Christopher Lochhead is a co-author of one of the top 1% selling business books of all time (Play Bigger), the host of the #1 business podcast on all of Apple, co-author of a top 15% newsletter on Substack (Category Pirates), and the self-proclaimed "Godfather of Category Design," a discipline that has completely transformed my life.
Given that success, I was SHOCKED with what Lochhead told me that for 30 years only 20% of people he worked with bought into his methodology and that he thought he was destined to "be the old guy at the bar mumbling to himself about how no one listened."
As a guy that believes he's unlocked a new bulletproof methodology for business growth, myself, I had to pick his brain about how he endured, what changed, and what he would do if he was me.
What ensued is a conversation I'll never forget. Lochhead is a real hero of mine, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to host him on the show.
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If you've ever listened to this podcast before you know that I'm obsessed with category design, the first time that this discipline hit, my radar was reading the book play bigger in early 2020. It's a book coauthored by four good friends, Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, and Kevin Maney. And from the moment I read that book, I felt that I found a tribe within marketing that made me feel like I finally belonged in a discipline that I was just reluctant to admit that I was a part of. And ever since then, my obsession and my seeking of doing it has grown. And I, and I've grown it the way that I do everything. I, I seek out as many people as I can to speak about it as often as possible. And as I've grown and understanding it it's become much more than a marketing discipline. To me, it's become a, a lens through which I look at business through, which I look at communication almost a framework for how I think. And within seeking this, I feel really fortunate that we live in a world where there is a direct line to the top of every mountain. And at the top of this mountain, there is a guy that I feel weirdly connected to. he's somebody that speaks out for what he believes is true, and he does it unapologetically with a kind of addicting punk. Rockish take it or leave it out. Don't give a f*ck attitude. he serves everything he writes is brilliant. I I've become increasingly weirdly obsessed by him and. I quote, he believes that when you make it to the top of the mountain, you throw down a f*cking rope. So I'm joined today by none other than the godfather of category design, Christopher Lochhead, Chris, Christopher Lochhead. How do you want me? How do you want me to callLochhead:
you, man? Uh, my wife calls me, you f*ck her. So whatever you like, and by the way, after that introduction there's, there's nothing I can do now, but suck. Like I just, I'm going to be disappointing after that.Pablo Gonzalez:
I'm betting on you to not be disappointing, but I've have listened to you speak of plenty of times, man. So I think, I think you've been right.Lochhead:
Thank you. And it is an honor to be here. I'm so stoked at what a contribution you've already made to the field of category design. And so it really is my pleasure.Pablo Gonzalez:
It means a lot for me to say this and I've wanted to start this interview in a specific way in there's one question I've been dying to ask you, which is. Is it okay for one man to tell them another man that he loves him at the beginning of a podcast interview?Lochhead:
Yes, it is. I think I may have done it myself a few times and I love you back,Pablo Gonzalez:
Chris. What's up. What's on your mind these days, man. What are you, what are you, what are you caring about the most right now? Like that's a, that you're preoccupied with.Lochhead:
Wow., that's a big question. I'll tell you the, probably the middle one that's been on my mind a lot lately. and that is that there's a massive societal transformation going on right now and almost nobody's talking about it. And so maybe we could talk about it. And so here's the aha, but actually let me tell you the story first, right? So you have, you heard me tell this story about my buddy Paul and his kids? I'm not sure. Okay, good. So a little while ago, my buddy Paul, who lives in the UK comes to visit. We live a couple blocks from the ocean. He comes with his wife and family. And I hadn't seen the kids since they were little ankle biters, and now they're sh*tty teenagers. So they come, they spend a couple of days with us here in Santa Cruz at the beach, having a good time. My wife being my wife. She's unbelievable. She puts together this whole dinner at the beach and dragged down a wagon and set up a little fire, barbecue, some weenies and some smores and sh*t, watch the ocean and the sunset. And it will be awesome. Right. So we go, we do this. We're having a great time. Well, teenagers are out 14, 16, somewhere in there, right in that sort of miserable teenager. I remember being one. Well, yeah. And you can imagine what the kids. are doing They're on their phones, checking their phone and the adults are doing what we're doing, which is feeling the sand in our toes and looking at the ocean and the sunset and having a nice conversation. So me being the crazy uncle that I am on, say the kids, Hey, there's this thing right here, flipping and flopping on the sand. It's called the Pacific ocean. You might want to take a look at it, glance up from their phones, take a picture and go back to their phones. And then I'll do the same thing about the sunset Hey, check out the same thing anyway. So this goes on, off and on all evening. And anyway, we ended up having a wonderful time and that's it the next morning I wake up and I had this aha, I went ohhh they're native digital. The aha for me then, and it's stayed with me since is if you're under the age of about 35 right now, your native digital, that is to say your primary life is your digital life. And your analog life is an adjunct, is a sidecar is an additional experience to your real life, which is your digital life. And so for them in a very real way, the sunset is interrupting their life. And it also begs the question. What's more real, the analog sunset that the analogs are viewing or the photo of the sunset that the native digitals take and then share, which is, which is the real experience. So here's the. Aha There's about 138 or so million Americans who are baby boomers or their children gen X, about 138, somewhere around there. There's about 140 million Americans who are millennials and gen Z. And the hog goes like this. The millennials and gen Z are the first native digital generation. They're the first human beings to come of age who are interconnected with the machines and their primary experience of life is a digital experience of life. And those of us who are north of 35 certainly north of 40, our native analogs, our digital life, which may be very robust and entertaining and, and, you know, a source of tremendous joy and happiness and success and ability or living and so forth like it is for us. but as, as robust a digital life as native analogs have, it's an adjunct you and I would rather sit down for a beer together. That's great that we can sit down and have a beer over the internet. God bless the internet. You know, you're, you're in Florida, are you notPablo Gonzalez:
