When a figure like Mark Cuban opens up to give career advice, many people will decide to pay attention. The star of Shark Tank has gone on to amass a net worth over $4 billion, giving him the capital to purchase NBA franchise the Dallas Mavericks.
As chairman of AXS TV and enjoying co-ownership status of 2929 Entertainment, the entrepreneur has outlined a path forward for success for those willing to listen. The registered independent remains passionate about startup concepts and investing in clever commercial ideas, but there are principles that underpin his decision-making process.
What makes Mark Cuban something of an authority on the subject of career advice is that he has experienced rock bottom. He would famously explain that he was broke, sleeping on floors and acting as a bad employee before getting fired.
Those setbacks did not deter him from starting a very small company at a local level and deciding to sell that company in order to start a new one. As far as he was concerned, this was not an exercise in clinging to a passion project, but simply leveraging his concept for a better one down the line. The very idea of a passion project is something that the investor rejects out of hand, arguing that it is better to spend time on things that people are good at rather than what they are interested in.
Once the skillset has been identified and those pipe dreams have been shifted to one side, Mark Cuban loves to see people fitting into the right industry. The businessman would make his fortune through a software brand that sold for $6 million back in 1990, using that capital to create Broadcast.com. No less than 9 years later, Yahoo would buyout the venture for a whopping $5.7 billion, using his skills in the tech and software industry to create a lifetime of wealth.
This is the type of confidence that makes the Pittsburgh native believe he could become a millionaire starting from zero again if he had to. By working in sales during the day and bartending at night to cover additional costs, he argues that this dynamic can change people’s fortunes around quickly. This is particularly the case when professionals approach sales jobs as explaining the benefits of an idea rather than cynically shifting a product onto them.
Studying the field of business and tech is where Mark Cuban became a student of his profession. He would explain that he spent hours and hours of his downtime reading magazine features and learning from other billionaires about how they made their way up from a modest starting point. That gave him the impetus to follow their principles and make his own way.
It might sound out of character for a billionaire to praise the virtue of modesty, but this is where Mark Cuban honestly believes that this is where the foundations are laid from the outset. “You don’t have to have all the answers,” he told a gathering of college students. “You don’t have to have your chosen career.” The trick for the Mavericks owner is to identify a job that pays the employee to learn rather than paying the college to receive the education.
For Mark Cuban, he knows that he cannot enjoy success if others are not part of the process as well. For him, it is about paying his employees up front and rewarding them for their success, giving them an opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. It is a central tenant of his philosophy to ensure that they can put food on the table and enjoy a strong line of communication up and down the chain of command.