A Summary and Review of How to Win at The Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It by Mark Cuban
This summary and review of the book, How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It, was prepared by Cody Oldendorf while an accounting student in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana.
There is much to be said about business owner Mark Cuban. Many people really don’t know his full story though. I for one believed he was born into the money he has, but after reading this book, I found out that he has worked hard to get where he is and is truly deserving of the success he has had in his life.
In this book, Mark Cuban goes through many of his old blog posts to give many young entrepreneurs help. At the beginning, he tells the story about how he first got started. Mark had his first business when he was just 12. He wanted a new pair of basketball shoes, so he went door to door selling trash bags until he had enough money to buy the shoes. Then, while he was in high school he started a company selling powdered milk. Obviously, that one didn’t work out, and it was at this point that Mark realized the importance of having a good product. He later went on to go to school at Indiana University where he majored in computer science and opened up a bar with a friend. That didn’t last long thanks to selling drinks to minors and such. After college, he wanted to finally get paid to learn. He held many different jobs to the point where his parents thought he would never have a stable career. He then moved to Dallas to live with a buddy of his and eventually, after a lot of hard work, he started a business that would later make him extremely rich. It was called MicroSolutions.
This is about the midway point of the book, and the rest of the content was strictly his blogs. These blogs discuss many of the key thoughts he has when making big business decisions and some of the big influences he has had in his life.
Mark talks about taking the path of the least resistance which is a whole concept about making your product easily accessible. This is something he felt very passionate about (like many other things in this book). Another key aspect of the book was the value he put on his customers. Mark felt that being a good salesman was all about effort and making your customers happy. He always felt one of the most important things was to walk in his customer’s shoes for a second to see how he would view his company. This gave him insight that he could not gain anywhere else. An example of this is the fact that he never sits in the expensive seats in the Maverick’s basketball stadium. He is constantly sitting in different places without security, so he can get the full feel of how it is to be a fan of the team. He encourages the fans to come give him feedback such as the lines are long or the beer is warm.
Another thing that Mark really tried to emphasize was the fact that you only had to be right once. He has failed numerous times in his business endeavors, but no one remembers him for that now, because he succeeded that one time to get him on the map. If you ask anyone today who he is, most people would say the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. They couldn’t tell you what he did before then or if he was even successful or a failure. None of that matters once you make it. It’s simple as that.
Perhaps the main point of the book that I feel Mark Cuban is trying to imply is that business is very much a sport. It has all the characteristics. It is very physically and emotionally demanding just like a sport. There is even a great amount of competition like any sport. In fact, there is even more competition in business. In sports, you know exactly who your competition is because you play against them. You have practice to help define who you are. In business, you never know who you may be competing against, and once you start, you’re thrown right into the mix without any warm-ups. There is always someone out there trying to take away everything you’ve built up, and that’s what Mark wants you to realize. Business is a 24×7x365xForever competition. If you put in the effort, you have the best chance of getting the results you want.
In conclusion, this book really is a great read that flows great. Anyone could find some lesson they can learn whether they are a business owner or not. At $2.99, this book truly is one of the best bangs for your buck. I’d recommend you try it out to better yourself and your business.
The Ten Things Managers Need to Know from How to Win at the Sport of Business
1. Business is a sport
Just like any sport, business is a competition. In fact, it is a never ending competition, and it is even more exhausting. There is always someone out there who is trying to knock you out of business, and you must always keep that edge to stay out in front.
2. The only thing in life you can control is effort
You never know what each day may bring you. It may be fortune or it may be problems, all you can control is the amount of effort you give each and every day. If you put all you have into your business, you are more likely to see the results you want.
3. You only have to be right once
It only takes you being right once to be a successful businessman. No one ever remembers your failures after you have proven to be successful. Mark Cuban gives examples about all of the times he’s failed, but no one can ever seem to recall him ever failing in business.
4. Know which battles to fight
Part of being a businessman is knowing which battles to fight. Expansion is great, but if you are not event succeeding at the core part of your business, you should not be worried about expanding. This is a sign of you giving up. Always fight the battles that deal with your core competencies, or you will never make it long as a company.
