SharkTank & Success & Motivation

With the great response to Shark Tank (fridays on ABC 8pm/7pm…shameless plug)..I wanted to repost my Success and Motivation series because it answers most of the email questions I get from the show.. Enjoy and post any comments !

Success and Motivation, Part 1

Success and Motivation

I did it too. I drove by big houses and would wonder who lived there. What did they do for a living? How did they make their money? Someday, I would tell myself, I would live in a house like that. Every weekend I would do it.

I read books about successful people. In fact, I read every book or magazine I could get my hands on. I would tell myself 1 good idea would pay for the book and could make the difference between me making it or not.

I worked jobs I didn’t like. I worked jobs I loved, but had no chance of being a career. I worked jobs that barely paid the rent. I had so many jobs my parents wondered if I would be stable. Most of them aren’t on my resume anymore because I was there so short a time or they were so stupid I was embarrassed. You don’t want to write about selling powdered milk or selling franchises for TV repair shops. In every job, I would justify it in my mind whether I loved it or hated it that I was getting paid to learn and every experience would be of value when I figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up.

If I ever grew up, I hoped to run my own business some day. It’s exactly what I told myself every day. In reality, I had as much doubt as confidence. I was just hoping the confidence would win over the doubt and it would all work out for the best.

I remember being 24 years old, living in Dallas in a 3-bedroom apartment with 5 other friends. This wasn’t a really nice place we all kicked in to move up for. This place has since been torn down. Probably condemned. I didn’t have my own bedroom. I slept on the couch or floor depending on what time I got home. I had no closet. Instead I had a pile that everyone knew was mine. My car had the usual hole in the floorboard, a ’77 FIAT X19 that burned a quart of oil that I couldn’t afford every week.

To make matters worse, because I was living on happy hour food, and the 2 beers cover charge, I was gaining weight like a pig. My confidence wasn’t at an all time high. I was having fun. Don’t get me wrong. I truly was having a blast. Great friends, great city, great energy, pretty girls. Ok, the pretty girls had no interest in my fat and growing ass at the time, but that’s another story….

I was motivated to do something I loved. I just wasn’t sure what it was. I made a list of all the different jobs I would love to do. (I still have it.) The problem was that I wasn’t qualified for any of them. But I needed to pay the bills.

I finally got a job working as a bartender at a club. A start, but it wasn’t a career. I had to keep on looking during the day.

About a week later I answered a want ad out of the newspaper for someone to sell PC Software at the first software retail store in Dallas. The ad was actually placed by an employment agency. The fee was to be paid by the company, so I gave it a shot.

I put on my interview face, and of course my interview suit, which just happened to be one of my 2 polyester suits that I had bought for the grand total of 99 dollars. Thank god for 2-fer, 2-fer, 2-fer madness at the local mens clothing store. Grey Pinstripe. Blue Pinstripe. Didn’t matter if it rained, those drops just rolled down the back of those suits. I could crumple them. They bounced right back. Polyester, the miracle fabric.

I wish I could say the blue suit and my interview skills impressed the employment agency enough to set up the interview with the software store. In reality, not many had applied for the job and the agency wanted the fee so they would have sent anyone over to interview. I didn’t care.

I pulled out the grey for my interview at Your Business Software. I was fired up. It was my shot to get into the computer business, one of the industries I had put on my list!

I remember the interview well. Michael Humecki the Prez, and Doug (don’t remember his last name), his partner double-teamed me. Michael did most of the talking to start. He asked me if I had used PC software before. My total PC experience at the time was on the long forgotten TI/99A that had cost me 79 dollars. I used it to try to teach myself Basic while recovering from hangovers and sleeping on the floor while my roommates were at work. They weren’t impressed.

I was trying to pull out every interview trick I knew. I went through the spiel about how I was a good salesperson, you know the part of the interview where you are basically begging for a job, using code phrases like “I care about the customer”, “I promise to work really, really hard” and “I will do whatever it takes to be successful”. Unfortunately, I was getting that “well if no one else applies for the job, maybe” look from Michael.

Finally, Doug spoke up. He asked me. “What do you do if a customer has a question about a software package and you don’t know the answer?” All of the possible answers raced through my mind. I had to ask myself if this was the “honesty test question” you know where they want to see if you will admit to things you don’t know. Is this some trick technology question and there is an answer everyone but me knows? After who knows how long, I blurted out that “I would look it up in the manual and find the answer for them.” Ding, ding, ding…Doug just loved this answer.

Michael wasn’t as convinced, but he then asked me the question I was dying to hear: “Would you not go back to the employment agency at all, so when we hire you we don’t have to pay the fee?” I was in.

What does all this mean? Nothing yet. It was just fun to tell. You have to wait till part 2, if you care, and if there is a part two. Right now, it’s much more important that I go play with my daughter.

Success and Motivation, Part 2

So my career in Dallas begins. I’m a software salesperson with Your Business Software in Dallas. $18k per year. The first retail software store in Dallas.

I have to sweep the floor and be there to open the store, but that’s not a bad thing. When I tell my future ex-girlfriends that I sell software and am in the computer biz, I’m not going to mention the sweeping the floor part. Plus, I had to wear a suit to work, and the 2-fer madness specials looked good at happy hour after work. Better yet, the store didn’t open till 9:30am, which meant if I had a fun night, I had at least a little time to sleep.

I bet right about now you are questioning where my focus was? Where was my commitment to being the future owner of the Dallas Mavericks? Please. I was stoked I had a good job. I was stoked it was in an industry that could turn into a career. At 24, I was just as stoked that the office was close to where the best happy hours were and that I might finally have more than 20 bucks to spend for a night on the town.

Since I’m talking about partying, I do have to say that my friends and I were very efficient in that area. Beyond living off bar food and happy hours, we literally would agree that none of us would bring more than 20 bucks for a weekend night out. This way we all could pace each other. At least that was the way it was supposed to work, and it did until we figured out the key to having a great night out on the cheap. They key was buying a bottle of cheap, cheap champagne. I can’t even spell the name, but it was a full bottle, and it cost 12 bucks. Tear the label off and as far as anyone knew it was Dom. Each of us would grab one, and sip on it all night. It was far cheaper than buying beers or mixed drinks all night, and we never had to buy a drink for a girl, we just gave them some champagne! Of course the next day was hell, but since when was I responsible enough to care about a hangover…

But I digress. Back to business. As fired up as I was about the job, I was scared. Why? Because I have never worked with an IBM PC in my life. Not a single time, and I’m going to be selling software for it. So what do I do? I do what everyone does: I rationalize. I tell myself that the people walking in the door know as little as I do, so if I just started doing what I told my boss I would do, read the manuals, I would be ahead of the curve. That’s what I did. Every night I would take home a different software manual, and I would read them. Of course the reading was captivating. Peachtree, PFS, DBase, Lotus, Accpac… I couldn’t put them down. Every night I would read some after getting home, no matter how late.

Of course it was easy on the weekends. After drinking that cheap champagne, I wasn’t getting out of bed till about 9pm, so I had tons of time to lie on the floor and read. It worked. Turns out not a lot of people ever bothered to RTFM (read the frickin’ manual), so people started really thinking I knew my stuff. As more people came in, because I knew all the different software packages we offered, I could offer honest comparisons and customers respected that.

Within about 6 months, I was building a clientele and because I had also spent time on the store’s computers learning how to install, configure and run the software, I started having customers ask me to install the software at their offices. That meant I got to charge for consulting help: 25 bucks an hour that I split with the store. That turned into a couple hundred extra bucks per month and growing. I was raking it in, enough that I could move from the Hotel (that was what we called our apartment) where the 6 of us lived, into a 3 bedroom apartment across the street, where instead of 6 of us, there were only 3. Finally, my own bedroom!

