Mark Cuban on the Secret of His Success
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because this billionaire made his start selling garbage bags door-to-door.
By Sean Braswell
Entrepreneur, television personality and investor Mark Cuban sat down with OZY’s co-founder and CEO on The Carlos Watson Show to talk about how he got started as an entrepreneur and the keys to his success. Here are some of the best bites from their hourlong conversation, which can be found on The Carlos Watson Show podcast feed.
Selling Baseball Cards and Garbage Bags as a Boy
Carlos Watson: When did know you were gonna be an entrepreneur?
Mark Cuban: As long as I could remember — 9, 10, 11, 12 years old. I was hustling, man. I always had a hustle. When I was 9 years old, I grew up in Pittsburgh, and I would buy baseball cards, and then I would repackage them and go down to the local park and say, you know, “Every package you buy has a Pittsburgh Pirate player in it.” And I would sell it for more and mark it up and I would make a little bit of money. Not a lot, just a little bit of money. By the time I was 12, I was selling garbage bags door-to-door. … And that just got me started and so I knew. The only question was when.
Why Learning Is Key to Making It Big
CW: So how did you make it really rich and really big?
MC: One is doing the work, right? I guarantee you, anybody else who was doing the same stuff I was, I was outworking them. Because I was on a mission … and, you know, I’ve just got to out-hustle and outlearn everybody. And I think what really made it work for me was the fact that I recognized that learning was the key to all of it, particularly in the technology industry … just teaching myself. I would take the manuals, the software manuals, and read them. You know, RTFM, read the fricking manual. And very quickly I learned that by putting in that extra time, I knew stuff that people who went to college for this stuff and had advanced degrees in it didn’t know. Because they only knew what they were taught in school and they weren’t doing the work to keep up. And ever since then, I mean, that’s been my edge.
On Becoming an NBA Owner
CW: So talk to me now a little bit about the NBA. What’s that been like? Was that like a lifetime dream that you always wanted?
MC: So I’ve been into basketball as long as I could remember, but it never dawned on me to buy a team because it never dawned on me I’d have that much money. I was a Mavericks season ticket holder and they were awful. But I didn’t care. I just liked to go to the games, right? And then one day, it was the start of the ’99–2000 season and I’m watching. … It’s the very first game … and so I’m like looking around. There’s no energy in the building. And I’m like, “I could do a better job.” And then it dawned on me like, wait, “I can afford this now.” I can put my money where my mouth is … I didn’t negotiate. I didn’t care. It was just like $285 million …. OK. Because back then I still had Yahoo stock, and Yahoo stock would go up 50 bucks in one day. It would pay for the whole thing.