Tony Hawk has been making a name for himself since he went pro as a skateboarder at the age of 14, and his celebrity eventually surpassed the sport. Hawk’s path to success hasn’t been all fun and games, though, and in order to ride the ups and downs of the sport, Hawk had to lean on his entrepreneurial spirit. So while you may know Hawk for the skateboarding moves that he was the first to master, he’s also founded skateboarding and skate clothing companies, launched a video game franchise with $ATVI, and started his own foundation. In other words, the laid-back athlete from California knows how to make moves on the board and off.
On the value of taking risks:
“Risk-taking has been a theme of my entire career, not just in regard to skateboarding. A common misconception about skateboarding is that you have to be a daredevil to progress in the sport, but the reality is that success is made through calculated risks, relying on experience, timing, and technique. Because of this, skateboarding can be likened to the investment world, where there is always an inherent risk. My approach is simple — if there is a new and innovative business out there that I want to invest in, I have to take a leap of faith and accept that it may not work out; just like trying a new skate move. The key to succeeding in skateboarding and investing is overcoming the adversity you face in the short-term so that you can reap the wins in the long-term.”
For Hawk, relying on intuition makes taking risks more feasible and allows him to make quick but impactful decisions. Strengthening this intuition has served him as he navigates business decisions, too.
On the role of intuition:
“I’ve developed my intuition through my experience in skateboarding by understanding what new technique or trick might work before ever trying it. The same goes for business opportunities; I look for companies that are truly innovative and potentially disruptive to current markets, creating something completely unique. I recently invested in a company that is developing a sound system that triangulates your location so that the audio follows you as you move around. Concepts like this that push technological barriers are exciting and keep me connected to the business world. I also look for companies that align with my value system, allocating capital for society's betterment, where the core focus is on improving people's lives. The returns are not important if I am not passionate about the project or can't identify the values of the founders I am investing in. This delicate balance is the foundation of my intuition.”
When it comes to his investing strategy, Hawk focuses on what he knows and is excited by, and fills in the gaps by surrounding himself with industry experts who he trusts and respects.
On how he chooses what investments to pursue:
“Ask as many questions as possible and seek mentorship from those that have the expertise. I was lucky early on to meet pioneers such as Chris Sacca, Kevin Rose, and Tony Conrad, all of whom are good friends and have provided a great deal of insight into investing. But it always came down to trusting their experience and often asking for their perspectives. Beyond that, I think investing in what you know is a solid approach. For instance, I became a huge fan of Blue Bottle Coffee whenever I visited San Francisco and learned later that a friend was investing in the company. Lucky for me, he was organizing a fundraising round, and I got allocation early on. I have similar stories for NEST and DocuSign, and in the public markets, Apple is one stock that I've owned for years because of the simple reality that I've consistently used Apple products my entire adult life. So, it’s all about trusting your intuition and always being willing to learn what you may not know.”
And though Hawk may have officially retired from competition, he’s not hanging up his skateboards for good anytime soon.
On always making time to skate:
“I still make time to skate because it gives me so much joy, and I want to always walk the walk. I can’t be an ambassador of skateboarding if I’m not actually skating myself. My success wouldn’t mean as much to me if I just stopped.”
This content is for educational purposes only. It is not investment advice. Past performance does not guarantee future results. See Public.com/disclosures.