Welcome to this week's episode on The Radcast! Get ready for the ultimate guide to category creation (and domination) with marketing legend Christopher Lochhead.
Welcome to this week's episode on The Radcast! Get ready for the ultimate guide for category creators with marketing legend Christopher Lochhead.
In this episode on The Radcast, host Ryan Alford talks with guest Christopher Lochhead about the ways brands can be the kings and queens of their category. They also dissect what brands are currently doing well in the marketing space, and how brands can better create content for each platform.
This is an amazing episode as Chris opens up about the importance of category creation while also sharing great insights for exactly how to go about this.
To learn more about Category Pirates, follow Christopher Lochhead on LinkedIn, or by visiting https://www.categorypirates.com/
If you enjoyed this episode of The Radcast, let us know by visiting our website www.theradcast.com or leave us a review on Apple Podcast. Be sure to keep up with all that's radical from @ryanalford @radical_results @the.rad.cast
It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?
Hey guys. What’s up? Welcome to the latest edition of the Radcast.
Speaker 1 [00:00:05] Hey, guys, what's up? It's Ryan Alford. Welcome to the latest edition of the Radcast. Coming to you live from the studios here in Greenville, South Carolina, the home of the coolest, the baddest, motherfucking greatest in my mind, at least, agency that is radical. I'm here today with, I call him a marketing hero. I'm going to go there, Christopher. I'm just going to go straight at it. I'm going, to be honest. Marketing legend, number one, Apple podcast host, best-selling author, and just an all-around Category Pirate that is Christopher Lochhead. What's up, brother?
Christopher Lochhead [00:00:51] Nice to see you, Ryan. Thank you for that.
Ryan Alford [00:00:53] Hey, man, hyperbole is in my blood.
Christopher Lochhead [00:00:58] Some of us in marketing come by it naturally.
Ryan Alford [00:01:02] I know it's all I've done for 20 years. So anyway, I appreciate you coming on again. I read the books or listened to them. I've listened to the podcast and Lochhead on marketing and several things. You've been out there several times and I looked up you and mentioned to you pre-episode that I quoted, even one of your latest episodes from your podcast about zigging when everyone else is zagging to use my terms and maybe not yours, but I think that was the gist of what you're getting at. And that's been the foundation of a lot of your career. Right?
Christopher Lochhead [00:01:39] Yeah, I mean, most people don't challenge the way that it is, and the high is, of course, the way that it is now is that way because somebody changed the way that it was. And most people accept the way that it is, and I'm just one of those people who've spent my entire adult life questioning the way that it is and saying, well, why isn't this some other way?
Ryan Alford [00:02:10] Well, you've done that. And let's start down that path a little bit. I know your stuff's out there. People can find you. You're probably already listening to you. But a lot of the marketing junkies are listeners of the Radcast. I'm sure we could talk the entire episode about your past, but I'd love to know, what shaped that worldview through the lens of your background and all of those things and marketing.
Christopher Lochhead [00:02:43] Well, I think I got my start the way a lot of entrepreneurs do, Ryan, which is, for some people, entrepreneurship is a way up in the world. And, if you were lucky enough to go to Stanford or Harvard and write some awesome algorithm or some create some Carbadingulator and roll on out to Sandhill Road and Silicon Valley and raise two hundred million bucks and do that, then God bless you. Some of us didn't start that way. I got thrown out of school at 18 for being stupid. And so really with very few options, I was working as an orderly in a hospital. And so my options at 18 after I got thrown out of school were to start a company and be an entrepreneur or shave guy's balls for a living. And so I decided to start a company.
Ryan Alford [00:03:37] Good path. I love it. Did any of the pirates come from that diversion at all?
Christopher Lochhead [00:03:49] Maybe a little. I will tell you one thing, though. When you walk into a guy's hospital room and you say; “hey, Ryan, my name's Chris, I'm your orderly and I'm here to give you a shave today”. And often I would hear this; “well, you know, I already shave”. You said; “you probably didn't shave or I'm going to shave you”.
