Mark Cuban shares his insights on entrepreneurship, the 2020 election, AI, and the COVID road to recovery

On Nov. 2, the day before the 2020 presidential election, the Harvard Association for Law and Business (HALB) hosted Mark Cuban, businessman, Shark Tank investor, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, for a conversation with Eric Zilber ’22 and Elisabeth Lopez ’22, executive committee members of the organization, as part of HALB’s Dream Big Speaker series.

Cuban spoke to the importance of the election and urged young people to vote, not just for the country, but for their own futures. He also mentioned that voting, regardless of who you vote for, becomes part of how you’re perceived.

“Some people may think that there’s no need to vote, or their vote doesn’t count. Whether or not you voted is a public record. Why’s that important? That becomes part of your brand,” said Cuban. “If you’re looking to do something that impacts government, or if you’re going to take a stand politically, someone is going to check if you voted.”

When asked about the current hyper-partisan atmosphere of American politics and his potential plans to run for president, Cuban stated that he believes he would have a greater impact advocating for an overhaul of the current electoral system through the implementation of ranked choice voting and the elimination of political parties.

Cuban also offered advice on what students should focus on to get ahead and highlighted artificial intelligence as the future of work. “Everything is going to be focused on AI. You’re going to have to understand AI like how people in the mid-90s had to understand what the internet was.”

Cuban has been on his own journey to understand AI and recommended the books “Competing in the Age of AI” and “The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World” for anyone looking to kickstart their AI education. The Dallas Mavericks have also started experimenting on how to use AI to improve content delivery to fans.

“AI is going to impact every industry more than the internet impacted industry,” he said. “It’s just that dramatic. Even as a lawyer, you’ll have to understand. What can you automate? What can’t you automate? What are the limitations of using AI in your business?”

On the topic of COVID and the road to recovery, Cuban spoke about his personal effort to raise public awareness on the importance of wearing masks. “We need to be encouraging people to wear masks. On the state level and also the national level, every business should be mandated to require masks,” he said.

Asked about his own beginnings, Cuban spoke about his childhood businesses selling magazines, stamps, and garbage bags and his experience living in a one-bedroom with six other roommates while building MicroSolutions. His first experiences as a salesman gave him the foundational knowledge to build his career as an entrepreneur.

“[My experiences] helped me build my confidence and realize that selling isn’t convincing, selling is helping, and that really paid dividends.”

With the final question of the event, an audience member asked Cuban how to balance business with being a good person.

“It isn’t so difficult because I try to be nice. Being nice is great business.”