(Dougal putting the 'G' in PROGRESS!)
What do you do in the industry?
Senior Director of Inventor Relations at Spin Master Games. I work with a global community of immensely talented toy and game designers to find the next big thing for our company and develop our portfolio.
What are you working on now?
I’m pretty fresh into Spin Master (Since April) so getting up to speed on our business and looking for new games for 2020 and beyond. We have just launched this fall our new games line which includes some exceptional games such as Sinister 6 (with inventor Daryl Andrews), Baa Baa Bubbles (with invention group Bang Zoom Design) and and a refresh of the world’s greatest word game UPWORDS (with inventor Elliot Rudell).
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
The business is always exciting- that’s why we do it. Board/tabletop/face to face games have had an amazing run over the past 5 years. The diversity of stories within games is breathtaking and every year there are new games that challenge both theme and play patterns. It’s also incredible that more and more non traditional game Inventors are coming into the market and challenging us to be better at building communities and engaging with them.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Ask yourself : What’s the story and the reason for being with this concept? Part of our job is to be broad and look everywhere , but if you are presenting , take a step back and think- what would this company do with this? Is it for one of their brands? Is it a new segment? Is it for a specific audience? Does it fit a trend? A little work on insights goes a long way. Communicating this story in a succinct way is also important , we don’t need a 20 page white paper on macro trends- a 60 second video to show the insights and the features is generally a good way to go.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Try everything. No one truly knows what they want, and the best way to find out is to weed out the things you don’t want. It might seem counterintuitive , but by trying everything and gradually minimizing the things that don’t ignite your passion or give you energy ...you will get to focusing your time on what truly matters.
What’s your workspace setup like?
Fairly standard office , but I have a wall of product that are products I have been involved with that each have a story and are mainly failures. I learned this from a previous colleague. He had worked for Hasbro for 30+ years and I was in his office and was bowled over by all these crazy items that I had never heard of. He then went through them and explained that they each are a lesson “you have to show your battle scars”.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Working with creatives , especially in the invention model, is incredibly inspirational. Invention is a tough business at the best of times..it’s been described like a lottery, so I have nothing but respect for people who create day in and day out. Most inventors are insatiable creatives too...many have side gigs as musicians , artists , writers or invention is their side gig. The levels of creativity and dedication is astounding.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
I once had to stand on Argyle Street in Glasgow for about 7 hours in the freezing Scottish winter , handing out samples of a new breath mint. I learned that I’m pretty good at talking to strangers and that Glaswegians prefer mango flavored mints.
How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?
Trying to occupy your mind and letting the subconscious come out always helps, going for a walk, a run or a drive always helps achieve this. Jigsaw puzzles are also good for this. Forcing connections is great - Try to bump into people and talk about your creative challenge (e.g. in the kitchen at work) can usually yield leaps of creativity.
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I don’t go enough to live stand up , but I went to the comedy cellar in NYC the other week and it was unbelievable. All very different comics and styles and I was literally crying with laughter...and we had a special appearance from Michelle Wolf!
Are you named after anyone?
I’ve never been able to get a straight answer on it being either Dougal the Dog (from the magic roundabout) or Dougal Dixon (a future zoology writer).
I’m lucky that….
I get to work with some of the industry’s best talent. Spin Master Games recently relocated to a brand new office in NYC and we have incredible people from such diverse backgrounds. I feel lucky when I sit in meetings and can learn and collaborate with great people and help shape the future of the business!