Tony Hawk: Harnessing Passion, Drive & Persistence for Lifelong Success | Huberman Lab Podcast | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Tony Hawk: Harnessing Passion, Drive & Persistence for Lifelong Success | Huberman Lab Podcast".
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Tony Hawk (00:00)
Welcome to the Huberman Lab Podcast where we discuss science and science-based tools for everyday life. I'm Andrew Huberman and I'm a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine. Today my guest is Tony Hawk. Tony Hawk is one of the most celebrated and accomplished professional skateboarders of all time. For more than 40 years, he has been at the forefront of the sport. And I don't mean just doing a sport for more than 40 years, but he truly means he has been at the forefront of skateboarding, developing new maneuvers, aka tricks, that include incredible feats like the 900 and 900 degree spin in the air, as well as numerous other maneuvers that have really pushed the entire sport forward. He has also completely popularized the sport through his video game and through his ambassadorship for skateboarding. In fact, few, if any, names are synonymous with skateboarding in the general public as Tony Hawk. And he is oh so deserved of that title because for more than 40 years, he has shown up as the consummate professional, he is kind, he is respectful, and he is completely committed to his craft. And that shows up in every aspect of his life. He's still, to this day, skateboards daily and as you'll soon learn, he recently suffered a major injury, a complete break of his femur, that is the bone in his upper leg. And this is what many people would consider a career ending injury. Not only did Tony come back from that injury, but he went back to the very trick on which he broke his femur, and recently completed that trick, that is a 540 or so-called "mit twist." I mention this because at every level of his life, Tony has demonstrated himself to be somebody with incredible drive, incredible vision, and incredible persistence. And today we talk about that drive, vision, and persistence. And we talk about what it takes to set a goal and to continually evolve one's goal, and to continually progress as a basically young pre-teen, as a teenager, as a young adult, as an adult, and well, let's face it, as a 55-year-old man, he is now heading a little bit past middle age, although we do hope that he lives forever. Tony Hawk, aka the Birdman, really does seem to be superhuman. But as you learn today, he is oh-so human in the way that he shares his own experience and shares with you the ways in which we can each and all look at what we do and think about what we want to achieve and put our minds and our bodies to those goals and achieve them. I confess that today's discussion with Tony Hawk was a particularly thrilling one for me to have. I grew up in the sport of skateboarding. So I had met Tony previously, although he doesn't remember it, that was many years ago. In fact, I met his parents, you'll learn more about that story during today's episode. But I was aware, of course, of Tony's accomplishments. I was also aware of his philanthropy, so he has a skate part foundation. I also listened to his podcast with another professional skateboarder, Jason Ellis, called Hawk vs. Wolf. We provided a link to that podcast in the show note captions as well. But never before have I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to the Tony Hawk and learn from him. So I was absolutely delighted to have this conversation and it far exceeded my already lofty expectations.
Tony Hawk'S Early Life And Career
Sponsors: LMNT & ROKA (03:16)
Before we begin, I'd like to emphasize that this podcast is separate from my teaching and research roles at Stanford. It is, however, part of my desired effort to bring zero cost to consumer information about science and science related tools to the general public. In keeping with that theme, I'd like to thank the sponsors of today's podcast. Our first sponsor is Element. Element is an electrolyte drink that has everything you need and nothing you don't. That means plenty of electrolytes, sodium magnesium and potassium, but no sugar. The electrolytes and hydration are absolutely key for mental health, physical health and performance. Even a slight degree of dehydration can impair our ability to think, our energy levels and our physical performance. Element makes it very easy to achieve proper hydration, and it does so by including the three electrolytes in the exact ratios they need to be present. I drink element first thing in the morning when I wake up. I usually mix it with about 16 to 32 ounces of water. If I'm exercising, I'll drink one while I'm exercising and I tend to drink one after exercising as well. Many people are scared off by the idea of ingesting sodium because obviously we don't want to consume sodium in excess. However, for people that have normal blood pressure and especially for people that are consuming very clean diets, that is consuming not so many processed foods or highly processed foods. Often times we are not getting enough sodium magnesium and potassium and we can suffer as a consequence. And with element simply by mixing in water, it tastes delicious. It's very easy to get that proper hydration. If you'd like to try element, you can go to drink element that's element.com/huberman to claim a free element sample pack with your purchase. Again, that's drink element LMT.com/huberman. Today's episode is also brought to us by ROCA. ROCA makes eyeglasses and sunglasses that are the absolute highest quality. I've spent a lifetime working on the biology of the visual system and I can tell you that your visual system has to contend with an enormous number of challenges in order for you to be able to see clearly. ROCA understands this and has developed their eyeglasses and sunglasses so that you always see it with perfect clarity. In addition, they are extremely lightweight and they won't slip off your face if you get sweaty. Indeed, ROCA eyeglasses and sunglasses were initially designed for performance in sports, but now they include aesthetics and styles that are really designed to be worn anytime. I, for instance, wear readers at night. I'll sometimes wear sunglasses during the day when I drive. And of course, I do not wear sunglasses when I do my morning sunlight viewing, which I highly recommend everyone do their morning sunlight viewing. If you'd like to try ROCA eyeglasses or sunglasses, you can go to ROCA.com and enter the code Huberman to save 20% off your first order. Again, that's ROCA.com and enter the code Huberman at checkout. And now for my discussion with Tony Hawk.
Childhood & Self-Concept (05:55)
Tony Hawk, welcome. Thanks. I'm particularly thrilled to have this conversation because I've tracked your career for a very long time. I grew up in the skateboard thing. I know. Had your poster on my wall. Oh, thank you. Your name is synonymous with skateboarding, as you know. I think a question that probably get asked from time to time, but let's just clarify the data from the outset. Tony Hawk is your real name, right? Yes. Anthony Frank Hawk. But I never went by Anthony. I mean, my parents call me Tony since I could remember. It's a fitting name given the sport and what you do. And we will get into this a little bit later when we talk about family and parenting and parents. But I'll allude to the story now that when I was 14 years old, your parents took me in. I slept in your bed, in your home, not with you in it, but surrounded by your near infinite number of trophies. And it must have been right after I moved out. This would be, I was 14 years old. Maybe I'll just tell the story now very briefly. I was 14 years old. I was a contest at Lindovista Boys Club. Everyone left. Me and another kid named Billy Waldman were still there. Your dad said, "Where are you going?" It was clear that I didn't know where I was going. My life was a wayward youth at that time. And so they took me in for a night, maybe even two nights. Your mom, Nancy and your dad, Frank, were so gracious, brought me in. In your home, took me to dinner. I don't recall. That tracks. That tells my dad and my mom together would be doing that. Yes. Incredible people. And we'll get back to that story later because you and I actually met the next day in Fallbrook at your ramp. Oh, Fallbrook. So it had been 88, 89. That's right. I'm going to say 89. Okay. And it must have been one of the either NSA or CASL contests that your dad was very active in. We'll get back to that. But I have so many questions that relate to skateboarding to you and really as a neuroscientist to the whole concept of a life of continual progression. Because whether or not people listening to this and watching this are skateboarders or not, and I imagine that most of them are not, it's absolutely clear that you've been in this game a very long time and that you've somehow managed to continue to progress over and over to come back from very severe injuries and somehow keep getting better and better. So the first question I have is about the younger version of you. Mm-hmm. Did you have any sort of self-concept? Like, you know, I want to be a pro athlete or I want to be a skateboarder or I want to have a video game named after me. Right? Right. Exactly. You know, but if you can think back to maybe even pre-skateboarding, do you remember what your self-concept was? You know, this notion of like, I'm a self and I'm either similar or different to other kids in some way. Like, when I was young, I was put in a lot of advanced classes and not that that felt like a badge of honor. It felt more like I was just classified as a nerd. But then I thought, okay, well, that's my strength. So I'll lean into that and I thought that maybe I would be a teacher. Because I thought, well, I get all these concepts and I think I could relate them to kids or to my peers. Because I helped a lot of my classmates through some of some of the classes. So that's all I really had. I didn't know. And then when I would play sports, I would be okay. You know, I wasn't terrible, but I wasn't the VIP or the MVP. And so I was just kind of playing basketball, playing baseball. And then when I found skateboarding, I mean, it was pretty obvious that that was what I wanted to do. It was once I got on a skateboard and realized that I could maneuver it and do things that were unique. And not that they're moving the needle or anyone cared, but they were unique in the sense that like, I've never seen them do this. And this feels awesome. And so I just want to do this. And so I didn't think that this is my career. I was 10. So I just thought, this is my -- this is my hobby. This is my thing. And I don't want to play these other sports anymore. Did you stop playing all the other sports? Yes. I quit Little League in the middle of the season when my dad had been appointed president of that chapter of Little League. Because he was the coach. He was always very involved in all of his kids. I have three siblings. So he was always very supportive, whatever they were doing. And then when I was playing baseball, he became the coach because he had time. And he was doing that. He was almost retired. And then he was such a prominent figure in the Little League. They said, "Oh, you're president now." And so then someone else was coach. And then I was skating and I was over it.
Early Skateboarding & Skateparks (11:08)
Did you immediately start skateboarding in the parks on transition, as we say? Or were you pushing around in the driveway like most kids? I was transportation. And skating was kind of a fad, so I started in '78, roughly, maybe '77 even. And it was kind of a fad, so kids just had skateboards and they would all cruise around. It was the '70s. So everyone had a bike, right? And you knew where all the kids were because the bikes were in the front line. And then at some point that kind of turned into skating. So everyone had skateboard. They were all like shitty, you know, like JC Penny or big box store skateboards. No one had really good one. Not in my area. But then at some point we were just looking at these magazines and people skating and everyone skating in pools. Because that was the dog town in Zeboy's era. And it was like, "These guys are flying. I want to..." Like, where do we do that? And then the skate park opened up in San Diego. That was Delmar's skate park. Skateboard? Okay, the way it was. The way it was the skate park was the first one in our area. Actually, I take that back. Spring Valley was the first skate park. I tried to go there and I was nine and you had to be ten. And I remember, like, sitting in the parking lot, looking over the fence. And my dad didn't realize what they ate because my dad would have easily lied for me. But he didn't realize there was an age limit. And he said, "How old is he?" "Nine. Oh, sorry. He can't come." And then they closed. Long after. So, when? I never got the skate spring valley. Because I think of you as synonymous with Delmar's skate wrench. Sure. Well, that came later because OASA skate park was opened up. So, this was when I first went, I was like, "78." A friend of mine was going, "You said I'm going to go to the skate park." So, I had to go get, you know, such a hassle. Like, I had to go get the authorization form. I had to get it notarized by the bank, by my parents, like, to go there. And then I went. And it was, that was my epiphany. When I first saw people flying around in person, I was like, "This is what I'm doing for as long as I could possibly do it." Because it looked like magic. It really did. It looked like they were flying on magic carpets. And it spoke to me in the sense of being a daredevil, but also doing it individually. Not relying on my team. Not getting, getting hassle by a coach. It was just like, "Oh, I can be part of the scene, but do it my own way." And then I skated Oasis as much as I could. I was like, "Whenever you hear rides there." And then my parents moved to North County, San Diego, when I was in high school. Mostly because they were just chasing kind of real estate deals. And so I got lucky that Del Mar Skate Ranch was right there. Every other park closed. But Del Mar Skate Ranch remained open. So there was a bit of luck to all that. And it was based on geography. Your dad's involvement is interesting. Because I got into skateboarding because my dad wasn't around that much at that time. A lot of kids get into skateboarding because it doesn't require parent involvement. Was it unusual to have parental involvement at that stage? I remember Frank. And by the way, I remember Frank and Nancy, your parents with such fondness. Not just because they took me in, but I remember thinking, they were at times the only point of stability in a landscape of 200 people where, as you know, there could be potential chaos of any kind. And your dad had this way of moving about. He wasn't afraid, I recall, that he wasn't afraid to say what he thought. Like, "Hey, don't do that. Like impose some regulation at this contest." And at the same time, it seemed he also understood that this was a sport unlike other sports. Like, you're not going to regulate kids like me at the time. Or you're not going to try and control people. So, what was it like to have your dad involved? And the reason I ask is that you're a parent. We'll talk more about parenting. But also, it seems that he went from saying, "Okay, you know, little league, other sports." Which is more typical to, "Okay, this kind of unusual sport, skateboarding." But your mere interest in it was enough to get him excited or motivated enough to take you around to these places. That's pretty special. I mean, that's pretty unique. It was. I mean, and in that respect, it was great to have his support and to rely on him for that. The fact that he was always around and that he was in charge of a lot of the events, that sucked. Because it just marked me as one being favorited and spoiled. And most of my friends, their parents didn't want them skating. So, even though they were stoked that my dad was doing this kind of thing and giving that kind of support, they still were like, "Your dad's here." Like, "This is our thing. This is our scene. This is our getaway from our parents." I didn't really have a choice in the matter. I did at some point tell him my concerns and my frustrations with it, but he didn't really want to hear it. He was very much steadfast. Like, "Well, I've been coming this far. We can keep our distance at these events, but people are relying on me to organize them." And so, I just had to suck it up for a while. Did it push you harder? If you could prove yourself with a skateboard and then you didn't have to worry about any claims of favoritism? Because ultimately, you can't fake skateboarding. I mean, there's no deep fake version of a skateboarding. You either can do it or you can't do it and it's shown in real time. And I suppose back then, I recall you were quite a bit skinny or skinny.
