Leadership

Why Mark Cuban considered CNN's founder his role model as a kid

820946312

"Shark Tank" star Mark Cuban is not a man who is easily impressed. Yet, the self-made billionaire considers one person to be the most talented entrepreneur he has ever come across: Ted Turner, the founder of CNN.

Cuban says his respect for the media mogul began at a young age because Turner did as he pleased. "He just went for it," says Cuban at the OZY Festival. "He was my role model as a kid."

Turner took over his father's company, Turner Outdoor Advertising, after his father died by suicide in 1963. The 24-year old expanded his father's enterprise into a media empire by acquiring small local radio stations and operating billboards throughout Georgia.

Turner, 78, first pitched the idea for CNN at the 1978 Western Cable Show, a cable industry trade show. At first, many of his fellow execs were against the idea, fearing that it would bankrupt the company, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In an interview, the entrepreneur tells CNN that starting the network was a major challenge because "just about everybody that had an opinion didn't think we could do it."

Turner ignored the naysayers and founded the world's first 24-hour television news network, according to CNN. "I studied the situation and... I felt like I knew what I was doing," he says. "And it turned out that I did."

Ted Turner
Getty Images
Ted Turner

In 1996, Time Warner merged with Turner's company in a stock deal worth around $7.5 billion, according to CNN.

Cuban says he likes that Turner marched to the beat of his own drum. He "just said… 'Everybody says I'm wrong. Everybody says no one wants to watch news all the time,'" Cuban explains at the festival. "He didn't care. He just went for it."

In fact, in a 2015 town hall, Turner said as much: "When we first launched CNN in 1980, people told me that that was crazy, and it was sure to be a big failure. Here we are 35 years later, and CNN is still going strong."

Cuban adds that Turner's business ventures expanded past media and says the media tycoon had a devil-may-care attitude.

"He bought a baseball team. And after he did that, he just did whatever he wanted," says Cuban. "Every time you saw him, he had a bottle of whiskey or a bottle of champagne."

Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks, reacts to a call during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 3, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Getty Images
Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks, reacts to a call during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 3, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Much like Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, the media mogul also owned sports teams. In 1976, he purchased the Atlanta Braves and the following year he purchased the Atlanta Hawks.

However, Turner, who according to Forbes is worth $2.3 billion, no longer heads his media conglomerate.

Since his departure from the company he has become an "influential philanthropist and is the second largest individual landowner in America, according to Forbes.

"He lived [his life] the way he wants to live it," says Cuban, "and to me, that's a beautiful thing."

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.

See also:

Mark Cuban says hustling at a young age helped him succeed

'Shark Tank' investor Robert Herjavec shares the best advice Mark Cuban gave him

Mark Cuban's 5 rules for starting a business