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Azhelle is a cancer survivor, 3x patented toy inventor, Women In Toys Wonder Woman finalist, and was named 1 of the 100 most influential people in toys and games in 2020. After 10 years in the industry, working for companies like Toys R Us, Party City, Horizon Group USA, and Creative Kids, this entrepreneurial spirit took control of her own destiny and became the Founder and President of The Toy CoachTM. Azhelle launched The Toy CoachTM to help inventors and entrepreneurs develop and pitch their BIG toy ideas as smart and as fast as possible.
Her podcast, Making It in The Toy Industry has become an industry known resource to teach inventors & entrepreneurs how to keep their toy and game ideas toyetic, cost-effective, and to answer buyer needs.
When she’s not helping aspiring toy people break into the toy industry, Azhelle enjoys salsa and bachata dancing in New York City, sewing colorful sequin costumes, and game nights with her boyfriend.
Guest Links and Info
thetoycoach.com and contact her on LinkedIn. @TheToyCoach IG and Tw
Links to episode mentions:
- Recommended book: The Art of The Click
- Favorite games:
- Throw Throw Burrito (Dodgeball Card Game)
There are many ways to get in touch with Professor Game:
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Full episode transcription
Welcome to Professor Game Podcast, where we interview successful practitioners of games, gamification and game thinking, who bring us the best of their experiences to get ideas, insights, and inspiration, to help us in the process of getting the students to learn what we teach. And I’m Rob Alvarez. I teach and work at IE business school in Madrid, where we create interactive and engaging learning materials. Want to know more, go to professorgame.com/subscribe.
Start on our email list and ask me anything! Engagers, we have a different guest today, but before I introduce you to Azhelle, are you prepared to engage?
Oh yeah, I’m ready to engage.
Let’s do this. Did I do a decent job with your name as yet Azhelle?
I was gonna say it’s Azhelle,
Azhelle alright, I’m getting a little bit better.
Azhelle (1m 0s):
Rob (1m 0s):
So Azhelle is a cancer survivor. She is a three times patented toy inventor, women and toys wonder woman finalists, and was named one of the 100 most influential people in toys and games in 2020. How exciting is that? Because after 10 years in the industry working for companies that go from Toys R Us, Party City, Horizon Group USA and creative kids, entrepreneurial spirit took control of her own destiny and became the founder and president of the Toy CoachTM. Azhelle launched the Toy CoachTM to help investors and entrepreneurs develop and pitch their big toy ideas as smart and as fast as possible.
Rob (1m 40s):
And her podcast Making it in the Toy Industry has become an industry known resource to teach inventors and entrepreneurs, how to keep their toy and game ideas toyetic. So that’s a concept we’ll be talking about today. Also cost-effective and to answer buyer needs. When she’s not helping aspiring toy people break into the industry. She enjoys salsa, bachata dancing in New York City. Sewing colorful sequin costumes, I’m not sure I’ve never heard of sequin costumes and game nights with her boyfriend.
Rob (2m 13s):
So Azhelle. Is there anything that I miss from that intro?
Azhelle (2m 16s):
No, you got it all. I was surprised. I was like, wow, that was a lot about me now.
Rob (2m 21s):
So many interesting things, so many topics we can go into, but before we get into specific topics Azhelle, what does a regular day for you look like?
Azhelle (2m 30s):
Ugh, it’s so different now. I kind of, because I feel I’m your first toy person on this podcast. Right? I kind of want to give you an example of what it was before I left my job, because I feel like people might be interested in that even more and then what it is now, does that sound good?
Rob (2m 45s):
Absolutely amazing. Okay.
Azhelle (2m 47s):
So before I left the last toy company I worked at, I was the VP of Brand and product. And every day I would come in and I would kind of just like plan out the day. I had a team there of three brand managers in the US and then we would manage our counterparts in the China office. And every day I would kind of meet with my boss, who’s the CMO of the company. And we just talk about what our plans were for the week and for the month. And then, and those plans were usually like, what buyers are we presenting to?
