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Danielle is the owner of Octane Design Studios, a 13-year-old branding and identity firm based in the heart of the Bluegrass. Danielle is a creative, recently certified prompt engineer, podcaster, strategist, wife and mama of 3. She’s also a lover of Italian cuisine, chai, cosplay, comics and retro gaming.
With over 15 years of marketing and multimedia agency experience, Danielle began as a grassroots developer and curator, helping brand and launch over 150 small businesses across America; ⅔ in Kentucky.
As a third-generation entrepreneur, Danielle is an advocate of non-traditional education leading online meetups and workshops for DIY marketing. Her latest education platform Q1 Essentials is a gamified digital market cohort to help beginners enhance their digital marketing skills before the first business quarter of the new year.
In 2021 Danielle restructured and launched Kentucky Creatives an all-new Kentucky-based membership community comprised of influencers, bloggers, photographers, copywriters, podcasters and more to help connect small businesses with influencers for their brand.
As much as Danielle is passionate about providing creative services she strives to be more than just the graphics she creates. Over the years her hashtag #MoreThanGraphics has become more than just a marketing slogan; it has become a life principle for herself that she executes through storytelling and round table discussions with her co-hosts, all women of color as producer of the #MoreThanGraphics podcast.
Guest Links and Info
- Main web: www.lexoctane.com
- Podcast web: www.mtgthepodcast.com
- On Instagram as @octanedesigns
- On Facebook
- On Twitter as @octanedesigns
- Danielle on LinkedIn
Links to episode mentions:
- Proposed guests:
- Recommended book: 10X is easier than 2X by Benjamin Hardy
- Favorite game: Tetris
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Full episode transcription
Rob: Hey. This is Professor Game, 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 that help us in the process of getting our students to learn what we teach. And I am Rob Alvarez. I’m the founder of Professor Game and professor of gamification and games based solutions at Ie Business School, EFMD EBS University, and many other places around the world. And if this content is for you, then please go ahead and subscribe to our email list for email@example.com slash subscribe.
Rob: Hey. Engagers. And welcome back to another episode of the Professor Game Podcast. And we have, as always, a very special guest. We have today with us, Danielle.
Rob: But, Danielle, we need to know, are you prepared to engage?
Danielle: I am.
Rob: Let’s do this. We have Danielle Meadows Stonette. Is that a good way to say it?
Danielle: Yes. Meadows tenet.
Rob: Amazing. So she is the owner of Octane Design Studios, a 13 year old branding and identity firm based in the heart of bluegrass. She’s a creative, recently certified prompt, engineer, podcaster strategies, wife, and mama of three. She’s also a lover of Italian cuisine, chai, cosplay, comics, and retro gaming. Another reason to be here?
Rob: Definitely. And as a third generation entrepreneur, she is an advocate for nontraditional education, leading online meetups and workshops of DIY marketing, and her latest education platform, Q one essentials is a gamified digital market cohort to help beginners enhance their digital marketing skills before the first business quarter of the new year. She has a lot of stuff that she’s know. You can look at the bio definitely on Professorgame.com, you look for Danielle, you’ll definitely run into this episode, and you can see all of the stuff that Danielle is into. But of course, danielle, is there anything that you think is particularly important to make sure that we point out before we go all in?
Danielle: No, I think you nailed it practically all. I’m just super excited to be here and amazing.
Rob: Amazing. Let’s do this. So, Danielle, if we were in your shoes, if we were to be you for a day, a week, I don’t know, whatever you want to go for, what would that look like? What would that feel like? We want to know sort of there and understand you as much as we can.
Danielle: Sure. A good reflection may be a reference to a video game. Think about Wreckit Ralph. That’s a great way to kind of nostalgically think about what I do every single day. I’m picking up rubble.
Danielle: I am moving it from one pile to another and exploring new worlds. As Wreckit Ralph would say, it’s really kind of not as really a complex situation as it might be. Every day I wear a different hat. Right. I play a different character every day.
