The Definitive Guide to Business

Mark Cuban says quitting this one common bad habit made him more successful

Mark Cuban speaks onstage during the THRIVE with Arianna Huffington panel at The Town Hall during 2016 Advertising Week New York on September 28, 2016 in New York City.
Slaven Vlasic | Getty Image
Mark Cuban speaks onstage during the THRIVE with Arianna Huffington panel at The Town Hall during 2016 Advertising Week New York on September 28, 2016 in New York City.

Billionaire Mark Cuban, 59, is now an accomplished leader: He's the owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, an investor on ABC's "Shark Tank" and a financial partner for countless start-ups.

But for him, leadership skills weren't inherent — he had to develop them through experience and mistakes. During an interview on "The Jamie Weinstein Show" podcast, Cuban says there was one important habit in particular he had to kick.

"There was a point in time when I was a yeller," Cuban says.

It was a phase in his 20s, he says. It taught him an important lesson about how his attitude could impact his success in the office.

"I wouldn't yell at employees, I would yell at my partner," he explains. "My partner at the time, Martin Woodall, and I would bat heads."

Woodall, a co-founder of Cuban's early computer systems venture MicroSolutions, had different ideas about the way the business should be run as it grew. Cuban describes Woodall as, "the most anal-retentive person I had ever met in my life," on his blog.

Cuban, on the other hand, wasn't. That led to disagreements.

"We could drive each other crazy," Cuban writes. "He would give me incredible amounts of s--- about how sloppy I was. I would give him the same amount back because he was so anal he was missing huge opportunities."

In time, Cuban discovered that no matter how irritating his partner could be, yelling at work wasn't good for the company.

"I learned over time that that just increases stress," he says on the podcast. "When you increase stress — the people around you, productivity, profitability, competitiveness — decline."

And (yelling aside) those differing strengths between Cuban and Woodall were part of what allowed the duo to excel as a team.

"While I covered my mistakes by throwing time and effort at the problem, Martin was so detail-oriented, he had to make sure things were perfect so problems could never happen," Cuban writes. "We complemented each other perfectly."

For now, Cuban's going with a different strategy: "Nice sells. Nice works a whole lot better."

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