5. Don’t lie to yourself
If you are going to succeed, you have to be able to be honest with yourself. The worst evaluator of you is yourself. You tend to have complete bias and usually seem to ignore your weaknesses and exaggerate your strengths. Be true to who you are, because it’s impossible to change. Just be yourself and surround yourself with other skills you may be lacking to ensure success in your company.
6. Connect with your customers
Your customers own you. Whether you realize it or not, you would not be here if it wasn’t for them. Spend time in their shoes to see what makes them happy and make sure you keep them that way. Every day you have to re-convince your customers that you are their best option. Don’t run the risk of ignoring them, because in the Internet Age, unfavorable news about your company can become viral.
7. It’s ok to be a whiner
The media tends to put down on people that whine, but Mark Cuban argues that it should be the opposite way. Whiners bring out the real problems that companies might not know they have. It’s an effective way for change, and it can bring out initiative in people who may have lost it or needed a little encouragement.
8. Take the path of least resistance
The path of least resistance is all about the ease of access to a product. People sometimes don’t realize it, but a lot of our actions are influenced by the fact that it’s just easy to do it. This is essential for your company. You want to have the path of least resistance when in comparison to your competitor, because if you don’t have it, your customers will purchase their product instead.
9. If you can sell, you can get a job anytime, anywhere
Sales are completely undervalued these days. I’m not even talking about smooth talking sales people either. Sales is all about having a passion for your product, a strong work ethic, and to want your customers to be completely satisfied. It is something that everyone can learn, and it’s something that will ensure that you will never have to worry about being let go from your job.
10. Take “No” for an answer
It’s perfectly ok for someone to not want your product. I’m not saying give up right away when he says no, but don’t push them to the extreme. For every minute you waste on that customer, you could be convincing someone to buy your product. If your product is really that good, he is the one missing out and not you. This will help avoid appearing as if you and your company are desperate for business.
Full Summary of How to Win at the Sport of Business
Mark Cuban is a successful entrepreneur and business owner. He currently runs many small businesses such as HDNet and Broadcast.com along with the well-known NBA basketball team, the Dallas Mavericks. In his book, he tries to help current and prospective small business owners succeed in their respective fields. Since this book is actually a collection of blogs, I will summarize most of the blogs, but I may choose to skip of few for sake of repeating myself too many times. Most of the blogs begin to repeat themselves, because Mark put what he felt were his best blog posts in the book. Obviously he felt some areas were just that important. Without further ado, here is the summary of Mark Cuban’s How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do it.
Mark Cuban begins his book by taking a look at when he first graduated college. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in computer science and couldn’t wait to go to work. He was tired of spending money to learn, so he opted not to go further his education. Getting paid to learn was his goal after graduation. Mark could finally get paid to learn, and he was not going to pass this up. He could never hold a steady job, because he found he got bored with them quickly. While he did have many jobs right off the back, he always reminded himself that he was there to learn and not to make a career out of it. He spend time working in a bank in Pittsburgh, and then, on a whim, decided to move to Dallas, Texas to move in with a few buddies of his from Indiana. The first months he spent broke, sleeping on his friends’ couch, and drinking his life away. One night, he decided to create a list of dream careers he might possibly want one day, and it helped inspire him. He had a dream, and now all he needed to do was to have a little luck and make it come true. After a few months of this and while working as a bartender, he finally had a breakthrough and got a job for a computer software company in the area named, Your Business Software. Mark will still admit to this day that he got lucky getting the job. No one else was really pursuing it, so he was their only option. Now, the partying never stopped, but he really began to shine in this company. He knew he had to work hard if he wanted to succeed, and he began to study the software material every night. Mark was an intelligent guy, and he realized that his customers and his coworkers didn’t know much about the software. Computer software was fairly new at this time, but Mark realized that if he knew each and every thing about each package he could outshine the rest of the employees. Mark began to really succeed and gained a huge clientele