When you've got nothing to lose,
go for it.
Entrepreneurship with Mark Cuban
Interested in entrepreneurship? I can't think of a better person to learn about that from than self-made billionaire Mark Cuban.
Mark Cuban is a visionary and a true American success story. Mark’s humble roots from a working class family taught him the value of learning and hard work, and today he is frequently sought after by world leaders for advice and guidance. He was appointed to President Trump’s advisory group on reopening the economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark is so solution-focused and has some brilliant insights about how America will emerge stronger and better and what the future will hold for people around the world.
Below are some excerpts from the interview. We covered a lot of ground from what America 2.0 will look like, compassionate capitalism, important takeaways from Shark Tank, the return of the NBA and professional sports, what we should be teaching our children, and his top initiatives if he were to become President.
Countercultural Advice for Entrepreneurs
Dr. Judy: I love some of your advice that you've been giving for people who are thinking about starting their own business or what should I do for a career. And I think in some ways, it's actually countercultural to what we hear a lot of. Because right now, we're hearing a lot of, "Go for your passions." But you say, "Ditch your passion projects and focus on what you're good at." Can you tell me a little bit about that philosophy?
Mark Cuban: We all have passions. The things we visualize ourselves doing, playing the piano, guitar, being in a band, right? Whatever it may be, we all have that, "Oh, this is me," right? "This is what I'm passionate about." But in reality, if you look where you spend your time, you tend to orient your time to what you're good at, right? Because it's fun to do things that you're good at.
So, while I was never good enough in basketball or baseball, I found out very quickly, I'm not bad at business. I'm not bad at technology. And then, once you get good at something, no one quits anything they're good at. And so, what I tried to tell people is, "Experience as many different things as you could or as you can rather, and just try them. And then, when you find something that you really put your time towards and you can get better at it, that's where you find yourself starting a company.
A lot of people ask me, "How do I know when it's time to start a business?" You'll know because you're good at it, right? You'll know because you have a product. You know because you're so caught up and focused on doing the work that that's when it's time. And you don't have to go out and raise money. The best businesses, like I gave you the story about having no money and getting a customer to fund me the $500. I mean, that basically started with sweat.
That was just me sleeping on the floor and putting in as much time as it took. And that's what it takes. Just if you have a product or service, sell it. Make a prototype. Sell it to your friends. That will tell you, if they're writing you checks, they're buying it, they're demoing you, then you have something or starting a business and selling the service. If you get your friends paying you, then you know it's time to start it as a real business.
Dr. Judy: It's great advice because you do get that positive feedback loop. When you're good at something, you feel good when you're doing it. So, you want to learn more. You get better at it.
Mark Cuban: In the positive feedback loop if you get the positive money loop, it's even better, right?
Dr. Judy: Even better.
If Mark Cuban Were President
America 2.0 and Compassionate Capitalism
Dr. Judy: So, tell me a little bit about how you think that's going to transform this next wave of capitalism in America 2.0.
Mark Cuban: Well, I think it's going to be compassionate capitalism, and here's why. For as long as I've been starting businesses and investing in business, it's always been a top-down, right? Where you talk to the CEO, the entrepreneurs who started, man, woman, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter, the demographics, but they have the vision for the company. But that was typically in an established environment, even when we've had recessions.
Even when we had the Great Recession, that was geared towards banks and insurance companies. Everybody else pretty much continued to do business the same way. That's not the case now. If you want to restart a company and continue forward in America 2.0, you're going to have to treat your employees a whole lot better. You're going to have to listen a whole lot more, because they're the consumers themselves. And they're talking to their friends and their families.
And how they come outside and how we come out of this quarantine is going to define which businesses are successful or not. And so, to me, it was very important, not just to treat my employees well, but also to talk to them. We had a Zoom earlier today, "What ideas do you have?" Because again, I have a lot of experience in doing things in America 1.0, but nobody has experience in America 2.0, nobody.
And so, the great ideas, the best companies are going to come from places you least expect it. I think in 10 years or even five years, when we look back, it won't be somebody like me who started the next great company. It's going to be somebody who was broke, somebody who lived in a disadvantaged community where everybody thought was crazy but had this crazy idea that all of a sudden started making sense to people as we started coming outside.
Those are the people I want to encourage to step up. Those are people I want to hear from. Those are the people I'm going to encourage the President to talk to. And those are the people I try to encourage to start jobs. The crazy you are, the less you have, because you see, you connect to people because you have to, right? You're going to know where and how people are spending their money. And that's a huge advantage over the people in the ivory towers, the elites, the people who own the businesses now. They're not going to have access to that. I had access to it in the past and that helped me a lot, but this is a whole new world. And so, that's why I'm going to be doing a whole lot more listening than talking when it comes to startups and investments, and helping people.
