Young Success

Mark Cuban's 4-word advice to college grads might be the most comforting thing you hear today

Mark Cuban
Getty Images for TechCrunch

It's been a rough year for the class of 2020, but some comfort can be found — even amid all the stress, fear and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic — in four words from Mark Cuban: "Just chill. Don't stress."

That's what the billionaire investor said in a 2019 interview with Bold TV, when asked to sum up his advice to college graduates.

"You don't have to have all the answers. You don't have to have your chosen career. You don't have to know what you're going to be when you grow up. You don't have to be focused on adulting," he said. "You've taken on four years of debt, of paying to learn. So now, find a job that pays you to learn."

While one could argue that the world is a lot different today than it was a year ago (especially with graduates entering a job market more devastating than any in recent history), the deeper meaning behind Cuban's message remains timeless: Life will always be filled with uncertainty. The key to coping with difficult circumstances, though, is to stop worrying about all the terrifying "what-ifs," and start considering the good things that might happen.

Not having everything figured out can lead to exploration, self-discovery and future success. In fact, it took Cuban several years of career failures before realizing he was meant to be an entrepreneur.

"I was broke after college. I slept on the floor, got fired, was a shitty employee, started a company, starved for a while, sold that company, used that money to start another company, partied like a rock star, sold that company, started another company [...]," the "Shark Tank" star recalled in the interview.

Even if the job you take has nothing to do with your dream career, Cuban said, "you're going to learn something new, you're going to network, you're going to meet new friends."

And if you can't find a job, you can always start your own. Cuban recently told CNBC Make It that if he were to start a side hustle today, he would teach himself how to write scripts for "Alexa, Google Home and Cortana," then "go to any place that sold devices they supported and show them how much more they could do with a few hours of personalization."

Eliminating stress is easier said than done, but you can relieve it by focusing on the things within your control. For example, you don't have control over whether or not you get laid off, but you do have control over things like how much effort you put into searching for work online, learning new skills and networking with others.

This is certainly a difficult time for everyone, but, as Cuban reminds us, the best thing to do is to reverse your negative thoughts and turn fears into possibilities. "I try to wake up every day smiling and have a great day, even though some days are a mess," the Dallas Mavericks owner said. "But you just keep moving the ball forward."

Dustin McKissen is a career expert and the founder of McKissen + Company. He was also named one of LinkedIn's "Top Voices in Management and Corporate Culture." Follow Dustin on LinkedIn.

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