Right. And I'm in California. So, so God bless it. But most native analogs would choose being in person anyway, to get back to your question, here's the aha native digitals are a new category of human. So the difference between the native analogs and the native digitals are not just the normal mega generational differences, their music sucks, their culture sucks there they're heroes and actors and whatever, you know, all of that stuff. and you see, you see contempt on either side with okay. Boomer you know, and, and, and, and there, there aren't very many gen X-ers certainly, and a lot of baby boomers who were apt to have fun at the expense of the lazy millennial. And so that's all normal sort of stuff. This is not normal at all. This is a different category of human being, a category of human being whose life primary life experience is 180 degree different than that, of the two major generations that came before it, it's the first generation integrated with the machines and that has profound implications for the way we live, work and play. And yet I don't hear a lot of people talking about it.Pablo Gonzalez:
I think it's fascinating, man. And I've, and I, and I have heard you tell that story, but I wanted to, I wanted to get into this and I wasn't sure, I didn't know it by Paul's kid. Right. But that being said, it's a massive. It's a massive shift of context that we're going to akin to the invention of the printing, the invention of the mirror, right? Like you hear about how like hygiene and stuff didn't happen until the mirror came out. Right? Like people just didn't care about their teeth. They didn't care about their hair. They didn't care how dirty they were. Cause they couldn't see themselves. Like I think it's, I still don't care aboutLochhead:
our hair.Pablo Gonzalez:
I just see this is this massive context shift. And I, and I, I applaud you for getting there sooner than most people of your generation. And I wonder for me, I'm 40, right? So I've, I've always, and I'm, I'm the most American person in my family and I've always seen the world as an outsider insider, cause I'm really good at connecting to people, but I've always just had this, a chip on my shoulder of being an outsider. So I've always embraced this idea of being the oldest millennial and just buying all in on, on what's happening. And I've, I've kind of been, I've been on this tip for a little while and I see the rest of the. Has been rapidly accelerated via COVID right? Like COVID accelerated a ton of things that were coming down the pipe. Anyways. How much do you think, how much do you think that COVID was an acceleration method of you coming to that realization? Versus if that moment just would have happened without a year of zoom conferences and like how much, how many friends you've made based on your podcasts and stuff like that.Lochhead:
Yeah. In terms of this insight, it had nothing to do with the pandemic or the acceleration that happened. And of course, I think there's, it's pretty obvious there's been a massive acceleration. I think that's another profound thing that is not being talked about. The receptivity to the new, I would argue has never been this way before in modern history. and there's this bullsh*t Axiom we hear in business and in marketing and an entrepreneurship, I am really. Well, in 19 98, 10 out of 10 corporate CIO said they would never put their data in somebody else's data center. Okay. But I'll do it today. It's called the cloud 10 minutes ago. Nobody knew what flax milk was and now they can't keep it on the shelf. So people love change. When you can explain to them why the change matters, why it makes a difference. People aren't stupid. You show them a breakthrough that's exponential. They might be skeptical at first, but more people than not will have an open mind, particularly if they see somebody else they know engaging in the idea of the product or the technology or the innovation or whatever the f*ck it is. And so people are very, very open to change. the thing that's going on today is we have a new category of person. Humans were never this way before nobody committed suicide because of what somebody said to them on a computer 20 years ago, that wasn't a thing. That's a category of suicide. Now that comes from a new category of digital behavior called online bullying. When somebody online tells me to go f*ck myself, which happens on a fairly regular basis, I normally laugh. I could give a f*ck yet. I'm a native analog, you're a native digital. Somebody makes fun of you in your real life. There is no school yard anymore. The way there used to be a school yard, right? That is the school yard. So this is very powerful. Now we have a meaningful percentage of marriages in this country and in many other countries for that matter, that originate digitally. And if you're a native digital, There's approximately a 90 plus percent chance. That's how you're gonna meet your partners Bauhaus. And so you know, back when I was a kid, you had to have this thing called game, right? You have to, you had to summon your courage to walk across the dance floor. Start talking to this in my case, young lady that I wanted to talk to and hope that you weren't going to slobber on yourself or spit on her, be make an asshole out of yourself or even worse, have her decide you're an asshole and send you back across the gymnasium so everybody could see what happened. Right? And so you figured out quickly, you had to have some games. Well, today you'd have to have digital game. You have to know how to give good emoji. If you want to get a companion, it's completely transformed. Here's the other one I love. So Google, Microsoft. Netflix three of the most dominant category Kings in the history of the digital world, right? In the case of Google and apple, two of the most, the the highest market cap companies in history. Okay. So what happens? Pandemic hits bam work from home, right? If you're a native digital, the idea of an office is f*cking insane. You want me to go in? What You mean, go in, right? And so here's what happens. Everybody works from home. And then the CEOs of Google, Microsoft, Google Netflix and apple all come out and say, Hey, I'm in one form or another. They also say, Hey, to do kind of really breakthrough sh*t we do around here requires being in person, everybody back in the pool in September. And you know what happened, right. Employee said, I don't think. so And all three companies had to retreat after making very public statements in the wall street journal about how productivity was required. You know, how work in person was required for productivity and innovation. And so what's my point. These companies are run by native analogs. and You must assume. I certainly assume that the native analogs who run Google, Netflix, and apple are some of the smartest, most digitally savvy business leaders in history. Hard to argue against that. And yet they did not understand that approximately half their employee base, if not now soon, the idea of a physical office is insane to them today in business today, there's a 62% chance you work for a millenial Give me. So this is happening. People, people scoffed at that crypto and Bitcoin, well to a native digital, physical money is insane. Why would you have physical money? Physical money is a stupid to a native digital. As a Polaroid picture is really print the photo. You just made stuff. We don't need printed sh*t. This is bullsh*t. The printing of a photo is a bug, not a feature for them. So they're 180 degree different. And three of the CEOs of the most lauded digital companies in history, don't understand that they have a new category of employee because they have a new category of human.Pablo Gonzalez:
