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updated: 5/16/2019 5:45 PM

Mark Cuban shares business life lessons, talks politics with crowd at Judson

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  • Video: Mark Cuban in Elgin


A lesson maverick businessman Mark Cuban learned early on from his father was: "Time is the most valuable asset you don't own."

That became the guiding principle driving Cuban's rise from selling garbage bags door to door at age 12 to becoming a billionaire entrepreneur, investor and owner of NBA's Dallas Mavericks.

"I didn't want to be poor anymore. I wanted to be able to control my own destiny," said Cuban, who on Thursday was the first guest of "Conversations with Mark Vargas," a Judson World Leaders Forum series focusing on business and entrepreneurship.

Cuban shared life lessons and insights about business, politics, his successes and failures, and finding inspiration with a crowd of more than 400 people at Judson's Elgin campus.

He playfully joked about his co-hosts on ABC Network's popular "Shark Tank" TV show -- millionaires Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec and Kevin O'Leary -- that he admitted could get him into trouble. He also quipped about President Donald Trump, while dodging a question about a potential presidential run in 2020 saying, "I try to keep my priorities straight."

Just days earlier, Cuban told CNBC he didn't think any of the current Democratic candidates running for president could beat Trump. He admittedly has been considering running for president since the 2016 election, and might do so as an independent, though not in the near future.

But when it came to discussion of business, Cuban said the best failure that changed his life's trajectory was getting fired from a job working at a software store for closing a sale instead of cleaning as the owner had ordered. That led to him creating MicroSolutions, a computer consulting service which he sold in 1990 to CompuServe.

As a young entrepreneur, Cuban said he didn't take vacations for seven years and waited to get married until he was 44. But it was "a sacrifice" he said he was willing to make.

"I'm just a grinder. I always have been," said Cuban of his work ethic. "I didn't get a small million dollar loan from anybody," he joked, alluding to presidential candidate Trump saying he built his empire with a "very small" $1 million loan from his father -- in actuality $60.7 million according to a New York Times investigation.

Cuban shared ideas for reforming health care and gun control laws, and tackling income inequality that sounded more like a campaign platform.

"You hit 60 and you start thinking about your legacy," Cuban said. "After health care, gun control to me is a very important issue."

Cuban proposes slightly changing the Second Amendment to allow states more power to oversee the purchase and ownership of guns, while maintaining Americans' right to own them.

He advocates for entrepreneurs giving employees a share in their companies' stock to help "people at the bottom rise up."

"I'm not a believer in trickle-down economics and trickle-down taxation," Cuban said. "If you're an entrepreneur, you need to strongly encourage that everybody that works at that company gets equity. That's the only way we are going to change this country."

Offering tips to future entrepreneurs, Cuban said they should invest in learning about artificial intelligence, which he predicts will be the next major technological advancement as personal computers and the internet once were. He advised those struggling to find purpose to "find joy in the moment."

"You don't have to go out and hit grand slams," he said urging students to take every job as a learning opportunity. "You just have to find a positive light for yourself that keeps you going."

Proceeds from the event support entrepreneurship and diversity scholarships for students at Judson.