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WORDS: Stu Gomez

Since the launch of YouTube 13 years ago, there’s been a growing trend of skateboarders taking the stage to illustrate how the process behind learning a trick is comparable to tackling “real world” problems. Just think of any typically complex scenario, and chances are there’s a skate analogy for it. Stuck on a hard SAT question? Go back to the basics—you have to master the ollie before you can kickflip. Want to leave your girlfriend but are afraid of a painful breakup? Visualize it—soon you’ll be rolling away before you know it. Having trouble with some tricky computer code? Better just hire Mullen for that one.

At this year’s VMworld conference (VMware for cloud solutions meets Burning Man) IBM’s VMware CTO, Simon Kofkin Hansen, talked about his own relationship to skateboarding. (It was actually a pretty cool reminder that this doesn’t have to be a young’s man game, necessarily.) Then, visibly choked up by the sheer nostalgia of it all, he introduced two of his idols to the stage. Mullen and Hawk, together… one night only-style. For anyone even remotely familiar with skating, this is a momentous occasion. The talk was called “FREESTYLIN’ THE CLOUD.” 

The title aside, this hour-long talk is well worth your time. Here’s the description from WMworld:

Catch some big air and big ideas with IBM in this exclusive VMworld session featuring Rodney Mullen and Tony Hawk – two of the most influential skateboarders of all-time. We’ll explore open sourcing the creative process, successful entrepreneurship, the never-ending quest for innovation, life as a skateboard champion and video game star, and how to keep the work fun in the face of success, failure, broken bones, and changing cultural and business trends. You might even learn how to pop an ollie…or some new tricks and methodologies to apply to your own applications and creativity. Moderated by Simon Kofkin-Hansen (skateboarding aficionado with a side job as CTO of IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions), please join us for what promises to be an inspirational and thought-provoking session with two of the world’s most respected athletes.

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