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Mark Cuban On the Sport of Business

The NBA owner opens up about his career and offers advice to inspire your own work life.

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From the Dallas Mavericks’ sideline to Dancing with the Stars to Shark Tank, this NBA owner has seen (and said) it all. We sat down with him to find out what it takes to succeed in the business world.

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MF: What’s an early venture of yours we wouldn’t know about?

MC: I’ve been an entrepreneur as long as I can remember. Before my senior year there was a bar called the Silver Dollar that we used to rent out and promote parties in, and the owner came to me and said, “You guys are doing better with your parties than I am with the bar—why don’t you buy it?” So I opened up a bar called Motley’s Pub on Sept. 29th, and it lasted until February. We had a wet T-shirt contest, and there were pictures of the contestants in the Bloomington newspaper. Unfortunately, a probation officer recognized a picture of one of her parolees, who happened to be a 16-year-old on probation for prostitution. That was the sorry end of Motley’s Pub. 

Then you made your fortune off Internet radio streaming. 

I was always kind of a geek, and I moved to Dallas and needed a job. Long story short, that led me to start a company called Micro- Solutions, which I sold. I was sitting with a buddy, and he was like, “You know this Internet thing is just starting to happen. There’s gotta be a way to listen to Indiana basketball online. You’re the geek; you figure it out.” So I bought a Packard Bell computer from a computer store, set it up in the second bedroom of my house, and started trying to figure out streaming. We started it off as AudioNet, we turned it into Broadcast.com, sold it to Yahoo!, and the rest is history. 

You’re more vocal than most NBA owners. Why the intensity?

I’ve always been like this. It’s funny; when I play basketball I don’t get all agitated and everything. I just play. But even before I bought the team, for whatever reason, it’s an area where I just get all worked up. So for the 48 minutes of basketball, you’re going to see me all excitable and fired up, but the minute the game is over—well, maybe not the minute, but two or three hours after the game is over—I’ll calm down and get back to usual. I just enjoy the game, and I think everyone should have an outlet where they can just let go. For me it’s basketball. 

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