Success & Motivation – Dont Lie to Yourself

I learned a lot from Don Nelson when he was coach and GM of the Mavericks. He told mesomething early on, that opened my eyes. I forget the exact conversation, but we were talking about players, and I asked him why he didnt talk to a specific player about something that was going on. What he said was that “THe worse evaluator of talent is a player trying to evaluate himself.”

The same applies to business people and particularly to entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs. We tend to be less than honest with ourselves about our strengths and weaknesses.

I have been just as bad at this as anyone, particularly when I was getting started in the business world. For those of us who dream of starting and running a business, we know that we have to have a level of confidence in our own abilities. We dont want to believe that there are things we cant do. We want to believe that if we try hard enough, work long enough, and get a little lucky, that the sky is the limit.The problem is that we let our confidence cloud our judgements of what we truly know about ourselves.

Im one of the least organized people I know. Today, i have an assistant and others that help me run my life. If you ask me where IM going to be in 3 days. I have no idea. I do know that i have a kick ass assistant who is going to make sure that when i wake up that morning, I know where Im going and how to get there.

When i was 23 years old, sleeping on the floor and starting MicroSolutions, no assistant. No organization. I was a procrastinator.Accounting was a shoebox of receipts. I was a mess.

But I lied to myself and said that I could deal with it. That i would make time to get it all figured out and organized. That if I only set my mind to it, I could be a detail person. I could stop procrastinating. It doesnt work that way.

I did the things I was good at. I could sell. So I sold. I could write software programs. I could integrate PCs. I could set up local area networks. And I did. My business grew. But it also grew out of control A local area network or a software programwithout documentation is a disaster waiting to happen. And they did. Not to the point where it killed my business, but to the point where I spent far too much time fixing things rather than selling new deals.

Fortunately, one of my best customers at the time was interested in becoming a partner in my business. Martin Woodall ran a company called Hytec Data Systems. He was not only smart and a good programmer, but he was the most anal, detail oriented person I had ever met in my life. The perfect partner for me.

Our partnership wasnt always easy. We had more than our shares of knock down drag out fights. He of course would want everything done with precision and if lack of perfection was an option, he didnt want to do it. I of course was the exact opposite. I was the GO FOR IT guy. We can sort it out after the fact. We were perfect partners. We knew and trusted the skills of the other and although many might not think yelling was the best way to work things out, we managed.

It all came down to choice. I had the choice between lying to myself and pretending that I could turn on a switch and become a details person, or accepting the fact that Im not, and partnering with someone who is. Continuing to lie meant I would probably lose my business.

Every entrepreneur faces comparable choices. Each of us has to face the reality of who we are and what we are.

What choice will you make ?

42 thoughts on “Success & Motivation – Dont Lie to Yourself

  1. Great Post. It\’s really crazy the blinders we have on when we analyze ourselves.

    Comment by Knee Walker -

  2. Even if you just keep them in a shoebox. Job 1 every month end, put that month’s altogether with a paperclip, elastic band etc. Add a couple of sheets of paper (notebook is better) Money in (receivables) money out (expenses). That 1/2 hr or so you spend monthly will make all the difference to you, your business & keep your accountant (& the tax man) happy.

    Comment by runescape money -

  3. Nobody is always right, (not even Jesus was always right, since he himself asked God when crucified, “Why me father?”) and any human being is not only capable of exceeding his/her limitations but stretching them.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  4. This is just common sense … why have I been fighting the same debilitating delusion for decades, severely constraining the best use of my strengths, precious time, and achievement of maximum success ?
    It’s an application of the principle of comparative advantage to one’s skill set. Do what you do best & let someone else (who actually likes it) take care of the aggravating & spirit crushing crap facets of the bidness that you despise and, of course, suck at !

    Comment by G.. Wood -

  5. Okay, that’s what I’m looking for…that organized person. I’ll admit it, I’m not organized. I’ve been avoiding that fact, but it’s simply true. And I’m coming to the realization that there’s a lot more I need to get real about!