Azhelle (3m 18s):
What kind of products are they looking for? And what do we have in our lineup that can match those needs? And if we have something that’s like a little bit different, do we have time to adjust it more so it can match the buyer’s needs? So that’s what we would talk about all morning and kind of like, you know, research together. What’s out there, what’s new for the day. And then we would plan our plans and then I’d go back to my team. And I would say, okay guys, these are your action items. We’re going to like, you know, I need you to design like three more craft kits that focus on clay. And then we’re going to recoup and, and meet later on and brainstorm on ways we can make those unique.
Azhelle (3m 51s):
And my day would really just be filled with sketching products, working with freelancers, making other products and testing samples from China, things that I’ve made already. And I’m just approving and testing samples. And a huge part of my day was approving packaging. Artwork for things that were about to ship. So reviewing safety warnings on the product, but also reviewing just to make sure that the model images were edited correctly. So it was just touching toys all day long and working with a really smart and great team that I put together while I was there.
Azhelle (4m 22s):
So that was a lot of fun. And that’s what my career has kind of been like for the past three years until before I started the toy coach.
Rob (4m 29s):
Absolutely. And now that you are the toy coach, what are your days looking like?
Azhelle (4m 35s):
Oh, they’re so different. So now that I’m the toy coach and working from home and starting your own business every day when I wake up, it’s so exciting. I mean, now I have clients and those clients have all different needs. Some of them want to start product lines. Some of them want to just increase their online presence. So my day might be looking at their calendar and their plans and making sure I use the app, click up to organize all of my clients and client work. And I just kind of organize like what’s due when, and what’s our timeline to get this product ready by this show.
Azhelle (5m 8s):
And aside from that, I’m also doing podcast interviews like this and working with my VA to make sure that all of my podcast episodes are uploaded and have the right toy information and the right hashtags. So they reach the right toy people. And then the backend of my day is usually a lot of client meetings and sometimes like lawyer meetings to talk about NDAs. And if I’m talking to my clients, it’s to talk about what products we’re going to be developing and what freelancers we’re going to be using to create the 3D files of the characters and what factories are we going to use to try to do our first run?
Azhelle (5m 43s):
So it’s been a lot of fun. It’s a huge mix of product development, but also marketing and PR. And it’s just been really exciting. And, Oh, not even to mention my digital course, I just launched. Toy Creators Academy. So a part of my day is like messaging those students and making sure they’re good with the new module and do they need help and stuff like that.
Rob (6m 4s):
Wow. So many things going on all around creation and coaching people for creation, that sounds absolutely amazing as well.
Azhelle (6m 12s):
It’s really fun. It’s a lot, it can get stressful, but it’s also really rewarding because you’re building something for yourself.
Rob (6m 19s):
So stressful and rewarding. This, this is a very good segway for our typical question. Then we always like to dive in because we know you’re doing fantastic, amazing things, but there’s also so much to learn both from, you know, your not so superhero side, I knew your human side, but also from those times where, you know, things didn’t go as well as we had planned. So one of those fails or first attempts in learning, can you talk to us about a story about using your Toyetic approach and you know, maybe things at least initially didn’t go as you expected, how did you maybe take it from there?
Rob (6m 52s):
How did you improve it? What did you do? We want to be sort of the, at the ground level, whether you want to live that story.
Azhelle (6m 58s):
Okay. Okay. I mean, there are a lot of them, there are so many, there was this one time that’s coming to mind and it wasn’t really that big of a deal. But at the time I think it was probably the biggest mistake I’d ever made in my career. And I felt horrible about it.
Rob (7m 17s):
It’s one of those ends of the world, not really the end of the world. Right?
Azhelle (7m 20s):
Yeah. Really, really wasn’t. But yeah, at the time it felt like I’m so stupid. Like, what am I, how am I, what am I doing? And like, yeah, it was awful. So I was working on a brand and I was developing like a jewelry kit and the jewelry kit came in like this flower, this tin that was shaped like a flower. So there’s a flower-shaped tin. And it had a, a graphic on the outside of it. And I, the overachiever not only wanted to update all of the jewelry and the charms that were inside of this tin.