I was earning consulting fees. I was getting referrals. I was on the phone cold calling companies to get new business. I even worked out a deal with a local consultant who paid me referral fees, which lead to getting a $1500 check. It was the first time in my adult life that I was able to have more than 1k dollars in the bank.

That was a special moment believe or not, and what did I do to celebrate? Nope…I didn’t buy better champagne. I had these old ratty towels that had holes in them and could stand on their own in the corner, they were so nasty I needed a shower from drying off after a shower…I went out and bought 6 of the fluffiest, plushest towels I could find. I was moving on up in the world. I had the towels. Life was good. Business was good and getting better for me. I was building my customer base, really starting to understand all the technology, and really establishing myself as someone who understood the software. More importantly no, most importantly I realized that I loved working with PCs. I had never done it before. I didn’t know if this was going to be a job that worked for me, or that I would even like and it turns out I was lucky. I loved what I was doing. I was rolling so well, I was even partying less… during the week.

Then one day, about 9 months into my career as a salesperson/consultant, I had a prospect ask if I could come to his office to close a deal. 9am. No problem to me. Problem to my boss, Michael Humecki. Michael didn’t want me to go. I had to open the store. That was my job. We were a retail store, not an outbound sales company. It sounded stupid to me back then too, particularly since I had gone on outbound calls during the day before. I guess he thought I was at lunch.

Decision time. It’s always the little decisions that have the biggest impact. We all have to make that “make or break” call to follow orders or do what you know is right. I followed my first instinct: close the sale. I guess I could have rescheduled the appointment, but I rationalized that you never turn your back on a closed deal. So I called one of my coworkers to come in and open up, and closed the deal. Next day I came in check in hand from a new customer and Michael fired me.

Success and Motivation, Part 3

Fired. Not the first time it’s happened, but it reinforced what I already knew; I’m a terrible employee. I just had to face facts and move on. So rather than getting back on that “how the hell am I going to find a job” train, the only right thing to do was to start my own company.

My first act of business? Pile into my buddy’s 1982 Celica, nicknamed Celly, and drive to galveston to party. Of course we stayed in only the best $19.95 a night, plug the hairdryer in the wall and the circuit blows, motel. Nothing but the best as I prepared for my journey into entrepreneurial territory again. I could say I was preocuppied with how to get my new business off the ground. That while my friends got drunk, did stupid tourist tricks and ate at greasy spoons, I sat by the pool on the 1 chaise lounge chair with rust on the clean side and wrote up my businessplan. I didn’t. I got just as drunk and ate the same disgusting food. Then we faced the road trip terror that everyone knows exists, but refuses to admit, the ride home. It wasn’t until we pulled up to the apartment that it hit me. No job. No money. No way to pay the bills. But I had nice towels.

Fortunately the hangover didn’t last too long, and I realized I had to get off my ass and make something happen. First day, first task, come up with a name. This was the start of the microcomputer revolution, and I wanted a name that said what the company was going to do, which was sell personal computers and software and help companies and individuals install them. I was going to offer microcomputer solutions. So after struggling with different names for about 30 minutes, I chose MicroSolutions Inc.

Now came the hard part. I had to call all the people I had done business with at my last company, and let them know that I had been shitcanned and ask them if they would come do business with me at MicroSolutions. I got the expected questions. No I didn’t have an office. No I didn’t have a phone yet other than my home phone. Yes it was just me. No I didn’t have any investors. The only question I dreaded was whether I had a computer to work with. I didn’t. Fortunately, no one asked.

I made a lot of calls, and got some decent response. We love you Mark, we want to give you a chance. A lot of lets stay in touch. I got two real bites. One from a company called Architectual Lighting and the other from a company called Hytec Data Systems.

Architectual Lighting was looking for a time and billing accounting system to allow them to track the work with clients. I don’t remember the name of the software package I told them about, I think it was Peachtree Accounting, but after going out to meet with them it came down to this. I offered to refund 100 pct of their money if the software didn’t work for them, and I wouldn’t charge them for my time for installing and helping them. In return, they would put up the 500 bucks it would take for me to buy the software from the publisher, and I could use them as a reference. This was my “no money down” approach to start a business. They said yes. I had a business.

My 2nd call Hytec Data, was run by Martin Woodall. I met with Martin at the S&D Oyster House on a beautiful June day, and I remember sitting there and him telling me, “I graduated in Computer Science from West Virginia University. I have 50k in the bank and I drive a brand new Cadillac. I know technology better than you. We can work together”. I had a customer, and now with Martin’s help, I had some hope. Hytec Data sold multi user systems. The old kind that used dumb terminals. He bundled it with accounting software and he and a contractor named Kevin, would make modifications to the Cobol source code. They were the hardcore geeks that could help me when I needed it. I was still just 10 months from my first introduction to PCs, and had zero clue about multi user systems. If I came across prospects that could use their system and software, I would get referrals. That was good.

Even better was Martin’s offer of office space. He and Kevin shared office space with the distributor of the computer systems he sold. They had this one office, that when the CEO of the distributors son wasn’t using it to study his spanish, I could use it to make calls, and keep my folders and paperwork. Still no computer, but hey, I had an office and phone. I was bonafide…

At some point I’m going to have to go back and look at my appointment books that I kept from those days to remind myself of who my 2nd, 3rd and on from there customers were. They were small companies that I got to know very well. People that took me under their wing and trusted me, not because I was the most knowledgeable about computers, but because they knew I would do whatever it took to get the job done. People trusted me with keys to their offices. They would find me there when they got in in the morning and I was there when they left. I made 15,000 dollars that first year. I loved every minute of it.

As time went on, my customer base grew. I got my friend and former roommate Scott Susens to help with deliveries. Scott was working as a waiter at a steakhouse at the time. I remember asking him over and over, would you please help me out. I have a customer that had bought a bunch of Epson dot matrix printers from me, and I had to sell Scott on how it wouldn’t be hard to learn how to hook a parallel cable to a pc and printer, and how learning all of this would be a career move compared to working at the steakhouse. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pay him as much as the steakhouse. My good fortune was that Scott worked nights and weekends and decided to take some time in the afternoons to help me out. Not long after that, he was working fulltime installing PCs, learning whatever he had to figure out before an install.

Martin also began to play a larger and larger role. His company was growing, and he was watching my company grow. I would get the PC based stuff, he would get the accounting system stuff. It was a nice split. The better part of the relationship was based on Martin being the most anal retentive person i had ever met in my life. While I covered my mistakes by throwing time and effort at the problem, Martin was so detail oriented, he had to make sure things were perfect so problems could never happen. We could drive each other crazy. He would give me incredible amounts of shit about how sloppy I was. I would give him the same amount back because he was so anal he was missing huge opportunities. We complemented each other perfectly. It would only be a matter of time before we both knew we had to be partners and work together instead of seperately.

That first year in business was incredible. I remember sitting in that little office till 10pm and then still being so pumped up, I would drive over to the gym I belonged to and run 5 to 10 miles on the treadmill going through that day, and the next in my head. Other days I would get so involved with learning a new piece of software that I would forget to eat and look up at the clock thinking it was 6 or 7pm and see that it was 1am or 2am. Time would fly by.

It’s crazy the things that you remember. I remember when my accounts receivable got up to 15k and telling all my friends. I remember reading the PC DOS manual (I really did), and being proud that I could figure out how to set up startup menus for my customers. I remember going to every single retail store in town, BusinessLand, NYNEX, ComputerLand,CompuShop, all those companies that are long gone, and introducing myself to every salesperson to try to get leads. I would call every single big computer company that did anything at all with small businesses, IBM, Wang, Dec, Xerox, Data General, DataPoint (remember them?), setting meetings, asking to come to their offices since I couldn’t afford to take them to lunch. I didn’t need a lot of customers, but my business grew and grew. Not too fast, but fast enough that by the time MicroSolutions had been in business about 2 years, I had 85k dollars in the bank, a receptionist/secretary, Scott helping me out, and a 4 room office that I moved into along with Martin and Hytec Data Systems.