    Comment by Sharon -

  6. Yes, While all of this is going on the salesman of the group is getting geared up to tell you how many thousands of people they’ll have by the end of the year.

    Comment by Scgo -

  7. Awesome post Mark. I feel the same way. I’m 25 now and have had my business – – running for about 3 years now. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that focus is essential. Perhaps just as important as deciding what your business will do is what it won’t do. If you spend time doing the things you aren’t so good at you have less time to really build value – whether its as a person within a business or the focus/scope of the business as a whole.

    Comment by Jon Payne -

  8. Mark:

    You > Ready, Fire, Aim
    Martin > Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim…

    It was a good match for you guys. I’ve come to believe that the strongest organization is one with a leader that is a visionary and a #2 who is a pragmatist IF the two of them can respect and trust the other. The tension and conflict is a good thing — better to work out that kind of stuff in the boardroom than in the marketplace.


    Paul…. CompuServe alumnus

    Comment by Paul Lambert -

  9. Hi Mark,

    This blog has been so relevant to my current situation I could literally feel the light bulb go on as I’m reading this. I actually have the shoe box and i’m experiencing growth with my net portals that is uncontrolable.

    I thank you for taking time to share your life experiences with the world. This is not the only blog that is hit a strong cord with me


    Comment by Chris Neville -

  10. Mark,

    I am not sure if you will ready this but I am going to post my comments anyway.

    Regarding your business success, imagine if the government will not allow you to own or be a partner of any business until you are 35, do you think you will still be today’s Mark Cuban?

    The reason that I say this is, many (or most) foreigners have to wait until they receive the Green Card to own or be a partner of any form of business.

    Imagine yourself, who wanted to start Micro solutions so badly at 23, but you do not have a green card and have to wait for another 10 years or so (you can not be a partner too), would you still be sitting where you are and writing this blog?

    I am not trying to denounce what you have accomplished, but simply asking if you lost 10 years, what would have changed?

    Comment by Peter -

  11. Just say “no” to MLMs. I have yet to meet “distributors” personally who made any money in these scams. From over three decades of observing MLM types, it’s always a case of someone who has a neighbor, who has a cousin in a distant city, who once met a man in a pub who claimed to be making the big “residuals.”

    Listen if you think MLM is a real business opportunity, I have some ocean-front property in Kansas, I can give you a real bargoon on.

    Most MLMs mix in religion to create a cult-like organization for the acutely gullible.

    Comment by Peter -

  12. I’ve worked in accounting departments in tech companies for decades and I find this to be a classic scenario. The software engineers are creative folk, and then you have one or two people like me who make sure the bills get paid. [Not an area where creative is necessary] Each group serves an important function. I would go so far as to say that I’ve seen very few software people who are at all cut out to be accounting people. AND vice versa. It seems this is frequently a mutually exclusive thing. Either you are a money guy or a software guy. I couldn’t write a program if my life depended on it, (programming = greek) so I have to admire people who can program, and I hope they appreciate me, when their paycheck doesn’t bounce.

    Comment by Bland Response -

  13. Lying to yourself about your lack of ability and personal limitations isn’t the only way someone can waste away a lot of time and money and create disaster in their lives. You see, I know a certain person (identity kept private just in case he reads this even though he’s never read book in his life.) that makes over $100,000 a year but poor-mouths like he makes $5.50 an hour mopping floors at Grapevine Mills Mall, that seems to fall for every MLM, Network, Relationship marketing, crap that hits the street. He thinks that’s the only way a poor guy like himself could ever get ahead. He has convinced himself that because he got in early he’s going to make millions because the people that got into Amway and Excel (bankrupt) and Mary Kay on the first 20 levels, are all millionaires. He seems to be in love with the fact that it’s a “low-cost business”, meaning that if you pay someone $329 + $20 a month for a website, and you pay another $200 a year to stay active, you can have “15,000 people in your downline” like the people giving the presentation.