Adolescence, Skateboarding (16:58)
Oh, yeah. I had all kinds of things going against me at the time. Yeah, I mean, I don't think people will realize this unless they've met you in person, but nowadays there are a few taller skateboarders out there because the sport's grown so much. But you're pretty tall. You're like six. I mean, I was three, but I was not when I was growing. When I was that age, I was very small and kind of concerningly small because by the time I got to be 16, I was still, I looked like I was 13. I used to get pulled over. I literally had a car that I bought with my earnings. I had a Honda Civic, 1977, CBCC, and I would get pulled over. And then the cops would be like, how old are you? 16? Well, you looked like you were 13 back there. And then I shot up around age 17. Okay. So that's interesting. And we can get back to this when we talk about your almost remarkable levels of ability to recover from physical injuries because, well, I'll just share a little bit of biological theory here, which is that, you know, there are a lot of people that study longevity. Perhaps the fastest rate of aging that we ever undergo is puberty. Right? If you think about a kid before puberty, kid after puberty is like a different human being, psychologically, often physically as well. Some people have a longer arc of puberty than others, and that does seem to correlate with a longer life. And so it's kind of interesting. You know, some kids hit puberty and they go through all the markers of puberty in like one summer. Other kids, it's very, very long. And it sounds like we don't have to talk about when you hit puberty and the other markers, but it sounds like your gross spurt occurred to you. Or it occurred late. Oh, yeah. That's a terrific marker of a long life, by the way, because what it reflects is the onset of a big burst of growth hormone out of the pituitary and the brain. And if you continue to grow for a long period of time, that indicates, you know, it gives you a little bit of the slope of the line. Does that make sense? Oh, yeah, sure. So this may have important and fortunate consequences. So at 17 you shot up. Am I correct in remembering, maybe you said it, maybe somebody else did that you were. Forgive me, but so skinny when you were a kid that you actually wore elbow pads as knee pads. Yeah. Yeah, that's a true story. Yeah, for sure. And I took inspiration from others that I identified with, namely Steve Cavallero, because he was already an established pro when I started to come up in the ranks or even get noticed at all. And he was wearing elbow pads on his knees in this full page picture of him in Winchester doing a back sitter and I was like, that, I want to do that. And he's small. And I feel like that's my goal. And Steve can say, like, if he can do that, I can do it. It was just more like, oh, this, I identify with that. And that gives me hope. And as I recall, Stevie also has a pretty severe scoliosis. Right. At one point, he was what he had. At one point, he was turned pretty tight to the right or left. I don't recall which, I mean, still an incredible skateboarder loves Stevie. He's a NorCal guy. So I grew up around. I know whatever he had is from birth, but it was more that his size. And I didn't even know he was, not many, but he's like four years older than me. So I just was like, oh, there's small guys doing that. I can do it maybe. But when I got tall, when I went through puberty, suddenly I had all these tricks. And then suddenly I had the strength and the height that gave me confidence. And so all of a sudden it was like, oh, I can go way higher now. And I'm comfortable with these tricks, these intricate board maneuvers and stuff. So that was a huge advantage to me. The smaller stuff felt different after that, which was harder. But being able to blast afia in the air as opposed to four vin air was a huge advantage. Yeah. Isn't that wild when the nervous system knows how to do something and then your body changes and you can do the same thing, but with so much more force. Even the bowls look smaller. When I would stand on top, I was like, wait, this isn't that big? It's wild. Well, the reason I ask about this, I think, you know, people listening generally seem to assume that, you know, if you become a Stanford professor or you become a professional skateboarder or you professional soccer player that you were just fated to become that, right? And it's clear that it's the confluence of so many different factors. But one of the consistent factors for sure is a sense that you just really love doing it, right? I mean, I can't imagine getting, you know, proficient or excellent at anything without loving doing it, right? And so still at this time when you were, let's say, 14, 15, did you have any concept of, you know, I'm going to have a pro model, I'm going to none of that. Well, there was, there was none of that to be had. So we didn't have these great aspirations because no one had really done that before. You could have some success. Yes, you could have maybe a signature model. But even the top sales of skateboarding then wasn't a career. The prize money was $150 for first place, 100 for second, 50 for third. Couple tanks of gas, some food. Yeah, so let's put it this way. I turned pro when I was 14. By the time I was 15 and a half and I had a learner's permit and I could drive a scooter, you know, I had $600 in my bank account and I used that to buy a Honda Express moped. For a year and a half, that was my earnings. It was $600. So clearly money wasn't the dopamine hit. It was the actual skateboard. Sure. That's what I mean though, there wasn't, there was no goal of that because it just didn't exist. So I didn't care. Like I'm kidding me. I have my own vehicle at age 15. Like I was living large. I can get to the skate park on my own. That was amazing. To be 14 and be a professional at anything must be a trip, so to speak.
Turning Professional, The Bones Brigade (23:10)
But what I'm wondering about because I came up when you're early cohort with Palperalta. So for those that don't know, so-called Bones Brigade, right? I guess it was a total of like six, seven guys. There were some of them that were a little more peripheral than others. There were about six, seven core guys in the various videos. I mean, you guys were famous, right? You got posters on kids' walls who skateboarded. There was a second or maybe it was a third surge of popularity in skateboarding because it would sort of surge in general popularity and then disappear and come back as it has over decades, keeps coming and going to some extent. Did you have a conscious awareness of just how much attention was being placed on photos of you, videos of you? And I'm just wondering about the younger version of you whether or not you realize what was happening. And the reason I ask is because you've always seemed to me, somebody who through interviews, through videos, through our interactions, and for those of you who know much longer than you have, just very grounded, like not caught up in it. We've never seen headlines about you kind of just blowing all your money or wrecking cars and destroying your life. I mean, I'm sure you've made mistakes like any of us, but you seem to have avoided a lot of the pitfalls of quote unquote "famous people" and celebrities. And yet you were a famous person from a very young age. Yeah, I think it was that I never, that was never a goal. And then when I had a sense of it, I was very uncomfortable. I mean, I was happy. I was happy to be successful. I was happy that people recognized me. That was amazing. Just because I was good at skateboarding. I never imagined something like that. But I was always very, I mean, some people thought that I was sort of almost like pompous or arrogant because I wasn't interacting because I was just, I was walled off. I was like, I don't know what to do. Gosh, this is a last words I would ever use to describe you. I think it was just more that people would see me like I'd go to a ramp. I didn't know anybody and I would just start skating and I'd do all my stuff and they were like, oh, he doesn't even talk to anyone. And I was like, I don't know. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to act. I was like, you're 14 years old. So Stacy broke me out of that because I remember one time there was a kid that was staring at me like, hold my skateboard. He had my signature model and he said, go see, how did that guy? Are you sure? He wants to interact with you. You know, just go high five of them or anything. And I learned to sort of break out of my comfort zone by doing that enough. But my first go around, I mean, that was sort of my first wave of fame, I'd say, the Bones Brigade years. And we were so young that we thought, this is forever. And so we were definitely careless with our money, with our actions. And at some point, my dad saw that he didn't think it was going to be long term because no one had had a long term career, right? So he encouraged me to invest, to get property, like to buy a house. That was my saving grace because I definitely was spending. On cars and things like that. Yeah, car, like kind of a little bit beyond my means. I wasn't really considering all my money was 1099 income. So we weren't paying taxes on anything. And at the end of the year, we'd be like, oh, you owe this much. Like, wait, what are you talking about? So, for instance, hey, do you want to go to Hawaii? Yeah. Okay. Invite everyone. We're all going to Hawaii. I got, well, let's rent a place. Okay. You know, and it was on me because I had the means. You mentioned Stacy. We should probably clarify for people. Tony's referring to the great Stacy Peralta. Yeah. He was the one who put me on the bones brigade when I was still considered sort of a circus act. Like, you know, my skating was not really established. The stuff that I was doing was largely made fun of because people thought that what I was doing was just more like a free show. Okay. Can you explain more? So, and let me just tell you that my recollection, first recollection of you that I still have that image in my mind would is the finger flip air, right? You know, so for folks that aren't familiar with skateboarding, you know, people right around on transition or in the street, handrail, stairs, you know, people probably familiar with all those things. But skateboards will ride up toward the top of the pool with the ramp and they'll do something on the so-called lip or the coping. That's to ride at the edge of it or they'll go above it like in the air. I'd never seen anyone flip a board in the air. I'd seen people do varials, so move it. This is going to be complicated for people just listening. But just flip it upside down and then catch it in a finger flip air. Yeah. That was, I remember, that was jaw drop, right? It was like, so if that was considered circus era or circus like, then I don't know what it was being compared to because at the time, we probably watched that. It was in slow motion, as I recall. We probably watched it 3,000 times. You know, that summer, there was a big group of us at All Star, skateboarding that summer. I would say kind of just before that in that window is when people were more giving me flack for what I was doing because I was mostly doing board variation stuff, but I still didn't have the height. The height in terms of the... The height in terms of getting in the air. So I was doing all the stuff kind of right at coping level. And so people weren't taking it into consideration or giving it much merit because it was just like, oh, he's doing a little board twist or a bar turn. And then when I started to get some height around the time you saw and started doing those tricks like visibly way up high, that's when the shift happened in terms of more acceptance. But I was still labeled as a trick skater, robot skater, and then you had Christian Osoi, who was all style. Air is higher than anyone. Anytime he did a trick, it was going to be so flashy and so amazing. And rock star personality. And rock star personality. And so in that era, I mean, it was very divided. It was like, no one liked us both. You know what I mean? It was just so strange to be of that age and of doing something that had never really been established and then something impitted against another skater. And we're just trying to make our way through teen years and skateboarding. And it was hard. I mean, it was like, I got bullied. Yes, I was successful. Yes, I was doing. But I would get thrasher magazine would talk shit about performance when I would win. Yeah, I remember that because I was from Northern California and thrasher magazine was a skateboard magazine from Northern California. I actually wrote for them for a while when I was a postdoc to make some extra money under a different name, folks, but you can try and find those articles. They're out there. And then in Southern California, it was skateboarder mag, trans world, mostly trans world skateboarding. And through the ribles. Right. Yeah, I recall some of those things that were said. It just is amazing to me, but it brings about a really important lesson, which is that kid that gets made fun of, if they're determined and they love what they're doing, that's going to be the kid that blows everyone away later. And I know this for sure because I'll never forget there. Do you remember the back to the city contest that we're called in San Francisco? So I went to those that were in the drain fountains in front of City Hall. I remember getting there one day and there was this guy with kind of like Afro like hair pushing around and he was doing what are called daffes. He had two skateboards. He was kind of like weaving around. And I remember thinking, San Francisco's got its issues now, but back then it was rough also for different reasons. I remember thinking like, this guy's going to get beat up. I hung out with the Embarcadero crew. I was like, this guy's going to get beat down. Yeah. That guy was Martin Zollis. Oh, yeah. So one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest street skateboarder. You can't really define these things greatest and whatnot in skateboarding. But I remember thinking this guy is just, he's a cooke. And then I realized who it was. And then I realized he was just like any other kid there at some level. And then a lot of the kids that got teased early on, they stuck with it five years later. I'm seeing them in the magazines. And I think about this with podcasting too. There have been some podcasters that have reached out early on and had questions and look at their stuff. And one's initial impression can be like, what are they doing here? And then you just see them two years later, three years later. And they're doing amazingly well. And you're like, this guy or gal is here for good. They're probably going to be top of the game in a few years. So you never count anybody out. When you would go to sleep at night in that era where you like laying on the pillow going, like, oh my God, people hate me. There's stuff in the magazines. I got to push harder. This is hard. Did you talk to your dad about it? I mean, again, it's a lot to bear, even as an adult. I can only imagine what it's like to bear as a 15 year old kid. I didn't really have a support group, you know, or any resource to voice those concerns. I just knew I wanted to keep getting better. That was it. And so if anything, if I was worried about those voices, if I was worried about the whatever take people had on me, I knew I was just going to go back to the skate park and learn more tricks. And at some point, I had so much of that as a foundation that it was sort of undeniable that like, well, he can do all this stuff. And he doesn't just do it at his home park. And I think that's probably when the tide turned for me is when I started to do well at other events, namely, upland pipeline, which was for the most part, the most frightening pool that we could run. The thing was big, but I also recall like the hips as they're called, like the transitions the way they match up were super tight. A lot of giant coping, super rough. Like if you fell in upland, you're getting chewed up. It's pulling your knee pads down. I didn't know that because from the photos, I wouldn't know that. Oh, it was treacherous. It really was like it was and and I wanted to do well at the event and I would drive up there every weekend. Like my friend, Greg Smith was a freestyleer, but he lived near upland. And so I would go drive Friday after school, straight to upland, skate at night, skate Saturday, all day, skate Sunday, early, and then drive home. Cause I live in San Diego. And I just made it my mission to figure that thing out because that was the proving ground for me. And so if I could skate that, I could go skating. As many of you know, I've been taking AG1 daily since 2012.