Ryan Alford [00:04:06] Holy shit, I love it, we're going right after here early on, the Radcast one by Christopher Lochhead. Who is one of the marketing legends out there, it's interesting, I thought about this, Christopher. I've come upon the ad agency side of the business, and marketing and advertising are a little different. Some people may not recognize that if they are not in the industry, but you definitely, I think more on the overall marketing because you came up through a different channel than the historical legends of advertising. Correct?
Christopher Lochhead [00:04:45] Yeah, for sure. My first real job in marketing was at twenty-seven years old when I became the head of Marketing for a publicly-traded software company. I had done a lot of marketing before that, but my first executive job in marketing was as head of marketing for a publicly-traded software company at a pretty young age.
Ryan Alford [00:05:34] Marketing directly for software and in software specifically. My mind gets so convoluted now thinking about software and marketing because it's so sass-driven, so commerce-driven. Now performance marketing I just want to jab myself in the arm. Sometimes when we throw some of these terms around and look, I get it, it's like there's been so much pressure put on marketing and the CMO now is the first person to go at any company. But I don't know your perspective on where that's all landed.
Christopher Lochhead [00:05:47] What in terms of why CMOs get fired?
Ryan Alford [00:05:50] No, just performance marketing and Sass marketing and all that comparative to marketing when you were twenty-seven.
Christopher Lochhead [00:05:58] I mean, so a lot of it, of course, technologies have changed, and what you can do is at a level of precision, you couldn't do it before. And that's cool. I'm a huge fan of new technology. I want to know what's going on. I want to experiment with all the new stuff. I have lots of young people in my life who are great at that stuff. One of my partners in Category Pirates, Nicholas Cole, he's 30 years old and he's native digital. And so I love learning from these folks. The key principles of marketing, though, really have not changed. And so it's some of the tactics and some of the technologies that have changed. But the reality of how you design categories are still the same. The reality of how you create demand and capture demand is still the same. The reality around how you build legendary breakthrough products is still the same. And some of the approaches to how we get there are very different. But at a principal level, a lot of the stuff is the same. And then in certain cases, new technologies have opened up, if you will, new principles. And that's cool, too. But yes, shit has changed a lot in the last 30 years or so.
Ryan Alford [00:07:12] When you think about category design and category development. My mind gets into this product space versus the brand space. A brand is not necessarily the category and the category is not necessarily the brand at all times. It can certainly live and breathe it. But sometimes you don’t intrinsically have a product that has developed the category. What's the balance you feel like in how you help companies or have helped over time?
Christopher Lochhead [00:07:53] So at a high level, the companies that break through, the companies that change the future, the companies that are worth the most going forward, they get three things right at the same time. We call it prosecute the magic triangle. And what that means is they get company design. Business model, culture distribution, all of those things. They get product design. So do we have a truly breakthrough product that solves a unique problem in a completely differentiated way? And they get category design right. So product, company, and category. And if you get all three of those right at the right moment in time, that's how you get Airbnb. That's how you get Zoom. That's how you get to pick your breakthrough company. And, based on our research, based on our experience, based on my experience doing this for over 30 years, it is equal parts of those three. The one addition I'd say there, Ryan, is of those three, there's one that is a single point of failure and that's category because if there's no market, there's no marketing. You can build a legendary product, you can build a legendary company business model, but if you don't have a category, there is nobody that's going to buy it. So that's kind of a problem one. Problem number two is, if you look at most new, whether it's a startup or an innovative new product that is trying to pioneer an innovative new category from an existing company, the same dynamics are true. If you get category right, once people see something, they can't unsee it. And, so if you look at a company like Lululemon is a great example, right? Leggings had been around for zillions of years. They had the genius to call it a new category called athleisure. And this idea of you could wear something to yoga and then you could wear it to the grocery store was a breakthrough idea, even though those products had existed forever. So they created a new category, athleisure, and then they built the dominant brand, if you will, the category queen in the category. If you look at the magic triangle from a product perspective, well, there were some innovative things, no question, and some good design. And they've done good product things, leggings, yoga wear, workout wear, I mean, Prana had been around forever. Nike had been around forever and under armor. These companies existed. So really not that much from an innovation perspective on the product side. On the company side, Lululemon is a shitty company. Its founder has said horrible, stupid things about women's bodies and women's behinds and all this stuff. I think it might be Business Insider. There's one of the publications that have like his name, I think his name is Chip something. I forget his last name. Anyway, they have a whole list of all the stupid things he ever said and did. And the company has historically missed its numbers and pissed off Wall Street. And so the reality is it's not a good company. It doesn't truly have a breakthrough product, but it did do legendary category design. And so once people see it, they can't unsee it. And if when they see it, they want it and they will. And this is the difference between going to market and having the market come to you. And so they've continued to be the category queen in the category they created, even though their founder says dumb shit about women and, their product is of questionable quality and innovation. Let me say it that way.