base, but he made one decision that would eventually cost him his job. Instead of going to open the store one morning, he went to close a deal with a big business in the Dallas area. When he got to work that morning after closing the deal, he thought his boss would be impressed with him. Instead, he was fired on the spot. This was a pivotal moment for Mark, because in this instant he realized he wasn’t cut out to be someone else’s employee. He wanted to be an entrepreneur and set out to become one. The name of the company is what he created first, and afterwards, Mark called many of his old customers to inform them that he was beginning his own company. This was such a risk and he really had to tell a few white lies to even get his first customers. He didn’t have a phone, an office, or even a computer, so how was he to make it as a business owner. Thankfully, a man named Martin Woodall, who owned Hytec Data gave him some space in his office. Mark would work day and night trying to make money for his company, and he just loved every minute of it. He realized that this was what he wanted to do. The first year he made $15,000 and a few years later he was making $85,000. Martin had become his partner, and he even had a secretary. He had truly come a long way from where he was just a few years ago. He explains that Martin was the perfect partner, because they were opposites. Mark was the one who was sloppy and take risks, and Martin was the anal one who kept everything organized and straight. Then, he learned one of his most valuable business lessons. When Martin was going to make deposits at the bank one day, they discovered that their secretary, Rene, had whited-out the company’s name and put her own. She had stolen $83,000 from the company, and there was nothing they could do about it. Although, Mark knew what he had to do. Right after finding out, he went back to work. He knew that this was the only way to come back from such a loss. He realized things are going to happen to you, and the best way to go about it is to keep chugging on. Mark learned from his past mistakes and now knew he would never make that one again. Mark always told himself that it was ok to make little mistakes, just not big ones. Mark really brought a passion to his business and was constantly researching to find ways to be better than his competitors. He knew they were too lazy to do the same, so he would beat them by outworking them. Of course, the company I’ve been talking about is MicroSolutions. This was Mark’s real breakthrough. At 24, he became a successful businessman through hard work, and he explains to the reader that, if he can do it, you definitely can.
My First Lessons Learned
Mark was always looking for ways to improve his company and not just through books and magazines but from watching others in do business. He learned many valuable lessons from watching some of the other technology companies during his time. There was this one company called PC Limited that he became a customer of because of their great advertising techniques. It was a company started in Austin, Texas in one guy’s dorm room. He was so impressed he even wrote a letter to the owner, Michael Dell. Yes, the same Dell from Dell Computers. He later realized that Michael never needed his encouragement; that was just one of many genius things he would do on his way to the top. Mark also described an event in Las Vegas that all the computer people go to where Bill Gates actually stole his girls at the Microsoft party. Now, he says Bill Gates was dancing his butt off, but he didn’t want to embarrass him in this book since he’s a big fan. There he learned that money can make anybody handsome. It wasn’t just this that he thought was so intriguing when it came to Bill Gates. At the time, software was expensive. WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 were the top programs and cost around $495.00. Microsoft, led by Gates, decided to take three lowly software products; Excel, Word, and PowerPoint; and create a suite that they would sell for $99. The most important part was that these products could only be used on Windows operating systems. This meant if you bought a computer with Windows, you got the cheaper software package, and saved close to $300. This not only made Microsoft rich, but it also brought in some good business for MicroSolutions as well. He explains to very important lessons he learned from these experiences. Number one was to ask yourself how someone could preempt your product or services. No product is perfect, and if there are good competitors in your market, they will try to abuse you. Be honest with yourself and identify your weaknesses to know where your problems may come from ahead of time. The second lesson was to always run your business like you would be competing against the “big boys” in your industry. No matter what their relationship is to your business, you have to assume at some point you may be competing with them. Cuban says, “If you are ready to compete with the big guys, you are ready to compete with anyone else.” Watching the best taught him more about how to run a business, and it also taught him some personal lessons as well.
