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Learn from Adversity - Never Stop Getting Better at What You Do

Bruce Lund -

Toy Inventor

  1. Just because you love it, doesn't make it great.

    We all have our own idiosyncratic interests and fascinations, that are not shared by others necessarily. Mine happens to be backhoe digger machines. Love 'em. Made toys and games aplenty based on them, and never sold one. I realized that this is just me, and doesn't translate to a topic of broad interest.

    As a corollary to this, don't go by what friends and family think. They will be strongly biased in your favor, and unintentionally mislead you. Conversely, listen carefully to any and all critical feedback, because from this you might derive benefit. One approach is to try to make things that are simply amazing, and the response is universally positive. Such things are easy to sell.

  2. Use the hard times, the difficulties to get better at what you do.

    I have been told that our games are too bizarre. We took that advice to heart, and began to create more saleable games.

    A major toy company once told us that if we didn't create the kind of products they were looking for they would not meet with us any more. That hurt, but we got focused on what they told us they wanted, and based on that created "Baby Sip n Slurp" doll, one of our greatest successes years ago, and since brought back to market. It is satisfying, and commercially viable to create products that people and companies want. If you create only for yourself, then what you create might be categorized as 'Art'.

    The consolidation of the industry at retail, and among toy companies, the bankruptcies of many of our client companies that put us under, has forced us to get better. We realize that we must be constantly seeking improvement in every aspect of our business, or we won't survive, much less thrive. And we love the challenge and the results. We have been forced to improve, and it is very satisfying to see that we have in fact improved significantly. Never stop getting better.

  3. Just because you think it is impossible, it ain't necessarily so.

    We have found that when challenged by our client companies to do something we believed to be impossible, we often can meet the challenge, and achieve new levels of competence and success. It forces us to get better at what we do, and then create a result that is amazing to us and everyone else. You need to be able to set aside your belief that something was impossible, and work diligently on the problem. One key here is collaboration with your team, and having the core abilities to solve the problem, and a client who is ready to make this a significant opportunity for you if you succeed.

    Once you set aside the belief that something cannot be done, then success becomes possible. This may seem self evident, but when faced with your belief that something cannot be done, it will not seem so obvious. Our "Tumbletime Tigger" and "TMX Elmo" were great successes that arose from a challenge that we accepted from our client company. In both cases we did what we didn't think could be done. Simply learning that the impossible is possible is very important to us, and our own vision of what we are and what we can be.

  4. Do not underestimate the power of words to define you, to guide you, and to inspire you.

    Our results and work products have improved since we changed our business name by the addtion of the word "Invention". In doing this we clarified for ourselves, and for others, that we are inventors, not designers, and our work became more purely invention, and better overall. We are pretty good inventors, but not so good as designers. Our interest and passion is in mechanism and technologies, not in aesthetics.

    Likewise, we adopted officially what had long been my unspoken mantra "We bring small things to life". With a nod of thanks to General Electric. This guiding phrase keeps us focused on a quality that our products typically have, whether doll, plush, preschool or game.

  5. Collaboration: the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts.

    Find collaborators, and learn to be a generous collaborator in order to build the kind of results you seek. Friends, co workers, vendors, clients, whomever you can draw on to challenge you, build onto your ideas, and inspire new ideas, to help you focus. Try to create a collective genius, that is more powerful than any of our single individual abilities. Great results most often come from team and collaborative efforts.

Inventors and Licensors of 2007 Toy of the Year- "TMX Elmo", and breakthrough products including TOTY Nominee "Hydrogen Fuel Rocket"; "Tumbletime Tigger" and more.

Celebrating 23+ years of service to the toy industry.

Home Copyright 1995 - 2008 Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D. San Francisco, CA
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