Azhelle (7m 52s):
I also wanted to update the graphics on the outside, because I was like, you know, these graphics, don’t go with the new style guide look. And I think I can do it better than it used to be like last year. So I wanted to update it. And I was managing a design designer at the time and I had her update the artwork and we were just juggling so many projects at a time that I went and I looked at the artwork and approved it on a screen instead of like printing it out to scale, putting it on the tin and really looking at it. Right. Big mistake. So, so the sample came and it looked terrible.
Azhelle (8m 27s):
I was like, mortified. It like, I don’t honestly, like right now I’m thinking about it. I think this, so there was a graphic on the very top of the flower shape of the container. And there was a graphic along the side. So it was like a, it would go along a curve and they were completely different scales. So imagine like they were hearts, let’s say one of the hearts was like two inches big. And then on the side of the container, the same pattern hearts were like half an inch big. Like it looked like a hot mess. And I was like, Oh my God, this looks terrible.
Azhelle (8m 57s):
So immediately I messaged the factory who had been working with on several projects. And I was like, this is unacceptable. I was like, I’m sorry, but this doesn’t look good. We need to redo this. Why would you send this to me? Like, you know, this didn’t look right, like what’s going on. And they wrote back to me and they were so upset because of the way I handled the email one. And then two, they were just upset because they’d gotten approval. You know, they’d gotten the approval of a digital file and they, and they didn’t, and it was, it costs them a lot of money to create the film that would print this graphic on the flower tin container.
Azhelle (9m 32s):
And while the account that I was working for, made a lot of money and gave them a lot of sales still, that was part of their profit that I’m now asking them to take on because I needed to make a change. So they had sent me this long message about how expensive it was to fix and that it should, you know, they had approval and blah, blah, blah. And I felt that I had to go to my boss and tell him like, what was going on and ask for advice and guidance on how to handle it. So I did that, but I felt mortified.
Azhelle (10m 4s):
And I also felt like, Oh, this is it. This is the end of my career. I was like, I’m done no longer the toy industry. Cause they even mentioned how much it costs their factory to do this change. And like all this stuff, I felt horrible. I felt so guilty. And I talked to my boss about it and he was super chill. He was like, he’s like, that’s really not that big of a deal. He was like, you know, he’s like, they’re going to act like that because yeah, it’s their livelihood and their money. And they don’t like having these changes, but here’s what you say.
Azhelle (10m 34s):
And he kind of just told me how to approach it to be kind and gracious, but also offered to pay for like half of the fee of that. It would take to redo it. And in the end, like they were able to fix it and everything was smoothed over. And we ordered like the items sold really well. So we ended up doubling the order and everything was okay. But I think that experience definitely was one of those experiences you have as a product developer or where you stop and you say like, I need to slow down and I need to make sure before I tell somebody something’s approved, that I really believe it’s approved that I’ve printed it out, looked at it to scale, sat with it for a day instead of just trying to rush the process.
Rob (11m 13s):
Absolutely. And that is actually a very, very good idea because I mean, it’s, it’s true that sometimes time is of the essence. It’s, it’s very, very, very important for, for some clients that even for ourselves, sometimes you just need to sit down with it for a while. Sometimes it can be a day. Sometimes it can be a few hours, but, but you do need to sit on it for a while. I’m sure many have gone to their classes rushing as well, many, many listeners and you know, something was not as prepared as expected and what could go wrong, went wrong.
Rob (11m 44s):
And that’s where we need to be. You know, sometimes we can improvise and we do, we do quite a lot, but you know that that’s, those are the kinds of situations you don’t want to find yourself in. And I think it’s a key lesson there. And Azhelle, we’ve talked about how many of the amazing general things that you’ve done, but we want to have to sit in a story with you as well of hearing how this Toyetic approach helped somebody. Right. Or somebody’s got some success through it, whether it’s you, one of your clients, we want to be there with you. We want to be in one of those sorts of proud moments, with Azhelle, the Toy Coach.
Azhelle (12m 17s):
Oh yeah. Oh, thank you. So there is this time that I, my very first item that got patented is it was called zip screens. And I was so proud, so proud of that moment. And I think looking back on that time is how I came up with my process for developing creative ideas, which I go into in-depth in toy creator’s Academy because what happened with that product, it actually started with a failure.
