Some kids gain confidence from report cards and gold medals. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban built his by dancing.
His mother taught him after the 12-year-old Cuban chipped his two front teeth and was forced to wear “silver stainless steel” caps, he told NBC’s “TODAY” last year.
“I was a little short chubby kid [and] my parents didn’t have a lot,” Cuban recounted on the show. But “they’re like, ‘We’ve got to build your confidence.'”
She taught him the box step by letting Cuban stand on her feet. Learning the moves to show him he was competent, had rhythm and could quickly pick up new skills, Cuban said.
To his estimation, it worked. His self-assuredness empowered him to create a number of businesses — he sold garbage bags, coins and stamps — before graduating high school.
“It really did [help with confidence],” Cuban tells CNBC Make It in an email. “I didn’t have much of a dating life in high school, but as I grew up, when I got to college I was able to ask a girl to dance when most of my friends couldn’t and wouldn’t.”
Some leadership experts agree confidence is one of the greatest strengths in the office, whether you’re a boss or employee. That’s because it’s the key to making “very impactful decisions, says Bonnie Low-Kramen, author of “Staff Matters: People-Focus Solutions for the Ultimate New Workplace.”
“Confidence is serious business, and the single most important differentiator in the workplace,” Low-Kramen wrote. “It will be the person with high confidence and lower abilities who will get the job over the person with low confidence and higher abilities.”
At certain points in his career, Cuban’s confidence paired with his dance skills literally paid off. While a student at Indiana University, he made $25 per hour teaching disco dancing lessons to sororities.
“It was the best job ever,” Cuban told sportscaster Jim Rome on a podcast in 2019. “$25 an hour, are you kidding me? I’d take that job now.”
Cuban bootstrapped the cash from his dance lessons and other side gigs to open a bar with his friend after he graduated in 1981. The bar eventually got shut down for underage drinking, which sent Cuban — who said he had only $60 to his name — to live with friends in Austin, Texas.
There, he picked up jobs bartending and selling software. After he was fired from his sales job, he went on to start his own company MicroSolutions. He sold it to CompuServe for $6 million in 1990 and an audio streaming company he helped co-found to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999.
Cuban, who was also a celebrity competitor on Dancing with the Stars in 2007, now has a net worth of $5.1 billion, according to Forbes.
Cuban also told “TODAY” he hopes to pass down the same confidence his parents gave him to his three children. He said he helps them build their self-esteem by earning their accomplishments, rather than having their billionaire parents do things for them.
“They take the same lessons I learned: If you want something, you have to earn it,” he said, noting they have to help with chores or get jobs to afford things they want.
“[My wife and I] are really committed in that you have to accomplish things on your own,” he added. You don’t want to be Mark Cuban’s son or daughter your whole life.”
Disclosure: NBC, Peacock and CNBC are owned by NBCUniversal. CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank,” which features Mark Cuban as a panelist.
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