    The way this normally works is my friend finds the “thing” that’s going to change it all, then randomly calls people he hasn’t talked to since the last time he discovered all of the answers, and invites them out to dinner or over to someones house so they can watch a Mavs game (just want to catch up with an old buddy), then they happen to mention that they have discovered this new wafer, drink, telecom company, electric company, earthworm growing company, etc. that is positioned to take over the world and is just starting out, making it the prime time to just step in and make millions. (Get in early, man!) What happens next is this person and a few other strategically invited “friends” repeatedly mention certain names of people that are at certain upper levels in the organization that have X amount of people in their downline and they’ve only been doing “this” for four months. While all of this is going on the salesman of the group is getting geared up to tell you how many thousands of people they’ll have by the end of the year, how you only have to sign up three people that each sign up three people because “that’s the industry average and anybody can do it”, how they’ve told their co-workers they’ll be rich in the next six months, how sad it is that everyone isn’t going to understand the genius in all of this and make millions too but they don’t care because they’ll be relaxing in the Bahamas, and basically yammer on for two hours without taking a breath and letting you ask any questions that may disrupt their master plan.

    If you are lucky to get past this part, you have at least another week before this person starts really hounding you about being the second of the three sign-ups they need in order to make a $100 bonus. They then tell you how many people a certain person in the organization has under them, a certain person that no one knows personally that seems to spend a lot of time, money, and effort renting country clubs, aisles in Home Depot because “that’s only place big enough to hold everyone”, and convention rooms at expensive hotels, and then they try to get you in on the “monthly special”.

    After a few months have passed and this person has only brought in an income of $50 in bonus money for signing up three people in two months and $7.50 in residuals (That’s where you make your money, man, residuals.) but seems to over look the fact that they paid over $300 to get started, $20 a month for a website, gas and dinner money for all of their friends they haven’t talked to since the last time they discovered all of the answers, and the fact that they will have to pay another $200 to keep everything active after they’ve made 2 or 3 million dollars the first year, this person starts talking about how they’ve been working so many hours at their job they just haven’t been able to “get out there and get it goin'”. Why would anyone keep a $100,000 a year job if they could just shed some light and make 3 or 4 million dollars.

    Sensing people are avoiding them because they already have enough wafers to last them till next week, the person that has seen the light gets with their friends that have also seen the light and they start telling each other about how bad the company is treating so-and-so and how they’re trying to undercut their members. The next thing you know someone in their upline that has 1,600 people in their downline has decided to resign from this opportunity and go back to their old job because they’re not going to sacrifice their morals to make it. Needless to say, my friend and all of his buddies decide to pull-out in protest because any number of things the company is doing that “just ain’t right, man!” All the while I’m thinking about how I can start me up one of these MLM, Network, Relationship Marketing companies. Imagine. Just sign up three people that sign up three people that sign up three people and before you know it 50,000 people would have paid you $300 apiece not counting all of the earthworms they bought. Man Oh Man.

    Comment by Don Lapre -

  14. Wow. You kept receipts?

    In my first business I had trouble even finding the bank statements!

    Comment by Dave Siegel -

  15. Great thoughts – I am sharing it with my management team. It’s all about understanding your areas of talent and non-talent.

    Thanks for sharing!


    Sorry – Spurs fan – but love AJ!!!!

    Comment by Ray Quinn -

  16. Nothing is more interesting than someone calling themselves a people person and the only thing you notice at a large cocktail party is that there are no people around that person.

    Comment by Tim Taylor -

  17. Great Blog Article! I can relate to it. I can sell, the paperwork and money management are difficult. I have every tool to keep me organized and I’m still disorganized. But I make sales!

