The Con­tin­u­ing Ed­u­ca­tion of Mark Cuban

The en­tre­pre­neur on race, ro­bot­ics and why now is a great time to start a busi­ness

Newsweek - - Periscope - BY JOR­DAN HAR­BIN­GER @Jor­dan­harbinger

Bil­lion­aire Busi­ness man, Shark Tank reg­u­lar and Dal­las Mav­er­icks owner Mark Cuban has never been shy about say­ing what was on his mind. Re­cently he sat down with Jor­dan Har­bin­ger, host of the The Jor­dan Har­bin­ger Show pod­cast and a Newsweek con­trib­u­tor, to share his thoughts on protest and racism in the wake of Ge­orge Floyd’s killing, how he learned some tough lessons about lead­er­ship and what Amer­ica needs to do if it re­ally wants to com­pete eco­nom­i­cally with China. Here are the high­lights, lightly edited for clar­ity:

His Ad­vice to Busi­nesses Now

i’m Telling Them all The ex­act same Thing. One, you have to be trans­par­ent. Two, you have to be hon­est. Three, you have to be au­then­tic. Four, you have to talk. You have to com­mu­ni­cate, be­cause ev­ery­body’s freaked out. Ev­ery­body’s un­cer­tain. Ev­ery­body’s work­ing with im­per­fect in­for­ma­tion. You have to rec­og­nize that when ev­ery­body’s afraid, the best way to deal with it is by com­ing to­gether.

[You] only want to do busi­ness with peo­ple who rep­re­sent the things that are im­por­tant to you. And if you’re not tak­ing care of your em­ploy­ees, if you’re not tak­ing care of your stake­hold­ers, your brand is go­ing to be dam­aged for­ever. Young kids are go­ing to carry that with them for decades. I think those big com­pa­nies are rec­og­niz­ing how they present them­selves, how they in­ter­act in so­ci­ety, how they worked from the bottom up, in­stead of the tra­di­tional top down, is go­ing to de­fine their brand for decades.

Ge­orge Floyd: “The only sur­prise is that it’s taken this long”

Peo­ple are an­gry. There’s sys­temic racism. The peo­ple who have just been dis­ad­van­taged their en­tire lives and ev­ery day they wake up, it’s a con­cern and an uncer­tainty that they need to deal with that just cre­ates un­bound stress. They are los­ing 40-plus mil­lion peo­ple who’ve lost their jobs, who knows how many peo­ple have had their hours re­duced, had their wages re­duced .... You’ve got the

pan­demic where you’re not cer­tain about your health and your mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties are get­ting the brunt of it. There’s a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of peo­ple work­ing in health care that are mi­nori­ties. So there’s a dis­pro­por­tion there on the front lines. That’s just a lot of stress .... Martin Luther King said ri­ot­ing is the voice of the un­heard. The only sur­prise is that it’s taken this long.

Drew Brees: “We don’t have stand­ing”

i ac­tu­ally felt Bad for drew. Hon­estly, I think he was try­ing to be pos­i­tive. It’s hard not to be tone-deaf in those cir­cum­stances.

I’ve been there be­fore, where I said some­thing, where I thought I was start­ing a le­git­i­mate con­ver­sa­tion on race. I made a tone-deaf state­ment that I thought was ac­cu­rate and hon­est, and I learned from it.

I think Drew will learn from it as well. I think his heart’s in the right place, but be­ing white, we don’t have stand­ing.

Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence Will Trans­form Gov­ern­ment

i have started To say over The last two years or so, with ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, we’ll be able to start see­ing gov­ern­ment as a ser­vice more. If we ever have any politi­cians that ever un­der­stand tech­nol­ogy and where it’s go­ing, which is a whole other is­sue, then they’ll be able to see that as ad­vances oc­cur in AI, there are risks, there are bias risks, there are per­for­mance risks, there are ac­cu­racy risks. But as we get through those prob­lems, AI as a ser­vice can re­place that old his­tor­i­cal model of the pa­per pusher. The bu­reau­crat that just sits at their desk, stamp­ing things all day long and try­ing to do any­thing not to work. Tech­nol­ogy can start to solve some of those prob­lems in gov­ern­ment and make it smaller, but ef­fec­tively do more and leave more money for the peo­ple and the ser­vices that we all need.