Danielle: I feel like as a mom, as a podcaster, as a person who teaches also from a business standpoint in being a CEO of a company across five countries, it’s really interesting to have that multicultural aspect and I wake up to it every single day. Ready to play.
Rob: That sounds very exciting. And talking about being ready to play, we always like to start sort of strong with this question and it has to do with failure or first attempt in learning your favorite fail moment. Of course, obviously, the better, the closer to games, gaming, retro gaming, especially if it has to do with the gamified platform that you have or how you did that. We want to be there with you because we want to take away some of the lessons. We want to take that experience that you’ve had with it and see what we can take away and perhaps use in our daily lives.
Danielle: Absolutely. What better example than our gamified cohort q One essentials. We first started this several years ago, three years ago to be exact. And when we first started this cohort, the gamification was not an element. When we say cohort, it literally is an online space where you both learn courses, but also have a community backing, if you will.
Danielle: And so I had set up this community. I had done really well, I thought. And as I slowly get further into Q One, I’m noticing my sales and my pitch and just the platform itself just wasn’t all in sync or wasn’t all saying all the same things at the same time. I really needed to go back to a level of what my messaging was. And so what I ended up doing after kind of losing a bit from Q One, was going back and restructuring it entirely.
Danielle: So I literally gutted the whole thing and decided I’m going to build it in a different way and I want to keep it gamified so that it obviously is on brand for us, but even more so we learn. And the way that I’ve built my life and my family is in around the strategy of play. And I absolutely love the fact that I can use the strategy of play to kind of help other people through figuring out and answering problems in and around digital marketing. And that’s exactly what we ended up doing as a team. It started out with just me teaching some small things, then it grew to a team of six very quickly.
Danielle: So there’s six different people teaching these courses and now it’s more than me. All of them want to play on some level, from live classes and bonus content to now kind of developing more internal relationships with these customers. Some of them have come back for multiple years now because of the way that we’ve set up those gamified spaces.
Rob: Amazing. So you had to restructure it, but I just want to dive in a little bit one level deeper in that sense, if possible. What happened? What went wrong and what did you do different? What did you change?
Rob: How did it become better? Again, we want to make sure we take some lessons from your experience.
Danielle: Absolutely. So in the beginning, it was more so of, hi, I have these courses. You should take them. Right. We always know it should be more than that.
Danielle: Okay. If anything, learn from me from that. It can’t just be putting it out there in the world and assuming if you build it, they will come. It’s not like that at all. It really is a matter of kind of finding your people, finding your tribe.
Danielle: And I had to readjust that because I really thought that my tribe was more of just the everyday eLearner that was looking to learn a little bit more in this area. And I really had to kind of niche it down to people who were practically noobs right, like people who had no common interest or even want to learn a whole lot about digital marketing. They just wanted to know the basics so that they could get through the quarter, the year, however they want to level up. So I really had to, again, know my audience. Right.
Danielle: That’s really the deeper lesson that I had to learn.
Rob: Amazing. And that’s always very important. We’d like to call the audience or the clients or the users. We like to call them players. So getting to know your players is always crucial.
Rob: Crucial. Absolutely. So that is a great lesson. And actually, how about we go now for the opposite, so to speak, a success? One of those times you went out to do something again, especially if it has to do with something gamified that would be a lot better.
Rob: That’s kind of a bonus, and it’s a proud moment. Do you want to sort of show off and say, well, this is what happened. This is what we did, and this is what we perhaps did right, or what we think we did right to get to this?
Danielle: Absolutely. So, again, I brag on Q One because this was literally just a nag. This started out as a nag, as someone who just told me repeatedly, hey, how do you solve this problem? And I just started making these small, quaint videos about how to solve digital marketing problems, and then it kind of grew. And as it grew, it started to gain momentum.
Danielle: And Danielle, just love how you break things down. I love the fact that you do like a play by play. I love the fact that you within the group bring in other gamified, community incentives, and bonus things so that other people can feel engaged or feel even more invited to take on more and new content that comes from the platform. So this is something that I’m definitely celebrating now, because now we have a whole team that actually from different parts of the world that all teach on different topics in and around digital marketing. All women.
