PartnerUp #122: Category Design and Trust with Christopher Lochhead

What is up PartnerUp!

Christopher Lochhead, author, podcaster, advisor, and category design teacher, joins the show to discuss many hot topics, including personal branding, AI, and the future of work.

He dives into category design, the importance of language as it relates to innovation and the difference between gut reactions and true thought. He berates social media for creating mindless chatter and urges listeners to think critically about their digital media diets.

As Christopher puts it, word of mouth isn’t a volume game:

It’s all about the right words in the right mouths.

Never miss an episode of the world’s number 1 podcast on partnerships by subscribing to PartnerUp on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you’re a visual person, sub to our YouTube, and see the full recording of us learning out loud.

Share the episode with your commentary on LinkedIn or Twitter and we’ll highlight your commentary. We love to hear your thoughts on each episode, and always comment back or respond to emails/dms. Hey! We’re real people.

P.S. If you want the Nearbound Sales Blueprint that just dropped, head over to to get it entirely for FREE.

P.P.S. If you haven’t heard, we just dropped the news on the largest event in partnerships history. It is BACK… and bigger.

The historic PL[X] Summit for 2023 is now the Nearbound Summit. Register, again, 100% FOR FREE over at and get your FREE event workbook while supplies last.

Subscribe & Listen On:

  • Apple | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon | Google | RSS
  • Or literally, anywhere you get your podcasts. Seriously. Ask Alexa: “Alexa, play "PartnerUp the Partnerships Podcast” and magic…


  • The difference between category design and ecosystem. 8:16
  • Why thinking is the most important type of thinking? 17:10
  • Flipping the burden of proof into, "why not?" 26:34
  • What is the difference between category design and personal branding? 35:45
  • What you really want is a reputation. 41:43
  • What is a native digital analog? 47:52
  • The definition of a knowledge worker. 52:51


Isaac Morehouse 0:00
Hey what is up partner up? Excited to be back here with you? I'm flying solo today know, Jared, on this one, unfortunately because I know Jared would be geeking out on this Lochhead. How are you, man?

Christopher Lochhead 0:18
I'm great. How are you?

Isaac Morehouse 0:19
Doing? I'm doing very well. And for those, you know, who don't know, sort of the background, the bio, I mean, Chris, is what now? Did you just drop your like, 14 best selling book? Just like this week?

Christopher Lochhead 0:32
That's two weeks ago. Yeah.

Isaac Morehouse 0:35
Yeah. So we'll get into some of the books that content he's, he's the godfather of category design. And I know a lot of people listening to this category design is now kind of a household name. For the most part, maybe it's abused and not properly understood. But at least among marketers it is. And I know a lot of people listening to this podcast are in various functions and go to market a lot of people in partnerships, marketing. So if you have ever seen anyone talking about category, design, category creation, a big majority of that is coming from the mind of Chris Lochhead and a handful of other pirates. So that's what I thought would be fun today, Chris is to kind of like, talk about, you know, not only what you do and what you're seeing, like how the market has changed. But how there's an overlap with what we often talk about in this podcast. You know, on partner hacker our slogan is trust is the new data. And we we've been talking a lot about how we've transitioned from the how economy, where b2b companies in particular, they could win by having the best how answers How do I do this? How do I do that? You know, you get the best, your article as the best search results, you get your stuff in people's inbox first with the how answer you can win, that's shifted. Now we're in the WHO economy where people are overwhelmed with information. And that's even more so now with AI. Everybody can generate SEO, you know, optimized crap. And now people are asking, Who can I trust? Who do I listen to they're resorting to trusted individuals. I mean, word of mouth, you talk about word of mouth all the time, I think it's not that it ever went away. But I feel like it's sort of come back stronger than ever. Now that information, the barriers to creating it are so low. And I know there's overlap with that to what you talk about with category design. So we can start wherever you want. But I kind of love to know, like, First, give the case for people who haven't been fully like bought into the category design concept. Give me like your best elevator pitch case for like, why category design is what you've built your career. And you are three times CMO of public companies. Why category design? So of course, nice to see Isaac. It's great to be here. Maybe I should

Christopher Lochhead 2:50
have said that first. That's okay. And now just you know, I'm just kind of getting into relationship here with you. And I'm happy to answer the question. Of course, I'd love to answer the question I will in a sec. What I want to say ahead of time, though, is and this is actually a frame for what's about to come. So stay with me. Context is everything. So when you ask the question the way you did, a possible interpretation that I could have is Hey, Lochhead. Prove to me why category design isn't horseshit? Right? Sell me on category design. There's a little bit of that, that I interpreted in my plus or minus, it was winning directly.