The Sport of Business
In this section, Mark describes how business is just like any sport. Business is real competition. In sports, you know who your competitors are, and it’s extremely exhausting if you’re at the top of your game. This does not compare with business though. Business is even more exhausting than sports, because you have no scheduled games, no practices that define it, and it doesn’t have any set rules. It’s a never ending competition that lasts 24/7/365 x Forever. Business is the ultimate competition. You spend all your time researching on how to make your company better. The reason you do things is always because you are trying to improve. Success is about having the edge and whether or not you have the guts to use it. Everyone plays the sport, but only a small percentage is actually good at it. Every day someone has an idea and starts a business to compete against and beat yours. Somewhere in the world there is always a person trying to make a company that will take away everything you have ever worked for. This is why business is a sport.
The Only Thing in Life You Can Control: Effort
At this point in his career, MicroSolutions was growing, but it really wasn’t living up to the expectations of Cuban. The technology and computer market were begin to struggle, and this is when Mark used his sports connection to come up with a very important lesson. Mark realized that you cannot control what will happen to you, but like in sports, you can always control the amount of effort you put in. This meant going back to what made him successful in the first place. He would be working around the clock and made a commitment to no longer lie to himself about his effort. It wasn’t about just getting hours, because you can just sit in your office and say you worked for X amount of hours. It was making use of his time and creating and meeting goals. This is the best way to measure effort according to Cuban. The requirement to make a business succeed is effort. You either give it all you got and get results, or you don’t. It’s that simple.
You Only Have to Be Right Once!
This is a theme that was very common throughout the book. Mark definitely felt that this was important for business owners, because he, himself, is a living example. He started companies and failed before he ever made it big. All you have to do is succeed once, and you’ve made it. It’s the “beauty of the business world” as Mark states. No one ever asks him about all the things he failed at. They don’t care and never will. Every failure he had was used as a learning block for the next time around. Mark had unlimited time and effort to give, and that provided a great formula for future success. Everyone will say how lucky you are, but you actually create your own luck. You worked hard to succeed, so let them all say how lucky you are. You know deep down it was never luck and it took years and years of experience to get where you are today.
You Can Drown in Opportunity.
Here, Mark tries to explain that you need to know which battles to fight and to always fight one battle at a time. There is only 24 hours time and so much attention you can give to one area. You want to use this time to focusing on winning your core business, because this will pay off more than anything else. He adds that in a sports perspective, you are getting the fundamentals right first and then you can add on to your base skills before taking the trick shots. If you don’t focus on these core competencies when you are struggling, you are either running away or giving up. You core business comes first, and then, afterwards, you can focus on outside business.
Don’t Lie to Yourself!
What Mark wanted you to get out of this is to be yourself and to know your strengths and weaknesses. The worst evaluator of you is yourself. When you do a self evaluation, you always seem to be biased, because you believe you are better than what you really are. Be honest with who you are and what you can bring to the table. Mark gave the example of when he was starting MicroSolutions. He tried to convince himself that, even though he was sloppy and extremely unorganized, he would become a detail-oriented person when it came to his business. What he found out is that you can’t change who you are, and for this reason, his business struggled in some aspects. What he went on to do was find the perfect partner to counter balance himself. Martin Woodall was very anal and conservative which was exactly what Mark needed to be successful. Individually he was limited, but together they were a great team. So don’t lie to yourself, and if you’re weak in a certain area, find someone who is strong in it. A lot of times it’s not about knowing everything, but surrounding yourself with people who collectively can bring a lot to the table for your business.
Connecting to Your Customers
This blog brought to attention how important customers are to your company. You must act as if your customers own you, because technically, they do. If not for them, you would not have a business to begin with. One great quote he used was “you have to re-earn your customers each day.” It’s all about appearance for you customers. They value down-to-earth businessmen who they can approach if they have a concern and feel connected to. By doing this, you find some of the best feedback customers can give. Mark gives example of sitting in the cheap seats at Mavericks games just so he can experience how it is to be in his customers’ shoes. The owner who doesn’t listen to this feedback will only hold his company back in the long run. In the internet age, there are so many ways for your customers to get bad reviews out there. It can even go viral which is the last thing you want to do. Just remember that it is always easier to be proactive than reactive. It will save you from facing a lot of problems in the future.
It’s OK to Be a Whiner!
