Everybody always asks me what it is really like working with Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran. This is an accurate account of my last couple of years and what it has been like. Overall, its been AWESOME.
Barbara Corcoran: First of all, she’s not at all what I expected from watching the show. On air, she is pretty serious most of the time and super professional. I figured that was her demeanor off-camera, as well. WRONG….she is actually the life of the party and always crackin’ jokes and having fun with everyone. She definitely takes great care of herself and has an ultra youthful appearance (still wears a bikini). Fabulous personality and boundless energy. She says things you wouldn’t expect and I don’t think that she’s ever met a person that she didn’t like or vice-versa. She’s always treated me, my family, friends and employees and all the other Shark Tank entrepreneurs like family. I’ve had the opportunity to visit her office in NYC on the Upper East Side, been to her beach house in Fire Island for weekend work retreats with other entrepreneurs, in addition to being a guest there with my girlfriend (MoJo). She is a blast to be around. Pretty sure she is 63 years old and she has the vibrancy and energy of a 30 year old woman.
"Barbara is actually the life of the party"!!
Barbara has a knack for marketing. Making things simple, clean and easy to understand. She has a great eye for color, layout and good design. I've noticed that she always knows how to read people well and change the energy in the room when she walks in it. She’s given me lots of good advice and she is readily available whenever I got something important on my mind. I can get her on the phone, via text, email and we have an occasional skype session which allows her to really catch up on what is going on with Villy Custom. She is big on prioritizing things and keeping focused, which probably helped her get to where she is today. She is very smart , savvy and resourceful.
She has a staff of 5 people that my team and I work with. All very nice, super sharp and great to work with (and fun to be around). Barbara’s team has been great at providing synergy amongst all of her entrepreneurs (banding together to get the most out of what we all bring to the table) and creating a family-like atmosphere.
The way it works is we provide full-scale monthy financial reports and also write up an overall update on everything from A to Z. Typically, I will get comments back from her and her team within 24 hours. Because they are invested in multiple companies, it’s a lot to keep track of and I think they all do a great job. By and large, I agree with most everything Barbara has said to me with regard to growing the business. I think she understands that Villy Custom is a niche product and we still have yet to fully blossom into what we can potentially be and she has given me a ton of support and guidance in helping Villy Custom reach that level.
Funniest thing she ever said to me was “Fleetwood, smile at me”….I looked at her and gave her a big smile…and then she said……”you have great teeth and a great smile…but you need to whiten your teeth”!!!! I was definitely caught off guard by that one..but….I did hit the dentist the following week…..and she was RIGHT!!!
Mark Cuban: I’m from Dallas, so pre-Shark Tank, I was already a huge fan. I’ve been a huge Dallas Mavericks backer for years and I have always respected him for being so successful in everything he’s done. People love to say he’s “lucky” because of the incredible deal he got for Broadcast.com during the “tech bubble”, but….I’m sorry, they got that one inaccurate. He’s kicked ass in pretty much everything he’s done. He’s a billionaire, one of the most successful sports franchise owners of all time, a technology guru, incredible speaker, philanthropist, and has become a huge celebrity. There are lots of billionaires in the world, but very few are as well known or "famous" as Mark...that doesn't just happen.....it's being opportunistic, interesting and marketing yourself well. From what I see, he’s down to earth and just a regular guy. No guards, posse, or anything....he even drives his own car and works out at the local gym.
Even though we live in the same city, unfortunately, because Mark has so much going on, I have never sat down with him nor spoken to him on the phone one on one since he became an investor at Villy Custom. I’ve heard he turns down $100,000 speech engagements left and right so I understand he really doesn’t have time to “hang out with Fleetwood and Villy”…..haha . In contrast, he is an email junky. We communicate very regularly, but it is 100% via email. If I got a question, I get an answer! He is very prompt at making comments on my reports (good or bad) and definitely has his own motivational style. With Mark, sometimes it isn’t all pretty, but, I cannot complain having a superstar like him on our team at Villy Custom. His consistent mantra for me is “keep your focus, Fleetwood” and “sales cures all”. He is also very resourceful and has made it known that hard work, outsmarting your competitors, pure hustle and knowing your market are the ingredients to success.
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We work with a handful of people from MCC (Mark Cuban Companies). He has a staff which has grown from 3 or 4 people when we first hooked up, to about 8 now. They are all upbeat, energetic, sharp and they work well together with me and with my team.
I’ve been to his company offices on numerous occasions (along with Villy) and its one huge open floorplan and everyone has a bullpen type office, even Mark. It's a very laid back environment, but everyone there is on the ball....working hard. According to what they tell me, he will show up on occasion and check in on things, but typically only a few times a month! Mark has done some occasional social media for us, in addition to lots of advice and guidance. He has also instructed his team to assist us in rebuilding our website, paying for the production of our TV commercial and given up countless hours of his people’s time to work on projects with us. When I send out my reports (usually at 1 am in the morning) he is usually the first person to hit me back with comments/questions, so, I can’t figure out when he sleeps. Smart, hard worker…..driven by success!!! Even though we have not always agreed on everything, I am still a fan of The Man…Mark Cuban.
Cool story: We have a huge St. Patrick’s Day parade every year in Dallas. Something like 100,000 people line the streets and this has been going on for about 30 years in a row. A couple of years ago, the lead sponsor of the Parade (Budweiser) pulled out at the last minute and the annual parade was going to be cancelled. At the final hour, the parade leaders asked Mark Cuban for a big donation (I think it was $100,000) to save the parade. Mark said he had gotten trashed at that parade so many times when he was younger that he wanted to keep it alive. He wrote a big check, kept the parade alive, and told the parade leaders that he wanted Villy Custom to lead the parade that year. How cool is that? Something I will never forget!
As you can imagine, dealing with investors can be challenging. You will not always agree on everything. Without Mark and Barbara, Villy Custom would not be where we are today. We continue to work hard to make sure that we are successful because I want this to be a good investment for both Barbara and Mark and I want all of my employees to get opportunities in life that they wouldn’t normally have…..that is our motivation every day!
My next blog will be all about the filming and aftermath of our Shark Tank update airing tonight!
Until then….ENJOY THE RIDE!
Fleetwood & Villy