‘Shark Tank’s’ Mark Cuban Says He Learned This From the Boss Who Fired Him

Mark Cuban of ABC’s Shark Tank has worked hard to achieve his success. With running a tech empire, owning an NBA team, producing films, and working on one of today’s hottest reality shows, the billionaire clearly has plenty of business smarts.

Along his diverse career path, Cuban has learned many lessons, including how not to run a company.

“Shark Tank’s” Mark Cuban | Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Won’t repeat past mistakes

Cuban has a long list of victories to his name, though he has also missed out on some prime opportunities. Case in point, when ride-sharing company Uber was in the works, Cuban was asked to to come on board by co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick. Since he had already invested in Kalanick’s first start-up, Red Swoosh, which wasn’t bringing in profits, he decided to let the Uber opp drive on by.

“You are going to have to fight all the taxi associations, and all the transportation organizations in each city and every state,” Cuban said, according to CNBC. “Then I started talking to him about his valuation, and I never heard back from him. The rest is history.”

Today, Uber is worth billions, and Cuban regrets not being a part of it. Though he wishes he had been a part of the venture, Cuban has learned from the major faux pas. “The point is, when you are trying to disrupt something like Travis was doing, sometimes you have got to be ready, fire, aim and just bust through doors and figure you will deal with the regulatory issues later,” he shared. “I won’t make the same mistake twice.”

Very different management style

When Cuban graduated from Indiana University in 1981, he landed a job at a retail software company. He revealed that he was terminated from the job due to how he scheduled a money-making deal.

“I got fired because he wanted me to open up the store. It was a software retail store — I had to sweep the floor, make sure the windows were clean, make sure the store was open on time — and I had a big deal I wanted to close,” Cuban explained. “And I thought, ‘Okay, I’m gonna let Michael (his name was Michael) know that I’ve got everything taken care of, someone’s watching my shift if you will, and I’m gonna go pick up a $10,000 check.’”

Surprisingly, his boss was less than delighted with Cuban’s taking the initiative. “I figured when I came back he’d be thrilled to death, right? Fired me on the spot,” Cuban said.

Lessons learned

The Shark Tank star revealed that his boss at the time had a very different set of priorities from him, including placing too much importance on outer appearance.

“Literally back then I was buying clothes from a used clothing store, because they had used polos that they would redo, and my suits were two-for-$99 polyester suits. You didn’t have to dry-clean them, you just ran through the rain a few times,” Cuban said, according to CNBC. “And I remember him saying, ‘Well, you need to dress up and this is where you can buy some nice suits.’ He was more interested in the show, and he would never go on sales calls.”

Though Cuban was focused on bringing in clients, the boss was more concerned with dressing the part which, in the billionaire’s opinion, greatly misses the mark. “It was there I learned that sales cures all — there’s never been a company that succeeded without sales,” Cuban shared. “Just time after time … the companies I worked for that didn’t do well, they didn’t focus on the results that mattered to the business. They focused on how well they looked and the show.”

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Despite getting the ax from his first job out of college, Cuban is grateful for what the experience taught him about what to do – and what not to do – when running a company.  “I’m glad I learned those lessons early,” he said.

Watch ABC’s Shark Tank on Sunday nights!