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After working in commercial brokerage for seven years, Karen Fried Young ’84 needed a greater creative challenge.

She decided to transform a word game she often enjoyed at dinner parties into a marketable commodity. With little experience but a lot of confidence, she marketed Think-it Link-it to F.A.O. Schwarz, and TLI Games was born.

Her success led TheNew York Times to call her a “game maker with unsinkable spirit.” Young also has been featured on “Good Morning America,” “Eyewitness News,” “New York 1 News” and in Crain’s New York Business. She has been a guest host on QVC and is listed in Who’s Who of American Women.

“I never thought ‘I want to create games,’” she says. “I just did it, one at a time, and before I knew it, I had a company!”

Think-it Link-it is a word game in which players must connect two words that do not rhyme with two synonyms that do. Young’s other products include Visionary, City Visions, and her newest addition, City GO, The Big City Discovery Game. In 2006, she will launch City GO America to apply the same concept to the whole country.

So popular are TLI’s games that Bloomingdale’s competed with F.A.O. Schwarz for the launch of City Visions. Young’s relationship with F.A.O. Schwarz and her company’s success convinced the famous New York City toy store to feature TLI Games in all of its display windows for two holiday months – something that had never been done.

Despite her success, Young is careful to value both the ups and downs of her career.

“I made a million mistakes that I learned a lot from,” she says. “Every step in the process has helped in the next step. I wouldn’t change a thing, and I feel the same way moving forward. There’s no rush. I’m just loving the process.”

As TLI Games continues to grow, Young wants to focus her energy on writing the City GO stories and speaking. She has been a guest speaker at Lafayette, New York University’s Tisch School of Business, and various conferences.

“I find people across fields have many similar experiences, and connecting is very helpful,” she says. “I’ve received so many great letters and e-mails from people who heard me speak and then made changes in their lives – that’s extremely gratifying.”

An American civilization and economics graduate, Young credits the multi-faceted nature of her Lafayette education with helping her meet the challenges of moving from real estate broker to entrepreneur.

“Having an interdisciplinary major helped to give me an excellent foundation and approach,” she says. “It taught me to recognize that there are many perspectives, and understanding something from a variety of angles gives a process wonderful depth. It also helped me to realize that success doesn’t have to be specific to an industry. I came from a commercial real estate background with no experience in retail, manufacturing, or games, and it was a fairly easy transition because I knew I could open my eyes to different perspectives. The players may be different, but the business is quite similar. It’s all interdisciplinary.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles