This past week I had the privilege of seeing Mark Cuban (think Shark Tank and Billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks) and Mark Burnett (Producer to 11 Television Shows including Survivor, Shark Tank and The Voice) at the USC Marshall School of Business as well as witness my Wisconsin Badgers advance to the Final Four with a big victory over Arizona at the Staples Center. I couldn’t help but think “success” after those experiences and I want to share with you the Top 10 Success Principles I learned from Mark Cuban & Bo Ryan (The University of Wisconsin’s Head Coach) – up close and personal.
1. Be Great: Find something you love and be great at it.
2. Be Prepared: Understand the people you’re working with and working for. Figure out what’s most important to them. Speak squarely to that.
3. Reduce the Stress of your Teammates: If you’re working for someone, reduce the stress of your teammates and those around you. If you can reduce other people’s stress, those people will gravitate towards you. You will be seen as the leader and your colleagues will eventually want to work for you.
4. Have Fun: Every step of Mark’s journey he make sure he has fun. He picked a Top 10 business school to attend in Indiana University but also chose it because it was a Top 10 Party school as well. For Wisconsin, this past week in LA wasn’t all business. The star of the team Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky got to interview Will Ferrell who was “Frank the Tank” in the movie Old School.
5. Don’t Give Up: Early on for Mark, he heard a lot of “No’s”. But “every no, got him one step closer to a yes” as he said. For Wisconsin, they trailed in the 2nd half in three of their past five games and all five of which they went on to win. They never give up and always believe in themselves. This belief, even when looking defeat in the eyes, has allowed them to make the most of every minute and win the big games.
6. Value Your Opportunities: When Mark sold his company Broadcast.com to Yahoo he was instantly worth $2bln. What did he do with the Yahoo stock he was given as consideration for the deal: he immediately sold it and locked in his profit. There were pundits calling him a fool because the Yahoo stock he received was eventually worth over $3bln. When he sold, he asked himself: “What’s the worst that could happen? I walk away with two billion dollars in the bank? How much money do I really need?” Those same Yahoo shares eventually declined 90% from their peak. Mark knew the environment and the opportunity. As for Wisconsin, they have the most efficient offense in college basketball. They value each possession they have with the basketball and rarely turn it over. Their offense is patient, always looking for the best shot. Despite their stodginess of defense, they have been a top scoring team due to taking high quality shots and making the most of each opportunity.
7. Have a Complete Skill Set: The Wisconsin Basketball team has players that are anywhere from 6’2″ to 7′ tall. When you watch them play, they all can dribble, pass, shoot and play defense. Even the 7 footer can bring the ball up the court, shoot the 3, play in the low post and play defense. Every player has a complete skill set which has the ability to “reduce the stress” of their teammates. For Mark, he is involved in all facets of his businesses. He understands the macro trends of the industry he is operating in as well as the technical aspects of every single technology he is involved with. Beyond that, he knows finance, budgeting and planning, strategic marketing and the fact that you need to “always be selling”.
8. Have Systems and Procedures: Mark Cuban has invested in over 35 different companies during his tenure on Shark Tank. Due to that fact, Mark has hired a staff of 14 to integrate all of these disparate companies to operate within his ecosytem. This provides for a cohesive set of business procedures and operating systems that allow his companies to operate efficiently and allow him to provide his business insight to those companies on a weekly basis. Bo Ryan runs what is known as the Swing Offense for the Badgers. He has had his teams run this offensive system for the past 30 years. The Swing offense is a “team-offense” that places a premium on good passing, screening and cutting. Bo is one of the elite college basketball coaches and his system produces success. He has lead Wisconsin to the Final Four in back to back years as well as made the NCAA tournament every year since joining the team in 2001. Prior to that, he was four-time Division III National Coach of the Year at UW-Platteville and won four Division III National Championships.
9. Do Your Homework: Mark Cuban, when asked by a student at USC: “If you could shadow one person for a day, who would it be?” Mark replied: “Warren Buffett, because he is always learning.” For Bo and Wisconsin, the little things mean everything. Winning big games is not about making great shots or game-winning plays. It is about doing the little things down the stretch better than anyone else. How often have you seen championships won by a team that wasn’t perceived to be extraordinary? Or a company sales team win a big award that seemed to be a long shot? It’s likely that these teams, like Bo’s, focused at least 80 percent in preparation for execution. The more players you have on your team focusing on the little things, the greater long-term success you will have.
10. Create a Culture: After last years Final Four appearance, two of Wisconsin’s starting five players could have left for the NBA but they chose to stay at school and a part of the team. They wanted to be a part of something bigger – for the team, the school and their future selves. These two players have been outstanding, averaging 24 and 25 points per game each over the past two games in the tournament. Bo, sees himself as a teacher. His objective is to develop young men to be the best version of themselves. He knows that if he teaches his players to be the best version of themselves, they will perform at a high level and with confidence both on and off the court. Mark says that company culture is the rudder for all companies and his basketball team, Dallas Mavericks. If a business owner doesn’t define or understand their company’s culture, they have a problem…just like a team’s best player has to fit for what you want for your team. A leader should be someone leading by example.