Dinner for 4 with JC Jung, Gerrick Johnson and Manuel Torres


The founding Fathers

            From left to right: Manuel Torres, Gerrick Johnson, me and JC Jung

We in the toy industry rarely have the opportunity to sit down with very smart people and have great conversations about what we do.  It was with that in mind that I was joined for dinner by Manuel Torres, SVP MD Global Toys, Video Games and Consumer Electronics at Nickelodeon and SVP Latin America Consumer Products at MTV Networks; Gerrick Johnson, toy industry financial analyst for BMO Capital and Jean Christian (JC) Jung, co-owner at Globe Trotoys.

We met at the venerable Keene’s Steak House where we consumed a great dinner and a few drinks (well, not a few).  We discussed everything from the rise of 3D printing to who and what's hot and not.  Adding to the flavor of the evening was the backgrounds of two of our group:  JC was born in France but lived in Africa from age 6 to 16 and has also lived in a number of European countries as well; Manuel was born in Mexico City and has lived in India and Brazil.  Gerrick and I, well, we are not so exotic.  I am from the South and Gerrick was brought up on Long Island but did go to college in North Carolina (Wake Forest). 

None-the-less, everyone had a unique point of view.  The conversation was funny, smart and interesting to say the least.  The food was good too.  We are going to make it regular event and invite a special guest to join us. 

By the way, Mary Couzin has started a large group in Chicago that meets on a regular basis.  Let us know if you are doing something similar.


3 thoughts

  1. Cincinnati has a lively and engaged presence in the toy industry as evidenced by The Cincinnati Game & Toy Industry Professionals group. Celebrating its 2-year anniversary this month, we meet quarterly for breakfast and professional development programming.
    The group lives primarily on Linkedin and our discussion board is full of interesting information and conversations. We have over 250 members working in nearly every capacity across the industry and across the world, from global brands to local startups. Nearly all our members have a connection to the Greater Cincinnati region – either they are from here, are here currently, worked here in the past, or received their education here. The region is a hotbed of toy talent. 🙂
    Our breakfast events always sell out and the next gathering is July 17th in downtown Cincinnati.
    If you or someone you know is going to be in the region at that time, we welcome industry guests! Tickets are free, but registration in advance is required. See details here:
    Also, see what we’re up to and join the group on linkedin here:
    As I mentioned, we do include light programming at our breakfast events. Speakers have covered topics including intellectual property issues, business development, raising capital, and professional toy inventing. Future programming topics are in development. If you or someone you know would like to present at one of our events, please contact me for consideration.
    We also publish an annual Holiday Gift Guide that features toys and games – both iconic evergreen and new releases currently available on store shelves – that have been invented, developed, or otherwise touched by Cincinnati toymakers in some way. Last year’s gift guide featured over 30 products.
    Thanks for the chance to share Cincinnati’s toy industry activities!
    Michelle Spelman, Founder
    Cincinnati Game & Toy Industry Professionals

  2. Hi Richard,
    That is an interesting dinner group! I don’t know Jean (yet), but think a dinner with you, Manuel and Gerrick would be a fascinating one. Love that you are doing that in NY. Also love to join you sometime.
    We started our get-togethers 3 years ago and now usually draw over 40 people each month and usually from at least 4 states. We’ve also tied it to a visit with a toy/game store, so we spend an hour at the toy/game store and then move onto a close pub or restaurant. Last week we had 50 people starting at Marbles: The Brain Store (the founders, Scott and Lindsay, gave a warm welcome to us) and then shut down Flemings Steakhouse at 11:15 pm.
    There is nothing like face-to-face communication. Many ideas/partnerships/friendships have evolved over the years. There are groups in Cincinnati, Denver and LA. I hope they post their details.
    If anyone reading this is visiting in the Chicago area the last week of the month, we generally meet the last Monday or Tuesday of the month. Send me a note, love to have you join us!

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