The Sport of Business

The Sport of Business.

I can’t go more than a week without shooting baskets. There is something about the feel of the ball coming off my hand, and the sound of the ball going through the net. It just feels good.

If I’m just standing in the gym, I can shoot pretty well. Playing in a game. Well it’s not quite what it used to be. I used to have a spin move that would work for me no matter who I was playing against or what level they were at. If I could get a pick and the defender went under, I didn’t have to think about it, I could hit the shot. These days, my mind knows what to do, but my body just laughs at me. Put me up against 20 year olds, and I won’t embarrass myself but it’s only because I know how to set a pick and hit an open, a very wide open jumper, and spend the rest of the game getting out of the way.

I love to compete. I always have. Playing basketball was just something I had to do no matter how good I was and its something I will always do, no matter how old I get. It gives me a chance to blow off steam. It gives me a way to refocus.

But no matter how much I love to play the game or how involved and competitive I get during a Mavs game, it’s only a minor release. Real competition comes from the sport of business.

In sports, you know who your opponents are. You know when you are going to play a game. You know pretty much how long the game will last. It’s mentally and physically exhausting if you are at the top of the game, but it still pails at the effort required to be successful in business.

The sport of business isn’t divided into games. It’s not defined by practices. It doesn’t have set rules that everyone plays by.

The sport of business is the ultimate competition. It’s 7x24x365xforever.

I love the sport of business. I love the competition. I love the fire of it. It’s the feeling of the clock winding down, the ball is in your hands, and if you hit the shot you win…all day, every day.

Relaxing is for the other guy. I may be sitting in front of the TV, but I’m not watching it unless I think there is something I can learn from it. I’m thinking about things I can use in my business and the TV is just there.

I could take the time to read a fiction book, but I don’t. I would rather read websites, newspapers, magazines, looking for ideas and concepts that I can use. I spend time in bookstores because 1 idea from a book or magazine can make me money.

I’m not going to go to dinner with you just to chat. I’m not going to give you a call to see how you are. Unless you want to talk business. Other guys play fantasy sports. I fire the synapses to get an edge.

That’s what success is all about. It’s about the edge.

It’s not who you know. It’s not how much money you have. It’s very simple. It’s whether or not you have the edge and have the guts to use it.

The edge is getting so jazzed about what you do, you just spent 24 hours straight working on a project and you thought it was a couple hours.

The edge is knowing that you have to be the smartest guy in the room when you have your meeting and you are going to put in the effort to learn whatever you need to learn to get there.

The edge is knowing is knowing that when the 4 girlfriends you have had in the last couple years asked you which was more important, them or your business, you gave the right answer.

The edge is knowing that you can fail and learn from it, and just get back up and in the game.

The edge is knowing that people think your crazy, and they are right, but you don’t care what they think.

The edge is knowing how to blow off steam a couple times a week, just so you can refocus on business

The edge is knowing that you are getting to your goals and treating people right along the way because as good as you can be, you are so focused that you need regular people around you to balance you and help you.

The edge is being able to call out someone on a business issue because you know you have done your homework.

The edge is recognizing when you are wrong, and working harder to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The edge is being able to drill down and identify issues and problems and solve them before anyone knows they are there.

The edge is knowing that while everyone else is talking about nonsense like the will to win, and how they know they can be successful, you are preparing yourself to compete so that you will be successful.

That’s what makes business such an amazing sport. Everyone plays it. Everyone talks about how good they are or will be at it. Just a small percentage are.

Every single day someone has an idea. Every day someone talks about some business they want to start. Every day someone is out there starting a business whose entire goal is to beat the hell out of yours. How cool is that.

Every day some stranger from any where in the world that you have never met is trying to come up with a way to put you out of business. To take everything you have worked your ass off for, and take it all away. If you are in a growing industry, there could be hundreds or thousands of strangers trying to figure out ways to put you out of business. How cool is that.