Danielle: I love the fact that this platform has continued to grow in numbers. And I love the fact, too, that people want more from us. People actually enjoy taking the courses more than just taking it just because they want to play. People are excited about wanting to play with us. And I think that’s been such a game changer for how we started into how we are.
Rob: Amazing. Amazing. Thank you very much for that experience that you’ve had. And it’s always a pleasure to see how Gamification is actually working for all these people. Right.
Rob: And you seem to be a prime example of that. And having had this experience, Danielle, we always sort of want to get into your head of how you do it. What does Gamify look like for you? And especially, how do you build it? Do you have a process?
Rob: Do you have some steps? How does it work? If you were to start over again or do a new one, a new Gamify platform, how would you do it?
Danielle: This is a great question. Some of the things that have helped me, obviously, is scope. How far deep do we want to go down the rabbit hole? Right? At what point do we let the user just play and at what point do we become their guide?
Danielle: Right? We talk about being a guide in the user journey and the client journey and the player journey. How much of that is initiated by us and how much is initiated by themselves? Those were some of the bigger questions that we had to ask ourselves in the process. What I’ve gotten better at refining is really kind of understanding where people get stuck and how we can better help them get unstuck.
Danielle: And that came from several different levels of beta, of surveys, of just getting people better acquainted with who we are and how we can help them. So those are the several different stages that we had to go through to kind of get to this type of end result. But what I always kind of come back to always, and I think that’s the heart of any type of level of Gamification is the why, right? Why? Why is it so important?
Danielle: Why is it so important that these particular groups of people come to us? And that kind of helps me better scope and also helps me better further my messaging. Right. Our reasons as to why we do the things that we do sounds amazing.
Rob: Thank you for sharing that thought process that you have, Danielle. That’s absolutely amazing. Thank you so much. And now that we’ve discussed your process, I’m sure you’ve run into many of these in different ways, or manners. What is one of those best practices that you’ve run into?
Rob: Something that you say, well, if you do this, at least your Gamified project will be a little bit better?
Danielle: Obviously, it’s testing it out. Right. It’s knowing that audience fine tuning who actually will work with you. Right. I feel like there’s a level of we talk about beta testing and testing in general, things along those lines.
Danielle: We create a lot of questioning options. Like, we really ask questions like what is working for you, what is not? We also allow opportunities for people to kind of play, and that’s really important too. Here is a specific platform that we just kind of want you to try out. Give us your feedback.
Danielle: What worked for you, what didn’t. That’s a great way for us to kind of engage and gauge what actually works for the people that we want to target the most.
Rob: That is definitely a best practice. Definitely very important thing to do. Engagers. Keep that in mind. And Danielle, you’ve heard many of the questions.
Rob: Now you kind of know what we’re after, what we’re doing here. What is the vibe of the podcast? Does somebody come to your mind and you say, well, I’d like to hear this person, this or that person answering those questions on Professor Games. Sort of a future guest in a way.
Danielle: Oh, my gosh. Like all the women developers. Let’s go pick a number. There are so few of us out there who are in a place where they feel like they are positively sharing their processes for a lot of women. And I’ll just say in general, even overall, like, developers of any kind, sometimes we kind of feel stuck in our fishbowl and we feel like we can’t be encouraged or empowered enough sometimes to kind of share the knowledge base that we have.
Danielle: And I really just kind of squashed that, right? We’re going to go back to record and just smash all those walls. We don’t need it. We don’t have to have that type of mentality. It’s really cool to see a community that’s so vibrant in gaming, whether you’re playing classic games or you’re playing the latest, the strategy behind Play, right?
Danielle: Like all the things that we go back to in our initial thoughts and feelings around gaming, you can harness that magic and still use that as an empowering lesson to continue to share your wealth. We love that saying, each one, teach one.