Azhelle (12m 47s):
At first. The company I was working for really wanted to go after, you know, the screen printing market and get into that, you know, that category a little bit more. So I was looking at what’s what was available in the market and how it was being used. And then the complaints that people were having about the product. And I was looking at what was going on socially in the world at the time there had been the recession and everyone, we were coming out of the 2008 recession. So there were a lot of marketing campaigns about being like a maximista and like, you know, being a girl who can look great on a budget and stuff like that.
Azhelle (13m 22s):
So I had this idea and I worked it out with my boss at the time and we’d built this thing called brief fashion. And it was a screen printing line that was based around this concept of being like our recessionista or something like that. And that was our proposal for how to develop this product for this company. And when they saw everything, like, I mean, I made like a color catalog that looked like a teen Vogue magazine. We made renderings of, we actually made a 3D model of the screen printer, the screen holders for the tee shirts.
Azhelle (13m 57s):
And we got all the pieces for the paint and the squeegee. And like every, the whole nine yards, we like built the whole thing and they saw it and they were like, you know, it’s good, but it’s not great. And it’s not different enough. And then we sat down with like everything we’d researched. I mean, we’d been working on it for like, I’d say two, maybe three weeks. And you know, so I’m sitting down, I felt like a huge failure. And then we go back and my boss was like, let’s just take a break. And I was like, no, we’re not taking a break. We need to think about this now. And we came to the realization.
Azhelle (14m 28s):
We’re like, okay, well, what’s wrong with it. It’s not different enough. And then we’re thinking like, could there be an easier way? Like how could you make spree screen printing easier? So combining everything that we had done and the research we created with this idea of making screen printing easier, we just sat down and we started having all of these ideas like, well, what if it was like a one time use thing? What if there was a way that you could squeeze it out of a packet, like ketchup. And then like, we literally just had like a 10-minute conversation that resulted in the idea of basically having a styrene sheet and then having like a piece of like a plastic packet of paint attached to the top of it.
Azhelle (15m 10s):
So you could like peel back the plastic top and then squeeze the paint onto the shirt or the screen or whatever you’re doing. And the styrene on the back of the piece of plastic on the back would let you spread it out. And then I ran and made a breadboard. Mock-up using materials in the office and we videotaped it and it worked and people loved it. It was, it went over so well with the CMO and then the buyers. I mean, that was an awesome item, so proud to have worked on it. And that’s something that helped me to realize what my creative process was and what a really strategic creative process could be.
Rob (15m 45s):
Absolutely, absolutely. And talking about the creative process, because that story was very interesting. And of course, you, as, as you said, at the start of the interview, you are our first toy guest. And I think it’s a very interesting space to explore. So we would like to know, of course, you have an Academy to talk about this and I’m sure in, you know, five, maybe 10 minutes, it’s not something you can get completely into all the details through, but can you, can you give us an idea of what this process looks like for again, for creating toys or using toys to approach other problems, the Toyetic principles that you mentioned?
Rob (16m 18s):
Like, what does that look like? We want to, we want to take some, get some takeaways from that, if possible.
Azhelle (16m 22s):
Yeah. Like the basis, like something that I’m actually gonna start posting a little bit on my Instagram is toy math. And I explain toy math more in my course, but like, you can use the idea of toy math anywhere. And the idea of toy math is just like, okay, what if I do monopoly plus the Simpsons? And then you get like the Simpsons licensed version of Monopoly, but you can do that with anything. And there are different categories and themes of things that I teach people to add and subtract to make new ideas.
Azhelle (16m 52s):
But at the very basis of it, you can add to existing toy ideas together to spark innovation for something new. And it’s not that when you add two things, like one of the fun things I like to do is like, okay, there’s a game out there called Throw Throw Burrito. And that game was the result of, I think, one car, a classic card game parlor game plus Dodge ball. And you could say that the idea of like a card game plus Dodge ball, like what could that be?