All right, man, you're hitting on a bunch of fascinating stuff. I would love to. It goes right down the pipe of everything that I was hoping to talk to you about. The first thing that comes to mind is do you think that there's going to be a category of sexual act called the emo job?Lochhead:
I don't know, but I, you know, I'd like to hear about it. If it emerges.Pablo Gonzalez:
I bet you would. All right, man. So two things I would love to hit on then number one is how you, how does one steward chain through steward change through a massive breakthrough like you have done and I'll, and I'm going to frame that. And then the other thing is like, let's play, I want to play this VC game that you talk about in category pirates with exactly this, right? Like with this new category of behavior, from a new category of human and, and to go on the. I mean, it was probably about like two, three months ago that I'm sitting there. I'm on LinkedIn. I sent you a screenshot of Utah, them, somebody to go f*ck themselves. And I'm like, this is, this is entrepreneurial punk rock. I love this. And you, and you open up to me in a way that I was just like in shock, showing my wife, like, look at this. When you told me that category design has been your life practice for 30 plus years. And for 30 plus years, you had a 20% convincing rate of people that believed what you're saying until play bigger, came out. And until it became top 1% of books all time, your podcasts hit number one, you're now this like, you know, I imagine you have other fan boys like me, which must be weird, but you know, whatever to each their own. And I would love to talk to you about how. You were being successful throughout all this time, yet nobody listened to your methodology, according to what you're saying and how you, you know, how you navigated that and how it changed, like how, you know, the, the impact of the book and how it came out. So I guess first I would love to, because I think one of the things that I feel so connected to you by is that I've, I've been espousing some sh*t for the last seven, eight years about community creation, being the feature of business development and how it needs to happen and how it's been happening forever. And people don't understand how to tie it to their go to market strategy. And I think I know how, because I've been doing it in multiple contexts, but how do you, you know, as you are, as you're having personal success and people aren't buying into your frameworks, where does your head go? Like give, tell me, talk to me about your iterations of trying to explain this to people and how it finally clicked. I would love to hear about thatLochhead:
well. Cool. Thanks for asking. So, yeah, I had about a 200% or 2 out of 10 batting average, trying to land category design as a discipline. most of the time what people thought they were doing was positioning or messaging or marketing. And then it sort of here, you know we can create our own category That's just a fancy way of saying messaging or something. That's where a lot of them would land and, and, and they did not connect it to the magic triangle. So just designing the legendary company product and category, and then they did not understand that when you take category design, seriously, it impacts everything. It's not just a marketing wrapper, it's not a slogan, it's not a tagline. and we can talk about how it affects business model and channels and hiring and culture et cetera. And so that was very frustrating. It was also very frustrating to see people commit. It's a yes, we wanna do the exponential. Yes. We wanna do the breakthrough. Yes. We want to create our own category. Absolutely. And then they go through six months of work to figure all that stuff out. They launch it with an incredible lightning strike. And then a year later they're back to calling themselves what they always called themselves because they go, well, nobody's, nobody's Googling carbon Dingulators And we just told the world, we're the world's first carbon. dingulators no demand for carbon dingulators There's only demand for reconfigure operators. So what the f*ck we want to sell things. People are buying. That's what they say. So this is too hard. This create a category thing and they retreat. And then of course, as a matter of fact, Boy, I'd love to say out loud, there was a company we did this with about a decade ago now and it turned out their f*cking CEO was a knotless wonder who did not execute on the vision of the category. And he reverted all the way back to a space that had a bazillion competitors and the category king in it. Anyway we just had to chase his ass down to we were doing a reevaluation of our portfolios. We had to chase his ass down to find out what the value of our stock is in the company. That's what it's worth. f*cking zero f*cking zero. Yeah, he's done four. He did two down rounds and then two flat rounds. After that, this is a company that will get bought for a pennies on the dollar, essentially to get the engineering team. Yeah, because the CEO did not have the courage. To do the different, to be a pioneer.Pablo Gonzalez:
So if I'm hearing you correctly, then they would buy in on the beginning piece, you could sell the beginning piece. It was the sticking power that, that wasn't happening and, or, or, or was only 20% buying into the beginning piece or was it like 100% bought into the beginning? Only 20% stuck to it.Lochhead:
You know, back when I was doing this stuff, 50% of the time after I talked to a CEO or an entrepreneur, they wanted to do it. Yeah. Cause I don't suck at talking and selling. the issue is, would they stick with it? That was really the issue. And so what changed was the book came out and, you know, we just had the five-year anniversary. Yeah. It's funny. I had not thought I know. I know that you know, Pablo, this probably sounds insane, but I hadn't really thought about impact of the book in my life, but I did on the five anniversary and I started to think about it and here's, what's true. my entire professional life is different. Since that book came out, it changed everything, absolutely everything. the experience I get to have today, professionally is 99% of the time, pure joy. Like it really, I have as close to the little BS in anything you might quote unquote, call work as I could possibly ever conceive of being true. and so that's the gift, you know, this book, made giant difference in the world as measured by love notes, we get from business leaders and entrepreneurs to marketers. You know, I just checked follow your different is downloaded. in 190 countriesPablo Gonzalez:
