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Mark Cuban doesn’t just play an investor on TV, he really does love helping entrepreneurs. Since making his fortune selling his internet sports radio outfit Broadcast.com for $5.7 billion in 1999, the tech titan and owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team has funneled much of his energy into teaching others to do the same. He has stakes in at least 400 startups—many from the decade plus he’s spent on the hit business show “Shark Tank”—and appears frequently on television, radio, podcasts and more to share the secrets to his success.
“I’ve been involved in so many businesses at one level or another,” says Cuban of his drive to boost entrepreneurs. “I can show them things and guide them and hopefully help them become more successful… For an entrepreneur, that’s helping someone’s dreams come true.”
Cuban, who is on the cover of Forbes for his efforts to disrupt healthcare with his new pharmaceutical company Cost Plus Drugs, reflected on his career during a recent interview and offered some insight into the strategies that helped make him successful. Below are six key takeaways. (You can read the extended interview with Cuban here, as well as all the other coverage for the 2022 Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans.)
1. ‘The one thing you can control in life is effort.’
A mantra that Cuban has followed since the start of his career: put in the work that other people won’t. For him, this means carving out time every day to learn, whether it’s through reading books, watching TikToks, playing around with NFTs or taking online courses (experimenting with different mediums is important too). He likes to stay on top of every new development in technology, sports and healthcare, and credits the “effort” he puts into constant learning as how he keeps his “competitive advantage.” “When I was the youngest walking in the door, it was people dismissing me because of my age and I could outwork them,” says Cuban. “When I’m the oldest walking in the door, people would dismiss me because of my age and I can outwork them.”
2. Keep your mind (and inbox) open.
Early on in his career, Cuban would walk around bookstores looking for ideas for his businesses. Though he’s no longer wandering around his local Barnes & Noble, he still spends a lot of time searching for inspiration, which is yet another reason he emphasizes the importance of constant learning. (Cuban highlights that he wasn’t a fan of cryptocurrencies until he started reading about smart money contracts and digital assets online.) It’s also why he strives to read through every email that comes his way—from entrepreneurs, Mavericks fans and strangers alike. “You never know where your ideas are going to come from,” Cuban says.
3. Is that meeting really necessary?
Speaking of email, Cuban may be highly accessible through his digital inbox but he’s almost impossible to pin down otherwise. He says he rarely agrees to in-person meetings (just once a month or so) and complains about having too many calls despite only taking one or two per day. Aside from attending the games, even his role with the Dallas Mavericks is done almost entirely remotely. This extreme form of meeting minimalism may not suit everyone, but it’s an efficiency hack that allows Cuban to juggle his many commitments—from Shark Tank, to the Mavericks, to his hundreds of other investments—while also keeping the time to explore new ideas.
4. Take advantage of technology.
Cuban is as “bullish on entrepreneurship” as ever and a big reason why is the growing number of tools entrepreneurs have at their disposal. In particular, he points to artificial intelligence (AI) which he predicts will become the key mechanism for disruption moving forward. Those who don’t keep up will certainly get left behind, Cuban says. “I think the biggest challenge that entrepreneurs may have is that there’s two types of companies right now in the world, those who are great at AI, and everybody else. And those companies that are great at AI have a huge advantage.”
5. Don’t forget to be nice.
Cuban describes his attitude early on in his career as one of his biggest regrets. While launching Broadcast.com, the billionaire admits he became so focused on growing the company that he lost sight of how he was coming across to employees. “If I didn’t think you were using common sense, then I would get annoyed and nobody liked to be around me when I was annoyed.” It was only after he was approached by his Broadcast.com cofounder, fellow billionaire Todd Wagner, who warned him that he was intimidating people, that he realized he needed to change his tune. Ever since, Cuban says he’s made a concerted effort to be more patient and empathetic, and it’s made a big difference. “Being nice will get you further,” he says.
6. ‘Life is half random.’
While hard work will get you a long way, Cuban also emphasizes that there’s a huge part of succeeding in business that comes down to luck. It’s something he’s experienced first-hand: Cuban sold Broadcast.com at the height of the dot-com bubble and then avoided the market’s implosion through a savvy stock maneuver that involved using stock collars to cap his upside if the stock jumped—but limit his downside if the shares plummeted (and plummet they did). Cuban jokes that after the experience he wanted to write a book entitled “Life Is Half Random.” So to reach his heights will of course take good sense and good timing, but also good luck.
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