This week, a conversation with a LEGO designer reveals the value of persistence when carving out a career as a toy inventor.


Last week I went to the opening of LEGO’s impressive new London hub.

The new office has been designed to encourage employees from different parts of the company to bump into each other and boasts comfy lounging areas complete with cool LEGO-inspired touches (see the lighting below).

No one has a designated desk and it already seems to have that Google/Pixar vibe where you wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see employees whizzing around the office on scooters high-fiving each other.

In short, it’s a pretty cool place to work, and while there I spoke to Samuel Thomas Johnson who has a job many dream of having: he’s a LEGO designer.

Johnson’s story is a unique one and it’s one that’s already legendary within the walls of LEGO, both in Billund and this new London office.

Despite this, he’s remains enthusiastic retelling it (“this is the bike I’ve been riding for a long time,” he confesses).

“Someone told me my own story downstairs,” he told me. “I had to tell him, yeah, that’s me.”

In a nutshell, Johnson wrote a letter to LEGO as a kid and when they replied with a list of qualifications, he followed them to the letter until, fresh from university, he got a job with the company (you can read the full interview about what the day to day life of a LEGO designer entails, here).

While an in-house toy-inventing job is somewhat rare in the grand scheme of things, Johnson’s story demonstrates the value of persistence you need to make a living in this field.

That’s not to say childhood job pitching always pay off (my stand up comedy career ended at the age of 13 when I crashed and burned at a joke competition at Alton Towers and Roger Ebert never replied to this budding film critic’s emails) but the passion is something that has to be preserved.

After speaking to inventors, and as some of our Diary of an Inventor pieces demonstrate, dragging prototypes around toy fairs year after year, sending off countless emails to toy companies or just getting your toy and game infront of as many pairs of a eyes/hands can be a soul destroying, but often invaluable process.

But the moral of the story is, if you’re a ‘grown up’ and do want to work for LEGO, write them an email under the guise of a much younger self. Or if you’re really desperate, pen them a letter using your worst handwriting.

If it works, that’s great news for you, but bad news for Sam who will fast have to find another story to dine out on.

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