    KC’s #1 Online Realty Team

    Comment by Chris Dowell -

  18. Your comment that…We knew and trusted the skills of the other and although many might not think yelling was the best way to work things out, we managed…has worked for me and my partner…My Wife for well over 31 years now…

    Comment by Sherrill -

  19. Well said Irene

    Comment by funny shirts -

  20. I think some folks are missing the point. It’s not whether or not you take a partner it’s recognizing that you can’t run the whole show yourself. Even when you’re just starting out & there isn’t much money. Two tinhs you need to do from day one. Get yourself a competant accountant, (look for someone who specializes in entrepreneurs) & organize your receipts. Even if you just keep them in a shoebox. Job 1 every month end, put that month’s altogether with a paperclip, elastic band etc. Add a couple of sheets of paper (notebook is better) Money in (receivables) money out (expenses). That 1/2 hr or so you spend monthly will make all the difference to you, your business & keep your accountant (& the tax man) happy.
    Even when you’re big eneough to have someone do that for you, keep an eye on things. It’s your business, your money. Another lesson from Entrepreneur 101.

    Comment by Irene -

  21. Three years ago my taxes were a mess…similar to your shoebox of receipts. A two-drawer file cabinet was one of the best investments I ever made. I soared through taxes this year, and I feel confident about my organization in case I happen to get audited by the IRS.

    Comment by gadget boy -

  22. Post 20. It’s OK.

    You know what I got out of your 700 word ode to yourself.

    You failed, Cuban got lucky and suceeded. I think that sums it up.

    Comment by JR Ewing -

  23. Post #17, Please do not buy the Pacers with your profits from your boutique. By the way, what straight man owns a boutique.

    I have my eye on the Pacers in 2018. I can finally give them and then later, this country, the leadership they so desperatly need.

    Comment by JR Ewing -

  24. Whatever happened to Martin Woodall? Are you two still in business together?

    Comment by Joe DiGiovanni -

  25. This post on choosing a business partner w/ complementary strenghts reminded me of UVA psychologist Daniel Wegner’s notion of “transactive memory.” Malcolm Gladwell discusses “transactive memory” in “Tipping Point.”

    A quick Google search spawned the following description of Wegner’s work: “Memory performance of 118 individuals who had been in close dating relationships for at least 3 months was studied. For a memory task ostensibly to be performed by pairs, some Ss were paired with their partners and some were paired with an opposite-sex partner from another couple. For some pairs a memory structure was assigned (e.g., 1 partner should remember food items, another should remember history items, etc.), whereas for others no structure was mentioned. Pairs studied together without communication, and recall was tested in individuals. Memory performance of the natural pairs was better than that of impromptu pairs without assigned structure, whereas the performance of natural pairs was inferior to that of impromptu pairs when structure was assigned.” (source:

    The discussion of “transactive memory” in Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” begins on page 188 of the paperback edition I have. A couple other description of Wegner’s work that I came across are here– and here–

    Comment by JohnD -

  26. Mark, thanks for this particular blog. It comes right on the heels of me preparing to get legal and move ahead with plans to open a boutique retail outlet. This of course is Phase 1 in my plan to become an NBA franchise owner.

    But recently I’ve been evaluating myself and trying to determine who else I need to involve in my endeavors. Thanks for the food for thought.

    Comment by Mark Goodchild -

  27. the telcos want us to think there is not enough bandwidth, but there is… they just want the ability to charge more for it. the just need to work on best way to handle the traffic… they also need to get more people on instead of acting like the market growth has stalled out. ironically, the more devices that can be used for downloading video, etc, the more $$ the telcos stand to make.

    Comment by Shawn -

  28. somehow, ever heard of history repeats itself. i am at the crossroads right now in life and i think i have had it with being a loser >.<. just bought my first imac(paid cash for it too) beleive me this baby is going to payme back every single penny. THanks man for never giving up and doing whatever it took to get you there. say hi to your wife and daughter. God bless.