Isaac Morehouse 3:34
Question on behalf of those who would ask that question.

Christopher Lochhead 3:37
Perfect. Okay, so here's the first thing, if that's your question, Hey, have a nice life. I'm not here to convince anybody of anything. The sensei does not stand in front of the dojo and grab people and pull them in and beg them to start training martial arts. No, you walk into the dojo and you earn the right to train. Now, not to sound overly pompous, or whatever, but set in a different way. We're in the business of empowering and educating the curious people who want to create different futures, the people who understand that there's a unconscious choice that we all make to compete, and we never consider any other choice. And it turns out, none of the legends competed, they all created. And so I guess what I'm trying to explain is, let me tell you a quick story. I had two new category designers come to me Isaac, and they said, Hey, I think we should try to figure out how to educate more people and make it simpler for people about category design. Because we want to get more people involved. And it's a great it's a great idea. Let's talk about that. And we are not in the business of convincing the unwilling. We're really not. There's a lot of people with a categories on his bullshit and I understand their arguments, and through their lens, their right. You have to be willing to consider a different lens, you may think it's a bullshit lens. So go, we're much assholes. And I get told I got, I get called all kinds of names all the time. I guess my point is, I'm not going to sell anybody on anything. So let's start with the data. So here's what the data shows. And I can walk you through how we got there. But the data I'm about to quote has been published in the Harvard Business Review. And if you've ever tried to get data into the Harvard Business Review, you know, it's not easy. So we analyzed for 15 years pre IPO and post IPO, venture backed technology companies, and we looked at the data, specifically Isaac around their increases in value over time. And here's the question we wanted to get asked to do, we'd gone to some Stanford profs and ask them this question. And we were told this data didn't exist, so we had to go do it ourselves, which is not what we fucking wanted to do, but we did it. Anyway. Here's the AHA. In tech categories. And more and more market categories are behaving like tech categories. Every day we talk about why that matters. One company earns 76% of the economics of that category. Period. Only for now. Alicia Otis, is the inventor of the safety elevator. It's a new category. Alicia described it as a vertical train. Because nobody knew what you do with an elevator. Thanks to Alicia notice. skyscrapers were invented, because new categories create new categories, particularly ones that enable other innovation on top of them. Today, I don't have the exact number in front of me, Isaac, but Otis Elevator has roughly 70% market share. That's category design. And so what the data shows us is, most people in business make it unconscious, unquestioned on dialog, unconsidered choice, unconscious, really choice. To compete, we've been taught our whole fucking life to compete. We compete in sports, we compete in school, we compete, compete, compete, compete. Well, the most legendary people in the world be the entrepreneurs or in other domains, whether it's art or social movements, or music, you name it. These were people who broke and took new ground. We all know who Bob Marley is. Not because Bob Marley was a great musician. Because he introduced the world to a new category of music from his home country. We don't know who the 47th graders reggae band in the world is where we all fucking know who Bob is. And so the choice we all have to make whether we realize it or not, is our Are we are we going to compete in an existing market category? For ultimately what will be roughly a quarter of the value? Or are we going to design our own new category that where we can build the market, and she who designs the category earns two thirds of the economics,

Isaac Morehouse 8:16
I love when you were talking about the elevator example, that you know, creating the vertical train category led to the creation of skyscrapers the explosion of everything that goes live, there's a whole ecosystem around skyscrapers and the you know, very tall building,

Christopher Lochhead 8:36
you can build a rocket, if you don't have an elevator, you're gonna get Yeah.

Isaac Morehouse 8:42
So and that, that just reminds me of like, you know, in our in, in b2b SaaS, where we're spending most of our time, especially with people we're working in, like partnerships that they talk a lot about, oh, we want to have like an ecosystem approach. We want to build an ecosystem around our product. And part of me is like, I get it, but I don't know that ecosystems, at least not vibrant big ones are built around products as much as around categories. And that's that might seem like a small distinction, but I think it's a big deal. When you're like, Okay, let's platform a ties our product so that other people will come and build around it. But it's always the question is always like, Why? Why will they did you open up new space? Did you did you pioneer something new did you create? Did you design a category? I think there's a subtle difference there. So like trying to go try to build an ecosystem. If you're not willing to design a category. I don't know how far you can get thoughts.

