Power Players

Mark Cuban says this $25-an-hour gig was his 'best job ever'

Mark Cuban
Source: Mark Cuban

It's not often you hear a billionaire openly wish to go back to making an hourly wage. But Mark Cuban says the "best job" he ever had came during his college days, and it paid him $25 an hour.

Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star of ABC's "Shark Tank," recently discussed the long list of side-jobs he took to pay his way through school on a podcast with host Jim Rome.

"I think I invented the word 'side-hustle,'" Cuban said.

But while Cuban held a lot of different jobs — from selling garbage bags as a kid to working in a bar while at while at Indiana University — the billionaire says one still stands out as the best.

"I got paid $25 an hour back then to teach [disco] dancing to sororities," Cuban told Rome. "It was the best job ever."

Cuban (who showed off his dancing skills on the fifth season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars") even thinks that would still be a pretty desirable job today, which might not be surprising, especially considering the fact that the federal minimum wage is currently just $7.25 per hour (though it's higher in some states, and Congress is working on increasing the minimum to $15 an hour).

"I mean, $25 an hour, are you kidding me? I'd take that job now," Cuban said.

Bill Gates, Mark Cuban and Alexis Ohanian all limit their kids' tech use–just like Steve Jobs did
Bill Gates, Mark Cuban and Alexis Ohanian all limit their kids' tech use–just like Steve Jobs did

But "dance instructor" was just one of the early job titles Cuban held. After getting a jump start on his entrepreneurial streak by selling everything from baseball cards to stamps as a kid, Cuban worked at a grocery store stocking shelves and at a deli, where he even sliced off a piece of his finger one day, he told Rome in the podcast.

In college, Cuban used a chain letter that asked recipients to submit a small amount of money to make more than $1,000, which paid for a semester of tuition. He even used money he saved from his side-jobs, including hosting disco parties, to open a bar with a friend that became a popular drinking spot for local students after Cuban graduated in 1981.

However, the bar was eventually shut down for serving underage patrons, which Cuban calls "the best thing that ever happened" to him, because he was forced to pack up his meager belongings and move to Texas at the age of 23 "with $60, hole in my floorboard, case of oil in the trunk & a floor to sleep on in Dallas," he said in 2017.

The move to Dallas ended up working out well for Cuban, who got a job there selling software. And while he got fired from that job, that led to him eventually starting his own software company called MicroSolutions that he sold in 1990 for $6 million.

Cuban often talks about the important lessons he learned from his earliest entrepreneurial endeavors. Everyone needs to learn how to "hustle" if they want to overcome the challenges they'll meet throughout their careers.

"There's gonna be failure and if you're not able to hustle, if you're not able to grind, you're not gonna be able to fight through those things," Cuban said at SXSW in 2016.

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to ABC's "Shark Tank."

Mark Cuban: "One of the great lies of life is follow your passions"
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