    Comment by nicholas kamau -

  29. Mark is right, as always??!
    Give me a break man, or go suck Mark’s ass!

    Nobody is always right, (not even Jesus was always right, since he himself asked God when crucified, “Why me father?”) and any human being is not only capable of exceeding his/her limitations but stretching them. Mark could have become an organized person, though he never really put enough effort into it, probably b/c he knew that he was fine being the way he was before.

    Though he COULD have changed him into an organized person just like he started to wake up early every morning and reading the manuals and work his ass off to get where he has gotten.

    Comment by Fabio -

  30. Entrepreneurs love the things they do best. So, keep an eye on the rest of it and find people with complementary skills that augment your weaknesses; thus strengthening your business as it grows.

    Comment by Scott -

  31. Mark is talking about recognizing and accepting reality so that you can move towards creating “work-arounds”. Go rent Magnum Force, the old Clint Eatwood movie, where Dirty Harry keeps repeating the line: A man has to know his limitations.

    Once you accept your limitations, the motivation then follows to find the work-arounds. It’s when you try to delude yourself about reality, that you become stuck. This stuckness leads to becoming unmotivated.

    Mark is right–as always, about everything.

    Hey what does this rate on the ass-kissing scale? A 9 or a perfect 10?


    Comment by Peter -

  32. What I got out of this entry is that it is totally impossible to change the way we do things, which is not true (and Mark you perfectly know that).
    This is why I don’t think your point was made across and please would you tell your readers that, so that they can just forgot what they have just read since that would be the opposite of getting motivated?

    Comment by Fabio -

  33. Perfect! Focus on your positives and you are bound to succeed.

    But sometimes, at the beginning, you the entrepreneur needs to do all the legwork. All the boring stuff. Before you can afford to hire someone or find someone to complement your talents.

    I too, don’t like keeping track of numbers. But in Trading Stocks ( ) you just need to keep up with the bare minimum stats so your accountant can deceipher everything else for you…

    Comment by George Polizogopoulos - Trader -

  34. I too was a mess until someone on a message boad recoomended this book to me, Getting Things Done. Up until that book, every project was represented by an unsightly stack of papers on the floor. You can read my review here:

    Just scroll down to Getting Things Done.

    Believe me, I tried every organizing system known to man and none worked except this one.

    Comment by Peter -

  35. I think the best asset of ourselves is our self-confidence and our undying optimistism about how things will turn out in the end. That itself takes a lot courage and faith. There are a lot of people who are not organizers when there are a lot of us that are. We are special in our own ways, and that is what it takes for us to help one another. The bottom line is that it is NOT we the only the person that we are trying to help, we have to look at the big picture, the whole world as one, and that is our goal, our humanity, our love…. We are here to complement each other and help one another, and makes this world or group a better place.

    Comment by the most beautiful woman -

  36. Mark,

    This post on knowing what motivates you is a good read.

    Trying to motivate yourself with the wrong driver is a recipe for entrepreneurial disaster.

    Comment by Peter -

  37. I had to laugh when I read this. Mark, you and I have something in comon. I am a mess, Everything is stored in my head. I have partners now and is much more organized. No thanks to me but….

    Comment by chris -

  38. Let the ass kissing begin, starting with Post #1!

    Comment by kissing ass -

  39. I take all your thoughts on success and motivation and apply them to my situation. Thanks for your insights.


    Comment by Rick Penny -

  40. I take all of your thoughts on success and motivation and apply them to my situation. Thanks for your insights.


    Comment by Rick Penny -

  41. good stuff mark; as always…

    there is another approach that works for me (a serial entrepreneur who considers retirement the ultimate gig! — i get to do what i want!), and that is subcontracting rather than partnering, for the skills needed, when needed.


    Comment by ski -

  42. Sadly (for me) and humbley I must admit that you and I can never be partners… disorganization raised to the power of disaster… so I’ll take your words of wisdom and find that entrepreneurial counterpart when the time for growth comes. However, in spirit, we will always be partners…

    Thanks for being a great motivator and role model for the chance-takers in the world.


    Comment by greg -

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