The billionaire shark may be swimming in a tank full of cash now, but his wealth was not built overnight. Like many of us right now, Cuban was once a small fish in a big pond. Below are three of his experiences and struggles during his 20s that we can learn from:
1. As a 20-something bank employee, his boss once yelled at him, saying, “Who the fuck do you think you are?!”
You probably have greater chances of winning the lottery twice than seeing someone look Mark Cuban in the eye and yelling “Who the fuck do you think you are,” but it happened. Back when he was 22, Cuban worked for Mellon Bank after graduating from Indiana University with a B.S. in Business Administration. The go-getter employee then started inviting senior executives to small, happy hour events that he had organized for them to speak to juniors like himself. In addition, he also started a newsletter and updates on current projects with a small dose of humor. Much to Cuban’s dismay, his actions backfired. After explaining to his enraged boss that he was just trying to help the bank make more money, he was told “never to go over [his boss] or around him, or he’d crush [Cuban].” That’s what he knew it was time to leave. (Forbes)
Chances are, you don’t or won’t like your first (or second, or third…) job. Use it as motivation to make sure you end up in a better place later in life. If anything, at least you’d know where you DON’T want to be. Cuban sure knew he did not want to work for anyone anymore.
2. In his early 20s, Cuban shared a 3-bedroom apartment with 5 other people, slept on the floor, and had no closet or dresser.
In his book, “How to Win at the Sport of Business,” Cuban details his struggles that involved less-than glamorous living situations and unfortunate circumstances.
Many millennials, especially those who are in or fresh out of college, may be familiar with the aforementioned living situation. Given the challenges that come with being a workforce newbie, it is sometimes necessary to share living spaces with several people in order to lower rent and other expenses; Cuban himself is no stranger to that. To make matters worse, one of Cuban’s roommates disappeared on them after collecting all their rent money. Still, the dreamer in him wasn’t phased. “I used to drive around, look at the big houses and imagine what it would be like to live there, and use that as motivation.” Well, that motivation sure worked: He now owns a $17.6 million mansion in Preston Hollow.
3. Cuban networked effectively when he was in his 20s.
When Cuban founded his company, MicroSolutions (which he later sold for $6 million in 1990), he found himself needing to drive to Austin for a PC part. The place he went to was called “PCs Limited,” run by someone younger than him. Impressed, Cuban chatted with the other young guy for a few hours, telling him “Dude, I think we’re both going places.” That dude is Michael Dell, who would later on build the giant PC company, Dell Inc. Always surround yourself with people who have the same vision or passion as you. They could be working toward something completely different from your end goal, but if they have an excellent work ethic, then having them in your network would allow you to influence each other positively. Hang out with 9 broke people, and you’ll be the 10th.