Sponsor: AG1 (34:22)
So I'm delighted that they're sponsoring the podcast. AG1 is a vitamin mineral probiotic drink that's designed to meet all of your foundational nutrition needs. Now, of course, I try to get enough servings of vitamins and minerals through whole food sources that include vegetables and fruits every day. But oftentimes, I simply can't get enough servings. But with AG1, I'm sure to get enough vitamins and minerals and the probiotics that I need. And it also contains adaptogens to help buffer stress. Simply put, I always feel better when I take AG1. I have more focus and energy and I sleep better. And it also happens to taste great. For all these reasons, whenever I'm asked if you could take just one supplement, what would it be? I answer AG1. If you'd like to try AG1, go to drinkag1.com/huberman to claim a special offer. From now until August 12, 2023, AG1 is giving away 10 free travel packs plus a year supply of vitamin D3K2. Again, if you go to drinkag1.com/huberman, you can claim the special offer of 10 free travel packs plus a year supply of vitamin D3K2. So it's clear you had an enormous drive.
Trick Development & Evolution (35:27)
Let's talk a little bit about the process of trying tricks, the anxiety associated with it. Did you and do you have a sort of systematic process? Was it, you know, I'm going to learn the basics first. Like, did you say that? Did you say, "Okay, I'm going to learn how to do stuff at coping level. Then I'm going to do a little layer. I'm going to go bigger. I'm going to do this." Or did you just sort of try what you wanted to try? Obviously, we're in haphazard about it. It seems you're pretty systematic about exploring what's possible and then pushing forward a little by little. But yeah, maybe you could talk a little bit about how you have conceptualized, "Okay, tomorrow I want to try this." It comes in different forms, but for the most part, I think about how I could combine existing tricks. And would this trick work going into this trick? And could your body position shifts or would it all work in unison? And when I approach a new trick, I'm saying more in the last 20 years. My thought process is, "I have all the pieces to this. I've done every bit of it. I've done the first part of the trick in another form. I've done the second part or the grinding of it or whatever, usually in some other basic way. And then the landing is, well, the landing is from whatever that is. And if you can throw all those things together and make the timing work, it's going to work. And I never went at something with some haphazard approach or throwing caution to the wind, like, "Hope this? See what happens." It's always very much like, "I know I have all these things." And so I just have to put them together. And now things are so technical that my same approach that I'm doing hundreds of times, one of them just works. And it's not because I committed to that one. It's because of some tiny fractional adjustment that happened that I didn't even know happened and it just worked. And that kind of is the curse of what tricks are now. Because they're playing moves that I've done over the last 10 years, even, that I only did once, because it was too fucking hard to get to. And I didn't learn from that one make. And that's hard to accept. Because in the past, I was learning tricks to have them in my arsenal, that I could just throw them down at a competition or a demo. I've got that in my pocket. These days, like that trick, for instance, I did a 360-shevete, five-o'ed a faking. Let's break that down for a 360-shevete. So who's going to take this on? I'll let you take this on. I can try it from my knowledge and perspective, but we'll just try. One of the things that I'm doing with 360-shevete is pushing the board with your feet and letting it spin a full 360 rotation under your feet and then landing back on it. It's a trick that people do on, usually on flat ground. I've learned to do it up on the vert walls. Like I can do 360-shevets kind of in the air. But I'm doing that. I'm doing a 360-shevete and then I'm landing on my truck. We're on one axle in what we call a five-o'ed position, which is basically a wheelie on the truck. So everything is so precise. I've got to do a 360-shevete at exactly a certain spot on the wall. I've got to catch it so that my truck lands when my foot hits it. I can't push it into the truck because that screws up my balance. So it has to land on the truck. I have to land with my weight perfectly set back enough that I can come in backwards because I'm doing this trick and I'm going to come in fakie. 360-sheve five-o'ed to coming in forward is a whole different beast. That I could probably do that just in a few tries. But the idea that I have to land on this thing, balance on it like a teeter-totter and then reverse my energy and come in fakie backward. It's so hard. It's so hard to get into the right position. Anytime I try it, there's a one in ten chance I'm even going to get into the position I need. And that's the one I have to commit to. So every time I do it, it's so intense and it takes so much commitment and so much mind. I don't even know how to explain it. You have shut everything else out except this one moment and this one fractional piece that you have to make work. And I've done it once. I would love to do it again but I know it's going to take the same amount of effort. I didn't learn from that one that I made, some trick that makes it happen every time. It's all so technical and there's so many things that can go wrong that I'll accept that, okay, I did it once. In thinking about the 360 show at 5.0 fakie, was that something that you thought of the night before?
Visualization, Dreaming (40:33)
You decide that day. Do you ever use visualization? Have you ever had learning come to you in a dream or find that you tried, tried, tried something? Went to sleep that night next day, made it. Anything like that? Yes. Sometimes I'll wake up the middle of the night and I'll write down something. Because I was like, "Oh, there's this trick. Oh, I think I could do that." Yeah, okay, I'm going to write down. So you dream about skateboarding from time to time? Yeah, well, yeah, that has shifted a bit after I got hurt. But yeah, I used to dream that I can't skate. Like, I'm trying and it feels like the ramps made a carpet. I can't get the speed. I can't get the timing. And then as I went through this traumatic injury, my dreams shifted too. Wow, I can skate. I can do all my tricks again. Oh, interesting. Yeah. A little piece of science around the can't skate piece or when people feel like they're bolted down in a dream or they can't run away. Yeah. So it's one phase of sleep called rapid eye movement sleep where the brain is very active. The dreams associated with it tend to be very vivid. And at the same time, we are completely paralyzed. And the idea is that no one really knows why, but that it's the case that we're paralyzed to prevent us from acting out our dreams. It's also an interesting neurochemical phenomenon because during these rapid eye movement dreams, they tend to be very intense, but the body can't release adrenaline. So it's almost like its own form of trauma therapy. It's like you're experiencing this intense thing in your mind, but your body can't react. Yeah. And so oftentimes people have argued that that's why you feel like you want to move and you can't because you actually can't. Some people have woken up while still a bit paralyzed and have you ever had that happen? We wake up and... No, but actually a couple of my kids have struggled with that a couple of times. Yeah, rem and interference is called. It's not dangerous and usually people can jolt themselves out, but it's kind of terrifying. So that's interesting. So we'll get to a discussion about the recent injury and thankfully recovery from the injury. Not miraculous because that makes it seem as if it's surprising. Frankly, I'm not surprised that you've recovered, but it is spectacular the way you have. But you're saying that in your dreams before the injury, you would think about skateboarding, but you felt like there was a kind of can't do it. Oh, when I was doing it in my dream, there was always some roadblock that I just... Like, why can't I get any speed? Why can't I snap or do this trick? It's more in the moments where it's twilight moments where I'm kind of awake and I'm thinking about tricks that everything else falls away and I can actually focus on what kind of new moves to come up with. An example of that was recently I went to the X Games in Japan a few weeks ago. And I was thinking, I was going to go more to show my support because they had a vert event. There's not a lot of vert events anymore. So if there's a vert event, it's kind of like if you build it, I will come because I want to show my support. That's kind of where my heart is. And they had a best trick event and I thought, "Man, maybe I could get in the best trick. Is there anything new though?" And I'm still recovering from my leg. And then at some point I was falling asleep and I thought, "Oh, I could do that trick." And come in 180. I know I could do that with my current state and not getting that much speed. So to explain what I was doing is a half cab, body varial, to backside blend. Okay. We could walk through this half cab. Cabbas come up backwards, go 360. And half of that would go one. As I approach the top of the ramp, I body varial. That means I jump around. And then I jump around on my board and then I make sure that it lands with my two trucks out and my tail on the coping, which is very precarious. And I've done that and come in fakie piece. That's the blunt piece. That's the blunt. So I've done that where I -- and then you have to use your beat to lift up the board and come in fakie, right? I've done that twice. And I thought, "Well, I wonder if there's something I could do like that." And then I realized that if I just keep coming around and I come in backside direction, that keeps my body spinning. And that might actually be easier. It wasn't, but I figured it out. I think I saw a clip of this on Instagram. I did it. I did it at X Games. And that was like -- it was my last run. It was -- it was -- I mean, it didn't move the needle. I got seven place. But for me, it was a huge moment. It felt amazing, I bet. Oh, yeah. For sure. It was like weeks of preparation and trying to figure this thing out. I made it twice before the event on my own alone, on my round. But that's just an example of -- I was literally falling asleep and then all of a sudden I was like, "Have to get better, go back to the blunt." I love it. That liminal state between wakefulness and sleep is such a beautiful state that if one is open to ideas showing up there, they almost always do. I tried to start trying it the next morning. Do you ever find that when you're taking walks or in the shower or not thinking about skateboarding? Yeah. It's usually in the sort of mundane moments that I get inspiration. Do you have practices for pure relaxation, aside from socialization? I know. I was never -- I think that's something I've been lacking. I never was good at warming up, stretching, post-warm up, or relaxing. Meditation, nothing. I just -- I go skate and it's on. And as I've gotten older, I realize that's not the best technique. But it's worked so far. It has worked. So for you, it's go hopefully a little bit of warm up if you -- I have more of a sort of OCD warm up run that I use to gauge how I'm feeling. But I kind of have to get through that. Like a surgeon, when a surgeon's about to do a surgery, they don't warm up. They just check off the various boxes of, you know, this is here, that's there. Make sure that they're comfortable in their environment and then they do the life-saving work. Yeah. I'd say my warm up run is kind of basic tricks, but they give me a sense of how stiff or how -- what I need to adjust for the rest of the day. So I guess it's not so OCD, but I definitely feel like I got to go through that routine.
