We've been in love with Marbles and its founders since their first store opened in 2008. Now they have 30 nationwide, and still growing! What does Scott, the Co-founder of a retail chain focused on exercising your brain think about? Apparently, everything from Gary Hart to Tupperware. Scott Brown has a sharp wit, quick reflexes and a successful growing business... so its safe to say he knows how to make brain-training work.
What trends do you see in toys or games?
For the last six years we have been running Marbles: The Brain Store, we've seen a growing trend in two key areas: 1) sustainable quality in play and product and 2) a strong desire to reconnect (with each other and our brains).
What advice can you give inventors presenting ideas to you?
- Explain the game quickly and concisely. It’s how we will need to explain it to our customers.
- Help me understand why it’s a fit at Marbles. This requires that you know what we are looking for at Marbles.
- Take no for an answer. Telling me that I am wrong about what it right for Marbles makes me like you less.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Hands down, my favorite game was Trivial Pursuit. My go-to edition as a kid was the Master Game – Young Player’s Edition, which had a bizarre number of questions about Gary Hart’s failed 1988 presidential campaign. To this day, whenever Gary Hart comes up in a dinner conversation, I’m able to hold my own. If you ever want to talk Trivial Pursuit or Gary Hart, email me.
What does your typical day look like?
You know that scene in Crazy, Stupid Love where Ryan Gosling reenacts that Dirty Dancing scene with Emma Stone? Remember his abs (Google Ryan Gosling abs if you need to be reminded)? Yeah, well, I have a goal this year to look like Ryan Gosling in that scene by Christmas. All that is to say that I start my day off with 24 sit-ups and 24 pushups and then I flex in front of the mirror for a bit.
After that, I go to work.
At work my days tend to vary a lot from day to day but generally I:
- Spend time reviewing Marbles-branded products currently in development
- Look over our best seller reports trying to find out what is selling well and why
- Exploring the web looking for innovative ideas. People and their ideas amaze me.
- Eat at Chipotle
- Review products that have been pitched to Marbles
At home I love to play the night away with my three little girls and my wife.
What inspires you?
Beautiful design. Some of my favorite places to see beautiful design are: thedieline.com, coolhunting.com, kickstarter.com, bltd.com, The Art Institute of Chicago, The NY Gift Show, and The Nuremberg Toy Fair. Whenever I spend time looking a great design I feel better about the world and humanity. We are a really talented bunch.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
I grew up in Utah just north of Salt Lake City. I lived on the bench of the Rocky Mountains with ready access to hiking, biking, camping and fishing. My friends and I all had the video game consoles but we rarely played them because there were better play options outside. One of the things I have carried with me from my childhood is that the world is constantly battling for our attention and people will choose to give their attention to the things that they enjoy most. I think about this all of the time as I pick and develop products for Marbles -- Is this toy/game something that is worthy of someone’s time and attention?
Are you the same Scott Brown that represented the US in the 2012 World Rummikub Championships and beat Japan?
I don’t like to brag about it but yes, that was me. I have signed photos of me in my custom embroidered Rummiking tracksuit available upon request.
How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?
I listened to an interview recently of Joshua Waitzkin a chess Grand Master and subject of the book Searching For Bobby Fischer. He was talking about the importance of sleep to the creative process, not just because it allows you to function at a higher level in the daytime, but also because it can be a very active time for your brain to work through complex problems. He recommended that when you are struggling with a problem, to give it intense focus immediately before going to bed and then making a concerted effort to stop thinking about it when you lay down to go to sleep (Ernest Hemmingway used to stop writing mid-sentence). Then, and this is the key, when you wake up, don’t immediately reach for your phone and check you email (or whatever else you do that starts ramming your brain with distraction) but instead, spent some time reflecting back over the problem and journaling your thoughts. I have tried this a number of times over the last few month and have experiences a level of insight that has been fun and exciting. The brain is a really amazing thing.
What is your stupid human trick?
I have two skills that I believe I could compete at on a world-class level. The first is that I have an uncanny ability to pick the perfect size of Tupperware for post-dinner leftovers. Some people like to err on the side of too big figuring that a little empty space can’t hurt. I think they are dead wrong and I would say it to their face. Empty space = empty head, in my opinion.
I can also catch flies out of the air with my bare hands.