Azhelle (17m 22s):
And that could inspire you to think further and develop that idea more. So it’s really just about changing the way that your mind thinks and getting you, and forcing your mind to think of solutions to odd combinations is one of my processes. And that’s what I really want to find something unique. But then aside from that, the other side is just absorbing the good content, like absorbing the right content to fuel your ideas. Everybody always talks about like, you know, people are on their phones too much and social media too much.
Azhelle (17m 53s):
And you know, there’s too much content out there, but you can filter your social media so that you’re getting good content and valuable content to solve whatever creative problem you have. And to do that, the most important thing to do is first state your problem, state, what you want to solve. Like I want to develop a board game for, you know, children with learning disabilities. So what you’re going to do then is absorb a lot of good content about learning disabilities and struggles parents have with kids that have learning disabilities.
Azhelle (18m 23s):
And then you’re going to absorb a lot of content around board games and watching people play them. But then you’re also going to absorb content completely separate from the toy industry like books and poems, and that has nothing to do with the world of toys. And then it’s all about how you strategically go back. You give yourself a break, but then you go back and you try to match all of those things together. And you can use toy math to do that. Or you can use mood boards to do that, or sketch out different ideas, or just write out different ideas and different combinations of things.
Azhelle (18m 53s):
But it’s all about intentionally gathering, good content, and then intentionally mixing up all of the information that you’ve gathered. And then when you see something like how could a card game combined with Dodge ball, not writing it off, throw, throw burritos, this hugely popular game in the toy industry. And, you know, you might initially say like dodgeball and cards can’t mix, but they can, you just have to figure out how. So I think it’s all about assuming that once you do the research and you decide I’m going to combine these two really weird things, don’t just think that’s never going to work.
Azhelle (19m 26s):
I think there is a way for that to work and I’m about to figure out what it is.
Rob (19m 30s):
Interesting. Interesting. It’s a way, to delve yourself into that creative process. I think it’s a great way to gather inspiration. And you’re talking about it’s, it’s interesting to talk about this from, from that completely different perspective, in the sense that for, for a, a typical guest in this podcast, most of the things that you mentioned are, are games, right? So, so they are also considered toys and especially board games. I like it, I had never thought of that. Like literally it’s, it, it struck me.
Rob (20m 1s):
I was going to say, well, but that, those are, those are games. And it’s like, well, yeah, but there were toys as well, essentially toys. Yeah, absolutely. They could they’re there, they’re there there’s, especially in the, in the board games and the card games, they are, there are well, they’re toys as well. And there are many things you can do with him. So it was an interesting thought that just came in the middle of, of, of this discussion. And it’s, it’s also very fulfilling to see somebody take it from a completely different perspective. I think we can, we can get a lot from that.
Azhelle (20m 28s):
Yeah. Thank you.
Rob (20m 29s):
Just a quick break before we continue with this episode, if you’ve been enjoying this podcast, I would really appreciate if you share it with your friends and family and on social media. On Twitter and Instagram, it’s @RobAlvarezB and the hashtag #ProfessorGame, all one word. And on Facebook, you can find the Professor Game page, thanks in advance for your engagement. So, Azhelle, what do you think? I mean, we just talked about your, your process, right? So when you’re thinking about this, you mentioned your, your toy math, you mentioned also sort of gathering inspiration from both, you know, the exact thing you’re looking to do, but also from the outside, is there sort of a best practice, something that you say, well, when you’re in this creative process, also think of this or include this?
Rob (21m 14s):
I dunno, like any, any, I don’t want to call it a silver bullet, definitely. But is there something like that, that you would mention like a best practice?
Azhelle (21m 20s):
Yeah, for sure. I would say the four Toyetic principles, if you go to, Oh, it was my second podcast episode. That’s how important I thought this was when you’re it’s true. I analyzed one of the best selling licenses of all time. And that was the Power Rangers and came to these four guiding toyetic principles that you can follow or use as a checklist. Like when you think you have a toy or game idea and you’re like, this is it, it’s perfect.
Azhelle (21m 50s):
But maybe, maybe it isn’t, maybe there are more levels. Maybe you can go deeper with it. So if you look at these four principles and you look at your product or your concept, and then maybe you can apply these and make your product even better. So number one is distinct character personalities. So a good Toyetic property has a really developed backstory, like Power Rangers. Where are these characters from? What are their motives? So making sure that are distinct character personalities, make sure that kids can have an opportunity to connect with someone on a level.
