Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of What follows are Smith’s introductory remarks today for LTW’s Executive Exchange event featuring Mark Cuban.

DURHAM, N.C. – Good morning and welcome to Local Tech Wire’s Executive Exchange venture capital and entrepreneurship event with our guest star of the day – Mark Cuban.

He’s not here to talk about Dirk Nowitzki and the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

He’s not here to talk about Dancing with the Stars.

He’s not here to talk about his warm relationship with the media.

No, Mark’s with us to talk to each and every one of you about free enterprise, business, entrepreneurship, investing and how to build a successful business while really trying.

He’s outspoken. Sometimes he’s controversial. But as his record shows – and we’ll hear more about his achievements throughout the day – Mark Cuban has that "vision thing," the insight to see what’s coming next, to make bets on and probably cash in on the next big thing or big wave or tsunami – whatever you want to call the next “dot com” boom.

Let’s begin with a bit of advice he offered last week.

That’s the provocative headline from blog maverick – a blog that should be on your reading list.

If NBA Commissioner David Stern knows one thing, it’s that Mark is not afraid to speak his mind about anything, especially officials.

Cuban’s advice to entrepreneurs includes this quote:

Venture capital giant Kleiner Perkins picks up on that theme with its motto in looking for investments:

“If you can’t INVENT the future, the next best thing… is to FUND it.”

Mark is one of those people who also believes in that motto. He’s always looking for deals.

Today, Mark is with us to talk about inventing the future from his experiences as a:

• startup entrepreneur who has been doing business of many sorts since he was 12 years old

• "dot com” billionaire

• owner of the Mavericks, HDnet and an investor.

We will be hearing a great deal from Mark today in a variety of ways. That’s why there are so many of you here with us this morning.

And many more people will be here later for a panel discussion, lunch, Mark’s keynote address and an extensive Q&A with the audience.

Here’s a key passage from Mark’s blog on customers:

“I’m working with a company that at one point had a product that was not only best in class, but also technically far ahead of its competition. It created a better way of offering its service and customers loved it and paid for it.

“Then it made a fatal mistake.

“It asked its customers what features they wanted to see in the product and they delivered on those features. Unfortunately for this company, its competitors didn’t ask customers what they wanted.

“Instead, they had a vision of ways that business could be done differently and as a result better. Customers didn’t really see the value or need, until they saw the product. When they tried it, they loved it.”

Here are some other key takeaways from the blog:

“Entrepreneurs always need to be reminded that it’s not the job of their customers to know what they don’t know.

“Part of every entrepreneurs’ job is to invent the future.

“I also call it ‘kicking your own a–.’ Someone is out there looking to put you out of business.

Someone is always out there who thinks they have a better idea than you have. A better solution than you have.

“If there is someone out there who can kick your a– by doing it better, it’s part of your job as the owner of the company to stay ahead of them and kick your own a– before someone else does.

“Your customers can tell you the things that are broken. Listen to them. Make them happy. But they won’t create the future roadmap for your product or service. That’s your job.”

This event – which we could not have put on without Mark’s presence of course, or [Captiol Broadcasting’s New Media top executive] Jimmy Goodmon’s invitation to him, and with the support of our sponsors – is different than most.

This is personal. One of the world’s most successful business people chose to give us an entire day. If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity to get some real-life social media face time – not Facebook, not LinkedIn, not MySpace, not tweets on Twitter – you will regret it.

Following breakfast, Mark will be available to meet and talk with you.

At 11:30, Mitch Mumma of Intersouth Partners will moderate a panel discussion about entrepreneurship, investing and startups with three of the Triangle’s better-known entrepreneurs.

We’ll then have lunch with Mark delivering his keynote shortly thereafter.

To close the day, we’ll have what you can make an exciting and takeaway-filled conclusion as Mark takes questions from the audience.

We want you to participate. We want good questions.

There could be fireworks. As they say in the TV business, stay tuned.

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