Now, by the way, a bunch of those countries have one download in them. So, you know, but still 190 and you know, I don't know how many copies, how many languages play bigger's now in, but you know, many, it's, it's a trippy thing. The day they send you the Korean version of your book and sh*t like that. But anyway, a long story way longer it changed everything because all of a sudden, people who were willing to engage in the ideas of category design, Had a substantive piece of work with primary research examples and, and at least a framework for how you might do it. all in one book, it's a very rare business book. That's sort of a strategy book with some research in it that also has a how to component to it. And and you know, we got that done and it made a difference. And, and because of the scale of difference that play bigger and then niche down and now the podcast and newsletter and, you know, the whole f*cking kitten caboodle it's just it's yeah. It's an amazing thing to be able to make some kind of a difference at scale.Pablo Gonzalez:
It's epic, man. so my, you know, I love that you just broke it down to framework research and how to right like that. To me, that, to me seems like a very. Whatever piece of content you're making to establish whatever you're trying to prove. That seems like a good formula for adoption, right. I guess, on a selfish level, how did you do the research in that book? Was it, did you commission a company to do this stuff that was just like years of you? Four guys, like reading stuff and compiling things and, and, and putting it out there. Like, I'd love to hear a little bit more about that.Lochhead:
So we were doing some primary research in our consulting firm to help us with our work with our clients. So there was that sort of vent And then my partner co-author adoptive brother, Al Ramadan is you know, he's a data nerd. He's a, he's a scientist. He builds his own boats and sh*t, you know, and he writes software and he's an incredible entrepreneur and CEO in his own. Right. But you know, he's got that engineer. I never, never met a spreadsheet. I didn't love kind of a guy. Right. and so, so he was always poking around on stuff and we started to get interested in things. So we started to do some research and we published a few papers here and there. and then as we got to think about the book, we said, well, what are some things that we think we need to be able to really understand here? if we're going to even write this book, we wanted to test our theories from a data perspective before we even made the final commitment. And I can tell you what those big things we wanted to test were, but when the test results came back, we went f*cking A and that, that bolstered us to continue. So there's that piece. The second piece is if you're a business writer or creator of any kind, and you're not bringing some primary research and you're not bringing some, you know, and if you think frameworks too heavy of a word, some new IP that helps provide a new lens on something. You know, if you look at what's going on today in the business content world Pablo most of it is regurgitation. And then a lot of it is opinion or experience-based, which is great. You know, if you want to write a business book that's about your career and things that you've learned, and, you know, my friend Sabrina horn just wrote an incredible book called make it don't fake it. And it's that sort of a book there's real value in those books. what we wanted to do was we, weren't just telling a story or our narrative, our lives or careers. So it wasn't that kind of book with some insights that might help, you know, that's kind of what Sabrina's book is. We wanted a book that was going to introduce a new management discipline and in order to do that, people needed to understand the economics of why it matters. And then they needed to understand at least some of the base ways that companies that have done this well have done it. And so we try to apply our specific experiences and synthesized what we knew about major companies that everybody's heard of. We've had friends that worked there, we'd known lots of CEOs and all that to try to fuse together what we did sort of if you will very front lobe, very intentionally in what others did that was pointed at the same result, but they did it more intuitively and less explicitly if you know what I mean.Pablo Gonzalez:
Sure. What would you say was, I would love to know the trajectory of book sales. In relation to your commitment to continually put out cross contextual content around it, right? Like you're, you're the one out of the four that's putting out podcasts, you got the newsletter, right? Like I, until this kid that I was, I mentioned this kid in Bulgaria Nicola that I've been mentoring for, like two years have had me on his podcast and he's like, man, mentor me and I've been doing it. And it was, it wasn't until he was like, oh yeah, Lochhead has a podcast, man. When I, when I started talking to him about play bigger, that turned me on to it. And that's rapidly elevated my obsession with it, my contextualization of it. Right? Like all these different things, category pirates has been huge of expanding the category of category design. Right. For me. you know, so is there any kind of tie into the, the acceleration of adoption of the book and the proliferation of, of people understanding the category you being on LinkedIn, actively and Eddie and those guys too. How much this has spread or did it was the book already a home run success. And you guys are now just putting out more content because it's, it's your life's work and you want to just continue to do it.Lochhead:
Great questions. So, so in the book came out it was an immediate bestseller, so it did well out of the shoe. The average business book sells about 500 copies. So if you sell a thousand copies, you're doing relatively well. So 5,000 copies, you're on fire, right? So the book and we'd done a bunch of promotion and all that. and so, and I think we got a, I would give ourselves like a, B minus for the launch of play bigger. my next book is going to have a whole other different kind of launch the category pirates book. we learned a few things in the last five years, but anyway, so, you know, we did an okay job, but we're marketing guys, but not book marketing guys. and this total digital world and all that, you know, w we were not in it in any professional we had Twitter handles or whatever, but we were not trying to achieve anything in the digital world, really, other than just be in it, you know, We're sort of at a standing start. So, you know, it came out. It did well, I think everybody was pleased. a big thing that probably the thing that has made the biggest difference was the number of venture firms in Silicon valley that did a bulk buys to support the book. we had had a lot of input from lean entrepreneur and a venture community in Silicon valley. And so there were VCs that did that. there were entrepreneurs that did that. and for awhile there, there were a handful of top VCs in Silicon valley that would have stacks of them in. You know, somebody's office or sometimes even in the lobby and they'd hand them out. I mean, I've gotten emails from entrepreneurs that say, Hey, I was, you know, I met with XYZ from in the last week and I grabbed a copy of your book and I'm really digging it, you know? So, so that was a very sort of cool organic thing that happened. I mean, we, we encouraged them, they knew the book was coming, but we had no idea they would do those kinds of