Dr. Judy: I love that you're going to be listening to people who, like you said, are going to be on the ground level seeing what's happening. And you are one of those people at one point. And that's how you started your first successful company. And I'm glad that we're returning to that idea of, "Hey, maybe it's not about all of the billionaires or millionaires who are talking. It's about the people who are actually suffering at the ground level.
Maybe they lost their jobs or hours were cut." And this responsible capitalism, this compassionate capital, I love that idea. And I love that you are leading by example, because you are paying your hourly workers at the Mavs Arena until the end of the season just as if they were working. You've put together a program to pay for childcare, healthcare workers, and you're giving reimbursements for employees who are still patronizing local restaurants and businesses.
Mark Cuban: Even more too, right? Because a lot of people get excited to help at the beginning of a crisis, and it's what happens when it drags on. And it's three, four, five, six months, and you're not getting accolades for helping. And that was a conversation we had this morning. When keeping some dry power, so outer, so that we can help when other people have fallen off and aren't helping as much. And don't get me wrong, we're not the only company. We're not the only people. There are a lot of people doing amazing things in this environment. Unless everybody is a hero, nobody is a hero.
What Everyone Should Be Learning (Including Our Children)
Mark Cuban's Family Values
Dr. Judy: What I also love about you, not just your business life but your family life, it's so authentic as well. You're so fun on TikTok. You're a very good dancer, Mark.
Mark Cuban: I don't know about that one. You've been on TikTok?
Dr. Judy: Yes. You guys have to check it out, because it's so fun. There is all of these really cool social clips with your daughters and your son dancing, having fun, just having a blast. And also, you have such a humble way that you manage your household. I think people think, "Oh, my gosh. Mark Cuban, billionaire. He's got a ton of people milling around, working for him at all times." But you have certain rules. You cook your dinners with your wife, Tiffany. And you put your kids to bed every night. Tell me a little bit about why you felt like it was so important to still have that level of community, really about the nuclear family in your home.
Mark Cuban: I don't want them to grow up to be entitled jerks. It's just that simple. I mean, my wife and I grew up the same way, just in different cities, obviously. But that scares me more than anything. I don't want them to think that everything is always going to be taken care of for them. I want them to be able to fend for themselves, think for themselves, create for themselves. And a lot of that has to do with them having responsibilities, which is still a struggle. You try getting a 16 year old and 13 year old girl to sweep the floor or sweep the kitchen floor. They're still 16. But having forced family fun, having movie night, whatever we can do to try to just stay as solid as we can. I mean, I'm really blessed. I'm really fortunate to have the kids that I do 99% of the time. That's not unusual for any family.
Dr. Judy: Right. And you and Tiffany both came, as you mentioned, from working class families. And so, I think that that obviously helps. You guys see the value in that type of upbringing. And so, having your children work for things that you're not just going to write them a check and it's going to be a free for all.
Mark Cuban: No, absolutely not. I mean, they hear from me all the time, "How are you going to pay for this? How much does it cost? You know how much it cost. You have your own money for this. How are you going to earn that money?" It may be something like reading a book, which they know I'll pay a premium for. It may be doing math problems. That's the way I used to do it, math for money, just so they'd get more comfortable with math.
Whatever it may be, then they know there's going to be something they have to do in order to get something they want. And there's no exceptions to that in our household, none.
Dr. Judy: That's wonderful. And I love the fact that you have so much structure. It's forced family fun, like you said, but there's also a lot of structure in terms of there's a phone curfew. You can't keep using the internet after a certain hour.
Mark Cuban: My oldest daughter turned 16. That hasn't worked nearly as well. Trust me. When they were a little bit younger, that was easy. But 13 year old and 16 year old daughters, now, it's more of a struggle. But we track it, right? We watch them. We want to know where they're at. When they go live, I'm getting my alerts so I can check on them and I'm looking at the comments. And I trust them. They're great kids.
It's not so much that I'm trying to watch them and just micromanage them, but I like to mess with them too. So, I'll go on with their live Instagrams, and I'll put in stupid stuff.
Dr. Judy: Yes!
Mark Cuban: Yeah. I'm the dad that when my daughter was out there with a group of their buddies at a football game, I'm the one screaming, "Did you take your rash medication?" Just stuff like that.
Dr. Judy: Oh, yeah. I mean, that's wonderful. Just to keep them humble and have some fun. I mean, it wouldn't be right if you didn't embarrass them every once in a while.
Mark Cuban: 100%, 100%.
Dr. Judy: That's your parenting duty.
Photo Credit: ABC.com