At foo camp a few weeks back I had the opportunity to meet a true icon. His work and contributions to his craft shaped much of my youth and continue to shape youth culture to this day; however, among this crowd his work was largely unknown.
His name, Rodney Mullen. His title, Godfather of modern skateboarding.
Now, I’ve been fortunate to have met many icons in the tech industry over the years, but I’ve never fanboy’d out the way I did with Rodney.
Interestingly, from the moment we shook hands there was an immediate connection, a shared community that we were both a part of. Guards dropped and conversation flowed easily. For over an hour we found commonalities and lessons from our shared worlds of skateboarding, technology and entrepreneurship.
Many of those lessons are captured here in Rodney’s TEDxUSC talk that he delivered earlier this month.
The talk centers around lessons leaned from his nearly 40 year career as a professional skateboarder. He explores the tensions of transitioning from champion to defender and the ultimate liberation of being a has been who nobody expected much from. He talks of how the tricks (content) he developed at each step along the way built a foundation that allowed him to transition them to a new context (freestyle to street skating) and learned to embrace the ideal that context shapes content.
It’s not often that my technology world intersects with the skateboarding world of my youth yet Rodney does so beautifully here. His observations around individuality within communities and development of skills to apply in new contexts resonates well beyond skateboarding and touches on many of the fundamental ideals that shape our entrepreneurial communities.
Which is why Rodney Mullen’s TEDxUSC talk is required weekend viewing.