Christopher Lochhead is a dyslexic paperboy from Montreal, Canada, who failed out of school at 18, started a company, and went on to become a legendary 3-time Chief Marketing Officer in Silicon Valley. After selling his last company for $4.5 billion, Christopher “retired” to his home in Santa Cruz to pursue passions like surfing, martial arts, and spending time with his wife and their pet chickens. He continues to share his expertise in marketing and category creation through his “Lochhead on Marketing” podcast, and his chart-topping “Follow Your Different” podcast brings insightful guests and authentic dialogue to his audience. Christopher is an unapologetic promoter of start-ups, legendary marketing, category design, and life design.
Q&A WITH CHRISTOPHER LOCHHEAD
Q: What is it you love about podcasting?
- Pretty much everything. It’s an incredibly innovative medium. I love it when people try new things in podcasting. I’m particularly a fan of authentic dialogue podcasting.
- A lot of people talk about the negativity of technology, smartphones, social media and so forth and how that’s contributed to the collective ADHD of the world. That may be true
- Interesting in podcasting, and specifically dialogue podcasting, it’s fascinating the technology people point to for creating attention deficit amongst many is the medium that’s bringing back the word that for decades most people didn’t know existed. That word is conversationalist
- Podcasting is the only medium for authentic dialogue other than sitting down with an individual and having that in an unedited way. There’s a natural beauty, natural art to a conversation.
- If it’s done well, for the listener, there’s an interesting thing that happens. You can have this “eavesdropping” experience.
- If it’s a great dialogue podcast, somewhere about the 20-minute mark, your bran flips from being an eavesdropper. It feels like you’re in the conversation yourself.
- At the end of the episode, I find myself screaming, “hey! I’m not done yet!”
Q: You might be “off-putting to some” (per Chris’ own ads), but you’re beloved by most because you’re unapologetically authentic. I’d love to ask you how did that evolve in your life? Where and when in your life do you feel like you found the courage to walk your own path?
- I got thrown out of school when I was 18. I had 4-5 learning differences including dyslexia and others. I lump it all together and call it “dysfucklia.” There’s power in owning shit. The good, the bad and all of it.
- The truth is learning differences aren’t negative.
- At 18, I had few options. I was working part-time at a hospital as an orderly. So I could shave guys’ balls or I could start a company.
- With a lot of help from my friend Jack, who was already in the technology business, he encouraged me to join him and start a company and we did it. That’s how I got started.
- When I started, I played the part I thought a businessperson or entrepreneur was. I was sort of acting. There were a few people, mentors I looked up to early in my career. I realized this is bullshit. I’ll not pretend to be whatever I thought people wanted me to be. The minute I let go of that, my life changed. My professional life changed profoundly.
Q: How would you counsel somebody on how to manifest that in their life? How does a young person find the courage to be their own self?
- On one hand, there are social norms and there are expectations for certain people in society, in business. We have to be aware of these things. However, being constrained by them is a mistake.
- I realize there’s an outrageous component of how I am, and my personality is natural. It comes from a passionate place, an excited place, sometimes from an angry place.
- We have to realize we have to take responsibility for our words and actions. Once I learned as a young man, if I was going to give myself permission to be fully self-expressed, I had to be responsible for it. I also had to realize how responsible I’d be for my words and actions.
- On one hand, “hey buddy! you’ve got to pay attention and be responsible.” On the other hand, let go and when you fuck up, you should have the courage to say “I’m sorry.” I sort of figured that out in my 20s.
Q: So you re-branded your podcast after you initially built it up. You re-branded it to “Follow your Different!” How did you come up with that and what does it mean to you to follow your different?
- On a personal level, we connect on our similarities in many ways which is great. Similarities are important.
- However, most of us want to be loved and accepted for what makes us unique. What makes us, us. It’s that different that I’m talking about. That’s on a personal side.
- In business, it turns out the most legendary entrepreneurs, creators, salespeople, innovators weren’t doing something that’s incrementally better. They were doing something that’s exponentially different.
- The people we admire the most are people who broke and took new ground. This is a celebration of the different people that make us uniquely us.
Q: I know we’re both pretty passionate about making the world a better place. When you think about that idea, that concept, what strikes you as the thing you’d like to make better about the world?
- It goes back to what we were talking about at the beginning; podcasting. I’m very concerned of what we saw in the last elections in the US. We’ve lost the ability to have authentic conversations and dialogues with each other.
- This sounds overly dramatic, but we saw it on January 6th. We ought to have civil discourse or we’ll have civil war. It’s that simple.
- It’s the dynamic push and pull, left and right, different ideas. We need that and it makes us stronger. Steel sharpens steel. We need to have an argument. We need to debate.
- My dream is for authentic dialogue and civil discourse to come back.
- Secondly, there’s systemic racism in this country in a lot of places including business. So me and a handful of other legendary guys wrote this piece for the Harvard Business Review about “justice deposits.” We were inspired by Netflix, Costco and other early companies in this movement.
- If we want social justice, equality, the American Dream in this country, equal access to opportunity through equal access to capital matters tremendously. We make deposits in black-owned banks which will have more money to make loans. We’re on a mission to get $125 billion moved to black-owned banks over the next handful years.
Q: You’ve achieved a great deal of success in your life, both personally and professionally. I think many people who are young entrepreneurs would aspire to a career and a life like yours. I’d love to give you a chance to share any message you have to the Cutco/Vector audience or anyone else listening that you think would be valuable for people to hear.
- You are what you subscribe to. Be very careful of what you put in your brain. There’s a lot of stupid bullshit today.
- More importantly, there’s a lot of legendary stuff out there. There are podcasts, audiobooks, eBooks, blogs, webinars, YouTube videos, Ted Talks etc.
- Education has been transformed right in front of our eyes. This is a dumb time to be dumb.
- We as society have gone through extraordinarily painful times since COVID-19 struck. We’ve also had major, major breakthroughs. What does this mean? What I think it means is never in the history of humanity has the future been sitting right in front of us screaming to be created.
- A lot of stuff I loved in that conversation starting with why podcasts are such an interesting cool medium.
- Chris talked about why learning differences aren’t disabilities and why it’s important not to compare ourselves with others too much or in the wrong ways.
- I loved the idea of conscious curation of what you put in your head.
- Examine that idea right now as it applies to you and then, of course ask yourself this great question, “what can you be legendary about that produces massive value?” “What are your unique gifts, your personal monopoly?” What do you want to be known for?”
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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