fbpx Skip to content

John O’Leary welcomes Pictionary creator Rob Angel to the Live Inspired Podcast.

Rob Angel turned a simple idea and an outrageous dream into a cultural phenomenon.

As a twenty-something year old waiting tables, Rob began his adventure in creating the remarkably successful and beloved board game Pictionary. Beating industry giants Milton Bradley and Mattel at their own game, Rob led Pictionary to selling a staggering 38 million (!!!) games in more than 60 countries.

Today, Rob shares how his intuition, passion and persistence led to creating the legendary game and how unconventional tactics led to unexpected success.

Yet, my friends, this conversation is about so much more than Pictionary being one of the bestselling board games of all time. It’s a roadmap to finding success on your own terms, the power of taking the first small step and embracing the challenges that lie ahead.

Subscribe & listen on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyStitcher, Google Play, iHeartRadio, or listen here:


  • “I’m always curious.”
  • Assemble your cavalry: Growing up, Rob’s favorite board game was RISK where his winning strategy was to first conquer Australia.
  • Rob creates his competitiveness and focus to becoming a champion pole vaulter.
  • After his dad got fired from his job as a business executive, Rob reevaluated how he envisioned his future.
  • Lessons from Rob’s work experience: Scooping ice cream taught him humility. Selling vacuums taught him to not be pushy. Real estate taught him to follow his own dream, not someone else’s. Franchising a pizza restaurant taught him to try new things. Waiting tables taught him organization and how to deal with others.
  • Charades on paper: At 22 years old, Rob and his roommates birthed the idea of Pictionary yet lacked the passion to create, produce, market and sell the game.
  • After nearly 3 years, Rob started creating Pictionary by reading the dictionary to create the game’s word list. The first word of the 5,018-word list was “aardvark”.
  • “Intuition and one foot in front of the other.” – How Rob went from ideation to creating one of the largest selling board games in history.
  • Contrary to business best practices, Rob didn’t look too far ahead and overthink upcoming steps while creating the game.
  • June 1, 1985: The first thousand games were assembled by hand with pieces from nine different companies.
  • Using “alternative distribution”, Rob and his team sold games in unconventional and unexpected outlets by paying the game at bars and by doing demonstrations in Nordstorm.
  • When Rob pivoted the premise of his sales pitch from a drawing game to a guessing game, sales exploded with nearly nine thousand games in the Seattle area the first six months.
  • “It’s not what you make but what you keep.” – Because of licensing and royalties, Rob only had two employees which kept overhead low.
  • With a windfall of success, Rob stayed true to himself yet faced some mental health struggles.
  • Embrace the small victories and build upon them.

Did you enjoy today’s episode, you’ll love Erik Wahl.

During the dot-com bust in 2000, Erik Wahl lost the “financial fortress” he’d built and his identity along with it. After redefining success, Erik became a performance graffiti artist with clients like IBM, Microsoft and Disney. If you’re looking to unearth great things lying dormant inside of you, listen to Erik Wahl on ep. 80.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.



  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?

    The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?

    That I was smart.

  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?

    My journals.

  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?

    Roman emperor and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius.

  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

    Be yourself.

  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

    Say “no” more often.

  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. He was joyous, giving, fraternal, nurturing and a fun guy to be around.