In the midst of the global COVID-19 outbreak, billionaire Mark Cuban is stepping up in more ways than one.
Instead of leaving his hourly employees out to dry while the NBA goes on a 30-day hiatus, Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, committed to paying scheduled event staff for the six home games that were supposed to take place. Staffers include security, police, parking attendants, housekeeping, in-arena entertainers, and more.
He didn’t stop there.
“We may ask them to go do some volunteer work in exchange,” Cuban said during a press conference, suggesting his goodwill could be used to pay it forward in his Dallas community.
To top it off, Cuban announced he’d reimburse both Dallas Maverick and Mark Cuban Companies’ employees who purchase breakfast or lunch from locally owned, independent restaurants. The idea is to help keep small businesses afloat amid the outbreak.
However small in the grand scheme of things, Cuban’s response is precisely what the country needs. Instead of offering simple handouts, he’s providing a model for entrepreneurs, business owners, and yes—billionaires—to pay it forward.
“We also have to deal with the downstream effects of smaller businesses that don’t have the balance sheets to maybe survive this,” he said. “These are our customers, our fans, people who buy tickets, and we want to be good citizens in the community.”
In addition to having a big heart, Cuban is also a savvy businessman. He knows that good-faith actions now will likely pay off later. This could come in the form of building loyalty among employees, and helping ticket sales in the long-run. After all, who’s going to attend Dallas Mavericks games if local businesses suffer? Their employees probably won’t be able to afford tickets.
Over the weekend, Cuban also hosted a forum on LinkedIn where he took questions from small business owners from across the country and provided advice on how to weather the storm and avoid layoffs and hourly reductions.
“Rather than focusing on how bad it is, focus on how you can use this time to connect with your future customers,” Cuban wrote in one example. “This is also a good time to clean up all the little messes every small business has. Everyone has things they wish they could re-do.”
The discussion board was so popular that Cuban couldn’t answer every question. But again, his actions had a ripple effect. Business owners now have a platform to chat amongst each other, sharing struggles and creative solutions. To date, the forum has more than 6,400 comments and 112,000 likes.
Of course, not every business leader can mimic or afford Cuban’s plan. And sadly, his efforts are small compared to what’s needed to weather this storm.
But Cuban’s response provides a model for others to be inspired by and follow. He acted creatively—figuring out how his generosity could be used to pay it forward, and decisively—curtailing panic that hourly employees would have inevitably felt.
Best of all, he didn’t wait for the government’s help to do any of it. He paid attention, and was agile.
“When you have something that’s so unique, you have to really just be agile and pay attention,” Cuban said. “Because we’ve never been here before.”
When faced with a crisis where no one has been, everyone has a role to play, including billionaires. Despite what some Democrats like to say, we could use more, not fewer, Mark Cubans.