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Self-made millionaire Barbara Corcoran: If your kids have this trait, they'll be successful

Self-made millionaire and "Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran can spot a winner on the playground.

A kid is going to be successful if they have one trait in particular, she tells journalist Farnoosh Torabi for CNBC Make It: "Hustle. And through the hustle, the ability to have the other kids follow you. … If they know how to work their a-- off and the other kids are looking to them for leadership, that's an entrepreneur at five years old."

Corcoran, who grew up with nine siblings in a cramped apartment in Edgewater, New Jersey, was one of those scrappy kids. "When I grew up, as a kid, we played on the street in front of the houses," she recalls. "You could have been in a helicopter and picked out the kids that were going to go places."

Barbara Corcoran (far right) and the neighborhood kids
Barbara Corcoran (far right) and the neighborhood kids

If you were above Corcoran's block, "you would see that every kid in the neighborhood was using my chalk game — my circular game that I created that entertained people for hours," she says. "All those kids were listening to me [because] they were my rules. I had to be a leader."

She also had to hustle if she wanted the other kids to keep playing her game: "I was hustling, [saying], 'Come on, play! Come on, play! Play another game! Play another game!"

Corcoran, who is the first to say she wasn't an A student, hustled her way to the top. She worked 22 jobs by the age of 23 before landing a secretarial position for the Giffuni Brothers' real estate company. It was around then when she started to explore real estate sales, and ended up turning a $1,000 loan into The Corcoran Group, her real estate empire that would sell for $66 million.

Besides hustle, another trait that's an indicator of future success is persuasiveness. "You know every great entrepreneur is a phenomenal salesperson," Corcoran tells Torabi. "And you know when a kid can look at you, wink, laugh, tell you something and you're on his side. Not every kid's got that."

If you look for traits like charisma and the ability to lead, she says, "you can spot a winner very early on."

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Video by Mary Stevens