When you see the swaggering, sometimes arrogant Mark Cuban on Shark Tank, it's easy to picture him as someone who grew up with money. In reality, while the owner of the Dallas Mavericks carries himself like someone born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he actually earned the right to smugly shoot down other people's dreams on the ABC show.
Cuban was born in 1958 in Pittsburgh to a middle-class family with working-class roots. His father spent most of his life working in a car upholstery shop, and his grandfather had worked peddling merchandise out of the back of a truck.
It was a family very familiar with hard work, which perhaps inspired Cuban's own work ethic. From his modest beginnings, the now-billionaire clawed his way forward, using his natural skills as a salesman to eventually amass his fortune.
Always a hustler
At age 12, Cuban worked selling garbage bags door to door, according to his official biography. As he got older, he kept hustling for a buck, selling stamps and coins.
His hustle wasn't limited to selling. Cuban began taking college classes in his junior year of high school before skipping his senior year to enroll at the University of Pittsburgh. He later transferred to Indiana University, where he not only put himself through school but also found a way scrounge up $15,000 to buy a bar, which he turned into the most popular bar in town, according to Investopedia.
After graduation, Cuban kept up his entrepreneurial streak. He worked a few jobs for other people, but as he saw the rise of computers in the workplace, he went out on his own, creating MicroSolutions. He sold that consulting company for $6 million and promptly retired to travel the world.
Back to work
While many people would be content to live the rest of their life on the $6 million Cuban made selling his consulting business, the future billionaire went back to work to solve a problem. No longer living in Indiana, the former Hoosier wanted to listen to his former school's basketball games.
That's a problem that almost seems laughable in 2017, when the internet makes pretty much any content available anywhere. In 1995, however, when Cuban formed Broadcast.com with his friend Todd Wagner, it was a major challenge, and cracking it would help the internet go from closed environments, like what AOL was at the time, to the digital world we know now.
In just four years, Cuban and his team solved the problem of how to stream audio over what was for most people an internet they reached through dial-up connections. That was a valuable technology that allowed Cuban to sell the company to Yahoo! for $5.6 billion.
Cuban the billionaire
Once he became a billionaire, Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks in 2000, gaining celebrity from his outspoken actions as the team's owner. He also continued his entrepreneurial ways, founding what was once called HDNet -- a cable channel dedicated to delivering high-definition programming now known as AXS TV.
And, of course, Cuban now also has stake in countless start-ups from investments made on Shark Tank. He's clearly aware that many people don't know that he worked his way up from very little, based on the quote he shares at the top of his biography on his own website: "It doesn't matter how many times you fail. You only have to be right once, and then everyone can tell you that you are an overnight success."
Cuban may not have been an overnight success, but he was a steadily rising star. He may have even gotten a bit lucky by selling Broadcast.com at exactly the right moment, but he clearly had the entrepreneurial and sales skills where even if that had failed, or missed its moment, he would have found another way to earn his fortune.
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