The owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban,
recently described howhe tries to to create a lot more value with the team than mere money.
Sports teams are different than other businesses in some ways. But Cuban’s philosophy should serve as an inspiration for every business owner and leader in the country.
One of the problems in the U.S. economy right now is that our big companies have become so obsessed with creating one kind of value–profits for shareholders–that they’re scrimping on the value they could otherwise be creating for customers, communities, and employees. Profit margins at big American companies are at a record high, for example, while wages are at a record low. And full-time employees of some of our wealthiest and most successful companies are paid so little that they must live in poverty.
Aside from a lack of basic human virtues like fairness and sharing, there’s an economic cost to this profit obsession. The employees of big American companies are also American consumers, so viewing them as “costs” to be minimized is starving middle-class consumers of purchasing power. And without middle class purchasing power, it’s hard for our economy (and companies) to grow.
As Mark Cuban shows with the Mavericks, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Great businesses can create value for several major constituencies, not just shareholders. They can create value for customers, shareholders, employees, and communities.
If America’s biggest companies were willing to more evenly share the value they create–if, for example, they were willing to reinvest some of their record profits in their people and future projects–our economy would be much healthier.
Just as important, this more balanced corporate mission would give the people who work for these companies–the people who create their value–the same sense of pride and mission that Mark Cuban describes: The sense that they are dedicating their efforts to something worth more than just a paycheck or a financial bottom line.
[T]he Mavs are a business. I want to make a profit. But unlike every other business, making the most money possible is not a driving motivation…
[I want] to make sure that every Mavs game is about far more than basketball. I want to make sure that every time any fan walks into the American Airlines Center they know that they will feel special. They will have a special experience. They will have an emotional connection. They will feel an energy and excitement they can not get anywhere else. They will be able to see a look of joy in their family members. They will know that we respect the financial, emotional and time investment they have made in our Mavs. In a years time they won’t remember the score, or even a single play from the game, but they will remember who they were with and how they felt during the game.
It is a special trust that is incumbent on me and all Mavs employees to live up to. It is expensive to deliver on this goal. But it is worth every penny. No matter what it costs.
Mark Cuban also shares some of the emails he has received from Mavericks fans (customers). The emails illustrate some of the non-financial value that a more balanced business philosophy can create. These emails, too, should inspire every business leader and owner in the country:
A friend of mine gave me your email. I have a friend who has a 15 year old boy with an inoperable brain tumour. He left MD Anderson today after the doctors telling him there was nothing else they could do for him. We are from OK and they are on their way home tonight. They are attending the game tonight. I called the head office and was able to get him in the “high five line”! He’s making his bucket list on the drive home and the first item on the list is meeting ****** Is there anyway you could make this kid have a great evening after this horrible day? He’s a great kid with a very positive attitude and has just been handed his death sentence. Thank you so much for your time in reading this!!
I received an invitation to select someone to present a game ball at one of the Mavericks home games. I can’t tell you how thrilled and what a blessing it has been to extend this opportunity to patients. I wanted to share one of my experiences.
There is a patient that is a single mother of 2 young children that does not have a good prognosis. We thought this would be an exciting opportunity for her and her kids. When I sat down to talk with her about, the look of joy that came over her face, as she was sitting in our infusion room receiving her chemotherapy treatment, cannot be described. I want to thank you for giving us this opportunity. The generosity of the Mavericks organisation is second to none. The generosity spills over and blesses others, like me, who got to see the joy as I talked to her about what she would be doing.
Thank you so much to the Mavericks organisation for not just providing us with entertainment and team to route for, but for making a difference in our community.
I would like to commend your staff at the Mavs. My coworker Robin was hesitant to even contact your staff. She wanted to something special for her brother. Besides her brother being special needs he has been diagnosed with cancer. He is not a child physically but he just does not understand what is happening to him but he loves Basketball. So as a Mavs fan myself I would like to bring to your attention the special thing your staff is doing to make a light at the end of the tunnel for this special man. It is a great thing to witness that the Mavs go above and beyond as small as it may seem to the Mavs it is huge to this gentleman.
Just wanted to THANK YOU for an awesome overall experience we had at the MAVS game Friday night. I was lucky enough to receive two tickets from a friend who had to go out of town at the last minutes, and was able to take my 12 year old daughter to her first MAVS game. I watch every MAVS game on TV, and she’ll watch about half of them, but 12 year olds have a lot more distractions to deal with. The entire vibe of the building was just electric, and you don’t get that feel on TV. When I asked her what the favourite part of the night was, she listed the MAVS dancers, the Maniac dancers cracked her up, the drum line, and of course the game itself! You are a guy who puts is information out there, and I’m sure you get more complaints and questions, but I just wanted to make sure to let you know what a great time we had! Her one time being there has her looking at the schedule for all the next games on TV!! She is now an MFFL!!!
Hi Mr. Cuban. I am *****s mum. She is one of the Maverick’s ballkids. This is her second year in the program. I just wanted to say thank you for creating this wonderful environment for my child to learn and grow. The program has given her SO much confidence. She has loved the Mavericks for as long as I can remember. You may be the only one more passionate about the team than her, seriously. We make her watch the games in her own area of the house if she isn’t at the game. You have made the NBA exciting and you have created the Mavs to be a beloved team. The excitement and love you show for this team teaches everyone what true passion can create. Those are the things that my daughter learns from you.
You can read more of the emails here.
This is the sort of value a great business can create for the people and community it serves.
Great businesses can and should aspire to create more value than the bottom line. And they should share this value with more than their shareholders.
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