Goldner's father Norman came from Utica, New York, while his mother Marjorie grew up in Mississippi. They married in 1961 after she came north to work for UNICEF, and settled in Huntington. Brian attended Huntington High School and Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he majored in politics. There he practiced public speaking and was also a radio DJ.
In 1985, he got a job as a marketing assistant at a healthcare firm in Long Island. There, he met his wife Barbara, a clinical director, and they married two years later. The couple have two children, a boy, Brandon (1992-2015), and a girl, Brooke, born around 1996. In 1997, Goldner was set to head JWT's entertainment accountant division, but he was lured away by Bandai.
Goldner was working at Hasbro's Tiger Electronics unit in 2000, after the company had lost 5000 jobs. By 2003, the company recovered on the stock market, and in 2006 Goldner became Hasbro's chief operating officer. He served as executive producer on the successful 2007 Transformers film adaptation, which was credited for broadening Hasbro into a character-based multimedia company. He continued this role on the 2009 films Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Goldner compared the move of these characters to cinema during his tenure to the way they had expanded from mere adverts to television series in the 1980s. In 2012, Goldner's pay package was estimated to be around $9.68 million. In 2008, the year of his promotion, Goldner was named CEO of the year by MarketWatch.com.
- "#209 Brian Goldner". Forbes. 2009-04-22.
- Paul Grimaldi (2008-05-20). "In charge at Hasbro". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
- Andria Cheng (2008-12-04). "Hasbro's chief transformer". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2008-12-04.