Also, being a billionaire.
But if there’s one other thing he’s known for, and has been highly consistent about over the years, it’s a productivity habit that he’s articulated again and again.
It comes down to this: Fewer meetings, more emails.
“No meetings or phone calls unless I’m picking up a check,” he told Thrive Global in 2016. “Everything is email.”
“I’m not big on ‘Let’s go eat lunch” meetings,”he told Inc.com in in 2014. “The only way you’re going to get me for a meeting is if you’re writing me a check. Same with phone calls. They’re a waste of time.”
“Yes,” he said in a highly meta video last year, in which he referenced his Inc. interview while editing his own Wikipedia page to reflect his anti-meeting mantra. “I hate meetings. Nobody likes meeting expect the people who bring the donuts and the people who like to talk about their kids.”
O.K. Mark. Got it. No meetings. Email, or perhaps even, text.
In fact, while I’m not going to include Cuban’s email addresses here (as I can’t vouch for their accuracy or his eagerness to share them), if you search online, you’ll find a bunch of fast results.
You’ll also find stories from entrepreneurs saying they raised money from him after “cold emailing,” and at least one story by a colleague of mine on Inc.com saying that he shared a phone number last year on which anybody could text him.
Anyway, this is a wonderful productivity habit for Cuban, but it’s a bit problematic for others trying to emulate him. (Frankly, the more you’re in a position to emulate him, the more successful you might already be.)
In short, Cuban almost certainly has much more money and power than the people who want to meet with him. That means he’s in a position to dictate the terms of interactions.
Good luck trying to tell a potential client, or your boss if you have one, that you think meetings are a waste of time and you’d rather just communicate over email.
Perhaps if you’re running a business you can insist on a preference for fast email or text communication over meetings. But would you really be comfortable?
The relative stakes might seem a lot higher to you than they do for Cuban. Also, I suspect Cuban would set aside his “no meetings” preference for the right meeting.
Imagine a highly sought-after free agent who he wanted to sign to the Mavericks. Would he truly refuse to meet in person if the player wanted to?
That said, I think you can pull out some of the advantages Cuban talks about from a less-meeting, more-emailing life.
Near the top, besides reclaimed time, is that email creates a virtual paper trail.
“I want to do everything via email because that allows me go to back and look something up,” Cuban said in that same highly meta video interview. “I’ve got emails that are 25 years old now.”
Even if you do have to attend meetings (virtual ones, even, given our current situation), you can certainly send short follow-up emails afterward, documenting things that were proposed or decided, and politely inviting others to “correct me if I’m misremembering.”
Another advantage comes from simply doing the math: figuring out the value of the time that you’d be putting into a meeting, and comparing it to other things you could be doing (and the size of the potential opportunity you’d be discussing).
For Cuban, it might be hard to justify spending an hour or two talking to someone about a small investment opportunity, even if if might ultimately lead to a $1 million profit.
You or me? We might be a lot more willing to put in time for that kind of return.
At the end of the day, all of this comes down to how you want to spend the time you have on this planet — time being the most finite resource, much more than money.
You don’t need to be Mark Cuban to realize that. But feel free to email him and ask for his opinion.