Then I learned a very valuable lesson. Martin had done a great job of setting up our accounting software and systems. I got monthly P&L statements. I got weekly journals of everything coming in and everything going out, payables and receivables. We had a very conservative process where Martin would check the payables, authorize them and then use the software to cut the checks. I would then go through the list, sign the checks and give them to Renee our secretary/receptionist to put in the envelope and mail to our vendors.

One day, Martin comes back from Republic Bank, where we had our account. He had just gone through the drive through and one of the tellers who he would see every day dropping of our deposits asked him to wait a second. She comes back and shows him a check that had the payee of a vendor, WHITED OUT and Renee Hardy, our secretary’s name typed over it. Turns out that in the course of a single week, our secretary had pulled this same trick on 83k of our 85k in the bank. As Martin delived the news, I obviously was pissed. I was pissed at Renee, I was pissed at the bank, I was pissed at myself for letting it happen. I remember going to the bank with copies of the checks, and the manager of the bank basically laughing me out of his office telling me that I “didn’t have a pot to piss in”. That I could sue him, or whatever I wanted, but I was out the money.

I got back to the office, told Martin what happened at the bank, and then I realized what I had to do about all of this. I had to go back to work. That what was done, was done. That worrying about revenge, getting pissed at the bank, all those “I’m going to get even and kick your ass thoughts” were basically just a waste of energy. No one was going to cover my obligations but me. I had to get my ass back to work, and do so quickly. That’s exactly what I did.

Success and Motivation P4

You never quite know in business if what you are doing is the right or wrong thing. Unfortunately, by the time you know the answer, someone has beaten you to it and you are out of business. I used to tell myself that it was ok to make little mistakes, just don’t make the big ones. I would continuously search for new ideas. I read every book and magazine I could. Heck, 3 bucks for a magazine, 20 bucks for a book. One good idea that lead to a customer or solution and it paid for itself many times over. Some of the ideas i read were good, some not. In doing all the reading I learned a valuable lesson.

Everything I read was public. Anyone could buy the same books and magazines. The same information was available to anyone who wanted it. Turns out most people didn’t want it.

I remember going into customers or talking to people in the industry and tossing out tidbits about software or hardware. Features that worked, bugs in the software. All things I had read. I expected the ongoing response of “Oh yeah, I read that too in such-and-such.” That’s not what happened. They hadn’t read it then, and they haven’t started reading yet.

Most people won’t put in the time to get a knowledge advantage. Sure, there were folks that worked hard at picking up every bit of information that they could, but we were few and far between. To this day, I feel like if I put in enough time consuming all the information available, particularly with the net making it so readily available, I can get an advantage in any technology business. Of course my wife hates that I read more than 3 hours almost every day, but it gives me a level of comfort and confidence in my businesses. AT MicroSolutions it gave me a huge advantage. A guy with little computer background could compete with far more experienced guys just because I put in the time to learn all I could.

I learned from magazines and books, but I also learned from watching what some of the up and coming technology companies of the day were doing. Its funny how the companies that I thought were brilliant then, are still racking it up today.

Every week a company called PCs Limited used to take a full-page ad in a weekly trade magazine called PC Week. The ad would feature PC peripherals that the company would sell. Hard Drives. Memory. Floppy Drives. Graphics Cards. Whatever could be added to a PC was there. What made the ad so special was that each and every week the prices got lower. If a drive was 2,000 dollars last week, it was $ 1940 this week. For the first time in any industry that I knew of, we were seeing vendors pass on price savings to customers.

The PC Limited ads became the “market price” for peripherals. I looked for the ad every week. In fact, I became a customer. I was in Dallas. They were in Austin.

I remember driving down to pick up some hard drives that I was going to put into my customers PCs. I had no idea up to that point, but it turns out that they had just moved from the owner’s dorm room into a little office/warehouse space. I was so impressed by this young kid (I was a wise old 25 at the time), that I actually wrote a letter thanking him for the great job he was doing, and…I’m embarassed to say now, I told him that if he kept up what he was doing he was destined for far bigger and better things.

I kept on doing business with PCs Limited, and Michael Dell kept on doing what he was doing. I dont think he really needed my encouragement, but i have since told him that I thought his weekly full page ads with ever declining prices, changed the PC industry and were the first of many genius moves on his part.

Michael wasn’t the only smart one in those days.

One of the PC industry’s annual rituals was the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas. Every November, it was the only 3 days I knew I would get away and get a break from the office. It was work during the day. Visiting all the new technology booths. Trying to get better pricing from vendors. Trying to find out where the best parties were. If you could believe it, back in those days, the number one party was the Microsoft party. I sold some Microsoft products, so I could get in.

One particular year, I was on my way to having a memorable night. I had met some very, very attractive women (I swear they were). Got them some tickets to come with me to the big party. All is good. I’m having fun. They are having fun. Then we see him. Bill G. As in Bill Gates dancing up a storm. I’m a Bill Gates fan, so I wont describe his dancing, but he was definitely having fun.

At that point in time, Microsoft had gone public and Bill Gates was Bill Gates. If you were in the business you knew him or knew of him. The girls I was with were in the business. Long story short, I went to the bar to get some drinks for all us, I come back, they aren’t there. Come to find out the next day, Bill stole my girls. As I would learn later in life, money does make you extremely handsome. 🙂

Bill G also taught me a few things about business. Put aside how he killed IBM at their own game by licensing PC DOS to anyone that wanted it. What MicroSoft did to knock Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect off their thrones was literally business at its best.

At that point in time, software was expensive. WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 both sold for $495 and their publishers were proud of that fact. In order to be able to sell Lotus 1-2-3, you had to go to special training to become authorized. How crazy does that sound now going to a special class to be able to sell a spreadsheet. WordPerfect wasn’t quite as bad, but they had their own idiosyncrasies as well. Meanwhile, Microsoft was on the outside looking in. Excel, Word, Powerpoint were all far down the list of top sellers until lightning struck.

Microsoft decided to go against industry protocol and package those 3 programs as a suite and offer them as an upgrade to competitors’ products for the low, low price of 99 dollars. Of course you needed to have and use Windows for it to work, but in a time when people were buying new PCs with every dramatic increase in power and decrease in price, it was a natural move for us at MicroSolutions to sell the bundle. It made the effective price of the PC and software together far, far lower. We loved it. It also taught me several big lessons.

Always ask yourself how someone could preempt your products or service. How can they put you out of business? Is it price? Is it service? Is it ease of use? No product is perfect and if there are good competitors in your market, they will figure out how to abuse you. It’s always better if you are honest with yourself and anticipate where the problems will come from.

The 2nd lesson is to always run your business like you are going to be competing with Microsoft. They may not be your direct competitor. They may be a vendor. They may be a direct competitor and a vendor. Whatever they may be to your business, if you are in the technology business, you have to anticipate that you will in some way have to compete with Microsoft at some point. I ask myself every week what I would do if they entered any of my businesses. If you are ready to compete with Microsoft, you are ready to compete with anyone else.

Watching the best taught me how to run my businesses. Along the way I taught myself a few things those come next blog.

Success and Motivation, almost Part 2

This isn’t quite a continuation of part 1, but I happened to stumble across an interview I did last year for Young Money Magazine that covers a lot of the things that I probably would have included in part 2. 🙂

YOUNG MONEY TALKS TO CUBAN: During an exclusive interview with YOUNG MONEY, billionaire Mark Cuban shared his thoughts on using the fear of failure as a motivator, beating the competition, and why investing in the stock market may not be such a good idea.