The ultimate competition. Would you like to play a game called Eat Your Lunch. We are going to face off. My ability to execute on an idea vs yours. My ability to subvert your business vs your ability to keep it going. My ability to create ways to remove any reason for your business to exist vs your ability to do the same to me. My ability to know what you are going to do, before you do it. Who gets there first? Best of all, this game doesn’t have a time limit. It’s forever. It never ends. It’s the ultimate competition.

It’s the sport of business. It’s not for everyone, but I love it.

I’m fortunate. I have done well enough financially that I don’t have to play 24x7x365. I can and have cut back to 18x7x365. Family first now.

But in those 18 hours, you can bet I’m competing, and loving it.

But that’s me. You have to figure out what works for you.

62 thoughts on “The Sport of Business

  1. Pingback: Medianeurone’s » Blog Archive » links for 2008-09-30

  2. the edge sounds like D. Wade lol.

    J/K, thanks Mark, great post! Very inspiring for a young guy wanting to make a name for himself.

    I met you once in Pittsburgh after a Pirates game at the bar across from PNC. My buddy asked if you were in town to buy the Pirates and you said they\’re not for sale haha. I\’ve been telling everyone that you\’re a really nice guy, super down to earth.

    Comment by Chris -

  3. Mr. Cuban,

    Great article! I could not agree more with its contents. Very encouaraging ,highly motivational and exceptionally well written. However, what can be done when a great concept/idea can not be \”pitched\” to anyone because none of those approached bothered to even respond? I still believe that, as cliche, as \”being at the right place at the right time\” sounds, it still does come down to getting an idea presented to \”right people\”, or better still, getting that 10-minute opportunity to \”sell\”. How many great ideas never get developed only because no one bothered to even respond to find out what they were? So, to make a long story short, how do you find \”right people\” to \”pitch\” your idea to?

    Comment by Robert -

  4. Very nice post!

    I\’ve heard it all before about how \”I am going to\”, \”I wish I had\”, \”If only I had\” or some other variation. What a shame that they never got to really experience life.

    To achieve success one must look failure in the eye.

    Comment by Business Blogger -

  5. Once again…you\’ve drawn me in with another great post. I couldn\’tagree more.

    Comment by Seo Teknikleri -

  6. Once again…you\’ve drawn me in with another great post. I couldn\’t agree more.

    Comment by Seo Teknikleri -

  7. Once again…you\’ve drawn me in with another great post. I couldn\’t agree more.

    Comment by Tinodoon -

  8. I don\’t think Mark is doing this for money, Ken Jackson. This is about power, about being #1, the podium.

    Like you though I find Mark\’s words disturbing. This isn\’t healthy. 6 hours out of everyday reserved for family is not putting family first.

    Comment by Paul M. Watson -

  9. I just read \”Success and Motivation\” – all parts and The Sport of Business. I enjoy reading your blog because you get it and your not afraid to let other people know that you get it. Success does not come easy but it comes to those who are willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to pursue it.

    Comment by David A -

  10. Great blog. Please check out my site.

    FREE S&H!!

    Comment by Mike Lowing -

  11. What a great post. The idea that others are out to get you and you can\’t see them is so important for entrepreneurs to understand.

    Also, there is a great book — written in the 70s or 80s i think — by legendary ohio wrestling coach called THE EDGE… it explains why winners have the edge and how you get it. it is all quotes from athletes, leaders, business leaders, etc… really worth it… you can find it online… great for kids and young entrepreneurs. thanks Mark.. Good luck with your MMA ventures. i love the sport though none of my friends do…

    Comment by Campus Entrepreneurship -

  12. It is funny that you pay your NBA players more than you do the people that operate your business. I understand why, don\’t get me wrong. I do know most of them have a tremendous amount of work ethic. It is amazing that athletic promenence take precedence over intellectual promenence. Well at the end of the day you own the team. Smart people still come out ahead of the game just not with fame.

    Comment by GeorgeBurke -

  13. \”I could take the time to read a fiction book, but I don\’t. I would rather read websites, newspapers, magazines, looking for ideas and concepts that I can use. I spend time in bookstores because 1 idea from a book or magazine can make me money.\”

    That\’s so tremendously sad.

