5 Lessons an Aspiring Contact Center Leader Can Learn from Skateboarding Legend Tony Hawk


Back in the 80s, Tony Hawk was just a kid with a passion for skateboarding. If you had told him that within a decade his name would be one of the most universally recognized brands in the U.S. and the world, he probably would not have believed you. However, certain aspects of Hawk’s personality—some of which he drew directly from skating culture—helped push him towards success in both skateboarding and business. As of 2020, his net worth totals over $140 million. His philanthropic organization, the Tony Hawk Foundation, has helped build hundreds of public skate parks across the country. As an aspiring contact center leader what can you learn from Tony?

The elements of Hawk’s personality that helped him achieve greatness are not specific to skating at all. Tony Hawk’s example is just as valid for those in our industry who are working on developing their contact center leadership skills, building an engaged workforce, and cultivating a strong, healthy contact center culture

So just what are the characteristics that helped Tony Hawk rocket himself—and skateboarding culture—into the limelight of American society? Here are five of the most important lessons aspiring contact center leaders can take from his story.


“I believe that people should take pride in what they do, even if it is scorned or misunderstood by the public at large.” ~ Tony Hawk

During Hawk’s childhood, skateboarding was still far outside the mainstream. In fact, many people looked down on skating as an activity reserved for delinquent kids, not as a true sport or a valid cultural trend. At one high school Hawk attended, he was one of only 2 students in the entire school who skated. Rather than let this get him down, Hawk realized that there was a great deal of potential in this niche sport—for those who knew how to exploit it. 

To say that Hawk is self-confident and dedicated is an understatement. In the face of criticism from a number of adults in his life, Hawk prioritized skating over school, music, and sports. What seemed to his family like a recipe for disaster was in fact a recipe for astounding success. Hawk went pro in 1982, when he was just 14 years old, and went on to win the National Skateboard Association’s world championship 12 years in a row. This in turn helped solidify his name as a brand worth investing in.


Innovation as an Aspiring Contact Center Leader

Hawk’s life would have been regarded as one very well-lived had he decided to become the 12-time skating world champion, and stopped there. However, like all great people, Tony Hawk was not content to just be great—he wanted to be spectacular. He wanted to push the staple on what it meant to be a skater. 

Tony Hawk’s signature trick was a new one that had never been successfully landed before he conquered it in 1999. The “900” is a move that involves launching into the air on a vertical ramp, spinning 900 degrees in midair, and sticking the landing without falling down. Hawk considers this one of his greatest accomplishments, and after completing it for the first time stated “this is the best day of my life!”


Hawk retired from professional skating competitions for good in 2003. However, in a sense, his life was just beginning. In 1999, Hawk became a major name in the emerging video game industry after lending his name to the new skating game “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.” The game was a smash hit. It had over a dozen more Tony Hawk games that were made between 2000 and 2015. 

As if this side hustle wasn’t enough, Tony Hawk has also run a skateboard company, Birdhouse Skateboards, for the last 27 years. He appeared in various TV shows and movies from the 90s through the present. This solidified his status as a celebrity and helped grow his brand. 


“You might not make it to the top, but if you are doing what you love, there is much more happiness there than being rich or famous.” ~Tony Hawk

No one goes on to be a world-famous exemplar of their profession without passion. Although Tony Hawk did eventually meet with conventional success and wealth. The path there was paved with his own relentless drive to be a great skate. It was not a desire to be rich or famous. Hawk did what made him happy. He did it with such enthusiasm and energy that others could not help but see the potential for greatness in him. This passion also gave him the energy to keep trying. Even when he faced criticism and even when the chips were down, he kept trying. Which leads us to our final, and perhaps most important point… 

Persistence is Key For an Aspiring Contact Center Leader

“Skating taught me to just keep getting up and try again. A lot of that translated into business.” ~ Tony Hawk

One element of skating culture that all business leaders could use a little more of in their own lives is the one last try mentality. That is to say, the drive to keep getting back up and trying again until you finally get it right. It can be easy to give up when you fail—or even when you see a chance of failure. However, for a skateboarder, giving up simply is not an option. Learning to skate well means necessarily falling down over and over. As any professional skater will tell you, falling down doesn’t make you a failure. It just means it’s time to get back up and try again.

Believe in yourself as an aspiring contact center leader

You probably have had many stories similar to Tony Hawks. You can acknowledge that there are several similarities when it comes to success stories. These 5 lessons are usually amongst the lessons that successful people credit their success to. The biggest lesson of them all being passion. When you love what you do you find the strength to exercise the other 4 lessons. Passion is what drives everyone to do what they do.

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