Book Review: How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It by Mark Cuban
If you aspire to be a corporate drone marking time until five o’clock, or until retirement, don’t bother reading Mark Cuban’s new book, How to Win at the Sport of Business. If you are, or want to be, an entrepreneur, though, or even a corporate “intrapreneur,” this book will provide inspiration combined with practical advice.
How to Win is particularly effective and believable because Cuban’s own path to business superstar status was so normal. He didn’t start a computer business in his dorm room at Indiana like Michael Dell did at UT Austin. (Amusingly, he was an early customer of Dell’s and took the time to write a note of encouragement to the “kid.”). Cuban didn’t start coding software as an undergrad like Bill Gates, though he describes a funny brush with Gates, too.
Instead, Cuban’s post-college days began in a totally normal way. Unsure of what to do, he headed for Dallas and moved into a cheap apartment with five buddies. He worked a series of low-paying jobs selling computers and software while scrounging happy hour food and crashing on the couch at night. No silver spoon, no brilliant invention, just a very typical start for a somewhat unfocused (but clearly smart) young guy. It’s hard to resist paraphrasing the subtitle, “If he can do it, so can I!”
Cuban’s Secret to Success
Cuban’s underlying theme is that his success is due to hard work. His early success in selling computers and software was due to his studying software manuals and offering customers more expertise and cogent advice than his peers. The best quote in the book is,
The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson, or anyone in any position can control is their effort.
That theme underlies a lot of How to Win. Cuban says that even now, he spends a lot of time reading, but not fiction. Instead, he devours articles, websites, and anything else that might give him an edge or suggest a business idea.
Marketing & Sales Lessons
According to Cuban, the most powerful and least expensive marketing he does for the Dallas Mavericks is by offering some game tickets at reasonable prices. He lowered prices on all tickets for the “upper bowl” seating area and began offering a $2 ticket for ten games. Offering these inexpensive options to see a live game builds the brand and fan commitment, which can be leveraged to support other products and create new ones.
He also notes,
Let me let all Sports Marketing majors in on a secret. There is nothing at all special or different about running, managing, or working in a sports organization. It runs the exact same way as any company that sells widgets, service, or entertainment of any kind.
Sales: Job for a Lifetime
He’s bullish on sales as a profession. He says that if you can sell, you can get a job anywhere, anytime. He’s almost always more willing to hire a dropout who is caring, involved, and (most importantly) can sell over a candidate who has an MBA in Sports Management.
Sales, Cuban says, is the most important job in a company, and he questions why colleges don’t offer a major in Salesmanship vs. Sales and Marketing. He thinks anyone can be a great salesperson if they put in the effort and really care about their company, prospects, and customers.
New Grad “Stocking Stuffer”
How to Win is a quick read, and the anecdotes and homespun wisdom Cuban sprinkles in keep it lively. It’s a great read for any would-be entrepreneur or new graduate starting a career. In fact, if you know anyone finishing school this spring, send them this ebook – it might be a game-changer for them. (As inexpensive as How to Win is, you’d better get them a “real” gift, too!)
Amazon Kindle Version Link:
How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It