Reess Kennedy

Ideas, sharings, projections

Category: Reviews: Books

Book review and favorite quotes from Marc Cuban’s “How to Win at the Sport of Business”

I like Mark Cuban. I know he is brash and has an ego but he also isn’t afraid to say what he believes and he is humble when he talks about how fortunate he’s been and sincerely likes to help people — both on Shark Tank (a billionaire doesn’t have to make the, sometimes, small investments he makes on that show) and with the short book he wrote in 2011, “How to Win at the Sport of Business.” (Amazon link here.) I read it in two nights as my before-bed read.

Overall review: I’m not sure the book will go down as a classic business read but I like Cuban’s honesty. He was a very average dude who, after some failures, completely committed himself to winning at business. He emphases the importance of finding the right business partner who compliments you. In his case, it was someone who could handle the details of the business while he sold. He stresses the importance of an absolute focus on sales and to putting in the time when your potential clients are sleeping to learning the information your need to close more sales when your potential clients are awake. There are some other good nuggets too. True to form, there were times I wished Cuban had dug into something more or done more research but this just isn’t his style. He’s not bogged down by perfectionism. And that’s actually one of the secrets to his success.

Quick Cuban story: In 2011 I was at an event at the Wynn Las Vegas and went to grab a drink at a bar surrounded by slot machines in a quiet part of the casino and I look over and Mark is sitting two seats to my left on his Blackberry with a Michelob Ultra in front of him. Looking back, I should have said “What up Mark dawgg!” But I didn’t have anything to pitch him and didn’t want to bother him. About a minute later a group of people came over to ask for a picture and I left.

Anyway, below are some of my highlights from his book.

On finding a business partner who compliments your skills:
“We could drive each other crazy. He would give me incredible amounts of shit about how sloppy I was. I would give him the same amount back because he was so anal he was missing huge opportunities.”

On the power of a knowledge advantage:
“Most people won’t put in the time to get a knowledge advantage.” AND “Of course, my wife hates that I read more than three hours almost every day, but it gives me a level of comfort and confidence in my businesses.”

On Bill Gates stealing two women from him at a party when they were both much younger and unwed:
“As I would learn later in life, money makes you extremely handsome.”

On never turning off and always learning:
“Relaxing is for the other guy. I may be sitting in front of the TV, but I’m not watching it unless I think there is something I can learn from it.”

On the competitiveness of business:
“That’s what makes business such an amazing sport. Everyone plays it. Everyone talks about how good he or she is or wil be at it. Just a smal percentage are.”

On being an obsessively productive salesman:
“every hour of the day that I could contact a customer was selling time, and when customers were sleeping, I was doing things that prepared me.”

On how to properly measure the success of your investment of time:
It would have been easy to judge effort by how many hours a day passed while I was at work. That’s the worst way to measure effort. Effort is measured by setting goals and getting results.

On choosing something you can get lost in:
“Maybe I wasn’t the best programmer in the world, but in combination with business and sales skils, I found something that was a blast to me that I could and did do 24 hours at a time and not miss a beat.”

On the importance of learning how to learn:
“In my humble opinion, once you have learned how to learn, then you can try as many different things as you can, recognizing that you don’t have to find your destiny at any given age—you just have to be prepared to run with it when you do.”

On avoiding debt to allow you to take chances on your dreams:
“The greatest obstacle to destiny is debt, both personal and financial. The more people you are obligated to, the harder it is to focus on yourself and figure things out. Your first house, car, whatever you might want to buy, is going to be the primary reason you stop looking for what makes you the happiest.”

On the need to delegate so you can focus on your core strengths:
“pretty much every other strategic element of my businesses I have learned to delegate— that’s not easy for an entrepreneur to do. In the past, I would have taken on anything and everything that I thought I could add value to …. You may work 24 hours a day, but those 24 hours spent winning your core business will pay off far more. Bottom line is this: If you are adding new things when your core businesses are struggling rather than facing the challenge, you are either running away or giving up”

On the fallacy that more cash or investment is always needed to grow:
“So what’s wrong with that? Nothing! It’s okay to start slow. It’s okay to grow slow. As much as you want to think that al things would change if you only had more cash available, they probably won’t …
The reality is that for most businesses, they don’t need more cash, they need more brains.”

On never creating silos and wanting to make sure all customer emails get sent to him directly:
“I don’t know how they do it. I make my email available to everyone and anyone. Not only that (and more importantly), I make sure that al the customer service emails get forwarded to me.”

On the permanence of the sales profession:
“If you can sell, you can get a job—anywhere, anytime.”

Debunking myths about sales people and framing what the best really do:
“It’s not the hustler who is a smooth talker. The best salespeople are the ones who put themselves in their customer’s shoes and provide a solution that makes the customer happy … The best salesperson is the one the customer trusts and never has to question.”

On individuals being a poor judge of their own skills:
“The best salesperson is the one the customer trusts and never has to question.”

On starting the right business for you:
“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love.”

On creating deals that are win-win situations:
“Every good deal has a win-win solution. There is nothing I hate more than someone who tries to squeeze every last penny out of the deal. Who often raises the aggravation level to the point where it’s not worth doing the deal.”

All pizza is good pizza (important personal conviction proven by data)

For years I’ve held that pretty much all pizza is delicious.

Chicago deep dish is delicious. Fancy thin crust is delicious. NYC $1 pizza is delicious and NYC $3.50 Joe’s is delicious. Even frozen supermarket Celeste pizza is delicious.

Basically, if what you’re eating is made up of bread, cheese and tomato sauce, it’s probably delicious. It’s a magical ingredient formula in that way.

“So what?” you’re likely asking.

Well, I sometimes find myself having to defend this position when I am with pizza snobs. Or I find myself rolling my eyes when I read a restaurant’s menu that touts the “fame” or superiority of its pies.

Coincidentally, I found some data today to support my belief. This data shows that despite some pizza snobs the overwhelming majority of people basically feel the same way I do: that all pizza is good pizza.

Christian Rudder’s book Dataclysm includes a graph taken from Foursquare data about people’s ratings of NYC pizza places and the graph pretty much speaks for itself. Most ratings for pizza places fall between at 7-10. In other words: if some place is throwing together some bread, cheese and tomato sauce then people are almost always going to like it and rate it highly. It’s hard to mess up. See graph below.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 7.15.56 PM

 

Rudder’s main topic of data exploration is based on OkCupid data and he uses this graph to illustrate that human preferences don’t always fall into a bell curve like they do when men or women are asked to grade the attractiveness of the opposite sex based solely on headshots.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 7.15.48 PM

 

It’s an interesting book. And interesting that we are only at the beginning of analyzing the huge amount information we submit online about our preferences everyday as we live on our devices and become more and more comfortable with sharing information with machines.

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