Christopher Lochhead 9:39
Well, the question is, what are you building an ecosystem? I'm going to use these words very carefully. Around. So in order for an ecosystem to exist, there has to be a shared belief about something. And in business general Lean, it's a shared belief about some kind of a problem and or opportunity and some kind of a solution to access that opportunity and or solve that problem generally. And so we can build an ecosystem around, amen. Our carpeting you later is three quarter flops smaller than theirs. You go do that. And you can talk about the powerful advantage of a three quarter flop carpeting, Yulin and go for it. And a lot of companies do. And they think they win on that. Because there's an unspoken untruth that's never questioned, which is the best product wins. Well, turns out best, is highly subjective. Category design is about creating the mental scaffolding for thinking about a new and or different problem, and therefore a new and or different solution. And here's the AHA, if you own problem, you become the solution. So we go back to an ecosystem. And category design, we look a lot at this concept of are you a missionary or a mercenary? And the truth is all of us in business are a mixture of both. It's a spectrum, like most things are like many things. However, there are almost no, there's virtually no mercenaries in category design. Because a category design, by definition, there's nothing there. We're creating net new value. Mercenaries tend to be and this is maybe overly harsh, so please forgive me. They tend to be takers, not makers. So if you look at lawyers, accountants, you know, much of Wall Street, they provide important services, I'm not denying that. And they're not creating net new value in the economy. They're supporting the economy, said in a negative way, maybe they're taxing the economy, but they serve a purpose. However, they're not creating net new value in the way that Sara Blakely does, right in a way that my friend Gina Bianchini at mighty networks does. Write these people who are who are truly through their own innovation and creativity, creating different ways of doing things that are purpose built to be exponential, not incremental. Okay, so what the fuck does any of that have to do with a partner ecosystem? People want to belong to something people want to believe in something people want to be doing something bigger than just make money, make money, good capitalism, good entrepreneurship, legendary. Hey, ho, let's go. And for most of us, not enough, some of us it is fine. I don't have a value judgment around that. You go, do you? But for many of us, do we want to be successful financially. Absolutely. Is that a powerful thing to have in your life? Absolutely. Can you do good in the world? Absolutely. And most of us, after you get to a certain level of personal safety, economic security, most of us are much more externally focused in terms of can we make a difference for many. So my point is, when a new category, that is to say, a new and or different way about thinking about a problem, or an opportunity emerges, is evangelized by a small, typically a small group of people with some powerful technology that is viewed in an exponential way, not an incremental way. Others who identify what the problem is it start to show up. And some magical combination of the problem, the solution, and in our world, the technology that bridges the gap to I go from whatever problem I have to the promised land that I'm trying to get to. And category design, we call those photos from tos. That fires us up. Matter of fact, I had a conversation with a CEO buddy of mine today. And he's just taken over as a CEO of this company. The company has done very well. And it's a deep, deep, deep tech company, b2b enterprise SAS deep tech. And he's only been there for a short period of time. So he's telling me all about and I'm excited for him. It's really into the job, but he sounds all fired up and so forth. So he said, what do you what do you think about the company? I said, Well, I spent some time on the website. Read it. We said it sounds fascinating. And it sounds smart. have no fucking idea what you do. And he laughs That's exactly right. And there therein lies the problem. So can we frame name and claim a problem that matters to people because the more time the more strategic the problem, the more time money and energy people will apply to solving that problem. So the truth is the difference between marketing and category design and strategy and category, you know, typical growth strategy and category design. This is a question of how can we not fight for existing market play a demand capture game, which is what most people are doing when they do marketing? How can we create net new demand? And as it relates to an ecosystem? How can we mobilize a movement? You know, my friend sack says, start a movement, right? He's fucking right. Mike Maples, who we both love, and Noah has talked about this for a long time as well. Right? Category designers, legendary entrepreneurs, who, who changed the future, start a movement. And what an ecosystem is, is we our intention is to create such a powerful new category, that we cannot service the whole thing ourselves, we're creating more economic opportunity and more value opportunity for our customers, then we, the category designer of the whole space, can deliver on ourselves. And so we are purpose building, our vision is so big, we are purpose building into the vision room for a whole bunch of people to come together to deliver what historically in the tech industry, we've called the quote unquote, whole product. And so if you have a radical new category with a powerful point of view that captures people's imagination and attention, frames, names and claims, a problem that is fascinating, around a solution and a technology that is also interesting, it feels exponential around a problem that really matters for people. Ban. That's how an ecosystem happens.