Feeling” While Skateboarding (47:09)
What feels the best? Like I know that making a new trick feels incredible, especially if you've been at it a long time, and then you're just piling it in so that you can do it again and again as its own form of reward. But what is the maybe list of two or three things that just feels so good? Well, that for sure, learning new tricks, not even that it's something that I created, but just doing something that I've never done before. When I first learned variables, backside variables, no one had done backside variables before. They don't went on the front side. And the variables where you reach down, grab your board, jump in the air, and then turn it 180 under your feet. It's like a shove it, but you're guiding with your hand. I learned that halfway up the pool, the main pool, in a way, at Oasis, with no one around. And the feeling I got when I rode away was something that I had never experienced, and it was literally the buzz that I've been chasing ever since, because it was like I created something. Varials below coping was the button. And that was it. It really was. And if you saw a video of it, you'd be like, that thing? You're like, what can I say? It was the first time that I thought of it. I went through all the motions of it. I did the work, and I figured it out. And no one cared. But at some point, I was able to do it six feet in the air and do a full 360 variable. And so that was the building block, but that feeling was like no other. I'd say that, and then just even to strip everything else away, like the most basic tricks, like a backside ollie, is a no-handed aerial. That used to be what it was called, backside no-handed aerial. It feels so good, because even to this day, people say, how do you support a stay on your feet? I can't even tell you how the board stays on my feet. I just know how to maneuver it. And I know how to keep the pressure on it and the friction going. And backside ollies is like, I think it's like a marvel of physics. And a clean backside ollie to me feels good as anything. Yeah, it's a beautiful thing to behold. I confess I've never done a legitimate backside ollie on a mini ramp, sure, but not on vert. I've never done a great way to the feeling, but I love, love, love the fact that you brought us back to that early variable-o-coping feeling, and that that marks the essence of what feels so good when you do something else. It's sort of like a, as a neuroscientist, I see it as a chemical stamp. It's like a chemical fingerprint of progress. Right, and I'm also delighted to hear that it still feels that good to do these things, because I don't think anyone can have the kind of lifelong progression that you've had, and it's still going without a, not just love of the thing, but love of the feeling that it brings when no one's around. Because you said skating your ramp by yourself, so how often are you on your ramp with no one's filming for Instagram, no nothing for a video, nothing for a video game, none of that. Maybe there's, you know, maybe other guys are around, gals around. We'll talk about gals too, because one of the big shifts in skateboarding since I started is that there's some amazing female skateboarders now. There's a young lady in fact that's been skateboarding at your ramp. Forgive me, I can't remember her name. Reese. Reese Nelson. Goodness. Goodness. Gracious. I know she is so good. So good. So good. So we'll get back to that. But I think that, you know, people starting any kind of sport or academic career or business or anything, I think people assume that you go from zero to a hundred somehow, and that there are these people that are just selected by genetics or by luck or by some combination of things to just get it and be better than everybody else. It's clear that you've spent a lot of time alone driving someplace to skate the next day or alone at the ramp. Yeah.
Drive & Discipline; Injuries (51:15)
So do you ever reflect on that kind of drive and, you know, what that's all about or is it just so intrinsic to who you are? It's your and Nate. I don't think about it. I just know I have to do it. It's like, I mean, we can get into it with my injury, but to go back to what you're saying, do you say that people think that, oh, you were chosen for this or genetics or whatever. Have you saw them talk after all? You saw me skate. Yeah. When I first started skating, there was no way you'd think that I was natural or that I had any future in it. I was all gangly. I was all over the players. I was eating shit left and right. Like it just, it wasn't, I wasn't good. I wasn't. I wasn't a natural. I've seen people that are natural and I've seen that how they don't have that drive. They don't have the discipline and it's not wasted, but they just don't, they don't take advantage of what they have naturally and for whatever reason. I don't fault anyone for it, but I've seen both sides of it and I've also seen other skaters who are just driven and who are not really good, kind of sloppy and become the best. Andrew Reynolds. Oh, yeah. When we put him on our team, he was just like me, super gangly, his boards bouncing around, but he's trying every single trick and every time he's sent me a video, some new technique that he's figured out and he didn't really, by the untrained eye, he didn't have the skill set for. And then he became the boss. You know what I mean? So I think it's just you have to give that as much weight as natural to. If not more, I'd say more. Yeah, I would certainly say more for science and, you know, the people who were in the lab late at night and early in the morning and drilling away, not always the smartest, certainly not the dumbest, but smart enough to show up when other people are leaving and continue. And I think there has to be a little bit of friction internally. I mean, maybe externally also, but just some friction. Some I'm going to show you. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. My best example of that, and I haven't talked about this yet because I did it privately, but I broke my leg doing a McTwist, something that I've done thousands of times in 540. 540. Yeah. So it's a one and a half spin in the backside direction, but that particular grab that you do makes it a McTwist because it makes you kind of flip upside down. So it's kind of a one and a half summer salt. It's not my trick. It's Mike McGill's trick. I learned it not long after he created it in 1984. Been doing it ever since. I mean, I'm talking about 40 years of McTwist, right? I've gotten hurt once or twice, but not bad. Anyway, I fucked around and found out. Did one with no speed last year thinking I could do it like I was still 20 and got tangled up and broke my femur. I had a super long recovery. I had a false start. I had a nonunion fracture, which means my bone never connected back to itself and it kept pushing itself further away. And that's all in the past. I've got a second surgery in November and all along in the back of my head is I got to get back to 540s. I have to. And I can't explain why I have to. I hate that it means that much to me, but it's in here. You know what I mean? It's not a sense of pride. It's not like I have to prove this to anyone. I just have to do it. And last week I did it. It was so scary. And I prepped for it. I mean, he even down to like my diet and I stopped drinking altogether and I was like, every time I go to the ramp, I'm just trying 540s like to get the spin, to get the landing zone with no intention to make yet. Just that I had to get there. And then I had to have this heart to heart with my wife that, you know, she doesn't want to see me get hurt. She doesn't see me risking myself at this age anymore. She doesn't want to live through another traumatic injury with me. And I had to tell her like, I have to do this. She was gracious and accepting and that's all I could ask for. It wasn't like she was like, yeah, you got to go do it. It was like, okay. That's who you are. And so she was there. She was my only spectator. So good. I confess I've seen a video of this and my first response was F. Yes. And my second response was that was really high. Like this is no, you know, just above coping, 540. This isn't even, you know, this is a head high 540. I'm not going to make the same mistake. I did last time where I tried it low thinking I just get away with it anymore. So the going high was more of a safety measure, which is ironic. And the bigger the ramps for me, the safer it is because I have a better landing zone. I have more time in the air to adjust. And even though it looks spectacular and he's 16 years. He's like, no, I need that. I can't skate some eight foot pool. I have no landing zone. I'm too tall. I'm too, I moved too slowly now to do that kind of stuff. So that's why you don't see me like in the park events and stuff like that. You know, you're going to see me on this 14 foot vert ramp because that's my happy place and that's where I'm safe. But also having my wife there, I just knew I wasn't going to get her in front of her. Because I would have been such trouble. The emotional support and pressure is a real thing and in the best ways of not to focus on the bad aspects of the injury. Because by the planning, yeah, that I recall you and I communicated not long after the, let's say, let's call it what it was, the first break. And I remember you said to me over text, you said, how long before I'm skateboarding again? And I said, skateboarding as in pushing or skateboarding as in what you do on vert, you know? And you said, what I do on vert? And I said, well, it seems you are doing a lot of things. You were doing, delivered cold, delivered heat, pressure. You do a number of things. I mean, you're not haphazard about your career and your body and your health. We'll get into that a little bit later. Some of the things that you've enjoyed as beneficial for you. But you said, I'm calling it at two months. And I said, okay, I believe it. And then I recall that you, was it the Oscars or some other award event where you came out about a week later, you came out there, you walked out, just broken femur. And you weren't using any support to walk out. So you clearly ditched whatever support you might have been using, which I think is awesome, by the way. And then pretty soon I was seeing videos of you dropping in. I'm seeing videos of you doing kick turns, below coping. I'm seeing videos of you at coping. And, you know, we have a friend in common, the skateboard and generally photographer Mike Blayback. And I remember texting Mike, I was like, Tony's back already. This is, this is superhuman rates of healing. And I think it is superhuman rates of healing. Then you mentioned that you damaged broke the femur again.
Injury Recovery Practices (58:46)
So did you allow more rest the second time? What was driving you to get back in it so quickly? The first go around, I just didn't listen to any of the professional advice because I thought, well, I've done, I've come this far and I've always been able to push through broken pelvis, broken elbow, knee surgeries. And I've always been, the timeline is always very shortened for me because I just get back out there and I get the healing started. But I also am comfortable with what people think is extremely risky. But in this instance, I wanted to get back out there right away. And not long after the Academy Awards, I was actually walking with a cane at that time and I ditched the cane just to walk out on stage to present the awards. So that was my big, my big coming out moment, but it was kind of forced. And as soon as I walked out to say they grabbed my cane, I was hobbling in the backstage. But I was skating kind of a mini ramp. And I was already struggling because I couldn't put my weight on my front foot because my bones still had not connected to itself. So there's a gap in the bone, but there's a nail, what they call a nail or big piece of metal that's holding them in place. But I didn't realize how careful I needed to be with that because it was so precarious. And I decided I'm going to drop in on the mini ramp. Like I think I'm ready. And it wasn't the drop in on the mini ramp. It was me getting to the top of the mini ramp and stepping off my board. It's always that kind of stuff. But I just stepped off my board like I would do any other day, but I didn't think I led with my front foot and I felt the bone move in that moment. I felt it either twist or get out of place and I was in total denial for months. Because I just said, oh, it just hurts now. I got a minor setback. And then I finally ate months into my recovery, seven months into my recovery. I was always in pain. My skating wasn't progressing. I couldn't get speed. And by all measures, I should be back. At least I'd be back to a level that I feel good about. And I went and got x-rays and they said, your bone never connected. You have a non-union fracture. And every time I skated, so my bones like this, every time I skated, I was pushing it further away. And so my bone was like this on the last x-ray. And that was the hard truth. So for those listening, just laterally displaced, thinking about a pipe that's broken in the middle and just one's offset to the other. And as I keep skating, and I could force my skit, like I kind of learned this hack where I can put 75% of my weight on my back foot and 25% of my front foot and do what I wanted to do. But it wasn't where I thought I'd be. And it just hurt all the time. And it really was like, that was my trigger because I have a pretty high tolerance pain. And it was always hurt. Like I would dread going to the airport knowing I had to walk to a gate. So I knew something was wrong there. I went to a specialist that deals in non-union fractures. And he had a very pragmatic, factual approach. And he was like, oh, I would do this. I'm going to take that nail out. I'm going to take the other hardware out and put it together. And you cannot move for two months. Did you obey that? I did. Really? Yeah. So what is showing? I was not going to risk that again. Did you, and do you prioritize things like sleep, nutrition, just, you know, generally. And did you emphasize those things while you were recovering from the injury? Yeah, I was very disciplined in my diet, in my schedule, in my sleep. Surprisingly, I was very busy because I do speaking engagements. And suddenly my speaking engagements were getting booked, left and right. I mean, to the point where I did a tour through Europe last summer of speaking engagements. So that was a silver lining, I guess, to my idle time. And I leaned into it. You know, I made myself available and, and it, you know, it's good money and it's fun to, to interact and, but all through, all through that, of course, in the back of my head, I was like, when, when can I skate, when can I skate? And then when I finally started skating, it was night and day with my leg. I felt like I could lean forward. Suddenly I was learning tricks every, every session, relearning tricks. So I just, I just lucky that I got to live in this time of modern medicine. Was that two months the longest you've ever gone without skateboarding vert? Yeah. Yeah. Without skating at all. Not even just pushing around. Good for you for obeying doctors orders. And also good for you for deciding that your rate of recovery is going to be whatever it is for you. Because I feel like I'm hearing both things. On the one hand, you listen to the medical professionals. On the other hand, I'm not hearing, oh, you know, I looked at the average rate of recovery from this kind of fracture, this and that. It's, it's like, it's as if you decided two things at once that there are experts who have something to offer me here. I'll follow their advice. And yet I'm the expert at myself. Here I'm putting myself in here first person. Tony is the expert in Tony. And I'm going to make sure that I come back 100%. Yeah. Or better. Yeah. Not better, but, and I've, and I have come to terms with that. Because I know that I'm not going to be pushing myself the way that I did before I got hurt anymore. There are some tricks now that are way more difficult just because whatever something changed in my body. And for instance, I can't grab slob. Like I can't, I can't do it consistently. That used to be my go to grab. Could do that anytime over 60 foot gaps. Whatever. Like I could just, I just grab, I knew where my board was. I knew that was going to hold on to my feet. And half the time I try to grab that way. Now I don't reach it or I grab my foot instead. And I, I don't know. I can't make the adjustment to fix it. And so I've just sort of come to terms with, well, that's not the go to grab anymore. And that's okay. You're kids. I had a good run. Yeah. You're, you're kids pretty, pretty vast. There's a lot of other things to reach to. Aside from the 540, which by the way, congratulations. Not only is it a 540, but done at least head high. I've seen it with my own eyes. And under really great circumstances, your wife there, just the two of you. And after, and the trick that broke the femur in the first place. So congratulations on that.
