Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


It must be marvelous being Mark Cuban.

So many businesspeople come across as harassed, tired, tetchy sorts. 

Instead, here's this man who looks like he's actually enjoying everything he does.

One minute he's cheering, ranting, raving and waving at courtside of Dallas Mavericks games. The next, he's appearing on "Shark Tank" investing (or not) in companies that sometimes seem like they were created by a couple of friends over a taco and four cans of Asahi.

The "Shark Tank" setting is seductive.

Here come entrepreneurs with their financial lives at stake. There sit supposed Gods of Money who'd happily pay $200 for a steak.

The Gods Of Money can make us believe anything. That's a God's job, after all. But when the show is over and the set is pulled down, how much wool has been pulled over our eyes?

How many of the deals made with a hug reeking of sincerity actually end up smelling of roses?

Cuban was asked this question at the WSJD Live Conference.

As Business Insider reports, this is what he revealed: "Of the 71 startups that I've invested in through Shark Tank, two have gone out of business, three are so stupid they don't know they're out of business, and then probably 50, give or take, are in growth."

We all read so many self-help books that we persuade ourselves we're in growth every day. We fail, but we tell ourselves it's a growing experience. Secretly, we sit in silence consumed by a growing despair.

Still, Cuban's claims seem deeply uplifting. Or, rather, deeply flattering to his own almost flawless judgment.

He added some more detail to this remarkable story of prosperous prospecting.

He said: "Out of the 71, I would say ten or 11 are netting a minimum of half-a-million dollars a year, doing $8 million to $15 or in some cases, $20+ million revenue. I would say about 30% of my companies have returned all of my investment and then some."

It's not as if he needs the money. Just as with his Mavericks, he needs the wins. (And Good luck with that this season.)

In essence, then, this sounds like a winning hand.

But you and I might define winning in a slightly different way from Cuban. You and I just want to have enough money to buy our favorite car, house, wine and love.

Cuban defined winning a little differently: "To me, the more important thing is the '80/20 Rule.' So if I have the 20 percent that I think can really take off, that's what I really care about."

A little win here and there doesn't really matter, you see. It's like the NBA's regular season. It's all fine and dandy, but only so much candy.

Cuban wants the big win, presumably because it makes him feel big. When you're a TV star you want big hits, not nice reviews on some celebrity blog.

The idea is to find the big one and then find another big one, until your life is (almost) replete with big ones.

It's little different from "American Idol." So many hopefuls arrive. Quite a few make for an interesting week or two of TV. The likes of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood come around all too rarely.

But when they do, you want to make sure they've signed a contract with you.