YM: What is the key to recognizing a profitable business opportunity?

CUBAN: Knowing the industry very well. Most people think it’s all about the idea. It’s not. EVERYONE has ideas. The hard part is doing the homework to know if the idea could work in an industry, then doing the preparation to be able to execute on the idea.

YM: What personal characteristics should a person possess in order to become a successful entrepreneur?

CUBAN: Willingness to learn, to be able to focus, to absorb information, and to always realize that business is a 24 x 7 job where someone is always out there to kick your ass.

YM: Did you set career goals for yourself while you were in college? If so, what were they?

CUBAN: To retire by the age of 35 was my goal. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get there though. I knew I would end up owning my own business someday, so I figured my challenge was to learn as much as anyone about every and all businesses. [I believed] that every job I took was really me getting paid to learn about a new industry. I spent as much time as I could, learning and reading everything about business I could get my hands on. I used to go into the library for hours and hours reading business books and magazines.

YM: Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?

CUBAN: No. I don’t really have new ideas, but I manage to combine information in ways most people hadn’t considered. They aren’t new ideas, it’s just that most people don’t do their homework about their businesses and industry, so there is usually a place to sneak in and do something a little different. You just have to make sure what you want to do can sustain a business and make it profitable rather than be a niche that can be crushed [by the competition].

YM: What advice would you give young adults just struggling to move up in the business world?

CUBAN: There are no shortcuts. You have to work hard, and try to put yourself in a position where if luck strikes, you can see the opportunity and take advantage of it. I would also say it’s hard not to fool yourself. Everyone tells you how they are going to be”special,” but few do the work to get there. Do the work.

YM: What types of opportunities would you pursue if you were starting over today? CUBAN: I just started a business called HDNet. There never is one area that has a door open to everyone. Try to find an area with something you love to do and do it. It’s a lot easier to work hard and prepare when you love what you are doing. YM: What would you tell entrepreneur hopefuls who are afraid of failing?

CUBAN: It’s good [for them]. I’m always afraid of failing. It’s great motivation to work harder.

YM: What is the most important piece of advice you could offer someone who’s just starting a business?

CUBAN: Do your homework and know your business better than anyone. Otherwise, someone who knows more and works harder will kick your ass.

YM: Did you have to sacrifice your personal life in order to become a business success?

CUBAN: Sure, ask about five of my former girlfriends that question… I went seven years without a vacation. (from the time I got fired from a job, and started MicroSolutions) I didn’t even read a fiction book in that time. I was pretty focused.

YM: Do you have any general saving and investing advice for young people?

CUBAN: Put it in the bank. The idiots that tell you to put your money in the market because eventually it will go up need to tell you that because they are trying to sell you something. The stock market is probably the worst investment vehicle out there. If you won’t put your money in the bank, NEVER put your money in something where you don’t have an information advantage. Why invest your money in something because a broker told you to? If the broker had a clue, he/she wouldn’t be a broker, they would be on a beach somewhere.

Success and Motivation – You only have to be right once!

In basketball you have to shoot 50pct. If you make an extra 10 shots per hundred, you are an All-Star. In baseball you have to get a hit 30 pct of the time. If you get an extra 10 hits per hundred at bats, you are on the cover of every magazine, lead off every SportsCenter and make the Hall of Fame.

In Business, the odds are a little different. You don’t have to break the Mendoza line (hitting .200). In fact, it doesnt matter how many times you strike out. In business, to be a success, you only have to be right once.

One single solitary time and you are set for life. That’s the beauty of the business world.

I like to tell the story of how I started my first business at age 12, selling garbage bags. No one ever has asked if I was any good or made money at it. I was, and I did…enough to buy some tennis shoes :).

I like to tell the story of how I started up a bar, Motley’s Pub when I wasn’t even of legal drinking age the summer before my senior year at Indiana University. No one really asks me how it turned out. It was great until we got busted for letting a 16-year-old win a wet t-shirt contest (I swear I checked her ID, and it was good!).

No one really asks me about my adventures working for Mellon Bank, or Tronics 2000, or trying to start a business selling powdered milk (it was cheaper by the gallon, and I thought it tasted good). They don’t ask me about working as a bartender at night at Elans when I first got to Dallas, or getting fired from my job at Your Business Software for wanting to close a sale rather than sweeping the floor and opening up the store.

No ever asked me about what it was like when I started MicroSolutions and how I used to count the months I was in business, hoping to outlast my previous endeavors and make this one a success.

With every effort, I learned a lot. With every mistake and failure, not only mine, but of those around me, I learned what not to do. I also got to study the success of those I did business with as well. I had more than a healthy dose of fear, and an unlimited amount of hope, and more importantly, no limit on time and effort.

Fortunately, things turned out well for me with MicroSolutions. I sold it after 7 years and made enough money to take time off and have a whole lot of fun.

Back then I can remember vividly people telling me how lucky I was to sell my business at the right time.

Then when I took that money and started trading technology stocks that were in the areas that MIcroSolutions focused on. I remember vividly being told how lucky I was to have expertise in such a hot area, as technology stocks started to trade up.

Of course, no one wanted to comment on how lucky I was to spend time reading software manuals, or Cisco Router manuals, or sitting in my house testing and comparing new technologies, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

The point of all this is that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and either should you. All you have to do is learn from them and those around you because…

All that matters in business is that you get it right once.

Then everyone can tell you how lucky you are.

117 thoughts on “SharkTank & Success & Motivation

  1. Pingback: Mark Cuban on how to get Rich. MFFL | Extra Money Making Tips

  2. The thing I like about you the most is that you seem like a regular guy. Most rich people act like they’re rich. You act like me. Well, I know this is a long shot, but I believe there is very much to learn from you. I am willing, if you are, to move from West Virginia to Texas to come work for you. I want success to, and I believe working for you and learning your business(es) will jumpstart the one part of me being held back. If you’re interested, call me at 304-415-1219 or e-mail me. Thanks!

    Comment by Joe -

  3. Pingback: DANGERLION » Blog Archive » on business

  4. Mark, I have more than a healthy dose of fear, and an unlimited amount of hope, and more importantly, no limit on time and effort. This is one of the best parts to see in your blogg. I have been working as small business consultant full time because I have had so many jobs I qualify myself through experience. I like you don’t share job experiences because I could go on for days talking about them.

    Now that I have read about how you got started I find myself wanting to hear more. I am also a magazine man Inc, Fast Company,+++Bloggs Know your business a great motto. If there is a chance you do read this post I have submitted a project that I have been working on for years and I hope by some power of a god it gets eyes. Looking forward to reading more of your bloggs and by chance actually talking with and meeting with you in person.

    Comment by Benjamin Carr -

  5. Hi Mark,

    I stumbled onto this website and found many nuggets reading your story on success. It has helped me on my journey as a college student trying to find my way.
    I noticed some similarities in your thought process to Mark Young from the following blog He talks about some success principles but adds something on affirmations that I really enjoyed and has helped me tremendously.


    John Cuerso

    Comment by John Cuerso -

  6. thank you for the story mark …i was sufing websites to make quick money…and you make me realize that’s not the right way to reach my goal. thx again.

    Comment by young lee -

  7. Pingback: Oldie But a Goodie | Brandon Laughridge's Blog on SEO, Website Marketing, and Business

  8. Pingback: Clearing Your Mental RAM

  9. Pingback: Mark Cuban, Naked Pizza, and Being Passionate and Persistent about Your Dreams

  10. Hi Mark,

    After reading this blog I remember my own story. It’s an eternal truth that people who have overcome obstacles are more secure than those who have never faced them.