    Comment by The Zoner -

  14. Inspiring!

    Comment by Jason Alba -

  15. just what I needed on a Monday morning, to perk me up with a cup of joe.

    Thanks, Mark

    Comment by Tommy -

  16. How about a list of your favorite books?

    Comment by Eric -

  17. Mr. Cuban:

    I am 23 years old, I have lived in 4 different states since I was 18 (by choice) I have always been chasing the chance to be financially free. I go where the money goes, and I go to where my best chance at making the money is. I have since moved back home to Michigan, where although the economy is not great, I found a good job that will make me financially able to launch some investments and start making some moves.

    I wanted to ask you, where is the lack of financial and business education? Why has it been so long of me starting up a business after business before I realized how the world works? I am a entrepenuer, ever since I was 10 years old starting up an \”odd Jobs\” business. More recently I started a flag football league in Flordia as well as a Ceramic Tile Installation company. But the fact is the world lacks VISION.

    This is the problem I see in the general population (I am now in an industry that has me communciating with many business owners on a daily basis). What I have known since high school is that the world wants us to think of $=Time and differing from that is often times responded with ridicule of \”thats just not how the world works\”. Although this kind of thinking is in the minority, it is absolutly the way to think if you ever want to make more then an hourly wage.

    Basicly I wrote that to ask this: Although I agree with everything you have said, because I am aware of the cost of being businessly motivated, where do you think the lack of knowledge is coming from for people my age? It just seems that everyone expects a 4 year degree to be the solve all answer to their financial troubles, it still isnt another 10-20 years before they realize their full income potential.

    I have always attempted to look past the smoke and mirrors and see the world the way it is. You are a breath of fresh air and a testimate to the American Dream.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Eric J. Wilson -

  18. Everyone must read this! Great stuff for anything we may do with our lives. Good to share with the kids too- they\’re never too young. Thanks!

    Comment by Stacey -

  19. Awesome post even the second time. I love to read your article some mornings just to get my motivation going. After I read it I just want to get to work. It gets me pumped. I love to compete. I love that in business there are really no rules. You are responsible for your success or failure. Its all up to you. Are you going to bring it? Pretty awesome.

    Mark everyone has comented about your balance. I would love to hear about the real mark cuban. did you really loose 4 girlfriends cause you were working too much? do you still not have lunch with someone if its not about business? did you really work 7 days a week for ~30 years?

    I really love the sport of business. I love to work. It gets me pumped up and I don\’t feel like it is really work. However at the end of the day if I lost of my relationships and all of my true play/recreation time then it wouldn\’t be worth it. This is an awesome article but where does the real mark cuban find balance or is this it? Could your wife and kids and family be happy with that? Was giving up vacations for 7 years worth it? was sacrificing all your leisure time and relationships worth it? Was jeopardizing your health worth it? Was giving up your \”life\” for business worth it?

    I love business but I would love to hear your thoughts on this also.

    Great post!

    Comment by Todd -

  20. Thank you. Thank you.
    Now I know that I\’m not the only one who approaches business in an unorthodox manner. I call it the \’Game of Business\” but I would tend to agree with you and really look at it as the \”Sport of Business\”
    I particularly liked your success \’edges\’
    Great post.

    Comment by Small Business Marketing -

  21. This post sure rings true with me right now. I am that person that plays in fantasy baseball, football, and basketball leagues year around. Just in the last month since launching my new website I have cared less about that stuff. I am seriously considering not doing any leagues next year. I found myself barely even watching playoff football today. It was basically on in the background while I worked on my laptop. A year ago I wouldn\’t of missed a second of a playoff football game. And now its 11:15PM on Sat night. I should be out partying but instead all I can think about is working.

    Thanks for the post Mark. It makes me think I am on the right track.

    Comment by Joe M. -

  22. Great blog. Everyone should always strive to be the best. I like the edge stuff..


    Comment by Josh Helm -

  23. As someone who has been rather successful to this point, I take issue with some of these points. I love what I do, but if I lived with the pressure and constant influx of information that is available 24 hours a day, I would implode. You need more balance than suggested for long run success and happiness imo. I look at the people that I work with who live in this manner and can\’t imagine that I will ever want to emulate them. I also firmly believe that at the end of the day, I will outperform them.

