Mark Cuban Doesn’t Look At Fellow Billionaires As Role Models — Instead, He Keeps It Real

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014 - Day 1

Getty Image

Speaking for myself, I really admire billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reasons that have nothing to do with his wealth. It’s one thing to have a bank account worth $3 billion, it’s something else entirely to have the moral character of standing up for what you genuinely believe in. He’s demonstrated this time and time again — like the time he fought the SEC in court (and won), how he started the Fallen Patriot Fund, and how he donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to push for widespread patent reform at the legislative level, an issue he talks about quite a lot.

At the same time, he shoots from the hip and keep it real. Back in 2011 he released pics of his wild rugby house days at Indiana University, including a pic of the team doing the infamous Elephant Walk. Very few other people of his wealth and stature would do such a thing. He’s the mullet of billionaires — Business in the front (as seen from his business acumen on Shark Tank), party in the back (as seen when the Mavs won the 2011 NBA Finals).

Unlike so many other high net worth individuals, Cuban is an example of a billionaire capitalist who uses his wealth for the betterment of society, not for his own personal gain.

There’s no better example of how real he keeps it than in an interview published today with Fortune Magazine. Cuban was asked if he looks to his fellow billionaires as a source of inspiration. Considering how much we fetishize financial success in society, his response deserves a standing ovation.

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.

The fact that Cuban admires his buddies more than his contemporaries in the nine-figure club says a lot about his character.

In his discussion with Fortune, he also waxes two valuable life lessons about being rich:  The hustle ain’t easy and time is ultimately the most valuable thing a person can have.

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.

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.

He also talked about the traits he instills in his own children about success:

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.

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.

Go read the whole thing over at Fortune. It’s a reminder that he’s the ultimate Bro King billionaire.

WATCH: Arnold’s Six Rules Of Success