    Comment by har-d -

  11. The truth is that SUCCESS IS SIMPLE. I am a motivational speaker, sales trainer, investment professional and author. I appreciate individuals who have achieved and are achieving success. The difference between successful individuals is that they think differently. For example, when I never wonder IF something I do will work to my advantage or not, I just BELIEVE that it will. Success is SIMPLE in that the way we think and process information is more important than anything else. There is a mental, emotional and spiritual process to SUCCESS. The “doing” part of SUCCESS will come naturally because we act on what we think upon most deeply. Therefore, it is important to have the proper MEANING of SUCCESS in order to have it. SUCCESS is not the attaining and accumulation of things, as the society would have us dictate, neither is it measured by such. Rather SUCCESS is accomplishing set goals that are clearly defined and living a life without COMPLICATION. When we keep our lives SIMPLE, then we have a much greater possibility of being SUCCESSFUL than when we complicate it. Wealth is nothing more than living without debt. To be a SUCCESSFUL teacher, for example. would not be measured by the amount of money we make, but rather by the effectiveness of our teaching abilities and the judgment of our students. When we can clear our heads and lives of complications, then SUCCESS IS SIMPLE.

    Comment by Carroll Emerson -

  12. Pingback: Make Mistakes « Stream of Consciousness

  13. Your success story is very inspiring. It takes very strong determination to achieve and it was worth the effort.

    CC ANG

    Comment by ccang -

  14. Oh yah and check out my site Mark, Its about comittment and motivation, I am applying my life experiences and trying to produce some theories!!!

    Comment by Jared -

  15. Wow Mark you have a very impressive story. I feel like I am in a place now where you were. I don’t lack confidence in myself, but where am I going???

    Comment by Jared -

  16. Hey Mark. I love your story, we actually have similar backgrounds and writing style. You always knew you were going to be successful, but at what, right? I know that feeling. Can’t wait to read some more of your blog

    Comment by Mike -


    So in summary, if you make it your mission to put your all into all that you do, you will have all that you ever need to live a successful life.

    Do your best and you’ll be blessed.

    Treat others with respect and never forget to say thank you.

    Write notes of appreciation to others and send a happy e-card or joyful email to your friends, your family and your clients.

    It generally only takes a few seconds of your time to do these things. However, they will add hours of enjoyment to your life.

    Share a smile. Walk the extra mile. Remove guile and live with style. These are the simple ingredients for your personal recipe of stunning and outstanding success and happiness.

    Comment by Peter Sinclair -

  18. Great post. I am motivated, I am inspired. Keep it up!

    Comment by Edwin -

  19. Pingback: Prioritizing Work - Part Deux - Adam McFarland

  20. I hear what you said about staying motivated. I’m a web design and my plan is to work for the next two years
    to learn as much i can learn about the field of web design and software development, so that i could start my
    own web design company.


    Comment by Benga Ajakaye -

  21. Mark,

    Thank you for sharing your life stories and lessons man. If I had these advice about 4 years ago, I would be in a lot better shape! I did fine until the banks stop lending money (I was in Land development, Real Estate)left a top executive position with corp America and start my own company. No worries, I will be better than ever the next time around…thanks to your insights. It’s also great to see how down to earth you are man! very inspiring. I mean it Mark, thanks…I don’t think you will ever know how much you have helped. I will check in daily.


    Comment by Van Nguyen -

  22. Love your freakin’blog Mark!

    I only invested in stocks for a year back in 1999, and always felt felt like I I was was being taken for a ride by con men. For the last 8 years I’ve been only I’ve been investing only in High Interest Bank Accounts and GIC’s
    which are the Canadian equivalent of CD’s in the USA.

    I save my moula and run an online writing service for musicians and



    Comment by mark -

  23. Great Blog, I’m interested in adding you to my blog roll. If I add you will you add me? I plan on stopping by often 🙂

    Yours truly
    Allen Loomis

    Comment by Allen Loomis -

  24. Lots of good info here … Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Winky -

  25. Really awsome post !

    ” No shortcuts, Do your homework ! “, I really love it !

    A guy from Marrakech, Morroco

    Comment by Lamghari Ismail -

  26. Pingback: Know Your Craft

  27. Pingback: How To Join that Top 5% That Barack Obama Keeps Referring To « econ365

  28. Wow…I loved this story. It gives young people a real push for whats
    out there—patience and hard work pays off!!!

    Comment by Julien -

  29. awesome

    Comment by skyminor -

  30. Pingback: Day #1443 - Inspiration « The 4 Year Challenge

  31. “The stock market is probably the worst investment vehicle out there”

    I picked my stocks and did quite well

    Why should I put $200K in the bank? when I can have the money working for me

    Comment by Moneymonk -

  32. Mark,
    Thanks for the encouragement. I just lost a bunch of money in my first business. A combination of economy and not knowing what I was doing (Have to be honest). The interesting part was the aftermath, had to file bankruptcy and get a regular job. Initially I wanted nothing to do with being self employed ever again; I’ll just work for the man. 4 months later, guess what, I’m ready to dive in again and start another business and I’m doing it. I’ve come to the conclusion as well that I’m not the best employee and have a desire to be self employed. So I appreciate you telling your story, it confirms to us that anything is possible.

    Comment by MM -

  33. Pingback: How To Get Rich By Mark Cuban « Prosperity Junky

  34. I hope you get lucky buying the Cubs and get lucky making them a world series winner.

    Comment by Scott -

  35. visit my bog, it won’t make you rich but it may entertain you while your waiting…!

    Comment by sarsen56 -

  36. Thanks Mark, like you I have the needed enthusiasm I just need help monetizing my site. Thanks for sharing.IGH, John

    Comment by John P. Murray -

  37. Mark thank you for your stories of the past, only by making mistakes do we truly learn. I have to respectfully disagree with you on the stock market theory though. You can remember when you young and in college you have no expenses so you can put everything in the market if you find good deals and do a bit of homework. I bet you’re having a lot of fun lately because there are some tremendous buying opportunities right now. Haha it doesn’t sound like a lot but $600 in the market is a start. Extremely risky and extremely rewarding huh, I got 189 shares of NCC at $2.08. It’s a start though. It’s also funny to hear you talk about B Gates the way you did because it’s kinda the way our generation sees you as well. You got some Maverick fans down in Corpus Christi so kick those Spurs ass next year Mark!

    Comment by AW Bost -

  38. Thanks for your thoughts Mark. Keen point on succeeding only once.
    Andreessen’s thoughts support yours. He looked at the correlation
    between age and entrepreneurial success. There was none. The
    strongest factor contributing to success was frequency of attempt.
    Long live failure and the lessons it teaches you!

    Comment by JP Adams -

  39. Thanks for sharing your story, Mark. If that doesn’t make you want to run out and start a business, nothing will.

    Comment by Steve Cospolich -

  40. Thanks Mark for a interesting article, your history had really inspired me. I\’m currently in unversity and having some differculties in focusing on doing my work, I\’m not sure why….but it seems i\’m always distracted by something. I hope my learning habbits could adjust after reading your blog.

