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ICP 141 Transforming Your Ideas Into Reality and Royalties With Product Artist Stephen Key


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In this episode you’ll learn:

  • The one lesson Stephen learned from his Dad about creating a living he loves
  • How to get your ideas out of your head and into the world
  • How to scale your ideas globally
  • How the royalty and licensing process works
  • Why act quickly

Stephen Key smiling profile picture

Stephen Key is an award-winning product artist and intellectual property strategist.

His products have been endorsed by Michael Jordan, Alex Trebek, and Taylor Swift and have sold at Disney stores and theme parks across the globe.

He has licensed more than 20 products in the past 35 years.

In this episode, Stephen reveals how he has made a living from his ideas and how he helps others to do the same.

“You never know where your imagination is going to go” – Stephen Key

Items mentioned in this episode (quick access):

Exercising creative muscle

[00:42] Introducing Stephen Key.

[01:28] Stephen describes who he is and how he likes to spend his time.

[02:13] Product design and what a product artist is.

[03:13] Why working with his hands is rewarding for Stephen.

[04:13] What creativity means to Stephen.

[04:51] Why being curious is important.

“Have fun and every once in a while something magic happens” – Stephen Key

A sense of wonder

[05:45] How Stephen approaches his creative work.

[07:00] Stephen describes how he first got started.

[08:17] Spinformation: rotating labels. Michael Jordan.

[08:50] When Stephen came up with his first successful idea.

[10:26] Stephen describes Pull-through marketing.

[11:06] What Stephen’s early career has taught him.

“You have to test your ideas very very quickly…and see if people want them” – Stephen Key


[11:42] The most important lesson Stephen has ever learned.

[12:17] What Stephen learned from his Dad about creating a lifestyle he loves.

[14:21] How Stephen manages work life balance.

[15:38] What excites him about his work.

[15:53] How Stephen helps others using his ten step system.

“I should have given up many, many times…but it was so important to me…and I thought it was the only thing I thought I could be possibly good at” – Stephen Key

No risk entrepreneurship

[17:45] What motivates Stephen.

[18:56] Becoming pro.

[20:36] How to compete.

[22:29] The benefit of being on the outside.

[23:34] Stephen describes the royalty and licensing process.

[24:54] Why it’s important to not present yourself as a manufacturer.

“Some ideas will be very profitable, a lot of ideas will be average and some won’t make any money at all…” – Stephen Key

Being in the business of solving problems

[26:00] How to get your ideas out of your head and into the world.

[27:56] Stephen talks about the importance of pace.

[29:00] Being a no-risk entrepreneur.

[29:42] Why it’s important to know your audience.

[31:27] What Stephen does to get to know his own audience.

“When I first started out I think I made every mistake you could possibly make but it didn’t stop me” – Stephen Key

Creativity will keep you young

[32:35] What has inspired Stephen recently.

[33:53] What Stephen is grateful for today.

[35:47] How you can connect with Stephen.

“Creativity will keep you young forever” – Stephen Key

Links and Resources:

Books mentioned in this episode:


Further reading:


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