    Comment by Josh -

  24. Great post!
    But now, when I read the whole article, I feel sorry for your family. You have all that money, but your wife and kids have just a couple of hours a day with you? And BTW: 18*7*365 for your business, the rest for your family. When do you sleep?

    Comment by Marvin42 -

  25. What about The Fountainhead?

    Comment by Lucas Davidson -

  26. Hmmm…I\’m not interested in 24x7x365 or even 18x7x365…But I think there is still a place for me.

    Comment by David Mackey -

  27. And Mr M.

    You made the A-Z list in Network World for \”What Doesn\’t Matter.\”

    \”C is for civil liberties, Mark Cuban, and CDs
    Civil liberties (on the phone, the Internet, even real life) won\’t matter again until Jan. 20, 2009, at the earliest, depending on what happens Nov. 4, 2008. Also, C is for Cuban. Mark Cuban that is. He has worn out his welcome as a dancer and blogger. And C is for the compact disc, which having turned 25 in 2007 is circling the drain.\”

    Comment by Pat Crofoot -

  28. \”The edge is knowing that while everyone else is talking about nonsense like the will to win, and how they know they can be successful, you are preparing yourself to compete so that you will be successful.\”

    This statement is the essence of business.

    First part = CEO\’s, Marketing, Ass-kissers (most of sales), Politicians.
    Second part = COO, CFO.

    Yet who gets the money, the glory, the press?

    There are exceptions. The do-it-yourselfers who have \”the edge\” and make it reality through preparation, study and execution. But they are the exceptions. And that is a direct problem with society, the US and the current corporate economy.

    Business majors are coming out of college, selling them selves and talking big game and reaping rewards. While the innovators, entrepreneurs and developers are working their ass off supporting these yahoo\’s.

    Comment by Pat Crofoot -

  29. I started my own business. Maybe that ideas will help to me? BTW I prefer martial arts

    Comment by Ivan -

  30. You write about \”goals\” as for me I only have visions. My vision is what drives me and keeps me going 24/7/365. I understand goals are needed to show progress and achievement, but I have tried writing my goals down and goals don\’t work for me. How do you define your goals and once you achieve them then what? I feel a blog on a billionaires goals standard would be very informative at least for me!!!

    As for having an edge, you do have one! Now do you feel this is a skill you learned, born with, or comes with success?

    Comment by Brian Cherry -

  31. Hell yes.

    Comment by Derek Tumolo -

  32. For those citing \”balance\”, I believe self-actualized people like Mark are playing and working at the same time doing one of the things that they love most.

    Look at the way Mark writes about business even when he\’s not talking about the Mavs – he uses sports analogies to explain his thoughts – it\’s a game to him and that makes it more fun.

    He\’s scaled back the \”game of work\” because now he has a family that he wants to be with, and make it about, them. In that time it\’s about the family member\’s interests, hobbies, goals, hopes, and dreams.

    Last, I think CEOs like Mark and Bob Parsons connect more with the \”every man\” because they DO like to have fun, laugh, and even dress different than the stereotypical buttoned-down corporate \”guy\”.

    Comment by Trevor -

  33. 2 Thoughts:
    1) I think you should read this post – use it as audio – but sync it with Ben Affleck\’s boardroom scene in \”Boiler Room\” … Just think the two mesh pretty well.

    2) I\’m sorry – but you left out the luck variable in the sport of business. I, personally, think success is the equation of hard work (or as you describe as \”The Edge\”) and luck. While people make their own luck — Luck is derived from passion. What is obvious from this post is your passion for business and you are a great example of the formula. You were beyond passionate about the ability to listen to audio online…You worked very hard…and then were lucky that the market was beyond inflated – and YHOO forked over $5B.

    Comment by BG -

  34. Cuban Uber Alles

    nice read, very inspiring much like the last week of your blog

    Comment by ben -

  35. The edge is having something automated that other people spend all day on.

    The edge is being able to grow 100x larger without adding a single employee.