    Great inspiration….and looking forward to hear more from you 😉

    Comment by Riceman -

  41. Its a noble thing you are inspiring people by such a story.
    i also recommed the movie persuit of happiness by will smith, it can give a great amount of motivation. keep up the good work

    Comment by farouk -

  42. Fascinating, down-to-earth story. Oh, and please buy the Stars…they need an owner like you.

    Comment by Bodrum Property -

  43. I wish to be one of the ones with a request, noteworthy one and yes my hand is out. I have a degree and put 2 daughters through college, so I have work ethic Mark. My ex was an NFL player who was on the DL and I divorced him many years ago, so going solo with out any help from his dead beat self was a struggle. I love my kids who are now grown. I have a side business I want to grow………..and use your advice BUT first, I am requesting that we could chat either via email or telly. It is a commodity line and has locally not much competition and is recession proof. I want to take 6 months and really push it but would need a little money to be able to do so as the overhead of life is about $2000 a month and I need to stop working to concentrate on this . So that said, yes, you invest a small % and I grow , you make money and bring another person along to improve themself. This is called Goodwill. I could learn from you. This is an honest attempt to start a good business for a woman who at 51 has still a lot of energy and dreams left! Please consider this one. I bet you have requests made al of the time. Mine is different as I offer you an investment as well. I need some help. I have helped others along the way Mark with acts of unselfishness and I know how good it feels to see someone else prosper from something I have done.

    Respectfully Julie S.

    Comment by julie shiver -

  44. Nice one Mark. I\’ve printed this out and hung it in my office for others to read.

    Comment by ErrorLog -

  45. Why in the freaking world are you complaining about the Laker trade when you pull off the trade for Kidd? Are you crying because the lakers are going to kick your sorry ass and there is nothing you can do about it? hahahaha
    Your team will always suck. Get over Cuban.

    Comment by tim -

  46. Mark,

    Reading this gave me more of an insight into how you became what you are today. I have been a fan for a while, and I\’ll like to say thanks for sharing this information on success and motivation.

    Comment by SolaG -

  47. Nice number one…

    Comment by Emre VARLIK -

  48. I remember Peachtree accounting. Decent software but not the best. Taxes kill my motivation to work anyways.

    Comment by Gab on Motivation and Influence -

  49. OMG Mark )) Thanks for posting these. You\’re really doing a great job. Best wishes.

    Comment by IamLover -

  50. I don\’t know a lot of things….. I don\’t know if you read your comments, I don\’t know or didn\’t know of you until 3 hours ago, and never had I really even heard of your company but I do know that people probably tell you that you are an inspiration to them but I\’m not going to. I\’m going to tell you that I respect the meaning behind what you said but I disagree. How can one be satisfied with only being right once, while that one time may make you a huge success/lucky person in others eyes but it would not do much for my self-esteem. Success should not be measured by the fact that you did something brilliant once but should be measured on your continued brilliance in the situation. You for example not only knew to open the company, but knew when to sell and who to sell to. THAT right there is what made you a success, not that you had the company in the first place. So my personal motivation I strive to ALWAYS be right, not just hope that it happens once. Reality would tell you that being right all the time is an unreachable goal, but isn\’t that what motivates all man kind, the belief that someday, somehow, you will meet that unreachable goal?

    Comment by Morgan Busbea -

  51. Mark I am so happy I ran across your blog absolutely the best information ever. I to read and study everything I can find like yourself! As I read through it all I am inputing memos into my blackberry…… Thx

    Comment by Eric McCaine -

  52. Thanks Mark.. that was one of the greatest things I\’ve read by someone with technical background that had some real-life experience in it.

    take care and happy new year.

    Comment by rokham fard -

  53. Mark,

    Thank you.

    I am a 25 yrs old CSE grad from Bangladesh, and we 5 friends have quit our jobs and launched a startup Nextigen. Yes, we have unlimited amount of hope, and the fear as well. But what you pointed out in us (among many others) is that we need to research market more, and acquire more information on the ground we are going to play in.

    Thank you. I loved your post.

    Thank you more because otherwise I would never have had an opportunity to talk to you about what you have learned.

    Comment by Saad Altaful Quader -

  54. I think everyone knows that starting your own business is a \”fail a million times, win once\” proposition, but here\’s the question: Where do you get the money to live on while making all these expensive gambles?

    Comment by Brian Boyko -

  55. Wow Mark, thanks. I had been wondering if what I felt was true, but every time I thought about it, I thought \”No, there are people like Mark Cuban out there\”.

    So, to get the job that launched you into your computer career, you basically had to fuck the guy that sent you the interview. So, it IS as I have always suspected.

    You get ahead in this world by fucking someone else over.

    If you are willing to screw someone else to help your boss, then you\’re golden.

    If you aren\’t willing to do that, you are a \’teacher\’ or something similar.

    You certainly aren\’t going to reach the top, are you?

    Thanks dude. Whatever respect I had left for people with money has just been drained.

    I didn\’t even read past the first one, because whats the point? Moral of the story is if you want to be rich, you will have to be completely unscrupulous and fuck someone else over.


    Comment by Gary -

  56. Mark –

    Thanks for a great post. How do you balanace work life now as you said running the business is 24/7? What is the tradeoff (not reading a fictional book but real trade off like missing family, not being able to do elderly care etc. for your success? I am really interested in a typical Marc Cuban day (may be week too:) and also what is the real \”cost\” of Mark\’s success?


    Comment by Sandy -

  57. This is really inspirational stuff!!!

    2 years ago (im 22) I was going through college wondering (and wasted…mostly) if I would get through it and now I get into the New Year 2008 working a year at a bank making incentives which are 3 time\’s my annual package.Success has come to me with relentless effort and with a great degree of discipline( i still haven\’t missed a day of work in a year and a half).

    All I want to add is that the this is the \”knowledge age\” and the internet is its highlight.I bought a Blackberry on Ebay a while ago at a huge discount I get feeds on it (including your\’s…)on a daily basis.The power of information is limitless.And so are its rewards…

    have a great year

    Comment by Djxcqtion -

  58. Thank you very very much for the post Mark!!
    I finally can confirm that even such a great person like you did feel as much doubt (and confidence) when you first started.
    No doubt…after reading your post, now I found a great reason to include you in my list of \”great entrepreneurs\”.

    Comment by Hendro Wijaya -

  59. Now I know what you were doing with all of my DOS menus and scripts that you copied from my computer during your visits to my office at Neiman Marcus in the mid 80s. If I had known they were going to be so profitable I would have asked for a commission. I remember a few happy hours with you on lower Greenville Ave too. Those were good times. Thanks for the article and the walk down memory lane.

    Comment by Trent Reed -

  60. Mark,

    My first time reading your stuff and I love it! You\’ve definitely got the \”flame\” of inspiration… thanks for spreading the light.


    Comment by Stewart Hsu -

  61. ljetovanje u makarskoj – croatia –

    Comment by mate -

  62. These are a great collection of posts. I read them all and I am very impressed at your desire for knowledge and success. I really enjoyed these and see some things that I can improve upon. Mainly, reading everyday as a hobby to constantly learn and improve. Thank you for the great tips.

    Comment by Adam Smith -

  63. Mark
    As everyone else before me said, it is great to gain insights from success. I want to bring caution into your radar. With your outspoken attitude, transparency in communication and opinionated highlights (not a slam here, just observations), it seems that there are a lot of young people looking into who you are and how you came to be as part of their growing up and dealing with the real world. You are a hero and a guy who made it, in the eyes of these people. That is a big burder to carry as a role model in this current scenario of Web 2.0.x (?) and the individual ability to communicate. With the focus you have on your family, I am sure you are already aware of these, but I will say it anyways – take heed from what baseball and other similar things have done to kids (and depending on your age, the age of kids differ 🙂 to people who look up to you.

    I am not a big Dallas fan (I am still a 9ers fan) and dont have a very high opinion of Texans (even thought I have and continue to have fantastic friends there – so maybe a shortcoming on my side), I wish you and your dear family (who I think are the pillars of your strength) best of these holidays and a very pospersous, happy and healthy new year. Be well and Be grounded. And good luck in your endeavours.

