1-Sentence-Summary: How To Win At The Sport Of Business is Mark Cuban’s account of how he changed his mindset and attitude over the years to go from broke to billionaire and help you embrace the habits of a successful businessman (or woman).
Read in: 3 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Mark Cuban saw it coming. The dot-com bust, I mean. When he sold his second company, broadcast.com to Yahoo! in 1999 for $5.7 billion, he anticipated that whatever he’d work on next would likely be non-Internet related.
He then diversified his wealth to avoid losing it from a crash and is since most notably known for owning the Dallas Mavericks and being a judge on Shark Tank.
This ebook is a sort of manifesto he’s written in 2011 to share his story and inspire other entrepreneurs to take a similar path and not get discouraged.
Here are 3 lessons about the sport of business:
- You can come back to your passions later.
- Be okay with slow growth.
- Hire people who are equally motivated.
Ready to score a 3-pointer? Time to shoot some business hoops!
Lesson 1: Solve problems now, return to passions later.
After being fired from his last job selling software, installing it and fixing up computers, Mark Cuban founded his own company, MicroSolutions, to do the same. It was 1983, so everything computer-related was new and complicated – people needed help.
Instead of fixating on his passion, Mark looked at the world with open eyes, and solved a problem that needed to be solved. Only after selling this company in 1990 (for $6 million, $2 million of which went to Mark’s bank account after taxes) did he look back into sports and then found a problem he could solve there: live streaming basketball matches.
In turn, when he sold that company nine years later, he then bought an entire NBA team, which he now also runs as a business.
The point is: Don’t obsess about turning your passion into your paycheck too early.
Mark could’ve spent the rest of his life trying to become an NBA player or coach, and not get anywhere. Instead, he asked: “World, what do you need right now?” and took care of that.
You can always come back later and re-visit old passions.
Lesson 2: Learn to be okay with slow, organic growth.
“The day you borrow money is the worst day of your life.” Those words always ring in my ears when I hear someone talk about venture capital and startup funding. They were said by Gary Vaynerchuk’s dad to him, and if you want to own your business, be in control, and prefer money over debt, then you should remember them too.
Venture investors are sometimes called vulture investors for a reason – when you sell a piece of your business to them, they take control of it, therefore taking control of you.
They not only get to tell you what to do, but worse, if you don’t deliver, you can even be pushed out of your own company (ahem, Steve Jobs).
Growing organically takes time. It’s not as fancy as going from $0 to $1 million in evaluation with a few investments, but it pays off in the long run. Learn to be okay with this slow, organic growth, as it’s much more stable and profitable.
You’ll also not have to justify your actions to anyone and no one can tell you what to do with your business.
Lesson 3: Only hire people who are as motivated as you are.
Mark started MicroSolutions with his friend Scott. Broadcast.com was started with another friend of his, Todd Wagner. The first few people you hire will make or break your company.
Therefore, you’d better hire people who are just as motivated as you to get stuff done and move the company forward, not just collect their salary, do average work and go home.
This goes really well with lesson 2, because if you restrict yourself to hiring really motivated people, you’ll automatically grow slowly and allow all of your employees to develop the customer-centric approach your business needs to have to thrive and not just survive.
Even when he was already a billionaire, Mark Cuban kept responding to customer complaints personally, which shows how deeply seated his motivation truly is.
So don’t settle for average employees – hire people who are just as driven as you are!
My personal take-aways
This is a book you can’t take too literal. For example, it tells you to prepare for long nights and tons of overtime – but that might not be your style. You don’t have to follow this book to a T. We all have our own tactics. The real learning happens when you look at Mark Cuban’s way of thinking and how his inspiration shows in what he does.
If a billionaire wraps up his life in a few dozen pages, it’s sure worth your attention. Just get this book, it’s a quick read.
Note: Mark still writes frequently on his blog. It’s the best place to get more insights from him.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- How Mark Cuban started completely on the bottom
- Why it might be better to try out several jobs
- What changes he made after buying the Dallas Mavericks
- Why you can only make it in business if you take any opportunity to learn you get
- The one aspect of business you really control
- How whining is actually an important business skill
Who would I recommend the How To Win At The Sport Of Business summary to?
The 24 year old recent graduate, who just wants to party and spend his first few paychecks on fun, the 38 year old on her third startup using VC funding, and anyone who’d like to start a company with their friends.