Iconic Tour

3 pieces of advice Tony Hawk says you should know to find success doing what you love

Tony Hawk
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk has been in the limelight since going pro at age 14. Even at 49, having built a billion-dollar video game franchise and now retired from the sport, Hawk says he makes it a priority to keep skateboarding central to his success.

"To this day, what I really do for a living is still ride my skateboard, even at my age, and that is what I really love about it," Hawk tells CNBC's "Closing Bell." "I just appreciate that I get to wake up and do exactly what I wish I could be doing."

At Wednesday's Iconic Tour in Los Angeles, presented by Inc. and CNBC, Hawk pointed out that gaining fame from skateboarding was never something he set out to do. In fact, he says when he started out, most people had to quit skateboarding to find real jobs because the sport afford any career opportunities.

Tony Hawk on success: Enjoy your work

"Skateboarding was so small when I first started, you couldn't aspire to be rich or famous from it," Hawk says. "It was more like you did it because you found something that spoke to you and you found like-minded people and you were all weirdos, everyone were kind of outcasts."

Hawk found a path to greatness, but it did not come without its challenges, as he underscored, speaking at Iconic.

Here are three pieces of advice Hawk says you should know if you want to be successful doing what you love.

Hold onto your passion

Hawk says that based on his own experience, the most important thing to have when starting a business or a career is passion.

"Passion shines through because you can keep that going," Hawk says. "Even if the thing you are trying to create fails, you can have passion for the other ventures and other products and other ideas," Hawk says.

While creativity and vision are also crucial to being successful, Hawk says your passion will be your most enduring trait.

"I truly believe that success is based off of doing what you love for a living," Hawk tells CNBC's "Closing Bell." "Financial gain or adulation or celebrity, all that stuff is incidental to truly enjoying your work, and I'm a living example of that."

Keep control of your brand

Hawk says he made his biggest mistake ever in his early 20s, when he signed away control of his name and likeness.

"They were putting it on really crappy products and terrible imagery," Hawk says, but his contracts rendered his complaints useless.

"They didn't care about integrity, they didn't care that I was a person who had to live with those choices," Hawk says.

Ten years later, when Hawk was presented with new deals, he says he learned from his mistake. It was around this time that he launched his best-selling video game franchise.

"If you give another person control or approval [of your brand], it will definitely become something that you did not envision or perhaps didn't want at all," Hawk says.

Find balance between work and family

Hawk says striking a balance between his work and home life has been his biggest challenge.

"At some point you have to stay focused on your family and you need to stay available," Hawk says.

To make the best of both worlds, Hawk says he primarily chooses projects that will allow him to include his family, but he also chooses to work on projects that will have the most impact.

Many times, this means turning down cruises, trips and Hollywood premieres, Hawk says, underscoring the power of saying "no."

"Try not to say 'yes' to every little thing because you lose yourself in that," Hawk says.

More from iCONIC:

3 lessons about success from the founder of a business driving $1 billion sales

3 things Dollar Shave Club's CEO learned about success from studying improv