He was one of the first professional skateboarders. Then, he became an entrepreneur and pioneered the sport and industry of his profession with Powell Peralta skateboards. Building Powell Peralta skateboards, he started making skateboarding movies for the Bones Brigade skate team and ultimately became a renowned filmmaker. In the last decade, he directed Dogtown and Z Boys, Lords of Dogtown, Riding Giants, and Crips and Bloods: Made in America and dozens of TV commercials. About a week and half ago, during what would typically be a normal Wednesday night meeting, Stacy Peralta came and rocked our world, man.
Peralta had relatively no formal education, but he invented his own success by leveraging his passions and talents.
Growing up in Dogtown, a slum beach town adjacent Venice beach, high school provided only another fence to climb over for Peralta and the rest of the Zephyr skate team. They took their passion for surfing and applied it to concrete, the endless wave. Getting chased over hundreds of fences by the owners of drained swimming pools helped them become professional skateboarders. (Watch Dogtown and Z Boys to wish you would have caused more trouble growing up)
Too many of us avoid climbing fences in life to accomplish things we really want. Fences have never stopped Stacy Peralta. After not having any formal education, he had to play the game of business at the same level as Stanford Engineering graduate George Powell. He learned to communicate because that was the only option he had to be successful. To keep the company involved in the sport, he started a skateboarding team called the Bones Brigade that would showcase Powell skateboards. He hired a film crew to make a skateboarding video of the team. Peralta didn’t like their work, so he fired them. Instead of letting the film die, he learned to make movies on his own, the way he felt they should be done. As a result, Peralta launched the career of Tony Hawk and produced perhaps the most influential skate film of all time.
Now, Peralta is a documentary filmmaker and director of TV commercials. Learning to communicate, he says, is one of the most important aspects of his success. When he is pitching his films to potential investors, he has three pages to inspire them–to convey the vision he has cultivated in himself. Being able to communicate is absolutely crucial for executing ideas. Effective communication makes entrepreneurship possible. Good communication is the basis for building great teams and executing upon great ideas.
Stacy Peralta on ideas: “Ideas change lives. Ideas are like the flu virus. They find warm bodies to attach to and live in them and grow. But, rather than living in our blood stream, they travel through our subconscious. And you have to ask yourself, am I being a good host to this idea? Don’t be afraid of good ideas, keep it to yourself and develop it over time. Embrace the insecurity of a good idea because it could change your life.”
Stacy Peralta is a great leader, a brilliant creative mind, and all around rad dude. Over time, his success has been dictated by learning the paths to pursue his passions and his willingness to communicate effectively.
Peralta’s recommendation for us: “Ask yourself what you want to see in the things you love most.” Out of this question, he found his passion and talents he could have never found at Venice Beach high school. This feels like Ghandi’s “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Peralta’s life lesson for us: Never be afraid to chase your dreams over the fences that confront you.