Ryan Logan and Steve Starobinsky: from Big Brothers, Little Brothers to Industry Colleagues


(Steve Starobinsky (11 years of age) and Ryan Logan while part of the

Big Brother, Little Brother program)

Editor's Note: This is one of the best stories in our industry! Most of you know Ryan Logan and Steve Starobinsky, but do you know how they met? You can hear more about their story in their Kid@Heart episode and read their five questions for one another here!

-Mary

First Steve has some questions for Ryan...

Steve: Ryan, what led up to you signing the documents to become a big brother? And was it what you thought it was going to be?

RYAN: I have 2 younger sisters, I always thought it would be cool to have a younger brother. I looked into it in Minneapolis, but then moved to LA.

I knew after 2 years in LA it was something I really wanted to do . . . I was away from my family, and, already had some great mentors in John O’Keefe and Arnie Rubin.

I felt it was time to give back.

Steve: Although you were never my direct report at Funrise, I’m sure people would give you updates on me? What do you remember most about our time working together at Funrise.

RYAN; Getting a call from the police that you had a party at my house while I was in HK! Ok, let’s focus on the work part . . . you immediately understood the two most important things to success in the workplace, “be a problem solver” and have a good attitude and always say YES. Smile, don’t complain, wake up happy. Steve was always like this, even before I met him at 11 years old.

Steve: When I turned 18, the idea is/was for you to sign up to be another big brother but instead you choose to help me. It was a powerful decision and has had an incredible influence on me.

RYAN: STEVE, you and I always laugh about this. The Big brother association had us sign paperwork that the relationship with them was officially over when you turned 18 years old. And, then they encourage us to get another little brother. That was just when things got harder for you, but also far more gratifying from my perspective. You really became my younger brother. I still feel responsibility to you and your mother today.

Steve: How have I changed, minus the facial chair, from that 11 year old kid you took to the arcade and hockey games to now at 35?

RYAN; Funny thing is, not that much. You have always been happy, curious, inquisitive, ambitious, a good bartender, and anxious to get outside and see the world. Besides the beard, you are pretty much the same.

Steve: What do you see in the future for me? And for us?

RYAN; You see the Retail and Toy industry changing rapidly right in front of us, even more so with the Pandemic. You will make sure you “pivot” to be relevant. I am learning some of that from you, and, enjoying pushing myself into some uncomfortable spaces that I need to change. I would expect we will work together for the rest of our lives, I know I really enjoy it.

(end of Ryan's questions for Steve)

And, now Ryan asks Steve some interesting questions....

Ryan: You had a good break to work for a company like Funrise and an owner like Arnie Rubin . . . what do you think about everyday that you learned from your time there?

Steve: I think about the customer. Arnie instilled a company culture at Funrise that made everyone from receptionist to president be customer obsessed. He showed me how you can unify a group of people on the idea that you can outwork, and outsell your competition. Treat people with respect and give everyone the time of day, never be overrated, and stay humble.

Ryan: What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?

Steve: I would tell them that everything is connected and to be as observant as possible, an insight from a decade ago could spark the next great idea in Play. I would tell them that you gotta say Yes all the time. The disadvantage of starting at the bottom is exactly what will get you the top if you embrace it with a positive attitude.

Ryan: What music are you listening to now? Why?

Steve I’ve been listening to Tobe Nwigwe recently - important music for the times done with so much style and soul. Lately I’ve been bumping my “shazams playlist” - songs i’ve shazamed from my travels especially when I’m alone at a bar. 400+ songs that range from Hall & Oats to Action Bronson to the Arctic Monkey to Roberto Carlos.

Ryan: What’s the constant message, or piece of advice you hear from Ryan?

Steve: Look the obvious is that you still think you can kick my ass and although that maybe be true I just want you to know that I have been boxing. You never let me get a big head - or rather bigger than it is. You always help me stay grounded and think through ideas and scenarios. I didn’t know this as a kid, but you were always great with the "strategic no” and didn’t chase fads in life or work. I think you helped me know that thinking and challenge the norm is a good thing when done the right way.

Ryan: If you could change 1 thing, or suggest something different for NY Toy Fair, what might that be?

I have been very lucky to go to TOKYO TOY FAIR the last 4 years. It’s a very different experience than NYTF as it’s created for both industry and consumer simultaneously. The first two days are for buyers/licensors/inventors/etc exclusively and then the last two days are when 100k+ kids+families come to the convention center and PLAY! To me this is such crash course of what happening in our industry that we need to address - content not just product is king. It gives manufacturers and marketers to create and learn from their end-consumer in realtime. Whatever needs to stay behind closed doors, will do so, but I believe we have an opportunity to evolve Toy Fair into a business playground.

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