Its amazing how much you can learn from trading a few emails with one of the most prolific business figures of the past couple of decades.
We at 8-Point Arc had a very interesting experience. We reached out to Mark Cuban to discuss the possibility of investment. We processed his portfolio companies’ content and developed a report, just for his companies, much like this one. Out of respect for Mr. Cuban, we will not share the report publicly.
We sent the report to a couple of his email addresses and much to our shock and panic, he responded. First, it’s appropriate to address how we knew it was actually him responding. The fact is, we don’t really know. We do, however, have reason to believe it was actually him.
First, he responded with a different email address than the ones we targeted in the original email. The syntax of the email suggests it was him. Out of respect, we won’t share the email either, so please don’t ask J. Second, the nature of the responses was very short, dense and direct. They were written in a style very consistent with Mark Cuban’s reputed email style. It is not likely a style that would be used by someone representing his company.
Eventually, Mark Cuban passed on investment…for now. But, we got value out of the interaction.
Lesson #1 – Don’t just be happy to be in the game; play to win
I’ll be honest; We treated the original outreach too lightly. We viewed it as the equivalent of buying a Powerball ticket. Eh, I won’t win, but its fun to imagine winning. We had very little expectation that we would even get a response.
We are a great company. We have an amazing product. We are worthy of not only the conversation, but the investment of the most prolific business minds in the world. We should have treated the solicitation with the attention and respect it deserved, before it was sent. And when I say “respect,” I mean respect for ourselves.
Lesson #2 – With availability comes opportunity
Mark Cuban is arguably the most recognizable and influential business leader in the last ten to twenty years. He is one of maybe three or four non-politicians in the country that could credibly make a run at POTUS and win.
Yet all signs indicate we were corresponding with him. Mark Cuban redefines the concept of “open-door” policy. Why does he do it? Because it benefits him. He knows it brings opportunities right to his doorstep that otherwise would be completely off his radar.
We can all learn from this because I’m pretty sure very few of us have as many irons in the fire as Mark Cuban. Having the humility to remain available will lead to nothing but good things.
Lesson #3 – Tell your story
The biggest mistake we made in the exchange was focusing on providing concise and direct answers to his questions instead of reframing the dialogue. He was presumably asking questions and corresponding because he had some cursory level of interest.
We needed to take the correspondence as an invitation and opportunity to tell our complete story. By having too much focus on literally answering questions posed, it likely provided an incomplete and fragmented view of who we are as a company.
Part of what we do is detect the presence of storytelling for our clients. In this case, because we didn't control the narrative, our story presented quite fragmented.
Thank you Mark Cuban, lesson learned, won’t happen again.
Lesson #4 Be respectful
This isn’t a lesson as much as a reminder. Here we are corresponding with one of the most powerful business guys in the world, and he drilled us with some pretty direct questions and comments. Not once was he ever rude, condescending or disrespectful, which we can’t say for other investors we’ve talked to with less than 5% of the success and knowledge as Mark Cuban.
It’s not a new lesson, at least for me, but certainly an impactful reminder.
Lesson #5 - Learn and persist
For us, this was just the beginning. You would be shocked how dense his questions and feedback are constructed. Over several emails, I would guess he wrote less than 50 words to us. But they were powerful and we will be (and already are) learning from the interaction.
We may never get investment from the Cuban Companies, but we sure as hell are going to make another run at it.
And we’ll be back at him with lesson #3 firmly in-hand.