with T.J.Maxx to host The Maxx You Project Workshop, encouraging women pursuing their dreams to let their individuality shine, on Saturday, July 15, 2017, in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for T.J. Maxx)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: Barbara Corcoran partnered with T.J.Maxx to host The Maxx You Project Workshop, encouraging women pursuing their dreams to let their individuality shine, on Saturday, July 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for T.J. Maxx)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: Barbara Corcoran partnered with T.J.Maxx to host The Maxx You Project Workshop, encouraging women pursuing their dreams to let their individuality shine, on Saturday, July 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for T.J. Maxx)
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