October 27, 2015

“You are the most important person to know.” Powerful words from Mark Cuban, charismatic owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and entrepreneur, who addressed our group of executives and coaches last week during the FORTUNE Gazelles Growth Summit in Dallas.

Cuban delivered candid (and often amusing) remarks that explain his investment strategies – “selling is not convincing; you can be a knucklehead next year” and “the longer the backstory, the worse the investment.” Entertaining, of course; however, my greatest takeaways were from Cuban’s perspectives on candor and entrepreneurship.

Cuban on Candor

In the concluding chapter of Uncommon Candor, “True to Self,” I cover the importance of being honest and direct with ourselves and about ourselves to others. Cuban also understands how crucial it is to be candid with ourselves:

Am I self-aware? Do I tell myself the truth? You have to know what you can’t do so you can find out what you can do. You are the most important person for you to know.

Cuban’s candor extends beyond self-awareness and impacts how he builds his teams:

Who am I? Who are my managers? Who do I need to grow? I have to hire those who dot the i’s and cross the t’s because I’m not good at that. A strong foundation of people is what you need to grow.

He illustrated this point most clearly when he quipped, “don’t give me the ball, give it to Dirk,” referencing the Maverick’s Forward Dirk Nowitzki.

For Entrepreneurs

Cuban also shared the advice he offers to entrepreneurs, which completes the circle of candor by connecting facts, honesty, and trust throughout the process. The people who pitch their products or services to him as an investor on ABC’s Shark Tank would be wise to listen.

Be curious and always be learning. As an entrepreneur, if you’re not curious, get out.

Letting go is hard, terrifying. But you build bench strength if you can trust.

Send me a weekly report. Bad news first. If you don’t disclose it and I find out, you are gone.

I don’t tell people to follow their dreams. I tell them to read and learn.

Cuban knows being kind is just as important as being truthful and knowledgeable.

One important thing is the value of being nice. Nice pays. Any bad experience is on Twitter. One goal for my company is to make sure all touch points are nice. It’s easier to be nice. 

Cuban values honest, direct and respectful dialogue, both with himself and with the business people, basketball players, entrepreneurs and customers around him. He knows candor is a powerful force for driving success.