Rob: Absolutely. And I couldn’t agree more. But I’m still going to press you if you have any name that comes to your mind. It would be amazing.
Danielle: Okay, let’s see. Oh, my goodness. Where do I start? There’s a lot of female developers out there I would like. There is one specifically that I follow.
Danielle: Her name is Kennedy. She’s actually on TikTok a lot. She’s more of a gamer, specifically Nintendo Switch like type of influencer. But she also is developing a game herself. One of the cool things that I like about Kennedy specifically is that obviously she’s a woman of color and I love supporting women.
Danielle: And I love the fact too, that she makes everything look super accessible. So I really am excited about Kennedy and the things that she’s been doing specifically around her build.
Rob: Amazing. Thank you very much for that recommendation. We’ll try to see if maybe we can reach out and have her on the show and definitely call you out and say, well, Danielle, maybe you want to listen to this episode.
Rob: At this point. And Danielle, you’ve recommended a guest for the podcast, and thank you for that. Is there a recommendation in the side of books, something that you or a book that you would say, well, engagers? If you’re interested in this whole thing of designing games or designing gamification or gamified platform, this book might be interesting, inspiring, whatever you want to call it.
Danielle: Sure. There’s a couple of different books. The main one that actually has been really inspiring to me, and it’s not technically gamified, but it’s such a good thought. Thinker is ten x by Ben Hardy. He just recently came out with a book, and it’s amazing the way that he breaks down thought processes and thinking ahead, but he also thinks about, like, presence, your presence currently in the moment.
Danielle: That has really been an absolute game changer for me and how I want to apply gamification currently in the current structure of my business and the current structure of our educational platforms, and the way that we want to take it to the next level when we get to that point. Right. The Scalability, that’s really been an eye opener book for me, and I really love that. Highly recommend.
Rob: Amazing. Great recommendation. I’ve heard a lot about Benjamin Hardy, but I have to confess, I still haven’t read any of his books.
Danielle: Oh, man. Ten X is maybe it comes to my list now. That’s it. That’s the phrase. That’s the book.
Danielle: It’s amazing. It blows my mind that he continues to and he’s been at this for a long time, so this particular book is one of several published works that he’s done. But the thought process behind this book has really helped level me up personally as a professional.
Rob: And talking about leveling you up, Danielle, what would you say is your superpower, that thing that you do better than most other people?
Danielle: I think it is scalability. I think that’s been kind of my ability to take a small idea of something and immediately be able to scale it to maybe some T shirts and a flyer, to being able to take an idea or concept about a game and completely brand it out with a full trailer and a YouTube channel and all the things. I love the fact that I can take something very small and turn it into either a community that can help support it. So that’s really what I feel is my superpower.
Rob: And it sounds like a very useful one, for sure. In this business.
Danielle: Yes, right. Especially anywhere in the game industry, someone has an idea, they want to take it up to Ten very quickly. But I will say, too, that it’s a cool way to also scope and see what’s going to work and what’s not going to work. I feel like I’m some level of AI where I’m able to kind of put things through a generator and figure out, yes, this works, this doesn’t work. Don’t do this.
Danielle: Go this direction. Before AI was know.
Rob: Sounds very cool. So, yeah, there you go. There you go. And Danielle, we know you’re into retro games, so this might be a little bit of a difficult question. What would you say is your favorite?
Danielle: Okay, well, I have a saying that life is more like Tetris and less like Mario. So I’m going to say that probably Tetris is my favorite game because it really is such a reflection of my life, putting the right blocks and the right pieces in place so that you can level up to the next.
Rob: Amazing, amazing. So, Danielle, it seems we do have some extra time before we end the interview, so I’m going to bring up one of the random questions from the audience. All right?
Danielle: All right.
Rob: And of course, I did vet these before the interview to make sure that they make sense for you in particular. So let’s see. Okay, here it comes. What do you tell someone who says, we are doing serious things here. No time for fun and games.