Azhelle (22m 24s):
That’s maybe it’s a pink ranger. Like that’s my favorite color, or maybe she’s blonde. And Oh my God, I’m blonde like really distinct character personalities that give kids an opportunity to connect personally to the characters in your toy or in your game. Even if your game is like Candyland, like maybe they connect with the King of candy land, you know, like just making characters that are relatable to kids. The second principle would be scalability by theme, if your Toy or game ideas great, like monopoly, you can apply any theme to it.
Azhelle (22m 56s):
And the essence of the game remains and gets maybe even becomes even better. So if your idea isn’t expandable that might make, give you pause and say, how can I make this idea more classic or this game concept more classic so that multiple themes can be applied to it. There’s this game called don’t step in it by Hasbro. That was actually an inventor game. And there’s a don’t step in it, dog version, which is the dog poop. It’s like very basic, or I think, I don’t know if it’s dog poop, actually, it might just be poop in general, but there’s also a llama poop version and a unicorn poop version because it’s scalable by themes genius.
Azhelle (23m 33s):
It’s a genius game. So that’s what you want. Number three is character-specific accessories. So you want to have a product that is enhanced by the accessories and accessories to relate back to the world that these characters live in. So going back to like the Power Rangers, they all had swords they all had vehicles and weaponry that they used to fight with and it all enhanced their character play. So that made the property more toyetic because there were more pieces that you could beat, you could sell to kids.
Azhelle (24m 4s):
Like maybe the action figure comes with little mini weapons, but maybe you have a Lifesize sword or something for a kid to purchase. So if you can dive into the accessories of your character, you can develop your toy line even more. And finally, the fourth one is surprise conflict. And this one I think, applies really well to games. Does your toy or your game introduce either a villain or some sort of surprise conflict to keep the play exciting and engaging and in Throw Throw Burrito that is like the card that basically tells you to go play Dodge ball.
Azhelle (24m 40s):
So you want to make sure you incorporate like surprise elements that so that the gameplay isn’t just like boring, like the same thing over and re repetitive, you know, you want something that’s going to shake things up and change everything even if only for one or two turns or for 10 seconds to keep the kids engaged.
Rob (24m 60s):
Absolutely. So those four principles, let me see if I got the four of them. Right. So the first one is to make sure that it’s sort of expandable, right. That you can go. And if there is a theme that can be expandable, I’m not sure if that was the first one, but yeah,
Azhelle (25m 13s):
The first one was the character personalities.
Rob (25m 15s):
Right? Great personality. You’re right. So the first one is character personality, something that everybody can identify with. So having them have very specific things. So, you know, those specific things can, can be relatable in one way or another. The other one was, and again, I’m not sure if it was the second one, but I did remember this one very, very much was the ability for it to expand because you’re thinking maybe of having some sort of franchise right. In the end, it becomes something that everybody else does and sort of copies you in a good way as well. So those are, those are two of the principles.
Rob (25m 47s):
And the important thing here is when I was listening to you Azhelle. I was, I was thinking sort of what’s the perspective of that this could have for, you know, as well for gamification as well, when you’re creating something for education, it was sort of my, my, my mind was, was sort of going on. And I was thinking like, well, in a class, how do you do these things? Maybe you tell your story. Maybe you include something that can be played with so that students can relate to them and can see the story and can see themselves related to that character. Like, Oh, there was, it’s not like you’re teaching high school students and say, Oh, this high school student was blah, blah, blah.
Rob (26m 20s):
Maybe it’s something that is a bit more subtle, so they can feel that you know, it kind of gets into them. And that way they can relate to the characters as well as thinking, well, you can use this, maybe that you’re creating and you can use it in your class, but maybe how could that be created? Is it possible to use the same theme, the same things in other places as well in other classes and other schools as well, other universities, if that’s the case, what was, I think there are, there are so many to expand on and I don’t want to sort of take that time away, but can you sort of recap very, very quickly those, those four principles while we keep them write them down if that is the case hit, pause and write?