Ryan Alford [00:11:44] Well, that brings up another question. Have you seen category designers fail then, because what I'm hearing from you is almost like, as long as you
develop the triangle that you just said, and particularly the category design, which can't fail, then the branding and the advertising that gets that message out there may be inconsequential to whether it succeeds or not? I don't think that's totally what you're saying. But how do you balance that? I mean, are you saying amazing category designers can't fail?
Christopher Lochhead [00:12:19] No, of course, everybody can fail. And look, let's not be stupid. Luck has a lot to do with this. People talk about timing. Timing matters, and you can drive the timing. So you can make it your time, but luck's involved. Here's the big difference, once people get this, it changes how they think about building businesses and brands. Categories make brands not the other way around. And so the entire entrepreneurial world, the entire marketing world, in my opinion, is massively over-rotated, massively over-invested in branding. And here's the AHA! You can take a legendary brand and slap it on a category and fail miserably. Red Bull Cola. They did an absolute frontal attack on Coke and they had their ass handed to them. Google thought it could dominate in social networking, and they launched a me-too product and spent billions of dollars on this thing called Google Plus. Microsoft did the same thing under Steve Ballmer, Ballmer said, hey, Apple's winning in retail, go look at the Apple store and do exactly that. And have you ever seen a Microsoft store? It looks exactly like an Apple store with one big difference. There's no one there. And they just shut them not that long ago. And so my point is the biggest mistake in business is a frontal attack on an existing category, king or queen, in a category they designed with a; ‘we’re better than them strategy’. We're going to compete for existing demand as opposed to what you might think of as a flank, which is we're no better than them, we're different. And rather, category designers drive a choice, not a comparison. And so it's a very different way of thinking. It's about carving out a niche that you can own, that you can become known for. And category designers do not want to be compared. They want all others to be compared to them. And so designing your category that you can ultimately dominate is the most radical differentiation strategy that exists.
Ryan Alford [00:14:58] There's a term I love. So self-absorbed there with the name and what we try to live by, I don't know if, it's a lot to live up to, but I will say it sounds to me like if you want to be, nothing's bulletproof, but you sure do. You get a pretty damn good bulletproof vest when you're developing the category.
Christopher Lochhead [00:15:22] Here is the other half for brand marketers. Name me a brand that you admire that does not dominate its category. It's hard to come up with one. Because legends don't compete, they create and there's a very big difference between marketing to capture demand versus marketing to create demand. And so the legends market the category. The legends market the problem. Because the more attention, the more understanding there is of the problem or the opportunity, the more people will be attracted to the category. And if you are the emerging category queen, then you stand to gain massively from that. For my first book, we did a whole bunch of primary research, which we were lucky enough to get published in the Harvard Business Review. And what we discovered, Ryan is that; oh, here's our dog Bean. Hi, buddy.
Ryan Alford [00:16:52] Oh, he likes this.
Christopher Lochhead [00:16:53] He looks a lot like a cat, but he's a dog. He behaves exactly like a dog. And he loves hanging out in the studio with me.
Ryan Alford [00:17:01] His name is Bean?
Christopher Lochhead [00:17:02] His name is Bean. Here. let me put him in front of the camera there is Bean.