Sponsor: InsideTracker (01:05:46)
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Personal Life And Investments
Healthy Life Practices & Skateboarding (01:06:52)
Are there other things that you're thinking, you know, can't wait to get back to that? What's "Soticide Slaw Bears" for now? Yeah. Yeah, I want to get my handplants back the ways to do them. I have yet, yeah, so invert, like one hand in handstand. I can do them now, but I've seen you do them recently. Yeah, but they used to be my signature. It was a tuck in the amber and flapped all the way back. And I can't get a hold of my board to pull it all the way back like I used to. If I can get that, I'll feel like that's it. That was the last milestone. I'm not here to diagnose and treat these specific skateboard trickisms, but between what you said about the slaw bear and what you're saying about this. Well, it seems like there's something about getting your front hand around and pulling it back behind you. So maybe this is like the way that the femur is lining up with your pelvis and maybe some off-ramp, something or other physical therapy could do. I'm actually working with a Besskor. He is a doctor of physical therapy and he has helped me immensely through my recovery. And when I'm frustrated with this motion or that's the same grab actually as in the twist, he worked on me before it and was just contorting my body and my leg into these positions that I don't really even get to when I'm skating just to prepare me for that. And he did, but that's what it took. It's interesting that we're talking about skateboarding and we're also talking about physical therapists. We're talking about nutrition. We're talking about sleep. Growing up in none of that. Never imagined any of this. And I'm chuckling because growing up in skateboarding early on for me, not quite as early as you, but pretty early, 12, and got out of it. And back in, yes, I can still do a thing or two here and there. But that's not the point. The point is that the nutrition consisted largely of fast food or whatever it was around. Cigarettes and beer were sort of the energy drinks and supplements of the times. This has fortunately changed. But there was essentially no health promoting tools or aspects to it at all. But that was back then. But then over time, it seems it's evolved. Like now I saw a couple posts from Stevie Williams. Like he's in the gym. I think I saw Danny way early on working with Paul Czech and doing some balance work, neck work, because he had broken his neck surfing and things of that sort. So there seems to have been a big shift over the last 15, 20 years where skateboarders are taking good care of their bodies, like other athletes, thinking about the resilience of their bodies and also generally taking better care. Like a lot of them up, not to drink and do drugs and all those sorts of things. So, I mean, how does it strike you to see the way that skateboarding has evolved towards the option to be much healthier and treat it like a serious sport where you're a serious athlete? A word that, you know, even 15 years ago, 20 years ago, if you called a skateboarder an athlete, some people might even be offended by that. People in skateboarding, right? Absolutely. Yeah. Well, to answer your question, in the early days, that was part of the scene and the culture just because it was the antithesis to organize team sports and mainstream culture. And so it was just like, yeah, this is what we do. Fucking who cares? Like we drank and we skate and everyone, it was wild west, right? But as I never fell into that deeply because I saw how it affected people's performances and the skating itself was paramount to me. That is what I wanted to focus on. That's what I wanted to be good at. And I saw people partying and partying their skills away. So I had at least that forethought. And then as skating got more established, popular, more of a career option, then people started taking it more seriously, especially competitors. I mean, but there's such a wide swath of what skateboarding is. And it's a big tent. So to say that it's more organized, yes, it's more organized over here. There's still all these skaters over here partying, hopping fences, don't care about contests, don't want sponsors. Oh, well, like GX-1000, like those kids at Bomb Hills and San Francisco. But that's what I love about it is the diversity of it all. And we're all part of this scene. So I was a competitor. That was my path to success. And so I appreciate that people take it more seriously now and that they do have trainers. They have resources. I mean, they have sponsors that will pay for this kind of stuff. There was no such thing. I mean, like at our biggest skate contest, we were all staying at Stacy Peralta's parents' house the night before. And he would take us out to get spaghetti because he thought carbohydrates was going to give us energy the next day. That was the extent of training in 1983. Right? But nowadays, we're treated like high elite athletes because they are. Like if you really look at people that are at the top of their field, people like, "Naija Houston." You know what I mean? Like the dude is a machine. He is one of the most precise skaters that we've ever seen or precise athletes. This side of, "Naija Komenic." You know, yes, I'm aging myself. But what I'm saying is like this is, this takes hardcore dedication, precision athleticism and devotion. And so now they have the resources to back that up and to keep it going longer. I mean, yeah, would I be able to do this now, especially after getting hurt without the help of a doctor of physical training? Probably not. I do it on some level, but I wouldn't get to where I am now. And so, hey, I think it's awesome. You know, I never wanted to covet skateboarding as this thing that no one else, like a gatekeeper to it. No one else can touch it. I always thought there was something skateboarding that was magical and that was good for mental health and that was required such passion. And I didn't, I never understood why I didn't get bigger through those, those leaning ears. It was always like kids, this speaks to kids. Like it's, it's daredevil. And it's active. And it's exciting. And you can do it as a group, but you can do it your own way. And I don't know all those things. It took a long time for everyone else to figure it out. They definitely figured it out. I mean, nowadays skaters of the cool kids in school. Yeah, it's in the Olympics. Like there was always discussion, would it be it was an exhibition sport in the Olympics at one point? No, no, no. Oh, I thought it was it for maybe it had a run at potentially being an exhibition sport. There was talk about it. Got it. Got it. But it never did. And not that, I mean, at some point, especially in the late 90s or 2000s, skating was getting appreciated and kind of reached that threshold of, is it mainstream? Well, it's in it's on McDonald's commercials. So I guess that's pretty mainstream. And so we already had come of age and it was like, we don't need the Olympics. We're already more popular than a lot of Olympic sports, right? So why do we need their validation? And then at some point it became like the power dynamic shifted. And it was like, oh, they need our cool factor. We don't need their validation. And it was like, yeah, okay, you guys want it? Sure. Go ahead, hold the events, hold the qualifiers. We'll participate. But we don't need this. Well, you've been an amazing ambassador for the sport that's driven so much of that wider acceptance and progression and invitation into different domains.
Video Game Development (01:15:03)
One of the things that I definitely want to talk about is the video game, right? Because I think that the video game changed a lot of things for the general public in terms of their perception of skateboarding. I mean, what it allowed, of course, is this is obvious, but it allowed kids that weren't going to, you know, bang up their shins or walk in with a broken wrist or, you know, all skinned up to do incredible tricks, but in silico on a screen, right? And to pretend that they are the pro skateboarder. That's essentially what video games are about. And yet when you can see something, just like you can imagine it in a dream, or while you're falling asleep, and you can see something in, and hear in air quotes, do something in a video game, it also is going to inspire a number of kids to go outside and grab a real skateboard and try that. Or try something like that. So clearly the video game was a catalyst for what I consider now the wide acceptance of skateboarding as a sport. In all its various forms. Can you just talk for a little bit about the genesis of the video game? Were you into video games prior to the video game? Were you into technology generally? And what sort of motivated the interest in the video game? Because it certainly has changed the face of actual skateboarding and the perception of skateboarding. Well, I've been into video games since the get go. I mean, I was a kid playing Pong, Pac-Man, Missile Command, Q-Wirt, you name it, and then getting the home systems in television, Super NES, Commodore 64, Sega. Yeah, but I always love technology, so when I finally started making money in the 80s, my first kind of big purchase in terms of electronics was Commodore Amiga, which was considered one of the highest end home computers, alongside Mac, but more graphic oriented and more game oriented. And so I was always into that idea that you could do this kind of stuff at home, not just in arcades. And then I got a call from a PC programmer that wanted to pitch a skate game and had a crude engine of a skater that would cruise around, go in bowls and stuff like that. And it was all keyboard control, it was clunky, but it was something. And the last thing that we had as skating was 720 in the arcade, or a skater die for home systems for Commodore 64. That was like the last thing that had happened for skateboarding in video games. And so I went with him, I was excited to get, like I got to, we got to go to Nintendo and pitch it. We went to Midway, you know, we went to all these different console and software manufacturers. And we're just told that this is a bad idea. Skateboarding is not popular. Home video games are barely a thing. Why would anyone want to buy a video game about skateboarding? Someone said those exact words to me at Midway. And so he got frustrated and he needed to find a job and I was just kind of free floating. So I said, okay, well, I'm not going to do this, but I feel like you've established yourself, at least in the video game world industry that you're interested in doing something. So maybe if someone does something, they'll call you. And I was like, yeah, right, sure. Sure enough, like a year later, Activision called me. And they said, Hey, we heard you want to do a video game. I said, well, yes, I would love to work on a video game. I'm not a programmer or anything. So we have something working on it would like to show to you. And so I went up to Activision. They were working on a skate game, but it was based on an engine of a game that was already released called Apocalypse, starring Bruce Willis. So the first version of my game was Bruce Willis on a skateboard with a gun shot to his back in a desert wasteland doing kickflips. And it was awesome. It was it was truly like I picked it up and I got past that visual and then I started playing it and it was intuitive. The motion felt right. The engine was right. And I was like, this is this is the baseline of something special. I didn't think it was going to be some big hit. I just thought, this is this is going to be appreciated by skateboarders. And that was my goal, the entire development process, which was about a year and a half after I signed on. We through that year and a half, we were going back and forth with they would they would FedEx me builds on CDs. I had a modified PlayStation and I would play it, make notes. And then I thought, man, Skater is going to dig this. And that was it. And skating wasn't even that popular. It was coming to, you know, it was starting to get some traction. What year was this again, like 98. So it was like X Games were starting to come into the fold. People were taking note of what skateboarding had become at that point. And then I thought, this is going to be cool. Skater is going to like it. And then not long before the release, they called me and they said, hey, we want to offer you a buyout of future royalties. For this game. Because I think, you know, there's, I think people are going to like it. And it was like, what does that mean? They go, we'll give you half a million dollars and then you don't get royalties going forward, but you get that money up front. And at that time of my life, like, to hear someone say half a million dollars seriously sounded like half a billion dollars. Like no one had ever talked about numbers that big to me. Well, also 98 was a little bit of a quiet time for vert skateboarding too. Sure. Yeah. Skateboarding in general. But yeah, for vert. Luckily, vert skating still was a thing because of inline skating. Because inline skating was huge, right? Late 90s. And they were all vert. And so we as skater has got to sort of ride those coattails because it was like, hey, there are vert ramps because everyone's rollerblading. I forgot about that. That did. Like, and I have honestly like, I was the special guest at a couple of inline rollerblade shows where it was like, this is a team rollerblade live and special guest Tony Hawk, the skateboarder. And I was like, hey, hey, all right, dropping in. But it paid the bills. Yeah. So to answer to like to, to, from what you're saying, vert skating was, it was a thing at least established in the ex-games. Which was something and enough for us to make a living. So when they offered me this money, I actually was in a pretty good place in terms of my, I don't know, my options, my trajectory. And I felt like, and I had just bought a new home and I thought, I'm going to take a chance and see what happens. And I, that was the best financial decision I ever met took the equity. Yeah, I just let it ride. I was like, no, I want to see what happens with this. And as soon as the game was released, it was getting stellar reviews. And then I remember like the very next week after it was released. Never stopped saying, okay, we're working on number two. What do you want to do? Like, what do you mean? Well, yeah, we're doing a sequel. Like, what? Awesome. And then we end up doing like 10. Amazing. Amazing. I'm thinking about your decision to not take the cash and to see how it would go.