Azhelle (26m 55s):
Yeah. Yeah. And I do agree too, with your scalability by theme was one of mine. They’re expandable, I wonder if there’s a way to gamify teaching in that maybe you theme the courses, you know, to whatever trend is popular. Like, is it unicorns? Is it llamas? You know, can you take your course and just theme it for the week? Or, you know, there could be a lot of things like that anyway. Yes. But the four guiding Toyetic principles are character personalities, one. Two: scalability by theme. Three: character-specific accessories and four surprise conflict.
Azhelle (27m 32s):
And you can definitely put surprise conflict into education. But I mean, maybe it’s more like surprise reward instead of surprise conflict, you know,
Rob (27m 41s):
There are all sorts of things. I agree. And of course, you can gamify a class. There’s we’ve had, like, I think it’s, it’s the previous week we had a guest, which you definitely should listen to, which is called Michael Matera. He’s actually,
Azhelle (27m 52s):
I was listening to that episode.
Rob (27m 55s):
There you go. So Michael Matera is also an author of the series of it was started, I think by Dave Burgess, it’s called teach like a pirate. So his is explore like a pirate and there’s another one by Quinn Rollins, which is called play like a pirate. So it’s all about using toys as well for teaching. So, you know, there’s, there’s also read that you, I mean, I’m sure you benefit a lot from that series. And Michael Matera is a, he didn’t mention it that much this time, but he’s pretty much a geek of board games. I’m sure you’ll, you’ll appreciate him.
Rob (28m 25s):
And he has a podcast as well. So, you know, all sorts of things that we can sort of go back and forth. And I think it would be very, very interesting and talking about recommendations I gave, I gave out quite a few and I think there’s, there are so many places where we sort of intermingled between the toy and the game industry. And I would like to know what would you say? And this is going to be a difficult question for you. What would you say is your favorite toy?
Azhelle (28m 48s):
Mm, right now, or like when I was growing up?
Rob (28m 51s):
Well, whichever you want to pick
Azhelle (28m 54s):
I’m into games right now. Actually. I’m very much into games, I guess. Cause I’m older and I like to connect with people, but also my boyfriend works for a games company, so he has a lot of games and he brought that over here. So right now we’re at kind of a, I don’t want to say we’re obsessed, but we are playing the mind a lot, which is like a, it can be a single player. Can, Oh no, it can’t be a single player. It’s a two-player game, but it just has one deck of cards. But I also really enjoy villainous the game.
Azhelle (29m 25s):
Have you heard of that? So villainous is like so fun. So they made a game, a board game around Disney villains and they’re like releasing all of these different iterations of it. So you can like beat Ursula, you could beat Jafar. And then it’s very complicated. Like the person who made this as a genius, but every time you play, it’s like a new game. Cause you get a card that tells you like what your goals are for the game. As like, as your character and whoever you’re playing against, they have completely different goals.
Azhelle (29m 57s):
And so as you’re playing the board game, like you kind of have to learn each character’s motivations every time you play. So every time you play, it’s a kind of a different game. And some of the cards you could say are harder than others. Some are more luck-based. Some like some characters have more luck-based motivations and some don’t, but I love that game just because of how varied each time you play it is. But also because I get to pretend that I’m a villain. So
Rob (30m 22s):
That sounds a lot of fun. I haven’t played it. Maybe it should go up on my list. We talked about recommendations. You just recommended a couple of games. That sounds absolutely fantastic. And you talked about Michael, that you heard that episode. Is there, you know, listening to these questions, like feeling a bit of the vibe of the podcast, is there somebody that comes to your mind like, Oh, I would like to listen to this person talking about these topics and in professor game.
Azhelle (30m 48s):
Yeah, for sure. I think I don’t tell him this, but I would really like you to interview my boyfriend. I don’t know how he’ll feel about that. Don’t tell him, I told him I won’t tell him, but I’m very curious cause he, so he works at a games company and does party games. So I’d be really curious if he had to apply that to education, what his insights would be.