Ryan Alford [00:17:04] I love that. Yes. If you're just listening and not watching and this is a shameless plug for watching all that is the Radcast. Bean is one of Christopher's cats. I did read enough to know the lay of the land there that he just joined us. And, you know, I wish he could, like, meow or something in the mike.
Christopher Lochhead [00:17:23] He's hanging out and he likes to play fetch, so he might bring over one of his mouse toys and might start playing some fetch. But I guess the bigger high is, here's a simple one that that I like that tends to resonate. If you want to sell Bibles, there's got to be Christians. And so what most people do is they shout, look how great my Bible is, legends spread the religion. And in the H.PR research that I mentioned, we discovered this incredible thing. Seventy-six percent of the total value created as measured by market cap or valuation goes to the company that dominates the category. And so the aha here is categories make the brand. Google has a legendary brand because they dominate a category called search. When they take that legendary brand and they slap it on a category that they're not designing, a.k.a. social networking, they have their ass handed to them in this case by Facebook. And so most companies believe they can win by screaming their brand. Look at us, look at us. Aren't we awesome? Aren't we awesome? Brands are about us. Categories are about customers. And so legends market the category. And in so doing, there's this other interesting thing that happens. Prospects, customers, consumers, the only company they've ever seen market the category is the category queen. So when you're the one evangelizing the category, the market people in the market assume you're the leader because that's what leaders do, non-leaders, that is to say, followers, compare themselves to others. Take the Pepsi Challenge, Pepsi tastes better than Coke, right? And when they do that, they're telling the market category Coke's the leader. And so the only companies that consumers ever see attacking and comparing themselves are by definition, not the leaders, not the category queens and kings. And so if you want to be perceived as the company that's designing and dominating the market category, evangelize the category.
Ryan Alford [00:19:23] This is a master course, if anyone is not listening, you need to go read, Play Bigger or Niche Down a couple of Christopher Lochhead’s books, but this is another as we've had a couple of master courses in marketing and advertising. The last couple where you got yet another home run on this one already. It brings me back to this discussion. I worked at Verizon Wireless for 13 years from 2001 to 12 and 14, the glory years. And I sat in C suite meetings when they would start BDI and CDI discussions. Brand and category. And Verizon was the leader, America's most reliable wireless network. Can you hear me now? Campaigns that we worked on. And they would sometimes creep into the feeling like they needed to play the game with T-mobiles and the Sprints and all of that when they were the leader of the pack. And this is just bringing me full one-eighty back to that. Those memories of those same discussions and 20-something-year-old me I think was right in telling them to take the high road, be promoting the category.
Christopher Lochhead [00:20:30] Yes. The other interesting thing is when a category king plays a comparison game, and does what they were talking about doing, that's called punching down. When you punch down, you do two things. A, you damage your brand because there's an unwritten rule in humanity that says if you're five feet tall and 100 pounds and I'm six feet tall and two hundred pounds and I start beating you up, that makes me an asshole. And that's true in business, too. So dominant companies and dominant brands don't punch down, that's point A. Point B is probably more important. The minute I engage in a competition with you, I'm no longer the category king. Category kings don't compete, they create. And so they don't get involved with that discussion. But the discussion they do get involved with is evangelizing the category, expanding the size of the category, expanding the definition of the category, and moving into adjacent categories. They'll do acquisitions to accelerate their position in the category, but they never take the stupid bait of punching down.
Ryan Alford [00:21:58] I love all of that. When you've worked with companies in the past, whatever your role has been and companies you've been at, whether you've consulted wherever you're at, I know that it starts with that category design, but is it always you're either to feel like there's the happy meeting? Like some companies are never going to be the category leader, but they're very successful. Success happens at multiple levels and obviously, the greatest success can happen. But if a company or someone you were working with just was either incapable or wasn't going to become a category new designer, but could be very successful, is it your firm belief just that this success is fleeting and will never last unless you get to the promised land?
Christopher Lochhead [00:22:51] So those companies do exist and God bless them. I have no interest in those companies. And I don't think you should either. And there are a couple of key reasons, number one; do you want to do incremental things or exponential things? I was in a conversation the other day with a venture-backed tech company here in Silicon Valley, and they were describing their strategy and where they were and all that. And I said to them; "Hey, guys. Everything you've just shared with me sounds fucking incremental". But why are you playing so safe? You're a venture-backed tech startup of some of the best investors in the world. If I'm a VC on your board, here's what I'm saying to you. Hey, listen, throw 50-yard passes. Because I'm not interested in a medium outcome. In the world that I grew up in, in Silicon Valley, we are playing for multibillion-dollar outcomes. And so if you're playing that game, don't play the short game. I said to him, if you use the football analogy, right, I'm not interested in passing the ball for a three-yard gain. That's not what we're fucking doing. And that's not what your venture investors are trying to get. The best venture firms have funds that return 10x 15 x 20 x the investment. And so the truth is the legendary VCs, want their investments to turn into a massive multibillion-dollar, publicly-traded, successful category king that designs and dominates a category that matters or they want a crater in the ground. In between is not that interesting. I know most people don't want to play that way. I understand and appreciate that, Ryan, but I'm not interested in the incremental. So that's point A. Point B, if you put it in a very personal term, say you make the math simple. Let's say you get your first real job at twenty-five. And let's say you're going to, work till you're sixty-five, to keep the math simple. So twenty-five. Thirty-five. Forty-five. Fifty-five. Sixty-five. That's 40 years. Now, let's say you're in the average job for five years, just to keep the math simple. So you're going to have eight jobs, what you could think of as eight attempts. Now here's what we know. Less than one percent of startups are ever successful. So you've got eight tries at this. I think where you invest your life matters. And so we're all going to get to the end of our career, what do we want to have been a part of? And do we or don't we want to invest a disproportionate number of those eight shots in trying to do something radical, trying to do something breakthrough, trying to move the world forward? Ultimately, there are two kinds of people in business, those who bet on the future being the same and those who bet on it being different. I'm not interested in the same. I'm not interested in fighting for market share about the past. I'm not interested in playing game design by somebody else. It's not interesting to me and I don't think it's interesting to a lot of people. To some people have at it. So I think the fundamental question at a personal level is you've got eight shots. What do you want to do in those eight shots? And if the answer to the question is, hey, you know what, I want to compete by building a brand with a better product and fighting for market share. Great. Have at it. That's not interesting to me.
Ryan Alford1 [00:26:51] They say such things as leading the witness, and I'm glad I led because you just got on the soapbox and I fucking love that idea. I had a feeling you were going to go there. As someone that lives a life on the edge personally or is a grown man of forty-three and four boys at home. I don't follow many rules myself. And yes, yes, preach, brother, preach, preach. Don't give me an average. I want to play bigger. Play bigger. Well, that's the key, right.
Christopher Lochhead [00:27:22] What do you want to do with your career? Look at it. Here's the other thing I'll tell you. You know, as somebody who started at 18. I'm fifty-three. It goes by fucking fast. It does. And if you're not doing legendary work, work that you say is legendary, then what are you doing, and why are you doing it? You know, the interesting thing, Ryan, with covid and so forth. Collectively as humanity, a huge percentage of us are saying, hey, wait a minute. Why am I doing what I'm doing? Why am I living with who I'm living with? Why am I living where I'm living? Why am I spending two hours a day in the car, commuting, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? And so covid has driven on the positive side a sort of existential discussion. What's a company? Does a company need a headquarters? And what's a career? And so there's a massive, massive transformation going on right now in what you could call life design and career design. And so as we all think about that, I think it behooves us to say, why are we doing what we're doing? Why are we working where we're working? Is this legendary work or not? Is this work when I'm sixty-five years old, I will look back on with pride? And listen from an economic point of view. How can I monetize myself and I'll tell you? Marketers who capture demand by building a brand get paid one way. Marketers who create demand by designing categories get paid a whole other way.
