I used to think (based on my skimming of newspaper accounts of him) that he was a typical rich guy blowhard. I don’t know him personally so I can’t vouch for his personality, but he’s not a typical anything. His recent post about Donald Trump is interesting, not because it confirms that Trump is an arrant self-aggrandizer, but because it sounds honest. Like I said, I don’t know Cuban, so I’m not saying he is honest. But, if you read his posts, I think you’ll agree he speaks on a wide variety of subjects (although it’s mostly about Mavericks basketball), and does so without the Worship-Me-Because-I-Am-Rich-and-Powerful approach that people like Trump use.
Cuban’s post about why celebrities change their cellphones so often is engaging and interesting. “Okay,” someone says, “well that post is basically ‘Entertainment Tonight’ fare, and so what?” Well, here’s a post the inanity of the IPO road show, a subject that many ordinary investors who know about IPOs might find provocative and informative.
Cuban is also intrigued by the possible application to Basketball of the principles in Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball (which was supposedly about baseball, but which I have said is equally about management of business in general). Obviously, Cuban is intellectually curious and alert to inefficiencies in the market caused by stodgy, unimaginative thinking. I’m guessing that, and hard work, is how he got rich.
I’m not sure what business philosophy Trump espouses, but I’m certain that I didn’t miss any vital clues when I watched The Apprentice. The show wasn’t an ‘inside look’ into what it takes to make it in the High Finance World of Big Business. It was an half hour commercial-disguised-as-a-Reality-TV-program, the only purpose of which was to boost Trump’s personal publicity value (as if it isn’t overly valued already). If one of my kids or close friends told me they were off to work for Donald Trump I’d schedule an immediate no-holds barred intervention.
Cuban is also planning a show, which he talks about here, called The Benefactor, and it looks a lot more intriguing than the Trump-o-mania fest that NBC happily made money on. The only similarity I can see, conceptually, between the two shows is that they’re about ‘learning business from someone who’s been there. I’d bet a young person could learn a lot about business from Mark Cuban. Yeah, he’s a hot head and no doubt he has other undesirable personality traits.
Still, Mark Cuban is a guy I’d like to meet. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a self-parody, more like a the Monopoly Tycoon™. If there is a message to Trump’s media madness, it’s pretty simple: don’t just ‘believe in yourself,’ worship yourself. And don’t bother wasting time acknowledging the accomplishments of others. Trump, of course, would disagree with that statement; he’d say don’t worship yourself, worship me.