    PS: I apologize for the longs posting, but if you got this far, you are a sucker for long posting :-):)

    Comment by TK -

  64. Thanns. You have given me a list of motivators that I can use with my start up clients.

    Comment by Small Business Marketing -

  65. That $18K salary makes it sound like you\’re starting from nothing, but people have to remember the year. When was this, early 80s? People have to remember that, for *that* time, $18K for a brand new college graduate as a pretty darn GOOD salary! These were 1983/1984 dollars, NOT 2007 dollars. HUGE difference.

    On top of that, you\’re sharing a bedroom with like a thousand other guys in Texas (read: very cheap), so you\’re saving most of that money. Nice move there. That banked cash probably allowed you to get through any early dry periods as you started your business.

    So there\’s a tad of spin on the money front, but as for the rest, great stuff – study hard, save your cash,and work hard and you\’ll miraculously \”get lucky\”.

    Comment by DML -

  66. Mark,

    Really very interesting and inspiring story!!! I liked it the most, especially the statement \”money does make you extremely handsome. :)\”.. wowwwww Its quite true 🙂

    Well, I am a student and trying to start my own business, but I might not be hardworking as like you or other guys so haven\’t got success yet. Still I am trying hard and I am damn sure one day I will sparkle with desired success!!! And ya I don\’t know whether I am right or wrong but I don\’t have fear of failure, I have enjoyed my failures as well. Can you suggest me how to cop up with failures???

    Once again Thanx a lot for such a nice post!!!!

    – Mittal Patel

    Comment by Mittal Patel -

  67. Go Hoosiers!

    Mark I\’ve added this post to the top of my list of great motivational reads. Steve Job\’s Stanford commencement \’Stay hungry, stay foolish\’ was previously number one.

    rock on.


    Comment by Manish Jain -

  68. 🙂
    Wow! Really inspiring. And, actually, educating ideas. You know, I looked at this and didn\’t even notice how time goes by, reading this.. 😀

    familiar feeling – time goes ..

    Many thanks, Mark, for this post! You write this, as I could imagine, knowing that who wants it – will read it. Who doeasnt, will not read. and possibly who will read it already knows much of this. at least a bit. in my philosophy it\’s hard to understand anything if you don\’t know background. hard to tell short, but I hope you understand what I mean 😉 something like you said about knowing the industry. and hard work. etc. (its 1 AM here for me. crazy, but sooo interesting! maybe not crazy, just hard to find right words.. hope you understand, just amazed!)

    Best Wishes,
    Happy New Year and good luck Mavs in playoffs 😉


    Comment by Aris -

  69. WOW just amazing. Mark you have changed my life starting today. God bless you

    Comment by Leki -

  70. Thanks for posting these again Mark. I wish they had been available when I graduated college many moons ago because there are so many nuggets in there that only make me realize how clueless I was back then about what it really takes to succeed.

    I\’m much older now but to me the content of those posts amounts to basic fundamentals of business (and personal) success and it\’s always good to review and practice fundamentals — daily — regardless of where you are on your career path.

    Comment by scotbo -

  71. Mark,

    You are absolutely SICK WIT IT. Sickest blog post I have ever read in my entire life, most because I find myself in a similar situation you did as a 24 year old wondering how to be a success without working for \”the man.\”

    I was fortunate enough to meet you at the Warriors game about a month ago. You were cool as hell, and I was inspired beyond belief to meet you. Lets hang out.

    Comment by Nathan -

  72. Hey Mark, Very cool and upfront insight. Everytime I read or talk to someone about success be it about money,mind,body or spiritual,the one thing you will always here NO SHORTCUTS. Thanks for the thoughts. P.S. Going back to your cut a while back opening a package. Check out May save you a stich or two . Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

    Comment by Frankie from Lawnside -

  73. Thanks for the PDF James.

    Comment by Sump Pump -

  74. I actually keep a print out of these in my desk. I read them anytime I feel like sitting in front of the TV instead of doing something that will help me get to the next level.

    Comment by Joe McMackin -

  75. Great, story…. Is encouraging reading this.

    Hope to read more about you future business failures and successes again.


    Comment by dedos -

  76. Great blog! Nothing like overnight success. 🙂

    Brings back a lot of memories/nightmares of the early PC days.

    BTW, Databus was a neat little language.

    Comment by BWG -

  77. A manifesto from someone of similar vintage. Now it\’s time to put it to work. Thanks, Mark!

    Comment by JT Taylor -

  78. Fascinating, down-to-earth story. Oh, and please buy the Stars…they need an owner like you.

    Comment by Mike Coffin -

  79. With Mark\’s permission I have created a PDF of this post so that whomever wants it can print it easier or download it to their PC – the link is:

    Comment by James -

  80. Mark,

    These are very inspirational. I certainly understand about what happened with your secretary. I found out an employee got me for about $20K just before Thanksgiving.

    I also rolled up my sleeves and got back to work.

    Best wishes on a great 2008!!

    Comment by Glen Wilson -

  81. So Im sitting here \’perfecting\’ a business plan after reading a pile of market research. Ive got to make a pitch to a lady in Houston who is interested here next week but Im a 25 year old punk ass, and I need a diversion. So, I thought, wonder if Cuban has any Mavs insights? And then, I find this little story. Ha! Weird how you run into stuff like this.

    You know I grew up in Dallas watching the Mavericks flounder since I was a fetus and wondered how exactly you turned it around so quickly. Now I think I understand.

    hope we cross paths some day

    Comment by John -

  82. Great post. Good to see how someone advanced through the ranks.

    Comment by David Mackey -

  83. Mark, these posts are your best real life portraits of the starts and stops that define one man\’s path to tremendous success.

    Through your eyes, and by including the good details as well as the bad, we learn that ultimate success is realistically within all of our reach. We just have to decide how bad we want it, and then get moving in that direction. I hope you are inspired to add more to this volume in the near future. All the best for a great 08!
    Michael L.

    Comment by Michael -

  84. I\’m ashamed to admit I had no idea how you made your money, aside from the nebulous notion that it was related to computers. Boy, the industry you were in is the least important aspect of your story. Your tenacity and hard work are inspiring. As a young professional, eager to make his mark and break new ground, I am lucky to have read this entry. Thanks.

    Comment by Drew -

  85. Mr. Cuban,

    Great read for those that are serious about being an entrepreneur as there are no sure things, but I hope my site will be 🙂

    Comment by Rick -

  86. AWESOME…. Reading your posts confirms what I have been reading about success in my journey of success.

    This post is getting the #1 position of best blog posts I read in the year 2007.

    Comment by Teach Me $$ -

  87. Mark, great posting. I am an entrepreneur bootstrapping a new company based on a game I invented with my three nieces. We\’ve always believed hard work will get us there, but reading your entry reinforces that belief. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Happy Holidays

    Steve Mock

    Comment by Steve Mock -

  88. Mark that was some great information to read. I literally sent that to almost all of my colleagues that could use some motivation right now. I will probably print this out just to always have a hard copy of.

    Comment by John Phillips -

  89. Mark,

    I wrote a blogpost/ tribute/ response to this motivation post, and I know you are really busy, but I just thought I would let you know it is there if you wanna read it.

    And, Hey you never know, maybe you\’ll learn something new.



    Comment by David Melamed -

  90. I am 27, trying to own the ladder but yet caught in the act of trying to climb it. I have the same ambitous as you Mr. Cuban. There are no shortcuts or excuses why I can\’t do this or that. Thanks for slapping the sense out of me for being lazy this holiday season so far and for me to wake up again and get my act right if i need to be who i am destined be. I want to own an island and a NBA team like you. I, one day, will also want to have the financial capacity to bid for a MLB team. You are the symbol of an American Dream.