Ryan Alford [00:29:17]. So true. Have you always been back to that story of working and shaving body parts, that no one on earth should be thinking about of someone else? Was it ingrained in you then? I mean, have you always been contrary? It doesn't do your body of work justice. But have you always been that way?
Christopher Lochhead [00:29:46] Yeah, I think, Ryan, that even as a young man, I remember being five years old, my Uncle Jimmy is a political science teacher. And I remember being about five years old and saying to him, hey, Uncle Jimmy, how do you change a law? And so for whatever reason, I've always been somebody who goes, well, why is it the way that it is? And could it be a different way? So I've always asked that. The other thing that's interesting in the context of our world today, Ryan, is what most people today call thinking, is not thinking. What most people are doing when they say they're thinking is they're replaying somebody else's thoughts. We are curators and aggregators of thinking today, we don't give ourselves time to think. And so I think, thinking about thinking is the most important kind of thinking. And so when somebody says something, I believe it's important to say, OK, well. Why? And there's an old sort of theory that says, ask why five to seven times? And when you ask why five to seven times you start to get some pretty interesting answers and the questions matter a lot. So when you ask the question, how come I can't press a button on my phone and rent somebody's couch that turns into Airbnb? And when my friend Britney says, jeez, I'm having a whole bunch of health problems, I'm a pretty young, healthy woman. Why is this? And she discovers that she's got her diet is causing inflammation and various other problems, and she discovers the magic of flax. So she starts creating her flax milk at home, and then before you know it, she has an idea to go talk to Whole Foods about this. And now she's the founder of Malibu Milk and she's the pioneer of an emerging category of Flack's milk because she asked the question. And so I think legendary innovators in business, legendary innovators in marketing, ask the question, why is it the way that it is every market category is designed? There's a reason that we can go to Costco and buy a relatively good quality, high-end TV for one hundred and fifty bucks. And there's a reason a pair of high-end sunglasses cost three hundred bucks. Now, on the face of it, you go, well, one of these products is a piece of highly advanced technology that talks to satellites in space. And another of them is something that keeps UV rays out of your eyes. Which onesThree hundred bucks and which ones One hundred and fifty bucks? If you didn't know any better, I'd say for sure it's the thing that talked to the satellites when in point of fact, it's not. And so everything we value, we value it because we were taught to value it. I think a seminal question in business is who taught us to think that way? And more importantly, once you understand how new ideas breakthrough and become massive new radical categories. Then you say, well, how do I become somebody. That helps to make those breakthroughs happen.
Ryan Alford [00:33:31] Love it. it brings, I think, the best marketers and some of the smartest who I know are naturally curious. The world and the creature comfort that we have, we're creating a world of people that don't have to be curious because they're very comfortable. And I think a lot of what you're describing is that natural curiosity. You have to be naturally curious, with your history and background to be asking all those questions, number one. And then I also think one of your favorite books, because its illusions, it's very much playing down this path that if you create a box, you'll live in it.
Christopher Lochhead [00:34:10] Yeah, and who wants to do that, right? And it's interesting what you said about comfort. We just dropped an episode of my dialog podcast with Michael Easter, who is a professor and a writer, a journalist for men's men's magazines like Outside and Men's Health, and so forth. Anyway, the book's called The Comfort Crisis, and it's a fascinating book. I, highly, recommend it. Mike is a great guy and a great educator. And the AHA in the book, there are some incredible stats that he points to. We are 14x less active than we used to be. We Americans don't go outside. Most Americans are inside the four walls of something Ninety five percent of the time. And so his whole theory, he lays it out beautifully in the book is we do have a comfort crisis. Yes. Is it awesome? We can press a button on our phone and the greatest food from the greatest restaurant in our neighborhood just magically shows up at our front door? Of course, it is. And we all love it, myself included. However, you learn something about yourself when you go on a multiday backcountry camping trip that you can't learn sitting there having Netflix deliver what you want and Door Dash deliver what you want and Amazon deliver what you want, et cetera, et cetera
Ryan Alford [00:35:39] Comfort creates apathy and, so different, I mean, I'm big into personal fitness and things like that and like the same thing with training, like if you get comfortable in the gym and go work out and be comfortable, but then nothing changes. You're comfortable like you're not, growing or getting better in shape. You're just going through the motions. And I have never heard of that book, but will read it because I was having that thought the other day.