Financial Investments, Birdhouse (01:23:00)
I'm thinking about your decision to buy car at 16 and yet, as the consequence gets pulled over because you look younger. I'm thinking about the time when through the graciousness of your parents who took me in, because I had no money to get back up to Northern California. And they couldn't get ahold of my mom. They took me to your home, but then they took me to where you were living the next day, which was in Fallbrook. You don't remember this, but I do. And I know you've heard this story before, so forgive me because most people listening haven't. But I remember getting driven up to Fallbrook. You had the ramps in your backyard. I walked in, got introduced to you. You were very gracious, said, hello, what's up? Said, feel free to push around on the ramps outside. It was the mini, it was a spine ramp. Yeah. Two ramps back to back, folks. Spine. Sorry. No one claged here. I think Ray Underhill was there. Yeah, he lived there for a while. And as I recall, you had pretty vast music collection. We'll talk about music. But it also seemed that there were a couple cars in the driveway and whatnot, but it's clear to me based on a number of things and that interaction and what I've observed there, that either you had someone in your ear, either your dad or your mom or both, or maybe it had been Stacy or maybe it was somebody else who was advising you to make very good financial decisions, like not spend all your money or continue to spend all your money to invest in things. Or maybe it was just instilled in you at a young age. Who knows? I'm asking because I think so many people burn their early success. You know, what represents a lot of wealth for them early on. They burn that where they start making just bad decisions. You explained before why you tended to avoid drugs and alcohol and certainly any severe relationship to drugs or alcohol that would keep you from progressing and skateboarding. But the ability to make really good decisions as a young, famous athlete is more rare than it is common, even when people have coaches. So I'm curious, where did that shrewdness and that prudence come from? And was Frank your dad and maybe Nancy also advising you all along, like, "Hey, think smart, be smart." Because clearly you've made some very smart decisions. He was definitely a guide in it. He was the first one who said, "You should probably buy real estate." I was 17, so I didn't even know that was possible. But he co-signed and made it possible. But then after that, I ended up buying that home that you went to and it was four acre property and we built these ramps on it. And that was amazing and definitely helped propel my skating to a different level than I ever imagined. But at some point, that was just a drain. And it was a drain financially. And I was living beyond my means and my income kept dropping because we talked about not long after that was '91, '92, the slowest days of skating. And I've got this giant mortgage and I've got this property in these ramps that I can't afford to upkeep. I can barely afford my water bill at one point. And so what you saw might have seemed stable, but behind the scenes, it was starting to unravel. Birdhouse hadn't been started. Birdhouse was started in '92. And when I started Birdhouse, I took the equity from that house to start it. Because I didn't burn through my savings from trying to keep this place going. So I took a second mortgage out on that house, right? I took my equity out, started Birdhouse, sold the house for what I had taken out, and then moved to my original place that I had when I was in high school. And just pulled back on expenses. I think that was when I really became shrewd because I had to. I had a first child. I had an income that was very uncertain, very fluctuating. And I was just eating Taco Bell and top Ramen and Pune Red Jolly sandwiches and not spending anything and taking every job. Like the most random demo requests or we want you to be a consultant on this commercial because I'm 24. I'm too old to be the guy skating because it has to be youth, right? But they're like, "Well, we want to see what's possible. So can you come up the day before and show us the ropes?" And so I would be the stunt skater that's filling in to show them the angles and stuff. And then they would go hire Chate Thomas as the young kid. And then I would stand around. I was getting paid. I didn't care. I think I remember those commercials. Is it a serial commercial or something like that? The serial commercial was Chris Miller, Frosted Flakes. And I was Tony the Tiger. That's all the wine. So, you chat. Yeah. Throughout the Birdhouse, which is your company, but without telling people what is it, Skateboard Company. I remember Willie Santos was early on. I remember his super nice kid. Used to see him at the contest. I remember thinking, "Well, Tony Hawk has his own company for Skateboard." We had a team. Like Willie was a Maestro. Jeremy Klein, legendary street pioneer. Steve Barra, who's kind of a, we call it ATV, but street and vert. We had Ocean Howell, who was like our number one amateur. We had Andrew Reynolds, Matt Beach. We had a team. It was full on. Was it fun to move from rider to also rider, but team manager, owner? Was it fun? It was just necessary. I can't say it was fun. I mean, yeah, it was fun because we were still just kind of reckless and driving. Six of us in a van driving to skate shops across the country and begging them for 300 bucks so that we could get gas and food in a hotel room and get on our way. I don't know. But for me, it just felt like a necessity to, that was what I had to do to make a brand happen. And so I was willing to do it. But it was exhausting. Yeah, because I had to be the coach and the tour manager and the skater. I was putting myself out there on the worst conditions and just rolling my ankle left and right. And it was all street. And it wasn't my thing. It was hard, but I loved it. It may not happen. In my mind, I'm thinking you had to be Tony Hawk, the skateboarder, Frank Hawk, the organizer and Stacey Peralta. Yeah, because Stacey had been a pro skateboarder. I still think of him as a skateboarder, even though he's a filmmaker. Right. Skateboarder. Just like I still think of Spike Jones as a skateboarder, BMX or filmmaker. Seems like you had to integrate all of those. And I mention that because I am curious.
Professionalism; Hobbies (01:30:16)
I think a lot of people are probably curious, are you the type of person like sit back in a chair at night and think like, okay, like, how am I going to do this? Are you contemplative or is it really you just identify what needs to be done this year and over the next three years and set your milestones kind of short in? I guess now we're back then. Oh, no, everything was just in the moment. We got to get here. We got to get to Dallas by tomorrow. Like as soon as this demo is over, getting the van, we're gone. We got to get to a hotel room. It was just stuff like that. It was very much. But I respected, I think I learned to respect punctuality because I traveled with playing skaters that were not and didn't care and show up late and was like, dude, I don't know these guys. And when I was in charge, it was like, we're going to be on time because we have to respect other people's time and we said, we're going to be here at three o'clock. We're going to be there at three o'clock. And that's not easy with a skate crew. No, Mike playback, who as you know, is into girl to the Heber and Lab podcast. I talk about that. We've got some other guys that came over from DC to as filmmakers and editors for us. They're so punctual and they're so on it. And I know as you showed up early today, right on time or early, early by five minutes. And that is a distinguishing factor, I think, in any occupation, but especially in skateboarding where there's this kind of looseness. Sure. And so if you do show up on time, it really means a lot. The professionalism that was instilled in you, it's clear that different places where that showing up mentioned the shrewdness about the business decisions. I'm curious about another aspect of that, which is maybe a little more cryptic, which is, you know, whether or not it was the CD collection that I saw, or your mention of the car. You're just in video games. It seems that one thing that you've done that a lot of guys that I knew, because back then, by the way, it was mostly guys now, as we said, women doing it too. Women and girls. It seems like you have a lot of other hobbies and interests, music, et cetera, but that we never heard about you getting distracted or pulled down those lines. We didn't hear about you going and surfing and getting hurt, surfing so that you couldn't skate. We're getting really into motorcycles or racing cars, right? You know, some people went hard left out of skateboarding into that, like Ken Block, the late, great Ken Block, but that became his main thing. It seems like you knew that skateboarding was the main frame and stayed with that. And yet you have a lot of other interests. Yeah, I think I, well, with other sports, especially like motocross, I have this huge respect for motocross. I think it's super exciting. I would love to do it. And I know that I would not escape unscathed. Like, I would definitely want to learn the tricks, do whips and flips and whatever, and I'm going to get hurt. And I don't want to risk my skate career for that. So I purposely pulled away from that type of thing. The last thing, the knee surgery I had is because I overshot a jump in mammoth on my snowboard. So that was the lesson. I was like, don't, what are you doing? Just cruise. Yeah, stay on the ground. Hit the powder. You know, free ride with your bros because I learned my lesson. And so, so yeah, you're right. But at the same time, like I still, I still love going surfing and snowboarding. I don't do them as much, obviously. But, but those are part of what I did all growing up. And they're important to me. I did, you know, do a couple of celebrity car races, like an ass car race. And I told her car in the Long Beach Grand Prix because the dude ran me into the wall. And I was like, well, that was fun, but I'm not. I don't have the bandwidth to get that serious about it. And now you have a family, of course, too. Of course. Yeah. I mean, and those things as fun as they are and as, as, I don't know, as sort of auxiliary as they are, they require a lot of time. I mean, just for instance, that Long Beach Grand Prix, they want you to go stay in Palmdale for like a week and a half and train. And figure out how to truly know how to drive and be safe. And it's like, I don't think that time for that. Yeah, that's time you're not skateboarding. Or with your family. Right. Yeah. Right. Now, I feel the same way. If I get pulled away from reading papers and prepping podcasts and reading lace research and thinking about experiments we could do, then I, for more than a couple of days, I started feeling the itch. I have a feeling this stuff is programmed into one's nervous system after a while. Like you've been skateboarding for so long that if you go a few days, it probably just your system is, it's like depriving water or something. Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, well, just for instance, our ramp is being torn down on Sunday. Today is Friday. Our ramp is being torn down on Sunday at 10 a.m. to be moved to Salt Lake City for our big vert event. I'm going there at 830 so I can get a session before I get started down. I love it. On Father's Day. That's my Father's Day. I'm going to work at 830 a.m. on Sunday. I love it. Speaking of family and lineage, tell us about your kids.
Kids, Parents & Skateboarding (01:35:43)
You've got some talented skateboarders in your family besides yourself. I do. Well, I have four of my own and I have two step kids and they all skate. My daughter not so much anymore, but all the boys, five boys are all really into it. My oldest son is the most prominent because he turned pro and has his own following. He has a name for himself, Riley, and he's 30. Yeah, he kills it on street. He's a big street skateboarder. He does. Yeah. But they're all good. They're all good skaters in their own ways. And it's so fun. Of course, they're surrounded by it their whole life, especially Riley because when he was young, I didn't really have the means to have childcare or whatever. So I'd said take him with me on tourism, whatnot. So he was always around it. So he got good at it by default, but at some point started to shy away from it because he felt the pressure and my shadow. And he was like, I don't, this isn't fun. I know people expect me to be super good or I have to do this stuff. And so he went, shied away from it, but then found a bunch of his friends in high school. They love skating. He's still good at it. So he, that he found his crew and they've all found their crews completely independent of me. And so when we go on vacation, for instance, we were last year, we were in two years ago, we were on the big on Hawaii. I don't want to go to skate parks. On vacation. It's also a little harsh stuff. It's a great way to get hurt. What's that? Over in Hawaii. It's all weather-worn. Oh yeah. And it's not even my scene, but then so I go, I'm so I'm their chauffeur and I'm their filmer. I love it. That's my vacation. But because they all love it so much, you know what I mean? And it just, it's so cool. Like, I mean, how could I ever ask for more? It's amazing. Let's talk about Frank and Nancy a little bit, just because I have this kind of odd connection to your family through those really two or three-day interaction change change my life forever. Meeting you was spectacular as a young skateboarding kid, but also just the idea that someone would literally take me into their home. I mean, they had every reason to not trust me. First of all, I was hanging out with Billy Waldman. No explanation needed. The people who knew Billy. I hope he's doing well. I haven't heard anything about him, but I hope he's doing well. But we were wild. But he basically took me into your home. He and Nancy took me in. You know, fed us or fed me. I had another friend with me. And, you know, I just have to say as you're describing your family, I can only imagine what it must have been like for Frank and Nancy to see you have your kids. Did they get to live long enough to see that Riley and your other kids were skateboarders? My dad met Riley, but my dad passed away when Riley was two. So he's the only one of my kids that he met. Yeah. My older sibling had kids, so he met two of his other grandkids besides Riley. My mom got to see some of Riley's success, but she suffered from Alzheimer's dementia, and so things slipped away. But I think that my dad would not believe that skateboarding is in the Olympics. To him, that is the top of the mountain, because he was really into other sports. He loved the Olympics. He loved watching football. He loved watching baseball. He loved when the Olympics were on. He just loved the competition element and the hype of it. And I think there was part of him that felt like, why isn't skateboarding in this? But he knew that there were so many hurdles to get through and so much more acceptance needed to happen. And I don't think he imagined whatever happened. He was a special guy. I can still hear his voice. He's a very large guy, too. I don't know if I was just smaller than. I definitely was smaller than that. He had a big presence. And I know I've told you this many times before, this is actually how we got reconnected. I sent you a direct message and said, hey, I met your parents. In fact, they took me into your home and I'm telling the truth. And you'll know I'm telling the truth because they took me a dinner and they ordered black coffee after dinner. And for years, I would order black coffee after dinner. As a kid, you're just so impressionable. These really nice people took me in. I was like, wow, this is what a really healthy family looks like. I'm grateful to have loving parents. I always did, but I didn't have the healthy family structure. So for me, it was like, oh my goodness, these people drink black coffee after this must be what healthy families do. So by the way, folks, don't drink caffeine within eight hours or going to sleep. But I still do that. But well, it doesn't seem to be holding you back individualized. But yeah, it's spectacular that this lineage of Frank to you. And I mentioned Nancy because it seems like while she might not have been at the contest and run around setting up tables and doing all that, she clearly was supportive as well. Oh, she was. I did a lot of the events too. I mean, they needed all hands on deck when it started getting big and no one was taking salaries. You know, that was the thing is that people thought like, oh, your dad's like, cashing on the skin. He never took up money for any of that. And he took so much shit. You know what I mean? He just loved it. It was for you. Well, I imagine he went to bed there. It was for me and it was also for the misfits that I surrounded myself with. And even though he was brash and he was like, you know, he was, you know, what's the word? He was foreboding and intimidating or whatever else. He did it for all those kids that were kind of lost. Like you. I mean, really like he loved that it brought them together, that he gave them a sense of self, that gave them a sense of purpose. He saw that because he was that. He really had a rough childhood. And he did everything he could through his adult life to make up for it with his own kids and with the kids that they surround themselves with. So that's, that's what he loved about it. Of course, he loved seeing me thrive too, but he loved that he created this safe space and this, this sense of community. And so my mom, my mom was, that was her thing was getting people together. Scathereings. You know, oh, we should all get together. Even, even my siblings and I, as much as we want to emulate our parents, we don't do it as much as they did and we regret that. Well, there's still time. No, we, I mean, we do, but it's tricky. We're all different areas. Sure. Yeah, the person that comes to mind when I think about your dad, I'm forgetting the movie, but there's this one Clint Eastwood movie where he lives in a neighborhood where I think it's a bunch of young, mung gangsters. El Camino. Yeah. And I just remember like there's that scene of like Clint coming out on his porch and just standing really upright. Yeah. Everything in his front is front lawn is everything super manicured and just standing there like this immense presence. And that's how I remember Frank Hawk. Yeah, but he was a total softie. That's the thing. That's, that's, you know, there was a, it was, it was all a front. Well, he was certainly very gracious. Like you, you know, you, you got, you got to see that side of him where it's just like, oh yeah, come on. We'll take you out. You want to go see Tony's place? Let's go. Like, that's not some hard ass. Well, then there's a tail end of the story to where he actually called my mom. And I think there may have been a statement or two about, Hey, this kid's 14, like he can't be in Linde Vista boys club taking the bus back to Lancaster, etc, etc. There may have been some discussion like that, but then they also paid for me to go home. Oh yeah, they flew me home. Yeah. So I think I owe you a couple hundred bucks for a Southwest flight or whatever airline it was. Well, it's, it's fun and I think important to reminisce about these people because they aren't just your parents, but they've done so much and through you. You know, I, I really think that emotions and stories are really like the equivalent of energy in humans. You know, when people talk about energy because that gets carried forward.
