How to Win at the Sport of Business — Summary

How to Win at the Sport of Business — Summary

I’ve never really followed Mark Cuban, but somehow my instinct told me I should read his book that I had bought about 3 years ago. The book did not disappoint me. I love the succinct and practical no-nonsense approach Mark has. Here are the most important lessons from his book.

Dream about the future you want

Once upon a time when Mark was just a young kid without money, he did it too. He did what most of us have done at some point, dreaming about a future we’d love. He would drive by big houses and wonder who lived there every weekend. How did they make their money? What did they do for a living?

“Someday, I would tell myself, I would live in a house like that. I read books about successful people. In fact, I read every book or magazine I could get my hands on.”

Mark told himself that one good idea would pay for the book and could make the difference between him making it or not. That’s how you must think about investing in knowledge!

Jobs are there to get paid for learning

“In every job, I would justify it in my mind, whether I loved it or hated it, that I was getting paid to learn and every experience would be of value when I figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up.”

Mark had no Idea what the future would bring up for him when he lived in Dallas with no job prospects. But he knew that he had taken a few classes in real-world business — and got paid instead of paying tuition — that would be useful to someone.

Make good use of the time you have

When Mark would start working in the software industry without a technical background besides some job experience with computers, he would just read manuals every night. Reading manuals every night would give him the edge to be ahead in the curve. “Every night I would read some after getting home, no matter how late.”
Living with a bunch of other Students in an apartment Mark partied a lot in his twenties and his life was generally unorganized, but that didn’t stop him from making use of the time he had. He used every moment he could get.

Doing your own thing, creating your own company, can be the most energizing thing

Mark had a lot more jobs and got fired way more often than most people. When he finally decided to create his own company, he felt a ridiculous drive to work.

“That first year in business was incredible. I remember sitting in that little office till 10 p.m. and still being so pumped up, I would drive over to the gym I belonged to and run five to ten miles on the treadmill, going through that day and the next day in my head. Other days I would get so involved with learning a new piece of software that I would forget to eat and look up at the clock thinking it was 6 or 7 in the evening and realize that it was actually 1 or 2 in the morning. Time would fly by.”

READ! Consuming relevant information gives you the advantage, but most people don’t do it

In business, you often don’t know if you are doing it right or wrong, by the time you find out someone has set you out of business. Mark told himself that he could afford little mistakes as long as he avoided the big ones. He would continually search for new ideas by reading every book and magazine he could. He didn’t care about the cost, any good idea would lead to a customer or a solution and pay many times over for the books.
He figured that everything he read was public and available to anyone. But still, most people didn’t want it. When he went to meetings talking about tidbits he’d read about he expected people to respond, but they hadn’t read it.

“Most people won’t put in the time to get a knowledge advantage.”
Mark thinks that by putting in enough time consuming all the information available he can get an advantage in any technology business.
“A guy with minimal computer background could compete with far more experienced guys just because he put in the time to learn all he could.”

Reading more than three hours almost every day gives Mark a level of comfort and confidence in his business and a huge advantage.

The one thing you can control in life is Effort

One of the biggest lessons for Mark came from this quote:
“In sports, the only thing a player can truly control is effort. The same applies to business. The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson or anyone in any position can control is their effort.” We must make sure though that we aren’t lying to ourselves about how hard we work. Sometimes our effort is just being busy without being productive.
One common mistake is to measure effort by the number of hours spent at work. That’s the worst way to measure effort.
“Effort is measured by setting goals and getting results.”
“The one requirement for success in our business lives in effort. Either you make the commitment to get results or you don’t.”

You won’t know what you are destined to be until you try different things and find out

“If you’re asking, I don’t think people “know” what they are destined to be until they try it for the first couple of times.”
Don’t settle over something you would like to have — for example, a house or car — over what it is you would do on an hourly basis. You must love your work that is the biggest priority.

You only have to be right once!

The interesting thing about business is that no one is keeping scores of your failures. You can fail as many times as you like, you only need to get it rightonce to make it.

Be willing to prepare!

Mark learned something very important from Bobby Knight. Something he would remind himself of whenever he failed. Whenever he started a new business.
“Everyone has got the will to win; it’s only those with the will to prepare that do win.”

Don’t drown in opportunity, focus on one thing at a time!

The excitement when starting a business can lead entrepreneurs to try too many things, especially after something didn’t go as expected. That feeling of being invisible can backfire. Mark has been in situations where he told himself that he’s smart and knows what he’s doing so it’s ok to take on a new opportunity. That were often the times he made mistakes.

“If you are the main engine behind your company, taking on new challenges will only dilute your ability to win the wars you are in and increase the risk of injuring your primary business or core competencies.”

Everyone is a genius in a bull market

Warren Buffett said it like this: “You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” When the economy grows and especially a niche market, it is easy to be right. Everyone is able to pick winning stocks if all stocks are going up. That’s why entrepreneurs have to be brutally honest with themselves and recognize where they have added value and where they have gone along for the ride. Not that there is something wrong with making money when going along for the ride, but it will catch up with you if you lie to yourself and give yourself credit for the ride.

“It’s a bigger challenge to recognize that the bull market may end and our programming needs to be of sufficient value to our customers and viewers for it to maintain or continue to increase in value.”

Equity is better than raising money

Mark explains something very important I didn’t read before anywhere else. He explains that equity is much better to have in a startup than raising money because once you raise cash from investors, you will lose control over your company.

“The minute you ask for money, you are playing in their game—they aren’t playing in yours. You are at a huge disadvantage, and it’s only going to get worse if you take their money. The minute you take money, the leverage completely flips to the investor. They control the destiny of your dreams, not you.”

Businesses don’t have to start big, you don’t need to take money from anyone. The best strategy is to start small enough to suit the circumstances of their founders.

It’s not the dreaming, it’s the doing

Mark focusses on execution, as he explains here:

“When I catch myself daydreaming about how I’m going to do this or that, I always try to wake up and ask myself just how I’m going to get from where I am to where I want to be. What EXACTLY is it going to take to DO it, rather than dream about it. “

I honestly feel like this is one of the most valuable business books you can get. The advice is on a whole new level.

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