Why Now Is a Great Time to Start a Busi­ness

The cur­rent new stuff you al­ways want to stay up to speed on: ro­bot­ics, pre­ci­sion medicine, AI, sta­tis­tics, math is al­ways a good thing to study no mat­ter what. But the key, I think when you’re go­ing to col­lege, is just learn­ing how to learn be­cause the only con­stant is change. We went from pre-pan­demic in Jan­uary to try­ing to un­der­stand the im­pact of viruses and will they oc­cur again. Pre-pan­demic, we never had a con­cept of work­ing from home, and you never would have thought of “How do I en­hance the au­dio for Zoom?” So there’s al­ways go­ing to be change that leads to opportunit­y. And there’s never go­ing to be a bet­ter time than right now, hope­fully, to start a busi­ness. Sim­ply be­cause ev­ery­thing’s go­ing through this re­set.

Keep Learn­ing

ev­ery Time There’s new Tech­nol­ogy that I think is im­pact­ful, I want to learn it. AI is go­ing to be huge. So I’m tak­ing ma­chine learn­ing tu­to­ri­als. I’m on Youtube watch­ing an in­tro­duc­tion to neu­ral net­works. I’m read­ing re­search pa­pers about re­in­force­ment learn­ing and how they meet goals and how that works.

“Peo­ple say, ‘Well, what’s the worst part about be­ing a bil­lion­aire?’ Noth­ing. ”

li­cens­ing. I think it’s the state of Louisiana that in or­der to wash hair, you have to be li­censed, and you have to have some ridicu­lous 200 hours of ap­pren­tice ex­pe­ri­ence. That’s ridicu­lous. The fact that just start­ing a busi­ness isn’t just one-but­ton click. In the city of Dal­las, you want to start a busi­ness, you go on­line, you fill out a cou­ple of forms, you hit one but­ton, maybe you put in your credit card and it’s $99. Just stuff like that, you have to re­move the fric­tion from those things. Crazy li­cens­ing pro­tects peo­ple who don’t need to be pro­tected.

Bil­lion­aire’s Luck

in my first com­pany, The stock mar­ket wasn’t huge for those types of com­pa­nies. My sec­ond com­pany, the stock mar­ket was huge for that type of in­ter­net com­pany. I didn’t plan that. I didn’t pre­dict it, but I cer­tainly ben­e­fited from it. Could I be­come a mil­lion­aire again? Ab­so­lutely. Mul­ti­ple times over. I’ve done it many times, but could I hit bil­lion­aire again? Only if I got lucky.

Good­bye 9-to-5

i got fired Be­cause my Bosses hated me be­cause I was too bel­liger­ent and too ag­gres­sive. That’s just the way it was. First three jobs I had never lasted more than nine months .... Then I knew I had to do it on my own, and I just didn’t have a choice. I’m liv­ing with six guys in a three-bed­room apart­ment, and this is at a time when un­em­ploy­ment was above 10 per­cent the year I grad­u­ated from col­lege. That ex­tended for a few years and so it wasn’t like jobs were easy to come by.

How to Be an En­tre­pre­neur

There are Peo­ple who are Born to do it. I was born to do it, and I just had it. I was just al­ways sell­ing and sell­ing and sell­ing. And if you can sell, you can be an en­tre­pre­neur, you just have to start that com­pany for what­ever you’re good at sell­ing. But for ev­ery­body else, if you have a vi­sion, but you’re will­ing to do the work to fol­low through, it’s more about prepa­ra­tion, and it’s more about in­vest­ing the time to be­come knowl­edge­able .... And most peo­ple aren’t will­ing to do that. So it’s not that any­body can’t be an en­tre­pre­neur. But if you’re find­ing your­self ask­ing “What kind of com­pa­nies should I start?” you’re not ready. “What do you think I should do?” You’re not ready. “Am I ready to start this com­pany?” You’re not ready. If you find your­self, “I know this so much bet­ter than this com­pany, this com­pany, this com­pany, if I can get in there and just get one ac­count,” then you’re ready.