While whining seems to have a bad rep about it, Mark Cuban argues that whining is the first step to solving a problem. It shows you where you have a problem. Whining can bring people to take the initiative to make things better, and what’s not great about that? In the media, it’s seen as a negative thing, but Mark argues that it’s because they feel they can’t change anything themselves. They are content with how things are no matter how bad they are. It’s good to be a whiner, because you can’t change things for the better by bringing problems to light.
The Path of Least Resistance
This was quite possibly the most important blog I found in the whole book. It drives home a concept that you really don’t think about off the top of your head, but some of the most successful businesses as of late have mastered it. This concept is that people tend to follow the path of least resistance. People tend to do what is the easiest. For example, if Broadcast.com were to play a game on their radio station that was being nationally televised on a weekend, no one would listen to their station, because it is easier to watch the game on TV. However, if they were to broadcast an out of market game during the middle of the week, they would get many listeners, because the people would be able to listen on their computers at work instead of having to leave to find a TV. In this instance, listening on the radio would be the path of least resistance. Google is an example of a company who perfected this. They one-upped Yahoo! by providing an easier way of searching through their search engine. On yahoo, you had to go through many links on their website just to get to the search bar. Google’s website pops up with a simple box and Google above the name. The path of least resistance is Google, and it shows in their financial statements as well. This is important for you company to provide. You must make your product the easiest to experience and to obtain. In conclusion, make your product easier to buy than your competitors, or you will find that customers will buy from them instead. Everyone follows the path of least resistance.
If You Can Sell, You Can Get a Job – Anywhere, Anytime
The title of this section is actually a section of a blog. I felt it was the most important message of the blog, so it was what I wanted to focus on. Mark even states that he would take the high school student who is motivated and can sell over any MBA student who can’t. Selling is not just smooth talking though; it’s about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and making them happy. The recurring them in his lists of what makes a good salesperson is a strong work ethic and a great amount of care. Sales are the most important part to any company. Without sales, no business can be successful. It is extremely undervalued in college these days. The best part is that anyone else can learn to become a great salesperson. All it takes is effort and care for the company and customers. Once you excel at sales, getting a job anywhere is easy. It gives a reason for your company to always want to keep you around.
Taking No for an Answer and Other Business Mistakes
Taking no as an answer is perfectly acceptable. It’s not something a lot of business people realize. Mark lays out many reasons why you should accept when someone says no. When you get a no, you simply thank them for their time and ask if they would mind sharing what they didn’t like. If the response is still negative, give up and move on. Every second you spend wasting on this person is time you lose actually making a sale. If you have a good product, there will be someone out there who will want it. The mistakes you run into when you push someone to change their mind can be devastating. You might come off as being desperate which impacts your brand as a salesperson and the brand of your product. It can also show as a sign of fear or laziness. You are working hard enough and don’t want to dedicate time to find the person who will buy your product. When someone says no, they are the ones missing out. You know you have a great product and find someone who agrees with you.
Mark Cuban ends his book with his Twelve Cuban Rules for Startups and the Twelve Cuban Mantras for Success. These rules are just a recap of what he had previously stated in other parts of the book. With all of the tips listed above, Mark gives you all the insight you need on beginning on improving your very own business. I recommend this book to anyone for a quick read that really flows well. It’s full of hilarious stories, great examples, and helpful advice. It’s definitely a book I will read again.
The Video Lounge
This clip is a short interview with Mark Cuban. He explains what got him started in business and a valuable lesson he learned with one of his first products. He later goes on to explain the title of the book and how he sees what business really is to him. I really like how explains that if you want to succeed follow your efforts and not your dreams.
Why I think:
The author is one of the most brilliant people around…or is full of $%&#, because:
I feel that Mark Cuban really is one of the most brilliant business owners around. He uses some great concepts, and he knows how valuable effort can be for you business. Mark has a lot of great, real-life insight on exactly what it takes to run a business. After reading his book, I feel like he has completely figured out the sport of business.
