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Entertaining Entrepreneurship

Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks, “Shark Tank”

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Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban has built and sold more than one company and invested in plenty of others, but you might be surprised to learn that what he values most is something a lot of entrepreneurs find much more elusive: time. It’s a lesson this natural-born businessman learned from his father and took to heart at an early age. This episode begins with a trip back to Mark’s early years and explores how he made his first million (and then billion) — and why he continues to be driven by the pursuit of freedom that comes with having control over your own schedule. He also talks about some of his productivity habits, including why 40 unread emails is his limit, and how he uses Muck Rack Alerts to keep track of his press mentions. As someone who’s not shy about talking to the press but who also knows how valuable time is, Mark offers this advice for CEOs: “Some of the best time that you can spend is getting to know people that cover and write about your industry.” Listen in to hear Mark’s journey from a self-described “lousy employee” to billionaire Shark who’s accumulated significant wealth in both time and money.

Read more: Why Mark Cuban ditched his watch after selling his company

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Quotables from Episode 61: Mark Cuban

  • You have to offer a service that people really find value in and then you try to price to the value. If people don’t like it, there’s no value there.
  • I always used to tell people, there’s the people who wrote the software and there’s everybody else, and I was tied for second place with everybody else…so I really just made the point to put in the time to learn it, and it’s something I still do today. That really gave me an edge.
  • The best salespeople are the ones that really put themselves in the shoes of their potential customer and get to understand what they’re trying to accomplish, what’s important to them, what reduces their stress and then finds ways to make it happen — and then stays with them, because your best referral points are people who love your product and love the work that you do.
  • There was a person who created [the software] and there was everybody else, and my attitude was, if I outwork the everybody elses, I can lead in terms of technology. And it turns out that I really had a way away with technology.
  • The day I sold MicroSolutions I took off my watch and said I’d never wear a watch again, because that signified I have to be somewhere and pay attention to time that other people set for me.
  • The way I was raised, my dad didn’t have his own time to himself. We loved to take vacations, but he was always at the beck and call to someone else. He used to tell me, “The most valuable asset you can ever possibly have is time.”
  • The first thing I did was buy a lifetime pass in American Airlines and party like a rock star.
  • It was weird…I don’t remember all of it, but it was just like, okay, am I rich? I’m not rich, [but] I’m the richest person I know.
  • [With AudioNet] I said, if we do this right, this company is going to be worth $5 billion. And if we don’t do it right, we’ll just be friends, but I truly believe we have a chance to change the media game in ways people cannot even imagine. And you know, that’s effectively what we did.
  • When someone offers you $5.7 billion, it’s always the right time to sell.
  • I had to hire against my skill set, things that I couldn’t do. And Todd [Wagner] was a lawyer by training and profession. He’s just a phenomenal negotiator, super incredibly smart, a lot smarter than me. As the sales guy, I would have said yes to anything. He knew how to do it the right way.
  • I literally have email on in front of me all the time…and it becomes my tickler file. So if you email me, if I don’t respond right away, it’s just going to be sitting there staring me in the face of my inbox…I might as well get rid of it.
  • The more competitive the media landscape is, the higher the need for quality stories. And if you’re able to deliver, then they’re gonna listen. I tell all my Shark Tank companies and online portfolio companies the same thing: Some of the best time that you can spend is getting to know people that cover and write about your industry, the people that are influencers, and to talk to them. Because they’re looking for ways to succeed, and if you help them succeed, they’ll help you.
  • Reporters, opinion writers…they all want content, and they all need content. That’s the lifeblood. I was content and I knew how to be content. And I recommend that to any CEO.
  • I was of no value to a reporter if I didn’t have a good grasp of what was going on in the industry.
  • We learned early on that you hire slow and fire fast.
  • I was Shark Tank before Shark Tank was cool. 
  • I want entrepreneurs that are learners, salespeople, love what they’re doing, have a vision, have differentiation. And if we’re really lucky, it’s an idea that makes me think, Why didn’t I think of that? Those are always the best.

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