Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blogs Rebecca Shaw will be providing about female entrepreneurs and what the dairy industry can learn from them.“My best successes came on the heels of failures.”

Barbara Corcoran, shark on Shark Tank and savvy New York realtor, said that. She’s tough as nails, has a sassy bite and is always true to her personality.

Shaw rebecca
Brand Manager / Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative
Rebecca Shaw Pfeffer is also the vice president of the Dairy Girl Network Board of Directors. She...

I’m going to focus on one aspect of Barbara’s personality, and that’s her undeniable ability to be resilient. I never knew how strong this was until I recently heard the story of how she got her start.

Growing up poor, she worked random jobs, was often rejected and had to move on to the next paying gig. Eventually she ended up waitressing. At this job, she fell in love and began a realty business with someone she trusted. This was all eventually ripped out from underneath her, as the trust and relationship were broken. Instead of letting this define her, she said, “I would rather die than let them see me not succeed.” She gathered her seven salespeople, took them three floors up in the same building, and left her old, cheating partners in the dust to build her multimillion-dollar business empire.

After hearing her story, I thought, “How can we tie this to dairy?” I went straight to someone who lives and breathes the dairy industry every day. I talked to religious Shark Tank viewer and Barbara fan Mikayla Fulper of Fulper Farms on how she sees herself and her family take Barbara’s story and lessons to practice resiliency within their own dairy business.

“Life can be like that; you love someone or something for a certain reason, and sometimes that ends up being what drives you the craziest too,” Fulper said. (Sound like the dairy industry and farming, anyone?)


“During this dairy economy, we’ve had to find ways to be resilient,” she said. “We diversified. We went further into crops [hay, rye straw, corn grain, soybeans], and then we took another sideways step into agritourism and producing value-added dairy products. We also focus on being more sustainable to improve profitability with practices such as no-till, precision planting and putting in solar panels.”

Fulper continued, “In the dairy industry, it is easy to fall into a black hole of negativity. ... Mental resiliency is most important. You have to be able to wade through the negativity and push yourself back into positive thinking.”

Fulper Farms sustainability award

Here are a few resources I’ve found valuable while trying to boost my own sense of resiliency that you can utilize as well:

Listen to podcasts. These are two great episodes I’ve heard sharing Barbara’s story:

1. Skimm’d from The Couch, Episode 35, “Can you take less?”

2. The Corp, Episode 3, “Barbara Corcoran, Real Estate Mogul/Shark On Shark Tank

Book an event speaker. Laura Daniels, founder of Dairy Girl Network and Hitch Pin Consulting, is a dairy farmer, mom and wife who gets it. I’ve been fortunate to see her give an effective and high-energy presentation on “Building Resiliency in the Midst of Change” that focused on how you can persevere through tough times and change.

Read more about it. Check out this article, “8 tips to help you become more resilient,” by clinical psychologist and TED Talk contributor Meg Jay for additional methods to handle unexpected twists and turns in life.

It’s time for you to take action. As Barbara would say, “The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves,” and “Finding opportunity is a matter of believing it’s there.” Now, go get 'em!  end mark

Rebecca Shaw

PHOTO 1: Fulper Farms installed solar panels as a way to diversify and to be more resilient and sustainable in today’s tough dairy economy. Pictured left to right are Robert Fulper II, Robert Fulper III, Fred Fulper and Mikalya Fulper.

PHOTO 2: Robert Fulper II and Mikayla Fulper are proud of the sustainable farming practices that helped the farm to win a Dairying for Tomorrow Award from the Northeast American Dairy Association. Photos provided by Mikalya Fulper.