Isaac Morehouse 17:10
I love it, when you I'm going to I'm going to try to bring multiple threads together here because my mind was real. And as you were talking, when you said you know, helping people reach their promised land, Jared, my co host theory, he always says, you know, trust comes from helping people reach their promised land. And this, you know, idea of tapping into those your buyers trust, for Intel intros influence across that buyer journey strategy that we call near bound, that the people that buyers trust, are the people who they believe can get them to the promised land. But what I think is interesting, that's often missing, people will hear that and they'll think, okay, it's people who can solve technical problems for them. That may be the case. But it starts at a much more fundamental level, people who are able to properly frame the problem, and then talk through the solution. And that sounds to a lot of people, too abstract, too fluffy. But I love this is where it comes right back to the book you just dropped. I believe it's the number one law correct me if I'm wrong, you say something like thinking about thinking is the most important type of thinking this idea that like getting to kind of the first principles level, the highest level of like framing the problem framing what it is that we're dealing with, and putting naming it like you said, What do you say frame it, name it claim, I remember what you said there, but man, I cannot tell you how powerful that is. That's where like people will only want you to get tactical with them. Once they believe that you understand the problem at a higher level and kind of articulate in a way that they can latch on to quickly and like, that part I think gets skipped over that's sort of seen as like artsy fartsy brand marketer stuff or whatever, just trying to come up with new names and labels. And it can be it can be done really shittily. But I think zooming out and like starting so maybe you just talk about what do you mean by that? Like, that sounds like a radical principle like 2222 laws of character design, thinking about thinking is the most important kind of thinking, like, break that down for me.

Christopher Lochhead 19:15
Okay, so this is a really fun conversation, always. So first of all, I'm gonna say a bunch of things. And there's a voice in your head, that when I say these things, is going to have an opinion about what I just said. And it's going to say that opinion in real time, it's talking to you right now. What the fuck she talking about what that point was. Okay, so that chatter in our head is always there. And many of us, myself included, it's called being human. When we fuck this up. We confuse the chatter that's flying by like thinking as not thinking at all. It's just chatter going by. It's got nothing to do with anything that's thinking. So the first AHA is realizing that we don't think most of us, including you and me. So um, this I am in no way going, Oh, yes, I think and all you other folks are morons. No, I think this is true for all of us. And the evidence appears to be clear, and much more learned people than me have studied these things. And I'll get to that in a second. But so the first AHA is, let's assume we don't think. Okay, so what is what's, what are we doing? Well, there's this really smart guy. Some people call them the new Peter Drucker, some people call them today's most important management thinker. name's Roger Martin. And no matter how you slice it, Rogers, a smart guy, he's written a bunch of really smart shit that you should read. And I believe it's his most recent book, he came on my podcast, we had an amazing conversation, but I think I think the books called the new way to think or a new way to think something along those lines, Roger Martin, Roger L. Martin. Okay, Roger breaks it down really powerfully, and simply two kinds of thinking, reflective, and reflexive. So reflexive? I say any topic of any sort of with any heat around it? bortion, guns, war, immigration, Democrats, Republicans, January 6, you know, whatever, hurricanes. And, like anything, any word like that? fires that voice in the head. And if I said to you, hey, Isaac, tell me about what you think about immigration, or hurricanes or war, or you have an opinion. Okay, so for most of us, when those things come up, we have what Roger would describe as a reflexive reaction. I literally two days ago went for my annual physical, one of my favorite parts of my annual physical is when the doctor takes out that little pink hammer, and she whacks in the knee and your knee goes, to make sure your reflexes are still working. It's always fun, it's always silly reminds me of being a little boy. All right. So that's a reflex, bam, something happens. And unconsciously, we react. Here's the problem. That's not fucking thinking. That's important. It's really important when you're driving, and someone cuts you off. Because you're going to have a reflex based on prior experience, you're not going to sink, your reflex will be an action. And that action could very well save your life. So there are moments where reflexive thinking is absolutely critical. And there are many things that we do that start off as very difficult. But we train ourselves to be unconsciously competent, so that they become a reflex, which is a very powerful thing to have. If you know how to ride horses, you know, a whole bunch of shit about that, that I don't have a skill around that he's gonna take the