    Comment by laminate -

  36. Mark,

    I\’m a pastor and I feel the same way (some exceptions apply)!

    I love your take on \”the edge\”! Imagine if more leaders lived like this!

    Thanks for putting this out there!

    Comment by paul peterson -

  37. Dear Mr. Cuban,

    We are a country band that have written some demo songs and posted them on youtube. We would be honored if you would have a listen to them. Here is a link to our website. We would like to hear what you think of the songs. Thank you for your time, Happy New Year.
    Peace and Love always,
    -The Stephen Koal Band
    contact us @

    Comment by Stephen Koal -

  38. good article.I like so much

    Comment by dirgis -

  39. Always enjoy your blog; and I did enjoy the history of your career. But the ego posts are getting a little droll… Can we get back to business now?

    Comment by Mike B -

  40. Another great post and thanks again for your generosity. More and more the clouds part and the dream of being huge is within our grasp. Your average joe start gives us all inspiration. No magic formula, no secret handshake, no privileged connections, just plain old dogged determination to be the best and to find your edge.

    Comment by John Kai -

  41. Dude, you rock! It must be cool to be you.

    Comment by Affordable SEO - Terry reeves -

  42. Does your wife ever read these posts?
    I\’d be very interested to know if she agrees with your 18x7x365 attitude.
    Probably not.
    Remember she\’s your partner. You can\’t treat your partners like that. At least, if you do for very long, they won\’t be your partner.
    Caution: Be careful. I have experienced these unpleasant things. How important is family?
    What about the adage…Variety is the spice of life. All work and no play…
    Most successful highly driven people need \”normal\” people around them to bring the bubble back to center every now and then.
    This post exposes unbalanced illogical thinking.
    Very powerful thoughts but definitely not in the \”normal\” realm.

    Comment by NCH -

  43. There\’s more to life than the pursuit of money. I feel for anyone that actually tries to live by these standards day in and day out. Those who do will likely die lonely having accomplished very little that actually matters. Balance is everything and that should be your 24x7x52 pursuit. You can still be successful and have balance.

    Comment by Ken Jackson -

  44. its comforting to know that the way i think and act isn\’t so abstract and totally nuts.. along with motivating to some who may need that , its the therapeutic value of one business addict helping another that makes this post without parallel for me.

    Comment by zwe -

  45. Marc, you\’ve always been a hero of mine for a variety of reasons, but this post is truly inspiring. Hits way too close to home.

    Maybe someday you\’ll know what I\’m talking about and appreciate what I mean. That onus is on me.

    Thanks, and cheers

    Comment by Trav -

  46. Mark,

    Awesome write-up! I agree fully with your thoughts on sport of business! So, is business a form of sport or is it sport that is a form of business? Not sure, how they differ these days, when sport and business are very competitive and interwoven, but I do know that in business whether unintentionally or not, people will get hurt and their hurt is never rewarded or known and there is no time-out for them to take. What are your thoughts on sport of business to embitterment of man-kind and never profiteering at a detriment to man-kind? How different would the world be today, if we always played the sport of business by putting man-kind above profiteering and not putting profiteering above man-kind? What are your thoughts on ethics of sport of business and how and what we need to do to try to be more of a just leader and not bean counters for the few investors with focus on material gains? Your writing in the last few weeks is getting us somewhere where most man-kind has never been before, sort of like the Star Trek movies! LOL! Thanks again for all your thoughts! u da man!

    Comment by Mitchell -

  47. I think your approach to business and life is honest and original…so the question i have for you Mr Cuban is why not make a seminar or some tapes to help a bigger audience.. Now i know \”THE DONALD\” has a seminar- but like i said you actually can HELP others…
    but let me answer some of the basic questions for you…
    1) i know you dont need the money ( donald on the other hand???)
    2) your hands are probably full as is with all your other projects
    3) not your speed
    4) this advice really about you helping your blog fans

    Comment by manny -

  48. Kudos!

    Comment by Bob Wegener -

  49. One of my favorite posts of yours. Reads even better the second time around.

    Comment by Michael -

  50. Mark,

    Big fan.