Rob (31m 9s):
That would be very, very interesting for sure. And talking, you know, continuing this rage of recommendation’s, is there any book that you would recommend, like say you, you know, you’re listening to this audience being interested now as well in toys was interested in games and how to apply that in different sort of situations. And again, it could be related or not related. It could be, you were talking about getting inspired by a violin or whatever. So any book that you recommend for, for this audience to, to read them and of course a quick why.
Azhelle (31m 38s):
Yeah. Oh, there’s a couple I’m torn between two. When I’m picking one, I’m going to pick the art of click. I love the art of click. It’s called the art of click, how to harness the power of direct response copywriting. I think this is really relevant because I know a lot right now, a lot of your listeners are probably teaching virtually and maybe for who knows how long and the art of click. It is a marketing book and it is about digital marketing and making sales, but the psychological lessons inside of it, how to get people engaged and how to get people wanting to click and to continue on, I think could be really relevant into getting kids to want to learn by tapping into whatever they’re interested in, you know, psychologically to, to get them, to keep reading, to get them, to keep clicking through, through your lesson plan and your course idea and whatever.
Azhelle (32m 33s):
So yeah, I think the art of click is a great book. I’m honestly, I’m still reading it cause I’m the type of person who kind of skips around a little bit. So I’ve like read all of one part and then I skipped to the next part. I’m like, no, I need this chapter. But yeah, I love that book. It’s great.
Rob (32m 47s):
That sounds like a fantastic recommendation and we’re, we’re thinking, you know, when we’re talking about games, gamification and these strategies, it also has a lot to do with sort of behavioral science motivations and these things. So it definitely makes a lot of sense. And Azhelle, what would you say is your superpower and this in this toy industry and games and all these things, where is your sweet spot? What do you feel you do great and probably better than the rest.
Azhelle (33m 13s):
Oh, I think I am an excellent motivator and I’m just kind of a bit of a doer. And in regards to that, I think people find me very, very motivating. And I think it’s because I fearlessly, do. You know if I have an idea, I just do it and then I encourage people. I’m like, yeah, you can do this too. Like, I didn’t do anything, you know, magical that you can’t accomplish. I’m just taking the risk and giving it my all.
Azhelle (33m 44s):
So I think people have told me that that’s really inspiring to them and it seems to be my superpower because it’s the thing I try the least at and it just keeps happening. So
Rob (33m 55s):
That sounds like a superpower for sure.
Azhelle (33m 59s):
Rob (33m 59s):
So if we are to continue this conversation, there’s, I think there are many paths that you have set us by, but where could we find more about you? Like if there’s one, maybe two places where we can find more about you, whether that’s social media, your webpage, your course, where can we find more about Azhelle is in of course if there’s any final piece of advice you want to leave us before, at least for now we say it’s game over
Azhelle (34m 21s):
Mhmmm I think you should definitely, if you want to learn more about the toy industry and me at the same time, you want to listen to my podcast and you can just go to Making it in the Toy Industry.com and there’s a website all about my podcasts. You go there and you’ll, you’ll just get all the episodes. And I say, you can learn about me cause sometimes in those episodes, I’ll talk a little bit about my life as an entrepreneur, but also just tell you a ton about the toy industry. So that’s probably the best place to start.
Rob (34m 50s):
Great. So Azhelle, thank you very much. Thank you for, for, you know, investing this time with us today, with the engagers, with this audience and giving all those value bombs, all of your experience in the toy industry, it’s been at least for me, very exciting to have you here and talk about a different topic and see how that can intermingle as well and how, you know, toys. Some games are also toys and so on. And so I want to heartfelt thank you as well for being with us today. However, at least for now and for today, it is time to say that it’s game over!
Rob (35m 22s):
Engagers! It is fantastic to have you here because this podcast only makes sense because of you because you’re here. So why don’t we connect on Twitter? That way you can, you know, let me know of any thoughts you’re having. What would you like to have as a guest? If you have questions, what can we help you with in general? So you can find my Twitter account and professorgame.com/twitter. I’m always sharing content on gamification as you know, especially around education. And before you click continue, go ahead and subscribe using your favorite podcast app and listen to the next episode of Professor Game.
Rob (36m 1s):
See you there.
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