Doing What Others Won’t Do

Posted on May 16, 2009
Filed Under Business |

Mark Cuban published a series of blog posts a few years ago about his own story of success. He recently republished them and as I re-read them something jumped out at me.

Fortunately, things turned out well for me with MicroSolutions. I sold it after 7 years and made enough money to take time off and have a whole lot of fun.

Back then I can remember vividly people telling me how lucky I was to sell my business at the right time.

Then when I took that money and started trading technology stocks that were in the areas that MIcroSolutions focused on. I remember vividly being told how lucky I was to have expertise in such a hot area, as technology stocks started to trade up.

Of course, no one wanted to comment on how lucky I was to spend time reading software manuals, or Cisco Router manuals, or sitting in my house testing and comparing new technologies, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

This is interesting to me because there are some people who believe the key to success is to avoid doing things you don’t like. There is actually a popular quote from Marcus Buckingham that says “The one thing you need to know about sustained individual success: Discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it.“ But here we have Cuban saying that part of what made him successful is that he did things (like read boring manuals) that others were not willing to do. It doesn’t mean he hated his business… on the contrary, he loved it. But throughout his posts on this topic he continually harps on the idea that plenty of knowledge is out there, but that people don’t take advantage of it, and that his willingness to take advantage of it is what made him successful.

I’m just curious what some of you think about it.

Comments

6 Responses to “Doing What Others Won’t Do”

  1. Theresa Quintanilla on May 16th, 2009 2:06 pm

    I don’t think Buckingham meant to let people off the hook for knowing what they’re talking about or for approaching their chosen field with discipline. What’s frustrating to me is people who get by with as little knowledge as possible–not true foxes yet never hedgehogs. It’s becoming more and more difficult to find something worth reading, something that doesn’t skim the surface, but represents real research and analysis. I gravitate to people I’ve seen thinking critically, trying to read what they’re reading.

  2. Phil Gerbyshak on May 16th, 2009 2:33 pm

    My takeaway from Cuban is this: sometimes you have to do what nobody else wants to do, to get to where you can do what you want to do.

    I don’t think you, or Marc Cuban, are “lucky” for doing what others won’t do, I just think you have more discipline and willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. This is a key success point for many small and mid-size businesses, as things still have to get done even if you don’t want to do them.

    Though to Buckingham’s point, you may have been successful even faster had you hired someone who was better/stronger at reading and interpreting those manuals.

    Ponderous stuff…

  3. Todd Earwood on May 16th, 2009 6:12 pm

    I struggle with those who believe success (esp. in business)involves a high level of luck. I personally think Cuban’s main point was in order to reach success he had to immerse himself in his industry.

    Not everyone who find business success has been following a sector for a long time, but they do “go deep” into that field to find the best opportunities.

    I agree with Buckingham’s quote in that knowing your strengths and interests are important, but in business if you can’t find outside help in those weak areas you just have to do it yourself.

  4. Chris Hall on May 18th, 2009 3:50 am

    Rob,

    I think that there is a lot to be said about personal passion for a subject. Malcolm Gladwell touches on that subject in his book Outliers, and he spoke of it a bit when he was in Louisville in January.

    I am convinced that passion leads to success.

    As an example, I’m into turntablism and I’ve heard both Dj Babu and Dj Craze talk about the hours that they put into learning and practicing to be as good as they are at what they do… Any traditional rock star will probably tell you the same thing.

    The passion that successful people have for their craft makes putting in that extra time worth it, or not as bad.

    Passion is powerful.

    -chris

  5. Richard Hare on May 18th, 2009 9:27 pm

    It reminds me of “The more I practice, the luckier I get”

  6. laurence haughton on May 19th, 2009 7:22 pm

    I think that people should think about “survivor bias” whenever they read anyone’s success recipe.

  • About Rob

    Rob is co-founder of Backupify.com. He likes value investing, the Rolling Stones, college basketball, artificial intelligence, economic history and people who think independently.