The Sport of Business according to Mark Cuban, and one Good Thing about Autobiographies

Title: How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It
Author: Mark Cuban
First published: 2011

Some time near the beginning of this year, I decided to diversify my reading material. Normally I only read literary works (meaning novels, poems, and short stories), but I resolved to add to these (auto) biographies, works that may not necessarily have literary merit. I cannot recall the inspiration for this decision, but it was for practical reasons.

Have you ever googled something with life-changing implications, like academia vs industry? I do that a lot these days. If you have, you would have noticed that all of the top results would be from Quora or some blog. You would then say aha! (because Quora is an interesting place) and click it. You find a lot of very elaborate, well-meaning answers. Some posts might even itemize the pros and cons of both academia and industry. All well and good.

But the problem is that, at heart, what those answers are saying is “Academics is good o. The industry is good too! It ultimately depends on you.” “What do you want?” “Look deep down into your heart”. Those are not what I need. Of course, I know that both academics and industry are good, which is why I am having difficulty choosing one in the first place. You see, I don’t want it to depend on me. I want someone to tell me what to do. I need a subjective opinion.

This is what I think is a major importance of autobiographies. You have somebody tell their story, the principles they live by. They are not trying to answer your question in the best possible way. They are just saying what they did and do. And it is very helpful. You can see the choices that they made and you can gauge for yourself how those choices have worked out for them.

So, having said that, I was indeed pleasantly surprised when I read in this book something as direct as this:

“For most recent college grads, you just spent the last four or so years paying tuition to get an education. Now that you have graduated, it’s your chance to get paid to learn. And what if you aren’t a recent college grad? The same logic applies. It is time to get paid to learn.”

This may not be the best advice for everyone (including me), but if you are like me, recent graduate, not sure of what to do with your life next, that little passage is more to be treasured than a hundred Quora answers and blog posts.

The question now is, How has this worked out for Mark Cuban? An autobiography review is not the best place to write a biography so I will keep it brief. All info from Wikipedia. Mark Cuban is an American entrepreneur and investor. He is the majority owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks team (he owns a whole NBA team!) and he appears as a shark investor on the reality TV series, Shark Tank. He is quite a media personality. He has also been married once, in 2002, and I like that if it is as it appears.

Back to the book! As the title indicates, this book will greatly benefit anyone looking for some business savvy. But it also offers a great lot of other savvy. The book is just there, speaks for itself, with no flamboyant use of words. This is why I am just going to drop some lines from it that I highlighted while reading, in no particular order, and hope that anyone who reads this review will get the overall spirit of the book.

“The sport of business is the ultimate competition. It’s 7 × 24 × 365 × forever”

“It’s not in the dreaming, it’s in the doing”

“Everyone has got the will to win; it’s only those with the will to prepare that do win.”

“The edge is knowing that when the four 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 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.”

“I read every book and magazine I could. Heck, three bucks for a magazine, twenty bucks for a book. One good idea would lead to a customer or a solution, and those magazines and books paid for themselves many times over.

“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.”

“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 go to the bar to get some drinks for all us and when 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 makes you extremely handsome.”