Christopher Lochhead [00:36:03]. It's called the comfort crisis. You'll love it.
Ryan Alford [00:36:06] Yeah, it's I only I understand the premise, but I just was thinking like that same thing, like our own comforts, while wonderful on some levels, is creating potentially a lack of innovation, and because in a lack of doing exactly what you said, category development and curiosity, because if you're comfortable, what do you have to be curious about. Now, I think I'm wired differently. I know you're wired differently, but, it's scary. It's a slippery slope.
Christopher Lochhead [00:36:44] Look, it's interesting, we as human beings have been taught to fit in. We've been taught the way to succeed is to compete, get good grades, go to a good school, become a fill-in-the-blank, doctor, lawyer, nurse, whatever, and then compete as a candidate for a job, get a good job. And so this is just this whole paradigm that we've been taught. Well, when you study the legends, that's not what any of them did. Not fucking one of them. All of them are legends. The reason we love them is that they broke and took new ground. I told you, I got a funny story for you. My buddy Ali Ramadan, who's one of the coauthors of Play Bigger. He's a great surfer. He taught me to surf. And years ago, he got invited on this very special Super Ding-Dong surf trip down to Mexico because he knows all of us, the highfalutin people in the surf world. And he gets this call and says, hey, look, we got a few guys. We're organizing this trip. You got to be able to make it tomorrow, bring your boards, and be in San Isidro. And he's like, all right, I'm going to go to this very remote spot with this tiny little biplane. Anyway, he shows up to do this. And there are three other surfers on the trip with him. And one of them is Kelly Slater.
Ryan Alford [00:38:07] Holy shit.
Christopher Lochhead [00:38:08] As you know, he's the Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, LeBron James. I mean, some people say he's the most dominant athlete of all time in terms of what he's won. I believe it's 11 championships anyway. So he gets this magical couple of days, a surf trip with Kelly and a couple of the world's most elite surfers. And as they're getting to know each other. Al told me every time he takes off on a wave, Kelly starts screaming at him, "Hey, dude, do something radical. Something radical". I try to encourage Al to get his freak on and try new shit. And so, most of us are most alive and we're pushing ourselves. When we are trying to be, sometimes it's a little radical, maybe it's doing a couple of extra reps in the gym. Sometimes it's a lot more radical. But if we start to look at our lives, where we experience, this is Ahum Michael's book where we experience the most joy. It's not one where you are the most comfortable. It's when we push ourselves and we learn and we grow and we stretch and we discover something about ourselves. While it's fun to sit there and watch Netflix, I love that shit, too. It's not where we grow. It's not where we create as human beings.
Ryan Alford [00:39:34] 100 percent. Talking with Christopher Lochhead, one of the legends in marketing Category Pirates, the newsletter author Niche Down, Play Bigger Christopher as we are winding down here, what does the future hold for you? I know you're never going to, Bill. No fucking retirement around here, we are not using any of those terms. What's on the periphery?