Danielle: I would say the best way to learn is to play. That’s really what my motto has been, especially with me being a mom with kids that’s completely gamified at home. We’re the family that plays the board games, and for many of those board games, we’ve had a lot of serious conversations that’s helped kind of bud some different thought processes and maybe even some new life directions just by playing a game.
Rob: Well, let’s think about yeah, I love your answer. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m just trying to because I’ve been in this situation more than once and sometimes to a certain level of success. Other times it’s been a first attempt at learning, for sure. So you’re sitting in front of this very serious CEO, COO chief Learning Officer, who says this kind of thing.
Rob: When you say the children part, I completely agree, but they say, yeah, well, but here we don’t have children. We have these workers, and they need to fall in line or be disciplined or you insert the thing that they’re trying to say in that phrase. How would you sort of come back to something like that?
Danielle: Sure. I’ve actually recently been in a conversation with someone who says, hey, I really like what you do, but I’m not really down with the gaming. How does that help? How does that work? And I have to kind of go back again to that kind of example.
Danielle: Think of us as that automatic AI, like we’re really processing tons of thoughts, information in a short amount of time and turning it around in a way that is formattable to you. So I think in a lot of ways we can think ahead. We can process ideas in a way that’s a little bit different than the conformity of maybe some corporate settings and allow a lot of people to kind of access us in a way that provides the information that they want, but not necessarily always in a formal context. So I like the flexibility. I love working with people from all different backgrounds and scopes of life, and I think that also allows us a way to shine because we are not always fitting that mold.
Rob: Absolutely. I love it. I love it. Thank you very much for jumping in on a random question like you have today. Is there anything you want to say before the end?
Rob: I know we ask many questions, but there’s always something else that our guests want to say is what will be that thing or things that you want to say before we end the interview?
Danielle: Sure. I love the fact that this has been such a cool platform for talking about Gamification Rob. I love all the episodes prior to this one. I’ve been listening, so it’s been really cool to be able to have the opportunity to actually be on the show and not just listen. So thank you for that opportunity.
Danielle: And then also, too, like, Q One Essentials is happening right now, november through January. Check it out at Q. One essentials.com.
Rob: Absolutely. And that was the other thing I was going to ask from user. Anywhere you want to lead us besides from that link you just mentioned. I don’t know, social media where we can find out more about you, about your project. I don’t know, wherever it’s your time.
Rob: It’s the time for you to promote whatever you want to promote at this.
Danielle: Okay, awesome. Well, you can definitely find us firstname.lastname@example.org where we love to talk. Instagram is our space of choice, which you can always follow us at. Octane Designs with an S. And, of course, our podcast all about women in tech.
Danielle: Women creatives can be email@example.com not MTG for Magic the Gathering, although that was very clever play on words. But I personally love when I saw.
Rob: It, the first thing that came to mind was Magic the Gathering. For sure.
Danielle: I love it too. It’s like a little play on Words, but definitely for more than graphics. You can check us out there as well. But yes, Lexloctane.com is the main place if you’re interested in hiring. And of course, Q One Essentials, our digital marketing cohort that starts November 1, is available at Q One Essentials.com.
Rob: Amazing. Thank you again for all of the experience that you have shared, all of the knowledge, all the things that you’ve done that you’ve failed, that you’ve recovered from the successes that you’ve had on the podcast. However, Danielle and Engagers, as you know, at this point, after having all of these amazing experiences from Danielle, at least for now, and for today, it is time to say that it’s game over. Hey. Engager.
Rob: Thank you for listening to the Professor Game podcast and I hope you enjoyed this one with Danielle. Do you have questions that you would like to ask to future guests? If you do, please go to professorgame.com/question and ask your question. If it is selected, it’ll come up in a future episode and you will get your answer live with a guest who doesn’t even know the question is actually coming.
Rob: And of course, remember before going on to your next mission, if you haven’t done so already, please do subscribe or follow whatever that looks like, remembering that it is for free on your favorite podcast app and listen to the next episode of Professor Game. See you there.
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