Billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, star of Shark Tank and co-founder of Cyber Dust, recently spoke at the University of Texas at Austin. He gave advice to college students on how to successfully manage their academic life and their careers. But the advice could equally apply to anyone at any stage of their life or career.
Cuban graduated from Indiana University with a degree in business administration. He took all of his hard classes during his freshman and sophomore years so he could “party like a rock star” the last two years. He focused on entrepreneurship, accounting and stats. At 18, he took a graduate level statistics class.
“If I can take this class and pass it, I can kick ass on anything,” Cuban said. “I wanted to test myself. I got in. I got an A.”
Learn How to Learn
“The thing about college, being here at UT, it’s a great school, but the most important thing you’re going to learn is how to learn,” Cuban said. “Because the only thing that is a certainty once you graduate is that it’s going to be completely different than it is today…. You don’t live in the world you were born into.”
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
“Trying to pick the perfect major – trying to take the perfect classes – forget it,” Cuban said. “It doesn’t work that way.”
Instead, try different things and see what happens. Learn how to program. Understand math. Biology is going to be more important.
“I took one tech class when I was in college and I cheated to get through it,” Cuban said. But he advised the students not to cheat.
“Kids stress too much,” Cuban said. “You’ll figure it out.”
When you are 20, 21, 22, you’re allowed to screw up. It’s when you get older that people are less forgiving. So make mistakes when you’re young and learn from them.
College is Important for Success
“If you want to get into business, you have to learn the language of business: accounting, marketing, sales,” Cuban said. “There’s never been a business that succeeded without sales.”
Billionaire Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, created the Thiel Fellowship to provide a select group of high school graduates an alternative to college. Cuban said that’s fine for a few people, but for the rest of the world “it’s stupid,” he said.
“You should go to school,” Cuban said.
It’s not to say that you can’t be successful without college but college gives people a distinct advantage especially when it comes to business, Cuban said. He also told them to pick the college they can afford.
Set Goals and Give It Your All
“The whole point is you do control your own destiny,” Cuban said. “So many people think there are external forces that are going to conspire to keep me from doing this and this…. But when it’s all said and done the one thing in life you can control is your effort.”
“You’ve got to get out there and do something. You can control it. There’s no excuses. Either you put in the work or you didn’t,” Cuban said. “Regardless of what your major is regardless of what your goal is you might want to save the world, you might want to cure the world. You might want to make the world better for everyone around you. That’s phenomenal. I don’t care what your goal is. I don’t care where you want to be in five, ten or twenty years. The only one who can control the effort is you.”