It’s amazing that fun and creativity are kissing cousins. You don’t have a fun culture, you don’t have a creative business, it’s as simple as that.

If you like private concerts, outdoor sports, or listening to entertaining speakers, then you should have attended Qualtrics Insight Summit, held this past week at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.

Private concert with Journey? Check. Friday ski-day in Park City? Check. A long list of prominent speakers, including Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith and Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner? Check. For all you nerds feeling left out, there was even ample discussion about the value of number-crunching — you didn’t think a Qualtrics-led conference would exist without talk of data-driven decisions, did you?

One of the conference’s most engaging speakers was Barbara Corcoran, founder of NYC’s largest real estate company — The Corcoran Group — and investor on ABC’s Shark Tank. Intertwined with tales of lost virginity and the occasional f-bomb, Corcoran explained some of the lessons she’s learned during her rise from diner waitress to real estate juggernaut.

Perception creates reality. If you can make people believe something — even if it’s not necessarily true — then that in turn becomes reality. Fact or fiction is always shaped by people’s perceptions, and those that use the loudest voice are the ones who can shape their own path.

“I spent probably half my life helping my business, creating perception, and then the reality followed,” Corcoran said. “My mom always taught us as kids, the meek will inherit the earth. You know what? She was never in New York like I was. In New York, the meek don’t inherit the earth — they get stomped on and chewed up. It’s the big mouth that inherits the earth.”

There is great value in hiring contrasting personalities: nobody wants a bunch of yes-men/women that think alike, act alike, and work alike. A company won’t grow under these circumstances. Realizing this, Corcoran separates her workers into two categories — expanders and containers — and makes sure that each branch of her company contains both personality types. Balance achieved.

“Expander and container: it’s the yin and yang in life — one is going to push the business way ahead and the other one’s going to pull it in and make sure you don’t lose the cash, or the money, or the talent,” Corcoran said.

The most important lesson — and my employers better be reading this — is to have fun. It sounds simple, and it is simple. Creativity and success aren’t achieved via manuals or spreadsheets, they’re achieved when people are allowed to enjoy each others company non-work scenarios. The more you care about a person on a human level, the more things you will do to ensure that person succeeds. So instead of mulling over data at work, go drunk-dancing with your co-workers instead. Because that’s how companies are built!

“I found that if you can create fun, you not only get camaraderie, teamsmanship, people seeing each other in a different light, but you get creativity,” Corcoran said. “It’s amazing that fun and creativity are kissing cousins. You don’t have a fun culture, you don’t have a creative business, it’s as simple as that.”

At some point, we’ve all felt alienated in our lives. Even Corcoran, who turned $1,000 into billions, admits to having felt like she doesn’t belong. Clearing this mental hurdle is tough, but necessary — you have a right to be there. It doesn’t matter how important or prominent everyone around you is, believe that you belong. Because as we noted before, perception creates reality.

“You know what, I have just as much right to be here as you,” Corcoran said, referring to her earlier days. “You might be rich, I’m not rich, but guess what? I’m going to get rich. I’m going to get exactly what I want out of life.”

Published 2/23/2015