Monday, March 22, 2010

Walter Isaacson versus Mark Cuban

I thought my blog post today would be mostly about Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, and his exhortations regarding doing well and doing good. There's a lot one could blog on the topic and I fully intended to do so. Walter delivered an inspiring speech that got to the heart of what we're in New Orleans to do as part of the Idea Village's Entrepreneur week: render a bit of MBA smarts to social ventures that seek to make a some cash while giving a little something back to the community at large.

But then we were treated to an animated talk by Mark Cuban later in the day. Mark's a known quantity. His controversies are well storied and his colorful remarks really shock few people at this point. He's got his "I don't give a shit" persona down pat and that's just how he describes his brand: "My brand is I don't give a shit." Apparently he gives a shit enough to make a lot of money. People who don't give a shit usually wind up living in their parents' basements, get fat eating Twinkies and grow excessive amounts of facial hair. Mark gives a shit.

Sandeep registers delight at the loss of Mark Cuban's Mavericks — Mark couldn't give a shit.

But what he doesn't agree with is Walter Isaacson. At the conclusion of his highly entertaining talk he took questions from the audience. Well, that's not entirely true. He took questions that had been submitted in advance. One asked about his approach to Walter's thoughts on doing well by doing good.

Marks response: "That's bullshit to me!" I guess when you're Mark Cuban you're free to proffer opinions of that kind. Far be it for me to tear strips off a man whose net worth is larger than more than a few nations. But I wonder if somehow Mark's way isn't the only way. I'm sure he'd get along well with Milton Friedman. Or perhaps Ayn Rand. Or maybe not Ayn. I doubt he'd have time for her laborious prose. But my guess is that he's got time for some more of what he calls his "f*ck you money". Pardon the expletives.

Truth be told, Mark Cuban didn't exactly crowd out the rest of the day; we spent time refining our entrepreneur's business plans and we were thoroughly entertained by the Hornets versus Mavericks basketball game. Yeah, the Mavericks are owned by Mark Cuban. They lost handily to the Hornets. You know I almost felt sorry for Mark. Almost.

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