Made in China

you can man­u­fac­ture in china, but we still should be do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to kick their ass so we don’t have to any­more. I get all th­ese emails from peo­ple. “Oh, you push peo­ple to man­u­fac­ture in China.” No, I don’t. Ev­ery sin­gle prod­uct I’ve ever had man­u­fac­tured, I’ve tried to make it here first. But now what we’re

do­ing that’s dif­fer­ent, I’m work­ing with those com­pa­nies be­cause the cost of ro­bot­ics is drop­ping and the soft­ware is im­prov­ing. You still don’t have full man­ual dex­ter­ity, so you can’t do ev­ery­thing. But we’ve got to get to a point where we can kick their ass. Just mak­ing it here is just go­ing to make it harder for us to com­pete glob­ally.

Busi­ness Pitches He Will Ac­tu­ally Read

if you go into your Back­story, “I went to col­lege at In­di­ana Univer­sity and my ju­nior year, I did this and my sopho­more year I broke my leg ski­ing. So I wasn’t able to do that.” No. Delete. If it’s “I wrote this soft­ware pack­age that I don’t think any­body else is able to do; here’s the prob­lem it solves. I’m in Cincin­nati, Ohio. I don’t have ac­cess to a lot of re­sources. Could you keep on read­ing and tell me what you think?” I’ll keep on read­ing.

Why Health Care Ought to Be Job Num­ber 1

Be­cause here we are in The mid­dle of a pan­demic. We’re hav­ing ri­ots and loot­ing, and we don’t know how that’s go­ing to in­ter­sect with the pan­demic. And there’s a lot of uncer­tainty. We know that more peo­ple are go­ing to get sick but no one’s talk­ing about health care. There are some ba­sic things on peo­ple be­ing added to the ACA. There’s not a lot of talk about Med­i­caid or the ex­pan­sion of Med­i­caid. We’ve got hos­pi­tals who’re lay­ing off peo­ple and not go­ing out of busi­ness yet, but we’re sub­si­diz­ing. What should hos­pi­tals look like next? What should health care look like on the other side of this pan­demic, rec­og­niz­ing we might face this again? No one’s hav­ing that con­ver­sa­tion even a tiny bit. imag­ine you PUT on a maga hat and red MAGA T-shirt, and you walked through down­town New York, or you walked in one of the protests, peace­ful protests. How afraid would you be? Even though all those peo­ple around you are law-abid­ing cit­i­zens, would you be con­cerned? If you walk into a store with that same MAGA hat and MAGA T-shirt, do you think peo­ple are go­ing to stare at you and look at you twice? .... Now imag­ine if you could never take that hat off. Imag­ine if you could never take that shirt off and no mat­ter where you went and no mat­ter what you did, you were al­ways won­der­ing how peo­ple were look­ing at you and whether or not all they saw was that red hat and a red shirt that said, “Keep Amer­ica Great.” How would you feel ev­ery sin­gle day? That’s still not as bad as what African Amer­i­cans and other eth­nic­i­ties have to go through ev­ery sin­gle day .... I’m not try­ing to speak for the African Amer­i­can or eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties; they have lead­ers to speak for them­selves, but when we talk about white peo­ple hav­ing to do a lit­tle bit more, at least try­ing to un­der­stand it, it gives you some con­cept and lets you un­der­stand that their per­spec­tive and what they have to go through and the stresses that they go through are far dif­fer­ent than what we go through.

