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How Did I Get Here?: The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO

ISBN: 978-0-470-63149-2
224 pages
October 2010
How Did I Get Here?: The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO (047063149X) cover image


The most famous skateboarder ever shares the business secrets to his success!

He's the man who put skateboarding on the map. He's the first to land a 900 (two and a half full rotations). He's also among the richest pitchmen in any sport. And, in a sport that's especially youth-oriented, Tony Hawk, a 40-something father of four, still connects with his audience by staying true to who he is.

Moving easily between the ramp and the boardroom, Tony currently runs one of the most acclaimed action sports companies, a clothing line, and video game series bearing his name that has sold over $1 billion worldwide, making it the biggest selling action sports game franchise in game history. He has secured endorsement deals with major brands such as McDonalds, Intel, T-Mobile and Kohl's; started the Boom Boom HuckJam action sports tour; and achieved worldwide acclaim from the ESPN X Games.

Filled with Tony's typical modesty and humor, How Did I Get Here? tells the amazing story behind Tony Hawk's unprecedented success from skateboarder to CEO, and the secrets behind his lasting appeal. You'll find out how authenticity has served him well in all his achievements. You'll also understand how his story has shaped many of his fundamental values, including his huge desire to win and his strong sense of realism.

Get the inside story of Tony Hawk beyond the skateboard as he answers the question: How Did I Get Here?

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Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Toucan Sam Teaches Me a Lesson.

The day I knew it was time to take control.

Chapter 2 Building a Better Birdhouse.

The birth and near-death of our first business.

Chapter 3 Hey Kid, Want to Buy a Hoodie?

Risking our homes to make T-shirts and hats.

Chapter 4 "Is Tony Hawk a Real Person?"

From motion capture to gaming franchise.

Chapter 5 What the Hell Is a HuckJam?

Innovation and improvisation on a million-dollar ramp.

Chapter 6 "Extreme" Is a Four-Letter Word.

"This is how we do it in our world".

Chapter 7 The Denim Debacle.

Some business ideas that didn't quite fly.

Chapter 8 Final Cut.

The key to image control: get your own editing bay.

Chapter 9 Hashtag Is Not a Death-Metal Band.

Reaching out through tweets, apps, and satrad.

Chapter 10 How to Never Get a Movie Made.

Hollywood will break your heart, or at least piss you off.

Chapter 11 Stinky Diapers in First Class.

How to balance travel and family: bring 'em.

Chapter 12 Giving Back.

Family, friends, Regis, and a very smart fifth-grader help me build a charity.



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Author Information

TONY HAWK is the most famous and influential skateboarder of all time. In the 1980s and 1990s, he was instrumental in skateboarding's transformation from fringe pursuit to respected sport. He is the founder, President, and CEO of Tony Hawk, Inc., which he continues to develop and grow. He is also the founder of the Tony Hawk Foundation, which works to create skateparks and empower youth in low-income communities.

PAT HAWK is Tony's older sister; she began working with him in 1995 at Birdhouse Skateboards. In 1997, they created Tony Hawk, Inc. Pat has been Vice President and COO of Tony Hawk, Inc. since then and continues to manage its day-to-day operations. Pat is on the Board of Directors of the Tony Hawk Foundation.

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Press Release

September 17, 2010
How Did I Get Here?

When Tony Hawk got his first skateboard at age nine, he had no intention of ever making a living at it—even as he rocketed up the sport's amateur ranks. And of course he had no idea he would become the most famous skateboarder of all time, let alone the head of several successful related businesses. The same focus that drove him to pick himself up off the pavement again and again, that kept him riding through skating's lean times, and that fueled his celebrated ten-year quest to land the elusive 900 (two-and-a-half midair rotations), also helped him build his brand into a worldwide empire.

From skateboards to clothing to sports tours to video games to online media, Tony Hawk has dominated markets with a laid-back style that masks his formidable business sense. Now, in How Did I Get Here?, Tony reveals the convictions that enable him to navigate between the skateboard and the boardroom.

How Did I Get Here? takes you back to Tony's first business, the still-thriving Birdhouse Skateboards, which he and a friend started long before he had mainstream fame. He describes the lessons he learned (some of them hard) building Birdhouse on little more than a home-equity loan and the street cred he'd gained within the tight skating subculture of the '80s. You'll also find out how, by staying true to his passion and his instincts, he's been able to build his businesses into a global juggernaut.

Whether working with tiny skate shops or national chains like Kohl's, Tony found long-term success by insisting on authenticity. You'll see how he very consciously brings skating's homegrown style, DIY ethos, and underground heroes to each of his enterprises—from start-up Web sites to mega-selling video games. True to Tony's twisted sense of humor, How Did I Get Here? also doesn't flinch from what didn't work (pink backpacks, anyone?), recounting his entrepreneurial mishaps in gruesome detail.

Tony Hawk is living proof that you can stay close to your roots while going big in business. Discover the secrets to his success—everything from brand strategy to the real meaning of "Boom Boom HuckJam"—as Tony answers the question How Did I Get Here?

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