Everything I’ve learned in business, I’ve learned from Mark Cuban. (Ok, maybe not EVERYTHING)

by Wendy Winn, PT, OCS Director of Custom Performance

Yes, that Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner, known for his cutting personality on Shark Tank. Trained as a physical therapist, I knew I had a lot to learn when starting Custom Performance. To be honest, I still do. That’s my favorite part of entrepreneurship, there is always a new challenge. There is always more to learn. I would say in many ways, I’m still getting started.

Shark Tank, the scripted pitch show that offers wealthy investors a percentage of a small business, remains fascinating to me. I find that I am always trying to “play along,” answering the questions in my mind about Custom from the “Sharks.” What were our total sales in quarter one 2019 vs 2020? What is our strategy for growth and how will we execute it? What is our cost per client, profit margins… I love all of it. I want to know what we need to know.

I picked up “How to Win at the Sport of Business” by Mark Cuban early on in Custom’s birth. As cheesy as the title is (sorry Mark), I loved it. I still love it. There are many lessons I have learned from this book that still apply to my decision making today. Here are some concepts from this book and what they mean to me:

  1. “The sport of business is the ultimate competition. It’s 7 x 24 x 365 x forever.”
    I found this to be the most awesome thing about business. You can literally think about it all the time, improve all the time, no matter where you are or what you are doing. It’s the same theory as Simon Sinek’s “Infinite Game.” You can always work on yourself, your business, your management, forever. My brain loves this sport.

    The one cautionary lesson I learned about this was about burnout and my self development. When all you think about is your business, that is who you are. You start to lose any other parts of yourself and connections with others (and yourself) can suffer. One other caution is the “overthinking/worrying” trap. I often find myself thinking about Custom Performance all day and night. But the question I often ask myself is “Is this a productive problem solving situation, OR, am I just worrying?” I found that much of the time, I was just worrying. As the saying goes “worrying is like a rocking chair.” Worrying helps no one and takes up valuable mental energy. Problem solving, on the other hand, I am here for.
  1. “Don’t drown in opportunity.”
    One of my favorite quotes of all time, as the employees can attest. This line commands one to focus on the task at hand and be the best at that model. You must work on your core business and fine tune that before adding other layers. We get asked all the time, “Why don’t you go into working with ____ (insert golfers, dancers, another specialty)?” Because we are not the best at that. We cannot water down our talent. We cannot dilute ourselves in opportunity. We cannot lose ourselves and be distracted by shiny objects/other specialities. That is not who we are. We are experts in all things running, and we want to be the best at that.
  1. “Don’t lie to yourself.”
    Oh man. This is the truest business advice for me to swallow. Lying about our breakeven costs, or salaries, or weaknesses… all guilty. I wanted business to be fun and the ugly parts aren’t fun at all. If something needs to change, I need to be the one to change it. The irony of many business owners, myself included, is that we are so passionate that we only focus on the good. We are really doing our employees a disservice when we ignore the problems. We should be the ones digging in and doing the hard work.

    We also need to be honest about what needs to be done, and for that we need accountability. I know I have blindspots and will rely on the team to give input on everything, so we can see all sides of the picture. I tell our management team “Not one of us has the right answer, but we all have a little piece of it.” Get around people who will tell you the truth, so they are not lying to you and you are not lying to yourself.

While Mark Cuban doesn’t have all the answers, I felt compelled to share some of his wisdom, and how they apply to my journey. Check out “How to Win at the Sport of Business” (link) for Mark’s story and many many more gems.

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