Most newly appointed bosses get the big corner office when they take over companies.
But when Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million in January 2000, he didn’t get his own floor-to-ceiling windows or a mahogany desk. Instead, he sat with nine other salesmen in an open plan office.
In a recent interview with GQ, Cuban explained he “didn’t give a s— about an office” because he was more focused on working alongside the sales team and earning their respect.
“I wanted everybody that worked with me to see that if I asked them to do it, I’ll do it,” Cuban told GQ. “If you’re running a company and if you can align your interest with those of the people you work with, things are gonna work for you.”
Cuban said he decided to buy the team after its home opener in 1999. At that point, he was just a season ticket holder, but he couldn’t believe the game wasn’t sold out. He bought the team because he thought he could make it better and sell more tickets, he said.
When he bought the team that January, Cuban said he put his desk in the center of the bullpen. In those days, he’d pull out phone books and old client lists and start cold calling.
Wanting to lead by example, he came up with compelling pitches to get old fans to come back to games. He’d say: “Do you realize now that it’s less expensive to come to a Mavericks game than to take your family to McDonald’s?” or “The first game’s free on me.”
Cuban’s method appears to have worked, as the Dallas Mavericks’ team value has steadily increased over the years. In 2014, the team was worth $765 million. Now, the 2011 NBA Champions are valued at $3.3 billion — $440,000 million more than the average NBA team — and is the eighth most valuable team in the NBA, according to Forbes.
This isn’t the first time Cuban has emphasized the importance of team cohesiveness. On a recent episode of the “Re:Thinking with Adam Grant” podcast, Cuban said he has fired business partners and traded basketball players because of their personalities — especially when the team has multiple self-centered or combative members.
“Culture and chemistry are critical to success,” Cuban said. “A team can have one knucklehead, you can’t have two. One knucklehead adapts, two hang out together.”
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