An interview with Christopher Lochhead, host of TractionForce 2018, co-author of Play Bigger and creator of the Legends and Losers podcast
Last week, I had the opportunity to chat with Christopher Lochhead, the host of this year’s TractionForce. In an ironic twist (I work for a tech company), we both failed to start the call using video chat, so we abandoned the original plan and resorted to the reliable, antiquated telephone. I pinned the phone to my shoulder and furiously attempted to transcribe while Christopher chatted hands-free with his Mustang roaring in the background.
I immediately noticed two things:
- Christopher tended to veer into tangents.
- The tangents he veered into tended to be far more interesting than my original questions.
The structure of the interview began to erode into something that felt more genuine, something more akin to a conversation.
On Legends and Losers
“Legends and Losers is one of the very first business podcasts to take the format of the formatless dialogue seen in podcasts like Joe Rogan’s and Jordan Harbinger’s. It’s built around the notion that it’s possible to sit down, turn off your phone, look somebody in the face and have a meaningful conversation about life and business. When I’m picking guests, the question I ask myself is: am I dying to have a conversation with this person? If I am, and if I think they’ll engage with me authentically, I try to get them on the show. We’re bringing on legendary women, people of colour and others from a diverse range of backgrounds to talk about interesting issues. Our show’s mantra is: “one legendary conversation can save your life,” and you’re not going to save anyone’s life by skirting around tough topics.
“The high level theme of the podcast is to discuss how to design a legendary life and a legendary business, because, to me, that’s always a fascinating question. Within that, I’m trying to cut through all the noise and dig into what’s real. The traditional interview show has a professional journalist host with a team of researchers and producers that build questions around a specific narrative that they’re trying to tease out. When they bring that guest on the show – whoever they are – they’ve been media trained. You might shoot an hour and a half of footage and end up with a 6-8 minute sound bite designed to hit a few talking points. That’s the machine we’re raging against. I believe that in the era of Twitter and clickbait, people are starving for authentic dialogue and conversation.“
On the Individual and the Company
“Play Bigger was all about the executive — Forbes described it as “a playbook for building the next Google, Facebook or Amazon.” The number one question we were hearing after Play Bigger was how to apply the concept of category design to a career as an individual, solo entrepreneur, realtor or small business owner. Niche Down is coming out in July and is a collaboration with Heather Clancy that brings category design to the level of the individual. Companies are built by people — legendary people build legendary companies.
“We realized that one thing legendary people have in common is that they’re original, unique and different. They own a niche. We hope that one day people will focus on the exponential power of differences rather than the incremental power of being better. But, to quote Kermit the frog, “it’s not easy being green.” You need courage in your convictions: the courage to be different and embrace ridicule and “losery”. In a way, my life’s work is all about helping people accept and embrace what makes them different.”
“There’s a point of view circulating that we’re essentially living in 1897. There was a 15-25 year period at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century where tech innovation exploded, leading to breakthroughs in categories and huge societal changes. Electricity, refrigeration, the horseless carriage, breakthroughs in farming, medicine, etc. If you were living in 1897 and woke up twenty years later, you’d be in for a shock.
“That’s the kind of era we’re living in now. Between the start of the cloud in 2006-2007 and today, a lot has happened — IoT, Machine Learning, AI, drones, robotics, self-driving fill-in-the-blanks, crypto, blockchain. In an era like this, you need to ask yourself: who should I be and what should I do? What company or charity should I start or work for? What am I going to do to make the world and myself better with these new technologies? And one of the most important questions: how am I going to have fun? Technology sits at the center of virtually all meaningful discussion about what’s going on in life. It touches all of these questions.”
Have a Real Conversation
Christopher will be stirring the conversational pot at TractionForce on June 21. If you’re joining us, he has a message for you.
“I hope people understand what they’re coming to,” he told me. “People are going to get a lot more value than traditional conferences where people are talking at you. TractionForce isn’t going to be traditional. In anything I’m involved in I want to be creating discussion, and that’s what we’ll be doing at TractionForce, creating dialogue on and off the stage. Learning is great but conversation is better. Don’t expect to leave with answers. Instead, leave with powerful questions.”
If you’re still reading this and you haven’t registered yet, I have a powerful question for you: why not?