Never Count Yourself Out

by | Apr 25, 2022

Never count anyone out, including yourself.

I was 28 years old and everyone I knew thought I was failing.

I was barely getting by selling my soft sculpture creations at street fairs, but loving every minute of it. Still, I had to make a change.

A friend suggested that I start making stuffed animals out of plush, so I began practicing pattern making. Sure enough, not too long after, Dakin offered me my first freelancing gig.

I had knocked on their door, and it turned out their plush designer had just quit. They gave me my first job, which was to design a golden retriever. A real job!

It really was that easy. A month later, I read an article in the Fremont newspaper about a startup that was making the first talking teddy bear.

Their prototype looked terrible. So, I made a point to visit this startup on a Monday and knocked on the door of their trailer.

They hired me because of the job I had at Dakin. Little did they know, I had just started designing plush animals! It was my first full-time paying job.

Here’s one of the first prototypes of Teddy Ruxpin.

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Check out the tape deck in the back.

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At Worlds of Wonder, I crafted the plush for talking animals including Mother Goose, the Muppets, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and, of course, Teddy Ruxpin. Here are some photographs from my time overseeing the production line in Hong Kong.

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The next thing I knew, I was designing costumes for Laser Tag.

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Needless to say, the job at WOW changed my life, in large part because I met my wife, Janice, there. Sometimes you have to take a chance!

I didn’t have a lot of experience, but I had the desire to learn and grow. Here’s what I’ve learned:

It’s okay not to have all the answers.

It’s okay to take chances and be willing to fail.

Step outside your comfort zone; you’ll be okay.

Never count anyone out, including yourself.

Thank you for reading!

– Stephen Key
inventRight Cofounder


  • Stephen Key

    Stephen Key is an award-winning inventor, renowned intellectual property strategist, lifelong entrepreneur, author, speaker, and columnist.
    Stephen has over 20 patents in his name and the d...