Genna Rosenberg – CEO of GennComm and Chief Ideator at GennComm ImaGENNation, celebrating 10 Years in July 2022.

by GennComm | 07 Jul 2022

Biographies and Interviews

Hi, Genna! Thank you for sharing your anniversary with us! What has kept you motivated to stay in the toy industry?


I can’t believe I've been working in toys and licensing for over 25 years! I feel so lucky to have fallen into our industry just after college, and once I got a taste of how much fun it can be, I never looked back. I believe very strongly that toys play a powerful role in the lives of kids (and adults!).  Whether it’s about unleashing creativity, harnessing focus, cultivating collaboration, learning to be OK playing alone, mastering skills for strategy, teamwork and problem solving; play heals, and play manifests itself in myriad ways to build on our whole selves. It gives us building blocks in every area of our lives. I love our industry and was proud to become an official Toy Association Genius of Play Ambassador, on a mission to share the Genius of Play wherever I can. I also feel passionate about the role the industry can play on social good and social impact and am working with intention in this area.



What was your favorite toy or game as a child?


I played a lot of board games as a kid, and still do today with my family. I’ve often thought that my exposure to games like LIFE, Monopoly and Pay Day set me up for an appreciation of money and the real game of life. I babysat to earn money as soon as I could. I became a Bank Teller in High School and managed a coffee house in College at University of Maryland. One college break, I went to Atlantic City and was taught how to play Craps and Blackjack and found them exciting!  I always loved the thrill of taking chances...going big or going home. Certainly not all the time, but I’m probably more game than most. I get that from my dad who was fired-up by similar stimulants.  I also grew up playing a lot of ping pong - it was a Goldberg thing!



What are your roles and responsibilities in our industry?


I believe I am a connector, storyteller, and spokesperson for our industry. I love connecting dots and facilitating meaningful strategic alliances for industry stakeholders that move the needle for all parties. I take this role very seriously and work with the intention to use my platform to make an impact. There’s often a social good component, which really fills my bucket personally.



Hugs or Kisses?


I LOVE Hugs! My Uncle Lenny used to give the best Hugs; I can still imagine them today. And my dear friend and longtime colleague from GennComm Janis Van Tine also gives huge hugs that instantly make you feel as if her energy is passing into you. I try to give my kids big hugs to start their day on the right foot every morning before they leave for school.



I think that not hugging as much during the pandemic had a huge impact on people and their mental health. In fact, my son who was 7 at the time told me, “Mama, I really miss hugging. I miss hugs from our nanny, my aunts and uncles and cousins, and hugging my friends…” It was heartbreaking. His statement prompted me to notice how many people genuinely missed human connection of hugging, and during the pandemic on social media I would often see people write, “I wish I could give you a hug!” or “sending hugs” or hugging their own arms to simulate giving or getting a hug, from across a room, or across a Zoom. I think this is an interesting mega trend, and saw one toy come out during the pandemic, Huggables, and another about to launch called Hugimals from fellow Women in Toys members, which could benefit from this less-touchy, post-pandemic environment. I believe this is an area where we could see other innovation from toymakers and hug-lovers, as well.



Do you have any special talents?


I love to sing and always have! As a young child I’d sing to my parent’s Billy Joel 8-tracks, I’d play records while singing and dancing in my room to everything from Donna Summer to Cats. I knew every word to songs I loved, especially the book/soundtrack/play “Really Rosie, from Carole King and Maurice Sendak. I was Rosie, of course, with a role-play feather boa, and daydreamed about being “A star from afar off the golden coast…belieeeve me…. I’m Rooo-siee….” I was in the chorus in Junior High, and always love karaoke in dive bars.  My dear friends in LA are teachers, and we’ve been known to bring the house down singing our favorites at the top of our lungs more than a few times. I sing with my daughter any chance I get. ALEXA is one of my favorite inventions because it finally gives me easily playable music at my fingertips to sing on a whim.


I have loved the various rockstar toy lines I’ve worked on over the years, like Hannah Montana, JoJo Siwa and KidzBop, and credit industry icons and fellow WiT members Leila Nosrati and Gena Lavallee who reminded me at an early Licensing Expo WiT Breakfast in 2011, that rock star role-play is evergreen. So, I’m always on the lookout for “what’s next?!” I think the new young kid group XOMG Pop powered by JoJo Siwa and her mom Jessalyn Siwa has big potential. And I would love to work with The Singing Machine Company - how fun would that be!? I would just die to find myself in a real Carpool Karaoke!



What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home? 


I have had a few occasions to go to China, visited factories and worked with our Hong Kong teams at two different toycos I worked for. It was so different, and also bizarrely the same in certain ways. The offices in HK for example felt like you were stepping into showrooms that could have been at NY Toy Fair or LA, with many of the same employees, toys, signage and even the same American meeting attendees transported there, too! But of course, the marketplaces, the factory workers and local employees, the food, the art, culture and celebrations were all unique, and it was memorable. I am allergic to soy, so the food was tricky for me! I had a very memorable dinner thanks to Jay Foreman at a private club called The Hong Kong Club, with his wife Karen Foreman, Chris Byrne the Toy Guy, Adam Unger and Emmanuel Doessant, with a formal Chinese Tea Pouring Ceremony and other extraordinary presentations, an incredibly special multi-course meal and learning so much about the industry in the process.



What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?


Think about what you love, and what you’re great at doing, and find a job that marries those things… There are so many skills that are transferable to our industry. Keep challenging yourself and keep learning!



Where were you born?


I was born in NY.  While I’ve lived in California for 25 years, I feel like I am a lifelong New Yorker at heart and have always been a Yankees fan!



Do you have a mantra that you live by?


Trust your gut and go for it. Your gut is not moving on a whim. It’s the culmination of your valuable experiences and know-how that position YOU to know what to do. Trust your inner voice and try to suppress self-doubt. It’s easier said than done, but it’s worth it. Trust yourself even if things haven’t always played out as you planned. Learn from each bump in the road and try to constantly evolve while staying true to your core values and beliefs. And rubbing Buddha’s Belly for a little extra mojo when you have the chance could not hurt!



What is the last time you did something for the first time?


I went kayaking recently and it was awesome! My family vacationed for the first time since before the pandemic and didn’t want to let the opportunity pass without giving it a try!



Where were you 10 years ago, and is this where you thought you’d be? 


My family and I had just booked a month-long vacation in Italy, which was supposed to be “before” my husband Daniel and I opened our doors at GennComm later that Fall. Well, opportunity knocked sooner than we planned, and we got our first GennComm client, Jib Jab, right before our trip, who hired us to promote their promising new preschool show The Storybots, which eventually sold to Netflix! Founded by viral video pioneers Gregg and Evan Spiridellis before YouTube was even created, they hired us before we were totally official, and our second and third clients, SD Entertainment and Wicked Cool Toys, quickly followed. We were off to the races working remotely before it became pandemic-chic, from villas in Positano, Tuscany and Paris, while juggling work-life balance with our young daughter. Thankfully we achieved results that catapulted GennComm into fruition. A good lesson that hard work pays off, but never forget to enjoy the good life as it comes.


Happy 10th Anniversary to our amazing Team GennComm, and to the dozens of incredible clients and partners who have trusted and empowered us along the way over these past 10 years, and who have been so supportive as we continue to evolve and grow!

Xo, Genna

Thank you, Genna, for taking time to answer our questions thoughtfully and with a sense of play!

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