If I were the author of the book, I would have done these three things differently:
1. Mark had too many repetitive blogs, and I really would have liked to hear some different stories/examples. I do understand that he felt some concepts were just that important. Personally, I just wanted to hear more of the details, but he wanted to make the book connect to anyone and everyone.
2. I would have put more effort into actually writing the book instead of just collecting blogs. The book is great, but I felt like it could have had more to it than just 80 pages. Mark could really write a best seller if he put his mind to it.
3. While he did make a lot of connections to sports, I wanted to hear him talk more about his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks. It was mainly why I was interested in the book, and I felt the title misled me to think this. He did explain a good bit about his other business endeavors, but he also never explained why he sold MicroSolutions when he was so passionate about it.
Reading this book made me think differently about the topic in these ways:
1. I think it’s safe to speak for everyone when I say that I’ve never heard anyone compare business to sports. It really helped me grasp concepts, because he made great connections with traits in sports. It truly is the ultimate competition like Mark Cuban states.
2. It never really hit me that people choose the easiest route until I read this book. Even when I first read it I didn’t believe it. Mark did a great job of convincing me that the best way to beat your competitors and be successful is offer the path of least resistance. You make your product easier to get than there’s.
3. Before reading this book, I never really considered becoming an entrepreneur. I was afraid of failing because of the high risk involved. Mark really convinced me to maybe give it a try one day. With a lot of hard work and a little luck, you can be successful as a small business owner.
I’ll apply what I’ve learned in this book in my career by:
1. Putting everything I have into my job. As I have found out from reading this book, hard work can take you a long way. Now, I may never become the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, but that would be a bit unrealistic for me to assume. I will work hard to learn everything I can at each job though.
2. Getting paid to learn. People tend to forget that you should always be learning, and I don’t want to fall into that category. Learning is something I know I will have to do every day. I know I personally am a fast learner, so hopefully, I can outperform others with my work ethic and willingness to learn.
3. Always choosing the path of least resistance. This is really the chapter that hit home for me. It’s such a basic concept yet it’s why some of the more recent successful companies have made it big. I want to follow in their footsteps on creating something easy and fun for everybody.
Here is a sampling of what others have said about the book and its author:
Ben Nesvig, a book review blogger says: “If you’re looking to start your own business or just want a few good ideas, this is essential reading. It’s short, to the point, and only $2.99. Either dig up the old blog posts and read them online or just buy the book. Either way, it’s content worth reading.”
Michael Fear of under30ceo.com states: “I recommend How to Win at the Sport of Business to all young entrepreneurs.”
The First Million Is The Hardest website says: “If you’re a hopeful entrepreneur or just looking for a good read that will inspire you in whatever career you have chosen I highly recommend “How to Win at the Sport of Business”. Mark Cuban is a self-made billionaire and imparts a great deal of useful wisdom in this book. I promise you won’t be disappointed if you spend the $2.99, but if you’re still unsure you can go dig up a lot the same stories in his blog archives at www.blogmaverick.com.”
All of these reviews had a lot in common. They took the same quotes from the book such as how business is a sport and how the only thing in life you can control is effort. They also mention that this book is really a bang for your buck. This is great advice for just $2.99, and you can even get the information for free if you go check out Mark Cuban’s personal blog website. They all recommend this book to anyone looking to start their own business. There were not even any negative reviews to be found from any book critics.
Cuban, Mark. How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do it, You Can Do It. New York: Diversion Books, 2011. Print.
Nesvig, Ben. Book Review – How To Win At The Sport of Business by Mark Cuban. Retrieved from http://www.bennesvig.com.
General Review. Book Review – How To Win At The Sport of Business By Mark Cuban. Retrieved from http://www.thefirstmillionisthehardest.net
Fear, Michael. How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban (Review). Retrieved from http://www.under30ceo.com
Schawbel, Dan. How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com.
To contact the author of this article, “A Summary and Review of How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban,” please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Publisher
David C. Wyld (email@example.com) is the Laborde Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (http://reverseauctionresearch.org), a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. His blog, Career News 24/7, can be viewed at http://wyld-about-careers.blogspot.com/.