    Comment by Joshua Le -

  91. Thanks, this information it was very useful to me.

    Comment by Porscher -

  92. It is really a nice reading and I really enjoy it, for surely what I got more is my motivation of life from your story.
    Thanks so much for sharing that.

    Comment by Echo -

  93. Very inspiring story… Hope you continue your journey in the same way..!

    Comment by Ananth -

  94. A very nice blog. Infact, to tell you frankly, I was just surfing the net for website names with maverick and i came across this. And to my surprise, I went on reading it all the way till end. Good philosophy put in the most un-philosophical way.

    Comment by Prasad Bakal -

  95. we need more motivation post mark!!!

    Comment by Terer -

  96. I wish you would continue with the story or put it in a book. Fascinating read.

    Comment by Jeff F. -

  97. I really enjoyed reading this; found myself constantly nodding my head to the first 3 parts..
    Story of my life I guess..

    Gonna start my own company tomorrow 🙂

    thanks for the inspiration


    Comment by larsb -

  98. Nice one Mark. I\’ve printed this out and hung it in my office for others to read.

    Comment by Chris S -

  99. Thanks for the Christmas reading Mark. Happy Holidays!!

    Comment by Bob Wegener -

  100. So what happened with your old boss and what happened to Renee? After all these years you guys must have talked about him firing you.

    Comment by Scott Horne -

  101. Mark,
    Thanks for re-telling your story. I did not know it and really enjoyed reading it. I am 51, self employed and can relate to what you have experienced. I believe you hit the nail on the head when you communicated the need for better knowledge than your competitors. In addition to the understanding that failing is necessary to succeed.
    Thanks and Merry Christmas.

    Comment by David -

  102. Awsome! I like to hear more…. continue????

    Comment by Mitchell -

  103. \”I had more than a healthy dose of fear\”

    There is nothing in the world more fearful than the fear of not being able to provide for your family. When I was single in my 20\’s I started and failed more than a couple of business and the worst that ever happened was a few days living in the car, no big deal.
    7 years ago my daughter was born and I have been the luckiest guy in the world to have been able to spend every single day with her because I work from home. The burden however is the tremendous fear of failure, but I still think its worth it.

    Comment by Shawn From -

  104. Mark great post-doh. Of course the profound ones always most obvious. Thanks for telling it like it is.

    Comment by Mark Forman -

  105. Mark,

    This is one of the best Christmas presents I\’ve ever received. I\’m in the process of trying to open up a business, and these lessons are right on time. Thank you and all the best to you and your family.

    Merry Christmas.

    Comment by Eric Ogunbase -

  106. Mark, Thanks for re-posting. I LOVED it!! Most people have no idea what it takes to start a business, the challenges you will face, and how hard you have to work. Then when you finally make it a success…they say you were lucky. Ya…right.

    The best part for me was \”In business you only have to be right once\”. This is pretty close to my favorite mantra \”One yes erases all the no\’s\”.

    I also use the baseball analogy a lot. I know of no other pursuit where failing 70% of the time is considered an \’All-Star\” level success.

    When I was at Napster I told everyone \”This will either be a grand slam home run or a strike out…but we won\’t need to wait 4 years to find out which it is. It will happen fast.\”

    Next time I hear someone say \”Mark Cuban was just lucky\”, I am going to send them this post. Outstanding!

    Don Dodge

    Comment by Don Dodge -

  107. Genius. Thanks for sharing the wisdom. I\’m happy you made it to the top from such humble beginnings. Thanks for being an inspiration!

    Comment by Darryl -

  108. Mark,

    Thanks for sharing this. It\’s awesome stuff. \”Do the work\” is definitely a line to live by. There are no shortcuts but the good part is that not everyone is willing to buckle down and commit to doing what it takes.

    Best of luck to you in 2008.


    Comment by Rahul Pathak -

  109. Mark,

    Thanks for the inspirational and practical advice postings.

    Happy Holidays,

    Ash Kumra

    Comment by Ash Kumra -

  110. Slow clap… best blog entry ever (maybe the longest too).

    The biggest nugget I take away from this is knowing the industry and doing your homework. I read books and I keep up with the industry but I probably need to up the research time several times over if I want to succeed. Very motivational Mark, thank you.

    I am dumbfounded as always with your hatred of the market. The logic makes sense but it\’s still hard to argue with the results of conservative investing in mutual funds, especially through 401k\’s where you get free money from your company. I don\’t like the process, but I can\’t believe that a 3-5% return from the bank is going to ever do me better than a historically 10% return from the stock market. I realize that you will invest big cash into companies where you can call the CEO on the phone and know the ins and outs of that biz but most of us don\’t have that kind of cash I suppose.

    Thanks again for your wisdom, sir. -J

    Comment by Jay Callicott -

  111. Wow… a true inspiration to someone my age (25).

    I made a very conscious decision when I graduated high school to spend my college savings on equipment and find opportunities to be paid to learn – I\’ve spent the time since earning money and experience while watching a lot of my friends party away their nights and weekends and get further and further in debt with their only hope to long term success hinging on an intern interview here or a part-time gig there…

    Since taking the leap and forming a software development and consulting firm with a fellow tech-geek I can honestly say that the fear of failure as a motivating factor makes a success much more enjoyable.

    Your story inspires young businesspeople like myself in much needed ways…
    Thank you for the time you spend and the wisdom you impart…

    Comment by Shaun -

  112. Mark – I really enjoyed reading your blog post, I had known you were motivated by The Fountainhead (I am a huge fan also) but I did not know all this. I am 22, energetic, wide eyed and super motivated, and I have a few comments. First, its great to know that you were so driven to read all the time and you were looking for the knowledge advantage- I do the same thing, I wake up everyday and read 15 blogs (Slashdot is the first, yours is one of them also), and I read lots and lots of books; its good to know in this aspect I am on the right track because sometimes I worry I am wasting my time. I am also taking lots of odd jobs, teaching part time at FasTracKids, I worked at a Hickory Farms mall kiosk for a month, and I have been working a part time real estate job for 3 months without pay because I want the contacts; I guess this is one of things that is necessary for success. I really like what you said I had more than a healthy dose of fear, and an unlimited amount of hope, and more importantly, no limit on time and effort. I never thought of it in this way, but this is definitely how I am right now. Another great quote of yours was I would also say it\’s hard not to fool yourself. Everyone tells you how they are going to be \”special,\” but few do the work to get there. Do the work. I believed my own bullshit for a very long time, and if I read this interview 6 months ago I would not have appreciated that, but now I do; and now more than ever I am putting in the work necessary for success every single day. I am really glad you re-posted this because it reassures me that I am doing all the right things at the right time and that even though up to this point I have not succeeded at all, I will hopefully get it right once. Happy Holidays, Will Powers.

    Comment by Will Powers -

  113. Thanks, Mark. Now I just have to get off my ass and get to work.

    Comment by Dave Williams -

  114. Reading your posts about you got to where you are really struck a chord with me, mostly because I find myself in a similar situation. I\’m 23, been unemployed for about six months, and am really struggling to put something together. Like you did, I spend my nights reading manuals and playing with new software and building different skills, and my days are split between job hunting and developing a workable business plan. There\’s a lot of inspiration to be had from your story, and I plan on passing it around. From one IU alum to another, I sincerely hope I end up even half as lucky or smart as you are. Best wishes, and happy holidays.

    Comment by Adam Licht -

  115. Even though I have read all these posts before, I still find them better then the similar tale told in book form \”Lucky or Smart\”.

    Comment by PRoales -

  116. The best Christmas present ever.

    Thanks Mark and Happy Holidays.

    Comment by Richard -

  117. Thanks for posting these Mark. I enjoy reading about your success as you are a true Maverick in the software world! Merry Christmas!

    Comment by Rudy Nemeth -

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