Treat­ing Peo­ple Equally

what we went Through at The Mavs with sex­ual ha­rass­ment just changed the game for me. I learned very painfully—but it was more painful for some of the women that work there—that treat­ing peo­ple equally does not mean treat­ing them the same. I al­ways thought that man, woman, white, black, it was more like a math equa­tion .... I was go­ing to treat them ex­actly the same. And didn’t re­ally re­al­ize that the power dy­nam­ics are so dif­fer­ent that you can’t do that. You can’t lit­er­ally treat them equally. You’ve got to be able to rec­og­nize who they are, where they’re from, what chal­lenges they have. Once I did that, our busi­ness got a lot bet­ter and our CEO Cyn­thia Mar­shall cer­tainly ed­u­cated me a lot more, but it’s a process of learn­ing.

The Best Part of Be­ing Rich

i don’t have To worry about The bills. I couldn’t tell you what my

elec­tric bill was last month. Prob­a­bly I don’t want to know with my kids. I don’t stress about bills any­more and that’s the big­gest dif­fer­ence. Peo­ple say, “Well, what’s the worst part about be­ing a bil­lion­aire?” Noth­ing. Noth­ing, ab­so­lutely pos­i­tively noth­ing. I’ve been on both sides where I had credit cards cut off—like I said, I lived with six guys in a three-bed­room apart­ment. I didn’t have any money. My room­mates and I would go to the gro­cery store and be there at mid­night be­cause that’s when they pushed down the price of chicken, and we’d get our chicken packs .... I stress about my kids, like any par­ent does. When my 16-year-old learned how to drive and started driv­ing, ev­ery time that door on her car closed, I was ter­ri­fied and money can’t change that.

Rea­sons to Be Cheer­ful

There’s no Bet­ter Time To start a busi­ness than right now be­cause all busi­nesses are ef­fec­tively go­ing through a re­set as we start to open back up and fig­ure out what’s go­ing on. Big busi­nesses are pro­tect­ing their legacy busi­nesses. Medium-sized busi­nesses are do­ing the same thing. Small busi­nesses are just try­ing to adapt. If you’re start­ing from scratch, you can build a restau­rant that al­ready deals with so­cial dis­tanc­ing and HVAC that con­sid­ers the virus and all that. If you’re start­ing a ser­vice com­pany, you can start off work­ing from home and be com­fort­able be­cause peo­ple have al­ready got­ten used to Zoom. You don’t have to find that first of­fice. So there’s a lot of ad­van­tages. And with the protests and the ri­ots that give us just one inkling of hope that maybe we’ll make progress. That maybe this time, we’ll lis­ten and that’s why I’ve tried to speak out. I’m try­ing to get in­volved in the mi­nor­ity com­mu­nity, go­ing to events, go into black-owned busi­nesses, mi­nor­ity-owned busi­nesses. I’m try­ing to help any busi­ness that was looted and im­pacted. But in par­tic­u­lar, those peo­ple who are at the great­est dis­ad­van­tage right now, I’ve been try­ing to con­nect to and help.

→ Newsweek con­trib­u­tor Jor­dan Har­bin­ger hosts The Jor­dan har­bin­ger show, where he de­con­structs the playbooks of the world’s most suc­cess­ful au­thors, en­trepreneur­s and artists. Find his full in­ter­view with Mark Cuban at www.jor­dan­harbinger.com.

“I ac­tu­ally felt bad for Drew [Brees]. Hon­estly, I think he was try­ing to be pos­i­tive.”

TOP OF MIND Top: Charg­ing time at the 2018 World Ro­bot Sum­mit in Tokyo. Be­low: New Or­leans Saints quar­ter­back Brees ob­jected to kneel­ing dur­ing the Na­tional An­them. Left: Demon­stra­tors in New York on June 14.

BUSI­NESS RE­AL­ITY Cuban (rear) with fel­low Sharks (from left to right) Day­mond John, Bar­bara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’leary and Robert Her­javec.

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