    Thanks for these posts & reposts the last week or two they have helped me re-focus a little bit in my business and cemented some core values I already believed and had somehow begun to stray from. So thanks.

    PS – What is up with HDNET Movies and DIRECTV?

    Since they launched their major HD channels we have stopped receiving this channel.

    Comment by ti -

  51. Once again…you\’ve drawn me in with another great post. I couldn\’t agree more.

    Comment by justin case -

  52. \”The edge is knowing that people think your crazy, and they are right, but you don\’t care what they think.\”


    Mark, understand that if you write a book you\’re an instant best seller. Do it.

    Comment by Daniel Driffill -

  53. Best… post… ever.

    Comment by Al at 7P -

  54. I think understand what you are getting at that loving what you do is very important and that\’s really what gives you an edge. However, I have a major problem with this statement: \”I\’m not going to go to dinner with you just to chat. I\’m not going to give you a call to see how you are. Unless you want to talk business.\”

    Please tell me you miscommunicated, and are not someone who cares nothing about people on a personal level and everything about money/business.

    Comment by jasnmb -

  55. Mr. Cuban, although you are allegedly a great businessman, I am a great artist, and I have to say your writing style is coming off as a business seminar on how to offend great artists. Was that your intent? I surely hope it wasnt. I would be forced to report your blog to the internet for a host of violations. I know the higher ups would be salivating at a chance to put an artistic novice in their place! They will be conducting a review to see if this so called blog has any artistic merit. On a related note, your performance on the reality TV show would have Bob Fosse turning in his grave! Please stay in the boardroom and out of the art galleries of the world, you can not buy artistic greatness, it is not for sale, it has to be cultivated! I hope this will encourage you to stop writing as soon as possible. Do it for all the artists in the world.

    Comment by Shamus Goldensteinbergbaum -

  56. \”It\’s whether or not you have the edge and have the guts to use it.\” Excellent quote.

    Mark you are tenacious in your business. You have the drive and desire to accomplish your goals.

    Comment by Darryl -

  57. I\’m trying to separate two threads: the pursuit of money and the pursuit of acheivement. Winning probably is everything, but it should not be just for the money. It\’s doing the best, it\’s innovating, building, succeeding, etc. If money comes with acheivements, then that\’s all just the gravy. Those who fall prey to a chase for the almighty dollar have lost sight of what\’s important, and what really makes the adrenalin flow.
    Those who really love what they do, would do it even for a lot less financial gain. They just love to win, to be the best, to be the first, to gain in spite of all the obstacles. The real payday in life, in business, is measured experientially – what did you do, how well did you do it? Trying new things, not staying in the comfort zone all the time, that\’s experiential living. For 2008 – expand your life, experientially and exponentially.

    Comment by thomason -

  58. Cuban is En Fuego!

    This is also my favorite posting you\’ve ever written – I felt like your words were literally ripped from my head – You\’ve articulated my thoughts on business (and why I love it) better than I\’ve ever been able to on my own.

    You\’re two for two this year with great insight and wisdom (one more and you have a GameBreaker) – Thank you.

    Comment by Uday -

  59. Question.. for having such constant and persistent focus, do you ever end up burning out? ..or does shooting hoops and other forms of blowing off steam successfully stave off the burnout?

    Also, not to be too picky, but shouldn\’t it be 7x24x52xforever? Or just 24x365xforever? 🙂

    Comment by Matt -

  60. \”The edge is getting so jazzed about what you do, you just spent 24 hours straight working on a project and you thought it was a couple hours.\” – Mark

    I have the same problem… those time warps have gotten me in trouble because I would think 10 minutes went by when actually 1 hour went by or more. Unfortunately deadlines & meetings with others are dictated by their clock, not my own.

    It\’s all about those cool alarm clock setting on the macbook pro 😉


    Comment by greg -

  61. M-

    I think you nailed it with your section that begins with \”The Edge…\” I would add, The Edge is being three steps ahead of people and impatiently waiting for them to realize it. Nice Post.

    Comment by Andrew -

  62. IMO, best article you have ever written. Amazing. Thanks!

    Comment by James -

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