things. So that was cool. But here's the truth. A lot of people in, in these situations, you hear interviewed with these kinds of questions, what want the world to believe? Hey man, Pablo, that f*cking book was so f*cking great. We just put it out there. And we've been smoking pot and drinking beer ever since. And it made it the top 1%. Cause it was so awesome. That's whether they say it as blatantly as that, that's sort of what they want you to hear. Like we didn't need to market our sh*t. It was just, our sh*t was so good. People just figured that sh*t out. Well, does that happen? Sure. Every once in a while that happens. And every once in a while somebody wins the lottery and everyone, once in a while, somebody gets hit by lightning and eaten by a shark. But the reality is, did we write a great book? Yeah, I think we wrote a really great book and we got busy and, you know, over 500 podcasts guesting on over 200 podcasts following writing up a followup book niche down that did very well in ANOVA on, on its own, but really helped fuel play bigger as well. And. Yeah, keeping the, the ideas alive. And most importantly, asking guys like you, like when somebody raises their hand and goes, Hey, I, I love this. And then you want to start blogging about it and posting videos about it. And, you know, John Ruggie starts doing his thing and you know, there's, I mean, there's thousands. I don't know what the number is out. Could tell you, but it might even be over 10,000 now on LinkedIn who call themselves category designer in their LinkedIn profile. Right. And so it's the biggest joy has been the fact that it became a management discipline. There are many other people working in it. There are many other people writing and contributing to it. There are many people selling courses. Listen, next, next week, or the week after I'm going to be doing a guest Q and a session for a business school class for 50 students at the Johannesburg business school in Africa. Okay. Yeah. I get to do that now. So, so that. It's f*cking amazing. And our hope with that is we will inspire more people to focus on to stop focusing on the incremental better and start focusing on the increase on the exponential difference.Pablo Gonzalez:
I love it, man. Are you going down to South Africa? Are you a, is a digital? No, I'm doing this. Okay. All right. CheckLochhead:
or not, man. I don't like to get on planes anymore and that's actually got nothing to do with COVID. It's got to do with I've traveled 6 million miles on a plane in my life. I really don't want to get on a f*cking plane. I don't know my social security number. I do know my American airlines, a frequent flyer number, and I don't want to get on anymore.blanck:
to noted. Noted. Cool. we'll listen to, to put a button on, on that, on that part of the conversation, you do a really good job of stoking the stoking, the flames man. Like it, it really is, you know, there isn't a lot of there isn't a lot of. People at the top of the mountain that feel the way that you do have thrown down the rope and really highlighting it. And, you know, making, making one feel real special one day, you know, tag you on something and congratulating him. And it's, it's a really, to me it's obvious just from a human connection level of why intuitively it does well when it's guys like you and Al and those guys, and, you know, really, really championing the discipline. And I can tell you that just yesterday, I had a call with a guy that's going to be on my podcast soon. And when you put out the lock on marketing episode, talking about this thing of, you know, having a failure rate for 30 years of, of, of 80%, he's like, dude, I got goosebumps, right? Like the same, I'm getting goosebumps talking about it. Just like I got goosebumps when you send it to me. But this idea of having the failure rate for so long and sticking to it and still being able to make this impact in the world that you've made. it's really, really inspiring to hear that you can, that, that you can. Hold it at a 20% batting average, and then still make it through. It really adds a lot to, to what I guess, anybody that identifies with a message that wants to change the f*cking world. And isn't satisfied with the status quo and thinks it's all bullsh*t to compete with these assholes that are doing it wrong, right? Like, like you're doing it right, man. And I just, I want you to, I just wanted to acknowledge that right now, before we move on to the next thing thenLochhead:
thank you brother. But it look, it makes you crazy, right? When you see something that is so clear to you and when eight out of 10 times you explain it to somebody, they either don't get it, dismiss it or reclassify it as something else. That's clearly not as important as you think it is. And that happens for the better part of 30 f*cking years. And you mentioned this briefly, right? You're in my case, you're using the discipline. You're you, you you've got a magic lightsaber. No one else can see it. You're slaying all kinds of bad guys with the lightsaber. They can't see it. It's an invisible lightsaber and you go, Hey, there's this f*cking invisible light saver that I have here. And when you use it, it's kind of unfair. And they're like, huh. And then you try to explain to them that it exists and how to use it. And I mean, out of 10 times they don't get it, even though they just say a slay, all the bad guys. It's. And so the thing that is crazier is not only that something owns you for 30 years, that you can't get other people to get, but they can see the outcome of you using this thing and they still f*cking can't get it. And so you either say I'm the world's worst communicator. Or I'm insane. You've found a whole f*cking life like the character Bruce Willis plays, you know, I see dead people in the whole f*cking life. And so yeah, when the book came out, that was it for me, it was like, well, okay, the mother f*ckers, I put all I got into those 320 pages or whatever it is. And I did it with these other really smart guys. And we think we did something special here. if you don't get it after that, well, f*ck it. A somebody bring me a beer, a whiskey, and a token. We'll just call it a day.Pablo Gonzalez:
Love it, man. I think it's amazing. I think it's amazing. I would love to VC game. My, my ma my invisible lightsaber. If you're up for it, you want to, do you want to frame what the VC game is apart from a brilliant category pirates post and what you call the black arts categoryLochhead:
design. I'd like to hear your frame on it.Pablo Gonzalez:
Hi man. I see it as I see it as a structured ideation and iteration four levels, deep of kind of future pacing, an idea, and then the reverse engineering of it. I think it's brilliant.Lochhead:
Thank you. and it's funny because it was one of those things that I've used since the late nineties and I just, it didn't occur to me that I'd never written about it or talked about it. I just, anyway. and so that is actually absolutely the idea. The other way I try to explain it to people is imagine if tomorrow is you read a press release, a post on your favorite business media site, the wall street journal, something like that. And it's a story or a notice as you start reading it, the category that's being described and the company and the services or products that are being described. New category that this new company is bringing forward. You read it and you go,blanck:
wow, f*ck, f*ck.Lochhead:
And then you have this feeling like, Ugh, these people are going to crush us. Why didn't we f*cking do that? God damn it. That's exactly what we should have done. f*ck. So imagine you have that experience. Go build that company,blanck:
do that.Pablo Gonzalez:
All right. Let's do it. How do we start?Lochhead:
All right. So what's the idea.Pablo Gonzalez:
The idea has a lot to do with what we talked about. We are, we're moving into this, into this digital world. And right now we're in this transition where as we transitioned through, there is still the idea that in-person. Connections and relationships and whatever, whatever I can do to, to, to make you feel good, or you make me feel good or make you look good, or you make me look good, we'll always be able to be amplified via content, right? Like, and as we transition more into this digital world, it'll just be all about how you it'll all be on content. But for right now, there is a massive transition that's happening and where I'm at, where I'm, where I'm damning. The demand is the idea that, you know, community creation is going to be the only mode you can create around the rapid commoditization of demand and supply and, and, and turn right. Like it, there's going to be a moment like right now, I could tell you, man, that's a, that's a sweet guitar in the background. I'm going to get an ad for an electric guitar on my phone in about 20 minutes. Right? Like. In the near future, my pupils going to dilate when it sees that thing and my Google glass is going to offer it to me immediately. The same as when I tell somebody I f*cking hate my boss, I'm going to get 10 job offers in my, in my earpiece immediately. Right? So you got to create community around whatever you're doing. And for right now, community is kind of seen as this content play, right? It's it's like podcasts, it's forums, whatever. I'm damning the demand by the idea that if you have a internet talk show that is interactive with your clientele and you are having conversations with people, your clientele give a sh*t about that can provide them a certain amount of value in that's tangential to the problem that you solve. And you approach that internet talk show in a way where you are creating a relationship between you and the guest, you and the audience, guests in the audience and the audience to each other and repurpose and tactically distribute that content. Then you've created a relationship flywheel, right? So that's the foundation of where we're at. And I think in the future what's going to happen is that is just the way that that's going to be table stakes, right? Like that is going to be the idea that right now there are founder brands that are happening. Everybody wants access to like knowing who the founder is and what they believe in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The talk show is the most frictionless way of doing that at scale soon, it's going to be at every level of your company, they're going to want you to have a talk show about that. It's, it's the idea of press conferences instead of press releases, right? And then the tactical redistribution. And then if you reverse engineer that into just the basic concept of the super connector person that I take a, I take a call with you. I find out what you're about. And then I introduce you to 10 people that I know that care about, what you care about and where that's good. I think that somebody going to invent the software, that's one part zoom slash virtual event. One. Video, you know, video editing via text one part, social media manager, one part CRM. So you and I can have a conversation. And as soon as that conversation is over, I get a prompt. That's like Locke had just said this and this and this. You talk to Johnny, Susie Al and Betty. And they said similar things that would care about this. Do you want to send them the video, the text or the audio based on what their preferences of content consumption is? Or do you want to send Lochhead their video, text or audio based on his preference of content consumption? Right. So I can just frictionlessly introduce people via content in a, in a very easy way. And then it's going to say, oh, and on your social media, you have you talk about this on Instagram. You talk about this on LinkedIn and you talk about this on Twitter. Do you want to put this text on Twitter, this video on Instagram, this picture on LinkedIn about it, right? So like frictionally distribute that and tie that in all the way through seamless. With whatever, whatever corporate comp, you know, go from like a personal level of doing that to corporate comms level of doing that. Right. So that's, that's where I'm at with it. I dunno if I vomited too much or if we can then take it multiple steps further or not.Lochhead:
Wow. There's a ton there. what I hear you describing is the blurring, if I could call it that of content, community, and kind of news and information aggregation is that if I, if we were to draw the, the the the Venn diagram, are those the three bubbles or are there more bubbles or you tell them? Yeah.Pablo Gonzalez:
Yeah. And I would, and I would even just simplify community down to the it's the blurring of interpersonal connection and connection via. Community in-person and online and yes. Being a media machine, right? Like the idea that it's becoming more and more common to hear a company be like, you know, we're really a media company. We just happened to be selling this like that, that to me is clearly the future of where we're headed with that stuff.Lochhead:
So if we think about it from a perspective of the VC game what do we think is going to be true in five years? It's not true today.Pablo Gonzalez:
I think the majority of businesses will see themself, or if you've made it to a certain point, we'll have needed to create a community of super fans around them in order to survive. And I think the majority of businesses will see themselves as media machines, as opposed to widget sellers. That's five years.Lochhead:
No, I think that's. it'll be interesting to see what percentage of companies get there to me. everybody should be there now. Agreed. You know, like I say to people not having a company without a podcast in 2021 is like a company without a website. Like, wow. Yeah, you need a podcast. You need probably aPablo Gonzalez:
bunch. Yeah. Agreed. I think every department should have its own talk show where anybody can show up and ask them about stuff and answer content at scale, and then be able to redistribute it and have that inform their, their entire go-to-market edition form, their marketing, their sales and their client's success.Lochhead:
So, and this is a very shortened version of this because I actually want to jump to the category design because I think I got something for you, but. what the VC game would be about would be then brainstorming, being out this scenario at details. So all essentially all of our assumptions about the future that we just are trying to get our arms around in this discussion, brainstorming them out in detail, listing out the way the company might look, how it might behave, how it might do business, what distribution channels it might use, what business models it might try all of that stuff and have a sort of a very fun, but rigorous brainstorm. You know, one of the interesting things we had on. two guys who were props at the Berkeley school of music who wrote this great f*cking book called two beats ahead. Did you hear that one byPablo Gonzalez:
chance? Yeah. Yeah. I loved it. I loved it. Cause I've been super into the idea of how to add music to regular content to make it much. It was awesome. Yeah, go ahead.Lochhead:
But anyway, one of the things they discovered in their book, they interviewed all these mega stars, right? One of them was Justin Timberlake and one of the things they observed his behavior and that he said was when they're in the studio, they're just in pure creation mode. They're not in edit mode until at times you tell them that time comes. And so the whole book two beats ahead was about trying to take the learnings from legendary musical artists and translate them into business innovation. And so the holiday share there is that in business, we go to edit mode very quick. Somebody says an idea. They go, ah, well, yeah, we tried that one. No, no, no. None of that. So anyway, my point, my point in sharing that mindset is when we're, when we, if we were to do the blowout of the discussion, we just had over the course of a day or two, there's a lot of pie in the sky stuff. There's a lot of stupidity. That's what y'all want. The time for editing will come down, down the line, but we want to be like Justin Timberlake in pure creation mode. And so essentially when we play the VC game, we're saying we were going to create a company that was going to redesign the category away from the company we're currently employed by to a whole new thing and put us out of business. What would it be? And what I'm suggesting is as you do that exercise to really soak, to take the learnings from two beats ahead, legendary firstname.lastname@example.org today take the learnings and don't over edit. Anyway, I did want to get to something wrote your category design. Please. I was thinking about this today. So you said communities, the moat, right? I agree with that. And I was in a conversation earlier today about mass markets. And I've been thinking about this for a while. I don't think there's a such thing as a mass market anymore, then there's no such thing. I think it went away. I'll actually quite a long time ago and we have markets of one in micro markets anyway, where I you. So if you connect the dot communities, the moat, which I agree with you, I just bought a new mountain bike. It's specialized. Yeah. It's a f*cking Tesla mountain bike. It's got sensors and sh*t on it and it connects to their app and it app tells you everything like it's unbelievable maps, the whole thing, of course. And just to me, it's f*cking insane. And you can share it with your editor guys. You can upload it to Straub. I mean, it's unbelievable. Right. But what are they building well, community, right? What else are they building data flywheel. Right? Community building relationship. Going to be hard for me to leave specialized. My last bike was actually a Santa Cruz. This one's a special, I'm going to be hard for me to leave specialized. Cause they're going to have all this data and all these connections. Right? So, so anyway, communities, the moat data flywheel and relationship flywheel, if not the same thing, certainly deeply connected thing. Right. Stay with me. So maybe is there a point of view that goes, there are no mass markets. There are only communities.Pablo Gonzalez:
I love it. Yeah.Lochhead:
Yeah. Yeah. Th th th that's all, there is all there is, is community and, and the tagline of the POV might very well be the community is the business. Yeah,Pablo Gonzalez:
I'm into it, man. So where I'm at right now with it, I wholeheartedly believe in that POV. And I'm in that I'm in that weird stretch where it's like, I'm evangelizing it. I, you know, 50, like you said, 50%, 70% of people I talked to was like, f*cking brilliant. And then a very small percentage of people are just like, all right, let's go. And I, and I've been getting a lot better at positioning it in a certain way.Lochhead:
What do you call it? What are the exact words? What do you call it? What you do community, what,Pablo Gonzalez:
you know, I've really niched down into. Cause I'm trying to damn demand right now. Right? Like I think I'm at Netflix when I'm mailing DVDs right now. Right? I've I've niched down into f*ck. A podcast, internet talk show podcast is inefficient. Right. Like the podcast is a, is a, it's a great conversation. It's a great ABM move, but you don't get all these ancillary benefits of immediate feedback and press conferences and being able to combine all these different things into community, right? Like with the internet talk show, it fits neatly into every part of the, the go-to market. Right. As opposed to podcast fits into marketing.Lochhead:
so you are trying to market a category called internet talkPablo Gonzalez:
show. Yeah. That's where I'm at right now. And then headed towards relationship-driven growth, which is anything that combines the in-person with online content creation. So as the world opens up, I'm getting hired. For conferences to do activations, but my, my spin on the activation is everything we're doing in the conference experience is reverse engineered in a way where the person that took part of the experience is going to be able to get a one and a half to two minute sizzle reel of them looking like a f*cking genius at a really cool place where they met somebody special. And they're on par with them at that moment.Lochhead:
But what you're selling, the thing you're selling me is an internet talk show.Pablo Gonzalez:
That's what I buy. That's the first product right now. Yeah.Lochhead:
So I think it's clear. You have to develop a point of view about internet talk show. I think all that stuff about community and relationships and all that sh*t. I was completely confused about what you were doing. Yeah. So, so you have to say we're a pioneer in internet talk shows. And then you have to roll a POV that frames the problem here. Here's where I would use the ABT remember my friend park, Howell and but and therefore So hi, I'm Pablo what's it remind me of the name of that company.Pablo Gonzalez:
My company would be the stage B to stage B the stage. So it's like, don't be the star of the stage. It'd be the stage yourself. It'd be the stage itself.Lochhead:
So it'd be the stage we specialize in internet talk shows. Most people want to blah, blah, blah, and yada, yada, but RRRRRGH therefore TADA internet talk show.Pablo Gonzalez:
Yeah, this is f*cking it, man. Yeah, you're right. You're right. I had gotten away from that framework before I forgot before. Content simplified it into internet talk show. And now, now I think I can do it, right? Like company companies want to create massive content and build a community, but they don't have the resources to devote to each of them separately. Therefore, if you apply an internet, therefore you need a efficient way to feed both with one play. And that's the internet talk showLochhead:
