In recent years, our fascination with Tony Hawk has evolved from How did you pull off the 900? to How did you make so much dough? His video-game franchise alone—the latest installment of which, Tony Hawk: Shred, hits shelves in November—has grossed more than $1 billion. Hawk provides some insight in his new book, How Did I Get Here? The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO, written with his sister and longtime business manager, Pat.
OUTSIDE: When did you start taking the business side of things seriously?
HAWK: Around the time we released the first video game, when we got a lot of offers that weren't skate-industry specific. People wanted to market me all these ways. I realized, Wow, I need more control. I have to fight for authenticity.
You write that luck is a big part of your success.
It is. But a lot of it is also intuition. That "unlikely" part of the book title—that's for the people who had no idea how big skating could be, who thought, How can you turn down an offer of 50 grand?! But I just sensed it could be bigger.
What's the most important lesson you can offer?
Do not give other people rights to your name. I did in the past and it was horrible.
After so many deals, what are you looking for now?
I honestly never think of my skate career as a springboard for something else. I just take things as they come.
Like, say, when Six Flags offered to build a Tony Hawk–themed roller coaster?
That's a perfect example. I would never have ever thought of branding a roller coaster. But I've always loved them, so why not?