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Billionaire Mark Cuban: Ditch passion projects, focus on 'things you're good at'

In a new interview series called Now What, Cuban shares his views about challenge and change.

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Mark Cuban has surprising advice for anyone starting a career: Don't get stuck on doing something you're passionate about. Ignore the common guidance you hear at commencement ceremonies. Instead, try a lot of things, take note of where you're spending your time and go from there.

"Spend time with things you're good at it. The more time you'll spend the better you'll get," he says in the first episode of Now What. "That's where you'll be successful."

Reward employees first

The owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and an investor on Shark Tank, Cuban has tried many different things. One of his first was as the founder of AudioNet in 1995, an early audio streaming company that was acquired by Yahoo as Broadcast.com in 1999 for $5.7 billion. CNET's Brian Cooley calls Cuban "America's business-savvy uncle," which makes Cuban an ideal person to talk about the economy as the planet grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

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As an investor, Cuban says the only thing going on right now is complete uncertainty, but he knows what he wants in investment opportunities. "What I'm looking for is people with a vision on what it's going to look like on the other side," he says. "Not when, but what."

Though his recommendation that companies have both agility and stability during this period may seem obvious, some of his other advice is just as unexpected as his points about choosing a job. In a recovery, companies should reward stakeholders and employees with shareholders being at the back of the line. 

"What you do with your employees is going to define who you are as a brand," he says. "It will define how consumers deal with you for decades." He encourages companies to do all they can to keep employees, including taking advantage (if they can) of new loans from the Small Business Administration that are part of last week's $2.2 trillion federal relief package. It may be difficult to retain employees as revenues plummet, but companies that do so will be better positioned when the economy begins to recover than those that have to find new workers and retrain them.

"If employees all know their status, they all know they can put food on the table," he says. "That's what communication does and that's why it's the most important element for CEOs."

Cuban has much more to say. Listen to the interview for the full story.

Watch on YouTube and subscribe to the CNET Highlights YouTube channel.

Now What is a new interview series with industry leaders, celebrities and influencers that will focus on major changes and trends impacting business and how consumers connect in the "new normal" 2020 world and beyond. Change is always coming, and technology can help us navigate that change. Now What will focus on potential responses to the constant changes around us.