Music; High School (01:44:15)
Speaking of which, we share a common love of some particular music. Are you somebody who listens to music to sort of to inspire you to get amped up to go skateboard is music an important part of your life? Yeah, let's put it this way. I had a, I had a playlist for my 540 the other day. Okay. I'm going to go and fine tune to that trick and what would get me motivated and hyped to do it. You don't have to share with us what's on the playlist unless you choose to. Oh man. But was it high energy, low energy, high energy? Well, and, and some meaningful songs like New Order ceremony and see. Nice nails getting smaller because that was a song we used in one of our big skate tours and it was one of the most high energy sections of the, of the show. Gosh, there were so I can't go through all of them. I forget. I gang of four. Wait, gang for it is shit. I forgot. What is it? Oh, I find that essence rare. Fires up. So I had, I had like 10 that were just going to, if any of those played, I'm going to make it and, and I knew that it was about an hour and a half. And that's as long as I'm going to try it before I'm too tired to listening in the warehouse or you're listening in the warehouse on random. And then the song that I made it to was off of that prodigy album, Fat of the Lamb. And it's called Climatize. It's instrumental. I use it for a birdhouse edit when 411 was the thing. Well, one where these little like video newsletter type things. Yeah. Anyway. So when that song came on, I was feeling it. I made it. Fantastic. I love this because, you know, the neuroscientists in me is immediately going to say, you know, we have this brain that loves to take in information and discard other information, but paired association is so strong. And when you couple that with some sense of reward, like the making of the burial below coping as a, as early in life or making the 540 as a comeback to the, you know, the injury after the injury. And it was almost like I loved all that music, but I was indoctrinated by it through the skate parks, because that was the soundtrack to the skate. It was, it was punk music. It was sex puzzles and 999 and black flag and divo and acts and bus cocks and, you know, that was, that's what I kept hearing and that's what I associate with my best of times. It's in your nervous system. Yeah. Yeah. There's a few voices, you know, rancid and Tim Armstrong and the operation. I've operation. I've eaten. Sound system. Sound system was on that playlist was on the 540 playlist. All right. You know, Tim will be so happy to hear that and Matt Freeman, the bass player and Jesse Michaels is now playing again with Tim, lead singer of operation. Yeah, with their new, their new gig. What's the call? They had a name and then they, they, they changed it. Oh, okay. Initially, it was, well, I don't want to say because they changed it for a reason. But we know that we know they're making music. Yeah, which is amazing. Operation I was incredible. My yearbook photo for, I think two years running was the cover of Operation I because I didn't show up for the yearbook photo. Speaking of which, did you show up for yearbook photos or did you graduate high school? I graduated high school, but I didn't go to any of the events. Prom or any of the auxiliary. I didn't know. I mean, I was, I was an outcast. Like I was not. Even though I had success in skating, skating wasn't cool. And I was not homies with anyone at school, except for two other skaters. And we felt very ostracized. So, no, yeah, I did show up for the graduation because, because my mom and dad wanted to see it. Yeah, likewise, I graduated, but I could tell you more about the curbs in the parking lot of my high school than I could about anything that happened in the classroom. Oh, man, I broke so many sprinkler heads because the sprinkler heads were right next to the curb and there was a double sided curb. And so, if you board slide because I'd go there early and board slide and then I'd just like lean too far and break the sprinkler head and never got caught. What high school? Well, I went to a couple. I went to Sarah High School originally, then I went to San Diego High School, which is in North County. And then I ended up at Torrey Poynes. I got so bullied at San Diego that I requested to be transferred. Because I couldn't go. I couldn't survive there as a skater. I would have to hide my skateboard in the bushes before class and then go find it after school so that people wouldn't target me. The 80s were rough. It was like a John Hughes film. Well, for sure, it was jocks versus nerds and then skaters were not even considered in that realm because they're just going to get hammered because there were so few of us. Well, things have changed and not only have things have changed such that skateboarding is far more popular and respected. And at least one mark of that is in the Olympics, although there are other marks of respect certainly.
Promotion Of Skateboarding And Future Goals
Females in Skateboarding (01:49:28)
But a huge evolution that I've observed is when I was skateboarding as a 14 year old and close to my 20s and then took some time off, for sure. Hardly any girls, hardly any women. There were a few, like Carabeth Burnside. They got teased, ridiculed. It was hard on them. Super hard. Yeah, super hard. Now, largely through Instagram, but some other channels as well. You can see this young girl, Reese, onvert skateboarding better than a lot of grown men who have been skateboarding for decades. And then there are a number of other ones in street skateboarding and also taking really hard slams. This is a complete revision of the recent history of skateboarding. So, thoughts on that and on Reese and there are a few others. Is it Lizzie who took a really bad fall that was filmed? Broke the neck off her femur, yeah. Yeah, these are tough ladies. Yeah, yeah. I mean, when it comes back, Lizzie did the loop. She did the full 360 loop. First woman who ever did it. So, what do you think changed like that paved the way? Is it just a critical mass of females doing it? Is it that, you know, Sky Brown, you know, you? For sure, there were the pioneers, people like Carabeth Burnside and so many others. Patty Hoffman was one of the first verus skaters too, who were, they planted the seed. And then there were other women that took inspiration. I'm like, oh, girls can do this. Even though they're largely outnumbered and they get hassled for sure. And then through the street era, people like Alyssa Steamer, who paid the way for legit street skating. But then through the years, it started to become more common, more accepted, which is dumb to say, because it should have always been accepted. But the thing that really tipped the scale was when everything was leading up to the Olympics, there had to be equal divisions in equal disciplines for men and women. And suddenly there was no question of, should we have a women's event? Like, no, we have to have a women's event. Because that's how we, that's the road to qualifying for the Olympic stage. And Van's Park series to their credit, they were holding events simultaneously, not that we're Olympic qualifiers, but just their own. And they said, these events are equal across the board, equal prize money, equal attention. And I mean, it was just like, that was just matter of fact. And that shifted a lot. It really did. And now if you go to a skate park, you can see plenty of them there. Yeah, it's awesome. And like literal women, like moms, you know, there are older women that are learning how to skate. It's awesome. Not that it matters so much, but does anyone claim to be the first female to do 540 on vert? Is that sort of a known thing? That would be Lindsey Adams. Fantastic. And she did that. I'll tell you how she did that. She was trying it. So she's trying, she's trying to amctuous. She's married to Travis Pastrana. It's like the, you know, it's like the elite action sports couple. And she was trying them. She was getting pretty close. And then we did a big exhibition in Paris at the Grand Palais on behalf of Quicksilver. It was a huge event. They put a half pipe up and we did this giant show. There are thousands of people there. And it was very much. Unspoken, but expected that I was going to do a 900 at this event. I think it was, I want to say it was 2010 maybe. And, or no, like 2009. And, and, and the organizers were kind of like, okay, so we're going to do this. And then, you know, at some point. You do a 900. And I was like, I, I can't guarantee that ever. Like every time I've ever made it, it's been pretty spontaneous. And I, you know, I've set out to do it and not, I've come up short. I can't guarantee it. I'll try. I'll try. And they, they're like, yeah, yeah, okay. And so I knew the whole time that we're skating is like, okay, everyone's expecting us. So I kind of went through the motions of, of doing my exhibition tricks, you know, playing the hits and then started trying 900s. And at the same time, Lindsay started trying 540s because she was feeling that energy. And so it was this sort of not battle, but definitely we were, we were trading hits. It was like, all right, you're just doing something. Oh, you missed it. And you're going to win see. Oh, she missed it. And then I, she almost made one, like was riding down, you know, and, and then fell at the flat bottom. And it was like, oh, and then I made 900. And that was kind of the show stopper. Because like that's, they expected and everyone's going crazy and whatever. People are coming down off the ramp, knee sliding down and we're saying goodbye to the crowd and I look up and Lindsay puts her tail out. There's still people standing on the ramp. And she puts her tail out and I was like, I think Lindsay wants to try it again. Here we go. I'm on the mic now. She made it. Love it. She stole the show. Like without question, it was huge. You can look it up on YouTube. I get there. Lindsay Adams, first, first 540. It was awesome. And then she made it. And we all grabbed her and put her on her shoulders. That is awesome. It was really cool. That is awesome. Because these things are like the four minute mile as a barrier. Then people break that barrier and then other people break that barrier. I mean, I watched enough escape boarding recent years. See, like the Sky Brown thing. She's phenomenal. And she saw her family out to dinner here in Los Angeles. And with her brother and her folks are really gracious, really nice. And there again, you know, parents going to the skate park. After all, she couldn't drive herself. I think she's at that time. She was probably like nine. That's probably one of the biggest shifts too is that parents encouraged their kids to skate now. Can you imagine that when we were young? Never. No, there were so many factors telling us not to, which just made us want to do it more. Sure.
