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Staying Driven: Why Skateboarding Leads to Success in Life

Skateboarding means a lot to the people that do it. Some consider it a form of art. Others see it as a sport, and many others see it as a hybrid between the two. Skateboarding will give you lifelong friends and a place to belong. All the while though, skating is preparing you for your future.

We’re not just talking about becoming a professional skateboarder. Only a few of the many skaters will ever become pros. If that is your dream, by all means pursue it. Never let anyone tell you that you cannot do it. Most professional skaters heard that at one point or another, yet they achieved the dream.

Being a skateboarder prepares you for the challenges of life in many other ways, though. Whether your family or your teachers understand why you skate or not, the skills you are learning will serve you well as you enter the work force. The ability to kickflip a six-set might not seem so beneficial in business, but having the guts to conquer your fear and go for it does. For proof, let’s consider some of the most successful of skateboarding’s entrepreneurs.

You Can’t Argue with Success

Many extremely successful entrepreneurs cut their teeth on skateboards. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg rode skateboards in their youth, as did Tiger Woods.

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Oscar-winning director Spike Jonze was one of the most well-known skate photographers in the world before he became a film maker. Actor Jason Lee was a top pro in the early days of street skating, as was Flogging Molly accordionist Matt Hensley.

Spike Jonze - Photographer / Director

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Then there are the entrepreneurs who have parlayed their connections within skateboarding into successful businesses. Keith Hufnagel was already a well-known pro skater when he started his clothing brand, Huf, which he recently sold to the tune of $63 million. Several pros, including Chad Muska and Jim Greco, were involved in founding the shoe brand Supra. Another shoe brand, Lakai, was founded by pros Rick Howard and Mike Carroll. Tony Hawk has a golden touch in business that seems like he has a license to print money. And the list goes on.

If you’ve got the time, check out this interview on YouTube where the Muska lays out how skating paved the way for his success in life.

What is it about Skateboarding?

So if all of those successful people – and many more like them – rode skateboards, what is about skating that leads to success? It’s hard not to notice the creativity that all of the most successful entrepreneurs show, which is fostered through skating. Thinking up new tricks is a part of it, but skaters also like to look good doing what they do. It’s not enough to land a trick, after all. You have to do it clean. Developing one’s own style is a huge part of skateboarding, and that level of individuality plays well in the world of entrepreneurs.

Then there is the amount of commitment that it takes to get good at skateboarding – the willingness to take risks, to fail and to pay the price for that failure in blood, sweat and pain. Those are steep prices to pay to excel at something that only seems to pay off on a personal level. Skateboarders experience the value in persistence as a part of their everyday existence. The fortitude that skateboarders develop often translates to success in business and in life.

The “Average” Skater

So at this point, you may be saying to yourself, “Okay, but how does any of this apply to me?” It’s true. Of the untold numbers of skateboarders past and present, only a handful have achieved the level of notoriety and success of the people mentioned above. But each of us can reach our own highest level, whether that means being a pro skater or an executive. The things you learn in skateboarding translate into life... if you let them.

What connects all of the entrepreneurs we’ve mentioned is that they brought what they learned in skateboarding to their non-skating ventures. Maybe those guys had a leg up because of connections they made through skating, but that just opened doors. What helped them succeed was approaching their ventures like they attacked obstacles. Not just doing something but doing it well and never accepting no for an answer. To fall is a given, but to get back up and do it again, that is what it means to be a real skateboarder.


None of us get to choose the situation that we are born into. Although many of the most successful entrepreneurs were handed the things they needed to do well in life, countless others were not. They achieved what they did through grit, determination, perseverance and hard work. It helps to have a good idea, but the commitment to follow through on that idea and never stop believing in it is what truly gives those people an edge.

Skateboarding instills a drive in people that naturally translates into success in most of life’s ventures. As they grow into adulthood, skaters lean on the parts of their nature that they got from skateboarding. The determination to scrape yourself off the concrete and go again is the same when you have to go to work even though you don’t want to. But skaters do that without complaint, because they’ve experienced the pure joy that comes from landing a trick after 50 tries. Kids who skate become better adults. So never stop skating, and stay driven!

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