By Beth Pinsker
NEW YORK (Reuters) – After working his way up from selling garbage bags door-to-door as a teen in Pittsburgh, Mark Cuban, 57, is now climbing the ranks of the wealthiest Americans.
Cuban’s holdings are varied and his media personality is huge, ranging from his role on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” to film ventures to his ownership of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks.
The entrepreneur, who lives with his wife and three children in Dallas, speaks directly – and frequently – to more than 5 million Twitter followers.
Cuban started to seriously accumulate wealth after he sold several early web ventures, including Broadcast.com for $5.7 billion in 1999. He was number 200 on the 2015 Forbes 400 list, with a net worth of $3 billion, up from $1.8 billion in 2005.
Cuban spoke with Reuters about the life lessons he has learned about money, and what he hopes to pass along to the next generation:
Q: Do you have any billionaire role models on how to handle your wealth?
A: No. The exact opposite. My role models are the guys I grew up with in Pittsburgh and went to school with at Indiana. The money is the easy part. Staying true to who I am was tougher when I first got wealthy. Having great friends kept me grounded.
Q: What lessons did you learn about money from your own parents or grandparents – either by good example or bad?
A: It’s not easy to come by. You have to work hard to get it. And then, never take it for granted.
Q: Is your estate plan something you tinker with frequently, or did you set it some time ago and mostly leave it alone?
A: Other than adding kids, I haven’t touched it.
Q: As your wealth has grown over the years, what mistakes have you made in handling its growth?
A: I placed too much importance on comparing how much I had to others early on. Then I started realizing time was a far more valuable asset. When I started using money to create more time, I appreciated both more.
Q: Is your business succession plan something you actively think about as your business interests and wealth change?
A: All my companies have people who run the business on a day-to-day basis already.
Q: You have pioneered several charitable ventures, including the Mark Cuban Foundation and the Fallen Patriot Fund. How do you make decisions about what charities to give to?
A: I’m not a fan of giving to charities. I have a few I support, but the overhead and inefficiencies really bother me.
Instead, I pay people’s bills and help solve problems. I don’t know the total or if it’s a lot or a little, but I think I’m able to more readily and directly help people who need it and not pay for the commercials and administration of all the duplication that exists across charities.
I also have young kids. So it’s important to me to stay liquid just in case they have difficult health issues that need solved.
I also have never asked anyone for a nickel to contribute to a charity. If it’s important enough I can write the check.
Q: What do you think the Cuban Foundation (and family) will look like in 100 years?
A: Whatever my kids and their kids want it to look like. It will be up to them.
Q: You’ve said you don’t want your children to grow up to be “entitled jerks.” What specific techniques are you using to avoid that?
A: Trying to make them work for money to pay for the things they want and to live with as little help as possible. It started when they were 4 or 5.
They have a variety of normal household chores. And I bring them to events, and my oldest does do charity work.
Q: Do you think your kids (or anyone’s children) need that “shark” mentality to be successful?
A: That’s not how I run my businesses and so, no, that’s not what I pass along. Nice goes much further than mean.
(Editing by Lauren Young and Alan Crosby)