Inspiration, Kids, Bones Brigade (01:56:04)
But now now kids are like parents are pushing them into it. Get out there. Learn tricks. It's like, wait, that's not what we're supposed to be doing. But it's cool that I think with the really cool factor of all that is there are definitely people out there. And I think that's definitely people are age. I'm grouping you into my age category 47. All right. Plus enough. But that have kids and skateboarding was such a special time in our life. And then they're rediscovering it through their kids and they're skating together. And I think that's just so amazing. And then one of our age would be like, you know what? I used to do that. You're into that. Like, let's go. And then you could show your kid how to do a sweeper. I could probably do that. I don't have kids yet. But when I do, I'll show I intend on being healthy enough and to do a sweeper. People can look up sweeper. We don't have to explain it for him, but we'll lay back on you're a sweeper. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Because they wouldn't they wouldn't think to do it. No. And they're doing all these difficult flip tricks and that's not my, it's not my scene. Yeah. What's your go to on a game of skate? If you're going to really like take out the younger generation. I can do impossibles. Pretty. Pretty regularly on transition. Consistently. I knew my flat. So this is where basically you scrape the back of the it's an all a really, but it wraps around the back. The board wraps over your foot. Yeah. That's kind of my, my sneak attack on games of skate. Does Rodney Mullen get credit for that trick? Oh, yes. That's, yeah. It's a Rodney. Are you still in touch with Rodney? Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. He's somebody that certainly deserves deserves mention in the pioneering of tricks. I think he's the godfather of modern skateboarding. I think of Rodney, you and Martin Zollas Gons. That's like the guys that I'm honored drove the, um, the progression in different partially overlapping directions that set the template for a session. I learned fingertips because of Rodney. Like the first trick you saw me do. I learned that because I saw Rodney do it on the ground and I thought, well, I can't do it on the ground, but I have plenty of time in the air to do it. It's awesome. It's awesome that Stacy put you guys together. We mentioned bones brigade, but we didn't really talk about the architecture of it from the perspective of skateboard progression, but it was kind of like any good band. It seemed like there was really good chemistry. Yeah. Interpersonally, but also that there was each person had something unique. You skated the way you did Mike's gave the way he did, Stevie the way he did, and you know, Rodney and, you know, and we respected each other, but we also fed off each other. Yeah. Tommy Guerrero. Yeah. Right. Because growing up in the Bay Area, like, yeah, in fact, Tommy's gained the hills of San Francisco in those videos. Makes it look easy. Yeah. Those hills are rough. They're dangerous and they have real life obstacles like moving buses. You'll notice he wasn't stopping his top signs. So that's fantastic. We could reminisce about all these angles, but the point being that spending time with people who do similar things were the same thing, but do it differently is one of the best ways to progress. That's why I routinely fly to Texas and hang out with Peter, and another podcaster, Lex Friedman, just because they do things differently than I do. Where do you draw sort of peripheral inspiration from now? I know you see Jimmy Wilkins at your ramp quite a lot. The Phenom, Jimmy Wilkins. It's kind of eerie how good that kid is. Who else are you spending time with besides Reese? And one of the reasons I asked this is that skateboarding is unique among many sports in that a given session, a gathering to skateboard will include an enormous man and 10 year old girls. Exactly. Yes. Which is incredible. You don't think about soccer. You know, a serious game of soccer between professional soccer players. Also, it's not even that we're skating together. It's that we are communicating and influencing each other. I mean, that is like the last conversation I had with Reese was she's talking about like, are you going to try to do 540 CN? I go, yeah, I'm kind of working on it. She goes, well, I think because she saw me try once. She goes, I think you need to pull out a little more. And she was right. And she's how old again? She's 10. And I didn't even consider that because I'm just back in my mode. And I'm not taking into consideration that I don't have the snap that I had before I got hurt. And she was, I mean, that was one key to me making it. And you know, to that, but to me, that's just, that's representative skateboarding and the inclusivity of it and the diversity of it, where it's me. I'm 55. There's 30 year old pros that are at the top of the game. There are 17 year old up and comers, men, women, 10 year old girl that is doing tricks that we've never even thought of or want to do. And it's all part of the whole mix. That's really beautiful. I want to ask you about memorabilia, not a topic that I think about much, but I think in a prior conversation of ours, you mentioned something about this. So, you know, there are skateboard collectors.
Memorabilia, Autographs (02:01:18)
There are people that collect stickers, skateboards. There's a whole market and world for this. And in addition to people wanting selfies with you when they see you, I imagine there's a long history and continued tradition of people taking into account. And you know, people taking a pen, putting your hand and saying, can you sign this? Right? Because you are in this very small, but very clearly esteemed group of people where your signature increases the value of things. So, how does that work? And how does that feel? Like if a skateboarder who, you know, there are the telltale signs of who is and who isn't right. If they walk up to you and they're like, hey, will you sign this? Do you feel good about signing it? Or is that something that you refrain from? And if somebody's just merely a collector, a trader, and they're trying to build their portfolio, so to speak, you can probably also sense that. So I'm not trying to put you in the hot seat here. Well, to answer your question, through the years, I was always open to that. And I'm happy to. Especially when people are skaters or skate fans and whatnot. In the last three years, there has been this new element of resellers of people that just go by signature stuff. They have nothing to do with skating. They don't care about skateboarding at all. They just want to get my signature on an item and sell it. And they usually do it on eBay or through their own channels. That's fine. At some point, like a few years ago, I respected the hustle. These guys are, they knew that I was going to be at this event. Okay, they're outside waiting. They've been waiting for hours. I'll sign a couple of things. But in recent months, even, they have figured out how to get my flight info. Like some hacked into my actual airline accounts. Some have sources at certain airports that get the manifest and they sell the information. I found all this out because I've actually held a couple of them accountable. Because I said, look, I'm not going to sign this until you tell me how you knew I was going to be here. I have no business here. I'm here to visit family. No one knows I'm coming here. Oh, well, we saw a friend said they saw you at the Detroit airport like, no, they didn't. They wouldn't know where I'm going to anyway. Like, well, I saw it on Twitter. You didn't see it on Twitter. I'm on Twitter. Tell me the truth. There's a guy from TMZ that gets flight info and he sells it to us. Okay, thank you. But that has increased to a point where it's not sustainable. I can't. I can't please everyone. The last time I flew out of Chicago, there were about 15 people. One guy had a shopping cart full of skateboards. And they all they all bum rushed me at security before I went through security thinking that I'm going to sign stuff. I'm like, you guys, I can't. I can't do that. I'm gonna miss my flight and I can't delineate who like I'm sorry. You guys have like sabotaged yourselves. I don't know what to say. And then I went through security and there were forties waiting at the gate. They had bought tickets airline tickets so that it could be past security that they airline tickets. They're not going to use to chase this. Wow. So, I mean, when people want my autograph, but it's weird and it's intrusive and it's kind of creepy. Yeah, just tell them that a neuroscientist told you that you got to get that slob air right. And if you signed too many autographs that you're never going to get back. You're not going to get the tuck me. You're not just not going to be do the flap knee invert. You're just not going to get it. Anyway, it is. It's just a really weird thing that has popped up and other than that. And so the tricky part is when there is a public thing or a public exhibition or whatever to try to figure out who is the true. Skate fans and who aren't usually they're pretty identifiable, but it just it has ruined the experience for people who truly are the grub skating. Well, thanks for sharing that. And we won't tell everyone what the telltale signs are so that these people don't exploit them. The skateboarders, the real fans will know. They won't have to worry about whether or not they represent accurately because you just will. On the positive side, something I've been wanting to learn more about from you is your philanthropic efforts.
Skatepark Project (02:05:50)
I think Kevin Rose, who's in the tech sector was the first to mention to me that you have you guys have done some philanthropy together. And maybe you've done some with Jim Thiebo as well, the great Jim Thiebo. Yeah, well, both both Jim and Kevin were board members. Jim is the current board member of the Skateboard project. Tell us about the skateboard project. It's it's it's mine on profit and we try to develop public skate parks and under certain underserved areas, but more so by by supporting the community and giving them the resources to do so so groups that are trying to get skate parks in the area, we are the resource center for them. We'll give them advice. We'll give them funding. We'll give them our stamp of approval, and that can go a long way. And to date, we've helped to fund over almost a thousand skate parks now and seven or 800 of which are open. I mean, it's my proudest work for sure and and it's because I never I never took for granted the fact that I grew up near a skate park. And that was my home away from home. That was where I found my sense of community my sense of identity my my crew. And so many kids choose the skateboard but have no support in doing so. And so those skate parks are a lifeline. Yeah, I can attest they they absolutely save lives. There's no question. Where can people find out more about your foundation? We can provide a link. But we're I guess like that or it's a where does the funding for these parks actually come from. It comes from donations from supporters. It comes from fundraisers, some corporate sometimes funding is is funneled through us for specific regions. Like the we have a built to play a project that's in Michigan in New York. And that's funded by the Ralph C Wilson Junior Foundation. So they they give us the funding and then we have to give it to that area. But but it's easy because there's plenty of projects. And now there's an abundance of skate parks and those areas. I love it. Thank you for doing that for organizing around that is and I get to get more places to skate.
Future Goals & Aspirations (02:08:14)
I'm curious what's in the immediate horizon. Right. These days you probably have the option to say yes to things and no to things. You know, you have a family you have your skateboard career. Where do you place your priorities in terms of how to carve up your day or your week coming? What would you like to make sure that you do. Or as much of the hours of your waking day for the next, let's just say five years because if you want to extend that out, you can. But. Well, I want to be available to my kids for some foremost. And we still have one at home for the next four years. So. I will make sure that I'm available to her. And. In terms of career, I never had great aspirations like I never thought these are. This is what I want to accomplish. It was always this very. More, you know, trick specific oriented. So it was always like, I want to try this and this and this. I would like to continue skating. I don't know if I'll be able to skate at the level I'm skating right now in five years. But I know that I'll still be on the ramp. I may not be doing it in public. Trying to advocate for public skate parks doing more with the foundation. And whatever I think I think the way I prioritize my time is what will resonate the furthest and have the best impact on skateboarding in general. I do feel that I've come to a point where yes, I'm some. I'm an official ambassador to skateboarding and I want to represent it well. I want to I want to. Be fair in that skateboarding is all kinds of different things. It's not just. Ex games or Olympics or whatnot. It represents. A true culture. And. I want to. Project that as much as I can and make sure that people understand that that's also positive. And. I mean, really everything that I'm doing now is just kind of fun. I got it for the. I would say in the last. Five to ten years is the first time I've truly enjoyed. What skateboarding has provided me in terms of opportunity and what it brings to me and what it means to my family. Like I have a much better appreciation understanding for it. And these days it's just like everything's kind of gravy. It's just so fun. I can't believe I can still do it for a living. It's crazy. I'm fifty five years old and I truly ride my skateboard as a career. Like that's nuts and I wouldn't have any other way. Well, it certainly is earned and I just want to say thank you for a number of things. First of all. Thank you for going to the skate park. Thank you for picking this trajectory. Thank you for inspiring me and so many other young people and old people older people over so many decades now. Both with what you did on a skateboard and off the skateboard and including your resilience and determination to push and continue to progress to the point where you were badly injured. And then to push through that come back at least match what you did previously and I would wager that you will exceed your. Prior skill level going forward. So I want to thank you for your resilience. I know it comes from an intrinsic drive. Your love of skateboarding it just absolutely comes through. I share in some of that of course having grown up in it but not nearly as much as you. But also just your willingness to stretch out into these different areas like the video game thing or talk about X games. The Olympics because that did allow for a lot of growth and lateral movement of skateboarding. And at the same time just as you said to bring it right back to the fact that skateboarding isn't one thing. It is not like other sports it's its own sport and it's its own lifestyle it's its own thing. And we do consider you the ambassador for skateboarding and I speak for many people and I say that we're very grateful that you are because you bring that that shrewdness and that prudence to it but also that you are. That prudence to it but also that get after it punk rock spirit and the goodness that your parents you know instilled in you clearly comes through everything from the philanthropy and onward. So I can't say enough positive things and we're expressing up gratitude for your what you've done and for your time here your legacy in skateboarding but also just in the game of life is clearly cemented. So thank you. Oh thank you well hey I and I appreciate that the ethos of skateboarding shines through on your show and just your crew here clearly a lot of them come from the skateboard world. So you're you're still supporting it whether you know it or not. Thanks so much and hopefully you'll come back and we'll do it again. Alright sounds good.
Support And Social Media Interaction
Zero-Cost Support, YouTube Feedback, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, Momentous, Neural Network Newsletter, Social Media (02:13:08)
Thank you for joining me for today's discussion with Tony Hawk. If you're learning from and or enjoying this podcast please subscribe to our YouTube channel that's a terrific zero cost way to support us. In addition please subscribe to the podcast on Spotify and Apple and on both Spotify and Apple you can leave us up to a five star review. If you have questions for me or comments about the podcast or guests that you'd like me to consider hosting on the Huberman Lab podcast please put those in the comments section on YouTube. Please also check out the sponsors mentioned at the beginning and throughout today's episode that's the best way to support this podcast. Not on today's podcast but on many previous episodes of the Huberman Lab podcast we discussed supplements. While supplements aren't necessary for everybody many people derive tremendous benefit from them for things like improving sleep, hormone support and focus. The Huberman Lab podcast has partnered with Momentus Supplements. If you'd like to access the supplements discussed on the Huberman Lab podcast you can go to livemomentus spelled O U S so it's livemomentus.com/huberman and you can also receive 20% off. Again that's livemomentus spelled O U S dot com slash Huberman. If you haven't already subscribed to our neural network newsletter our neural network newsletter is a completely zero cost monthly newsletter that includes summaries of podcast episodes as well as protocols. That is short PDFs describing for instance tools to improve sleep tools to improve neuroplasticity. We talk about deliberate cold exposure fitness various aspects of mental health again all completely zero cost and to sign up you simply go to Huberman Lab dot com go over to the menu in the corner scroll down to newsletter and provide your email we do not share your email with anybody. If you're not already following me on social media I am Huberman Lab on all platforms so that's Instagram Twitter threads LinkedIn and Facebook and all of those places. I talk about science and science related tools some of which overlaps with the content of the Huberman Lab podcast but much of which is distinct from the content of the Huberman Lab podcast again it's Huberman Lab on all social media platforms. Thank you for joining me for today's discussion with Tony Hawk and last but certainly not least thank you for your interest in science.