I got it for you, but most people don't know where to start. So f*ck. Yeah!I want to do more content marketing and community and RRRrrr Gee but that's, that's that's feels like flying to Mars. Where do I f*cking start? Here's what you do. You start simply and powerfully with the highest ROI thing you can do, which is an internet talk show. As you know, then you roll the ABT. on them And an ABT answers the question if you want, if you, if you want to have a breakthrough in content and community marketing, start with a very specific thing. The first bowling pin is an internet talk show. Here's why.Pablo Gonzalez:
I feel like I'm cheating, dude. This is unfair. This is f*cking amazing. That was really cool.Lochhead:
Well, when you've been doing something 30 years, you should be able toPablo Gonzalez:
break it down. Yeah. You're not bad at it. listen, man, I wanted to save a little bit of time because I really want to, I really want to get involved in justice deposits and as I, and I live in a small market, right. I'm in Jackson. So bank United doesn't have a, it doesn't have a branch here, but I have to assume they don't have one in Santa Cruz. So I would love to give you, you know, kind of the stage to talk about how you set up your business to do bank with bank United with, with one United, given that it, unless they actually have a branch in Santa Cruz or whatever, man, but I'm sure that I could do it too. I just can't get over the mental f*ck.Lochhead:
We just did it all over the internet. There's this thing called the internet. We could banking on it today. He never heard of it. And of course you can use a bank of America ATM card to, to extract cash out of your when United bank cash cash account, if you want to, if you want physical cash. So, so yeah, I mean, in our case, we opened an a couple of accounts with one United firm here in Santa Cruz, over the internet, transferred some money and started doing business with them. It was that.Pablo Gonzalez:
And you're able to do business banking. Like you can take like online meetings for line of credit or whatever with them, you can transfer your money. No problem. Do you want to talk about what justice deposits are so that it's not just you and meLochhead:
talking and our friends that's listening I mean, I don't know every black bank, but in the case of one United, who I believe is still the largest and then was the best I know somewhere around 20 left. and if you just Google best black, black owned banks, you'll, you'll see lots of lists out there. and yeah, most of those banks provide the exact same service of any other bank with one big difference. they do business with people of color because time and time again, as a matter of fact, Jamie Dimon chairman of JP Morgan chase has come out and said the financial system in the United States is racists Time and time the study shows the same things. Black people have a hard time getting more, more more of a hard time for people of equal income. have a harder time getting loans, pay higher interest rates, pay higher interest rates on credit cards. these things are disgusting. get less small business loans, pay higher interest on small business loans and on and on and on Wells Fargo has been found guilty of this multiple times and fine It was disgusting by the way, nobody there ever went to jail for it, but I digress. So that's the first thing, which is that people of color get screwed over in the financial system in this country. And I don't have the exact number in front of me, but I think it's in the high 60%, 68%, 67%, something like that of the loans written by black banks are to people of color. No f*cking surprise. and so, so here's the. aha Loans are dreams, loans, do things like how people buy houses and go to school and start businesses and maybe down their credit card debt and pay a more reasonable interest rates so that they can have a shot. of getting out of debt of course allows a way to start saving and investing in learning about various products for building wealth over time, generational. and so these things all matter and it turns out my friends of color, tell me that many cases they don't feel well at a white bank and they should f*ck don't feel welcome. These are my words now I don't feel welcome, but we're Wells Fargo, so they should go themselves. and so, so my point is this. When we make a deposit into a black bank, We increase their ability to make loans because there is a direct relationship between deposits and loans. And when the reality is the range of services you can get at a black bank are comparable. And in some cases better than the range of services you would get at a more traditional bank. Why not at least do some business with a black bank, because if we want to create equal opportunity for everyone, access to capital equal access to capital. Okay. And all you have to do is look at the data to understand there has been far. From a quality around access to capital in this f*cking country. And it's about time. I think. And my, my co-authors with me two to whom were pastors, and one of whom is my brother from another mother, EDU, we think enough, so f*cking enough. And if people are in a position to make a difference should, and so. we were encouraging everybody to consider making a justice deposit instead of that justice deposit that is to say open an account and a black bank and do some business with them. And there've been incredible companies who have led the way on this. Netflix has done this, and Costco has done this, and Twitter has done this. And it's a, it's an extraordinary thing that they've done. I mean, they've made a massive difference. These companies by moving a relatively small percentage of their cash into some of these banks. And so we can all do that. If everybody put 10% of their cash deposits in a black owned bank we would change the economic equality opportunity in this country for the rest of time. And so we're trying to get, it's a big number. We're trying to get 140 billion moved into black owned banks in the next few years, because if we do that. And then access to real opportunities gonna change.Pablo Gonzalez:
Let's go. All right, man. I'm in. Sorry. So that's just get out of my own head book, book, a meeting online, transfer my sh*t electronically and shut the f*ck up. Right?blanck:
just not thatPablo Gonzalez:
hard deal, man. You got yourself a goddamn deal. this has been amazing, man. You know, they say that you'll meet your heroes. but this has been totally, totally a, an overdeliver moment for me, man. I really appreciate you making this time. as I have told you via many, a LinkedIn message, anything that you espouse I buy. So, you know, be responsible with my wallet, however you want. But the moment that you guys have an event or something in Santa Ana, like I'm dying to go surfing with you in Santa Cruz. Like that would be amazing. but thank you, man. I really, I really, really appreciate your time and I, I really appreciate the. The archetype of the punk rock entrepreneur, man, I'm just really into it. So you're killing it. I appreciate.Lochhead:
Well, thanks. It's been my pleasure. And you know, this, this speaks to the native analog, native digital thing, right? those of us who are native analog, who are willing to engage you and I have never met in person, I felt like I knew you already. And the reality is you knew me and I knew you. Yeah, we did. We knew each other. So thank you for having me onPablo Gonzalez:
appreciate it, man.