No matter how much money you have, you can't buy more time.
Mark Cuban, a billionaire three times over who can purchase almost anything he can think of, including an NBA basketball team, recognizes that. In a wide-ranging conversation with media mogul and Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington published this week, Cuban calls time "the most valuable asset you have."
"You can't buy it. You can't find it. You can't store it. You can't trade it," says Cuban.
Huffington summarizes his perspective this way: "You've always believed and talked about how the key to life is how wisely you use your time." He agrees.
Over the course of his life, Cuban's decisions about how to spend his time have evolved.
Early on, Cuban made the choice to trade his time for the hope of future earnings. "I gave up a lot personally early on to try to accomplish my goals, knowing that if I ever reach the levels of success even close to where I ended up, I was just gonna have fun," he says.
And he did have both financial success and fun. Once he started to make money, Cuban bought a lifetime pass on American Airlines "just so I could go party like a madman." That phase lasted about four years.
He went back to work to launch AudioNet, which turned into Broadcast.com, which he ended up selling to Yahoo for almost $6 billion in 2000. After the sale of Broadcast.com, Cuban, who is now 58, realized he had different priorities for how to spend his time.
"Once I sold Broadcast, I had the money, and I was grateful for it, but what made me lucky was that I could spend time the way I wanted to. And I could start working on relationships. I could start a family, because that's when I could focus on it," says Cuban.
"And I'm the old dad now, but having the time just to be able to enjoy my time with my family, there's nothing more valuable. It's the best reward."
One way that Cuban protects his time now is that he almost never takes in-person meetings or phone calls. He conducts business almost exclusively through email. He carries two phones, one Android and one Apple, so that he is always reachable.
Also, he's let up on some of his entrepreneurial hustle.
"The good news of having had the level of success I have is obvious, but the bad side is I kinda lost that piss and vinegar 'cause I can think of fifty businesses I could start right now ... but I don't want to give up time at home and all that. So that's kind of the trade off."