Mark Cuban: Here’s the moment I knew I wouldn’t succeed in corporate America

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Mark Cuban once pictured himself running a major corporation — until he started his first job out of college.

After Cuban graduated from the University of Indiana in 1981, he was hired at Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh, he recently said on Trevor Noah’s “What Now?” podcast. He liked the job almost immediately, feeling comfortable enough to send business articles to the bank’s CEO and start a “rookie club,” where a group of new employees would invite senior executives out for drinks and networking, he said.

He felt confident he was building important relationships. Then, his boss unkindly told him to knock it off.

“I start to cry … because he’s just yelling at me nonstop,” Cuban said. “I didn’t look at it as just a [9-to-5] job … My only mission was to help my company make more money. My peers and bosses didn’t quite see [my strategy] that way.”

The experience “sealed” something he probably already knew, Cuban told CNBC Make It via email: If he wanted to run a company, he’d likely have to build his own.

It was the first of two wake-up calls that taught Cuban he’d never blend into “the structure and limits” of corporate America, he said on the podcast.

The second one was at a PC software retailer in Dallas called Your Business Software, where he found employment after leaving Mellon Bank and working a series of odd jobs. He was fired after nine months for leaving the store unattended while he closed a $15,000 deal with a client without telling his boss, he recalled in a 2017 podcast interview.

“I was a lousy employee because I was a know-it-all,” Cuban told Wired last year. “I was an entrepreneur at heart, and I always thought I had a better idea [for how to do things].”

Many entrepreneurs are “misfits, difficult employees who start their own firms” because they don’t want to be managed or “work in a pre-structured environment,” suggested a 2007 analysis in American Psychologist, a peer-reviewed academic journal. That disposition may also help them survive the turbulence of launching a new company, the researchers found.

But not every prospective entrepreneur is as successful as Cuban, who launched a software company called Microsolutions in 1983 and kept it afloat through some turbulent early years. He ultimately sold it for $6 million in 1990.

Cuban’s second business, Broadcast.com, was acquired by Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999. He is currently running another entrepreneurial venture, discount prescription drug service Cost Plus Drugs, and has a reported net worth of $6.2 billion.

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