While these days Mark Cuban is best known as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a billionaire on ABC’s hit TV show Shark Tank, the entrepreneur made his first millions in technology. The self-described workaholic made $2 million selling his technology company MicroSolutions to CompuServe in 1990 for $6 million. Since then, he’s been keeping ahead of the curve with technology.
Technology remains a big focus for the entrepreneur. Cuban carries multiple devices (a Galaxy Note 3 for calls and an iPhone 5 for apps) with him to stay connected and keeps a Galaxy Note tablet in the bathroom. In fact, it’s hard for him to sit through the long sessions of Shark Tank tapings, where he’s not allowed to use anything but a pen and paper. (The producers allow the sharks to do their due diligence afterward and Cuban said 60% to 70% of his deals from the show close in real life.)
You won’t find Candy Crush Saga on Cuban’s phone. He uses about eight apps on a regular basis, including Dropbox and Files Anywhere to store files and synchronize devices, Waze for directions and Inside.com for daily news. It’s important for the entrepreneur to stay connected when he’s traveling in his Gulfstream V or in the Dallas Mavericks’ 747 jet. The billionaire who never slows down offers some advice that can be used by any income bracket.
Work Your Ass Off
Cuban wasn’t born with a silver spoon. When he asked his father for money to buy new sneakers, he was told to get a job and then he could by any type of shoes he wanted. So he started selling trash bags. A lot of them. He’d buy a box of 100 for $3 each and sell them for $6 each. He had a route and sold 5,000 boxes a week.
“My grandfather would come from Germany and sell briefcases and clothes and he taught me to hustle,” says Cuban. “Nothing is going to be given to you. You can always outwork the next person and you have to work 24 hours a day. If I don’t build my business better than anyone else in world, they can kick my ass. There’s always another 12-year-old somewhere out there who wants to crush me. And my words are, ‘Bring it on, bitch!”
Don’t Leave Digital Footprints
Cyber Dust is Cuban’s latest technology venture. It’s a way for anyone to have text conversations without leaving a digital footprint. Cuban learned first-hand how old digital information can lose context over time when the SEC investigated him and pored through years of old emails. With Cyber Dust, a text is sent and it vanishes 30 seconds later so that no one — not your wife, girlfriend or the NSA — can trace your conversations.
“I think you really have to gain control of your digital footprint,” says Cuban. “Kids are understanding that now. That’s why Snapchat’s been so popular. They don’t want to have that footprint out there. They recognize that who you follow on Twitter, where you reply on Twitter, what you say on Pinterest, who you follow on Pinterest, who you follow on Tumblr, what you put on Tumblr, what you put on Facebook, who you follow on Facebook, that all defines who you are. That’s all mine-able data to create a profile of you. I think adults need to start recognizing that.”
Beware Of Gold Diggers
Since 2002 Cuban has been happily married to Tiffany Stewart and they have two daughters. But the entrepreneur spent many years focusing on business over relationships. And as he acquired wealth, he became something of an expert on women.
“Effort is the one thing in life you can control,” says Cuban. “I was never one for balance between work and relationships. I’d be dating and it’d be like, ‘Mark, we’ve dated so long, it’s me or your business.’ And I’d be like, ‘What is your name again?’ I waited to get married. I suck at relationships anyway.”
Cuban learned all about gold diggers and said warning signs are obvious. Beware lines like “I like to travel,” “Charity work is so important to me” and “You’re so handsome.” By the time he did settle down with Stewart, he didn’t even have her sign a pre-nup.
Time Is More Valuable Than Money
When you literally have everything you can imagine, money becomes no object. But Cuban has exactly the same amount of hours in the day as everyone else. When I started Micro Solutions my primary goal was to retire by age of 35,” says Cuban. “The most important asset I have is time and the freedom to do all these things I only dreamed about and experience life in unique ways. That’s why I worked hard. When I hit the $1 billion mark it was like, ‘How much more do I need?’ I got into the Mavs and just tried to have fun. You only have so much time. I don’t want to look back when I’m 95 and say, ‘Why didn’t I do this?’ I want to say, ‘Fuck yeah.’”
Sports Transcend Life
Cuban was a Dallas Mavericks season ticket holder for the 1999-2000 season. On Opening Night he saw that the arena wasn’t sold out and he thought, “I could do better than this.” So he bought the team.
“Sometimes in business and in life your backs are against the wall — that was the Mavs,” says Cuban. “We marketed and hustled. I put desk in the middle of the sales force with a stack of former season ticket holders and called them one at a time. This wasn’t a traditional company. We had a new arena with 17,800 tickets each night to sell. We started with some seats at $8 and now we have tickets that start at $10, which is less than the cost of a movie. I had to convince people we were in the business of unique experiences, not just basketball. The types of emotions you can get from sports when you’re up by 40 and then down and then you go on an 11-point run — you can’t get those anywhere else. With sporting events you remember who you took on dates, families go together, Aunt Suzy is dancing with Goth kids on the JumboTron. Of course, investing in that big German guy [Dirk Nowitzki] made it easy.”