Christopher Lochhead [00:40:03] Yes, I think the future for me is mostly about you. Here's the aha, I and my partners have come to over the last six months or so. We are at an extraordinarily unique moment in history, Ryan, and if you go back and study history in particular, we spent a lot of time studying the last major pandemic and how that led to the Roaring Twenties and then the dirty 30s. Well, the similarities between now and the late teens and the early 20s of the last century are eerie. Massive pandemic. Big shut down and then a massive amount of innovation. We went from, for example, electricity not being prevalent in the United States, to by the end of the 20s, 70 percent of American homes had electricity. So there was a huge category breakthrough in electricity. There was a huge category breakthrough in food and there was a huge category breakthrough in transportation. That's when Henry Ford's new category, the horseless carriage, started to take off. Well, isn't it interesting today that we have a huge category breakthrough happening in the electric everything? We have big category breakthroughs in food and lots of other areas. So as you start to look around, what you are seeing is new categories create new categories. And when breakthroughs happen, there's the power of the breakthrough itself, but then there's this sort of level of consciousness or thinking that it creates. I'll give you an example. We just wrote about this when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. Some people say the human body is not even capable of it. And then the experts say, well, if it's going to happen, it's going to be under these certain very special circumstances. Well, Roger blows all that up. Interestingly enough, shortly thereafter, an Australian guy beats his record and then the year after that, multiple runners in a race all hit four-minute miles. And now today, of course, what was a breakthrough in legendary is commonplace for distance runners, and so there's the breakthrough itself and it creates more breakthroughs, but then there's the other sort of meta breakthrough, which is, hey, you know what? But the entirety of humanity, we thought running the four-minute mile was impossible. If that's not impossible, what else is not impossible? We are living in a time today, Ryan, where the number of breakthrough innovations and categories being delivered has never been this high. And of course, at a high level, we all know what some of the big ones are. It used to take 15 years to bring a drug to market. Now we know we can do it in nine months. Companies who were never going to do this work-from-home thing did it in days. We've been talking about telemedicine forever, wasn't happening, bam. Now we've all seen our doctor over Zoom and on and on and on. There are many others. And so my point is we are living now at the time of the most amount of innovation and therefore category breakthrough in history. As a result, human beings' receptivity to the new has never been higher. And there's this bullshit marketing we've been taught that says, “ people aren't open to change, people resist the change". Really? Go fuck yourself. 15 years ago nobody wanted a smartphone. Last year, nobody was doing Zoom school and nobody was buying flaks milk. Human beings love change. You know, in nineteen ninety-nine there was a survey done of chief information officers and ten out of ten of them said they'd never buy a cloud app. The week before Evian launches, they do a survey, will you pay for bottled water? Ten out of ten people say no. And so my point is, now's the time. The level of innovation has never been higher and humanity's need for different and change has never been higher. And our receptivity as human beings has never been higher. And so I would posit to you that never in our lifetimes has there been a moment where there is a receptivity to new innovation like there is right now. And those of us in marketing, those of us who are entrepreneurial, those of us who want to create the new as opposed to compete over the old, this is the greatest time in history. And so I would just leave you with; Now's the time for radical. Now's the time to heed the words of Kelly Slater and try something radical. It's also happening at a time when we did a big breakdown of this recently. We're having a breakthrough in the economy. We might be on the verge of the greatest economy in American history. What we do know is corporations have literally never had more cash and the American consumer has never had more cash than right now. So all these things come together. Now's the time for the exponential. Now's the time for the legendary. Now's the time to design new categories. And if there was ever a time to get radical in our businesses, in our marketing, it's right now.
Ryan Alford [00:45:47] Amen. Coming from the south, the old Bible south. Anyone listening, know this is coming, my amen hallelujah soundboard, and it's going off right now. Have you ever been to a Southern Baptist preacher event and had the deacons behind? Amen. Hallelujah. Yes. Christopher Lochhead, man, I appreciate it, brother, you've been awesome. This has been jam-packed with radical insight, I mean, about life in general. I mean, if you can't take everything we talked about, all the knowledge Christopher dropped, it transcends marketing and business. It's about life. You got one life to live, make it radical, go bigger, play bigger, niche down, working harder to keep up with you. Christopher, where can everyone follow the path forward?
Christopher Lochhead [00:46:40] All of it hangs off Lochhead.com, two-hs, no k.
Ryan Alford [00:46:46] They can find you at, Lochhead.com. L-O-C-H-H-E-A-D. The marketing legend Christopher Lochhead. I appreciate Christopher for coming on. You know where to keep up with The Radcast, we are at theradcast.com. All of our content, all the videos, and all of the knowledge dropped today from Christopher will be there. You know where to find me at Ryan Alford on Instagram, the.rad.cast. And we'll see you next time on the Radcast.
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