Isaac Morehouse 23:12
inner game of tennis, you have make you phenomenal. Yeah,

Christopher Lochhead 23:15
all of that stuff, right? So very powerful has its place. Here's the one fucking problem. Most people think reflexively about most things, including, what business are we in? What problem do we solve? What makes us different? Why does that different matter? How should we frame name and claim our problem? And think about it. So thinking requires reflection, which is to interrupt the flow of the babble and say, so somebody says guns, you immediately have an opinion. And then that person goes to talk, like I just had Jim Fielding. On fall, you're different. And Jim's written a great new book about being out as a gay man in the business world. He was a senior executive at Disney and Fox. And I mean, he's worked with some of the greatest people of all time. He's a very, very serious executive. And I'm blanking on the title that has clear in the title. It's a great book. Jim fielding is his name. Anyway. We have a conversation about all of it, as it all of it. Think gay, queer, LGBTQ Pride Month, the whole thing, all of it good, bad, indifferent, ugly and awesome and horrible and everything in between political and dei knew that, like every sort of all of that, we go right into it. Do we agree on everything? I don't know. But we can have Very powerful conversation. Why? Because what most people think communication is about as I have a position, and I'm trying to convince you of that, that I'm right. And I win if you agree. So what we're doing is we're having an agreed disagree interaction, a competitive interaction. That's not reflexive thinking. And it sure is shitting category design. Category design starts with a core tenant called reject the premise. And reject the premise means we are going to cultivate a radical distrust, disbelief and pure, furious anger at the status quo. To quote The Big Lebowski, this aggression will not stand man. Right. And so we become the people who think deeply about a problem that matters to us for some reason, and we go on a mission to solve that problem. And that's how net new value gets created from nothing. And it could be as simple as somebody sitting down at a computer, and starting a podcast, writing a piece of code. Starting a newsletter, it could be that simple starting a video, starting a YouTube can be that simple. Creating something out of nothing. One of the

Isaac Morehouse 26:34
one of the things I love about that, just that reset that step back, which by the way, was like a massive change in my own life, probably 1012 years ago, I called it flipping the burden of proof at the time, but I remember I had this was like, what what do you remember what it was, if I decided to move away? I think it was maybe when I decided to move away from DC to go live in Charleston, South Carolina and work remotely when that was not a big thing. And people were asking why, why are you doing that? And I finally went, I was like, what if? What if everybody asked why not instead? So like, instead of having to justify why What have you said, why not? Like what have you flipped the burden of proof for like any crazy thing you can think of? So anyway, just that concept, similar idea of like rejecting the premise. But I think with with, you know, in the business context, you've said this before, as well that like, stop thinking about your product, start thinking about your customers problems, if you start at your customers problems, and say, I'm going to reject all the premises about, you know, how this is supposed to be solved. Like, when you're coming from the vantage point of the company, it's like, we're looking down on the market, and we're supposed to do things the following ways, because these are all the books we've been given. These are all the playbooks, these are all the, you know, even the terminology, like I know, we've talked on the show before about like, go to market. Like, they just kind of what it implies is like, I'm sitting here in my sizzle, and then I'm gonna, like lob bombs down at the market. Like, we used to be living in the market. And asking, how do buyers? How do customers? How do people actually want to solve these? What are their problems? Do they know how to define them? They feel them. But what are they? How do they know how to solve them? Do we know that this GTM strategy is really the best thing? We're just assuming that it is we're assuming we have to have them but like, what do we really know? And like, re centering yourself on the customer problem? It sounds stupidly, like, Oh, of course, everyone should do that. But no one does. Like it's a really radical thing.

Christopher Lochhead 28:36
Well, a no one does it, and being very few. Think about the thinking of it. So here's what I mean. You said a bunch of words there. Well, words, create thinking, create what you might think of as mental scaffolding. Right? The difference between humans and animals, or at least most animals, is the range of ability that we have to communicate is greater than most animals. Not all I don't I'm not an expert, but in general. And we have the ability to create new sinking with new languaging languaging being the strategic use of language to change thinking. I was just on Twitter, with a guy about this today. Think about this, the real simple. I said this to him. We are tweeting each other on a microblogging social network. That's a sentence we are tweeting each other on a microblogging social network. That's a sentence. You know what that sentence means? I know what that sentence means. And the vast majority people in the Western world knows what that sentence means. 20 years ago, if I were to say that sentence out loud How'd you it would sound like this are you meaning? Literally, the vast majority of the sentence is meaningless tweeting, but the fox tweeting, microblogging, or we don't know what the fuck any of that is. So those words, the creation of new language creates a demark. So a demarcation point in language creates a demarcation point in thinking, which creates a demarcation point at action and results. And it also undermines one of the dumbest fuck things in business we hear all the time. People don't I can't even go on a tape. Oh, yeah, people fucking love change. Because 20 years ago, we were tweeting each other on a microblogging social network. And 20 years ago, we didn't have smartphones, we fuck them love them. And I don't know about you. But if you're not all fired up about Chad GBT, Bard and all the other hot shake coming out in AI, you're not paying attention. And so my point is, the bigger the breakthrough and innovation or technology, the more important the use of language to communicate it. And we can't use old language to communicate new things. However, we can't communicate in such a new and different way that's so radical, that nobody knows what the fuck we're talking about. Bingo thus, Henry Ford. horseless carriage, thus, Elisha Otis vertical elevator, right. That does Sara Sara Blakely. Right? shapewear it's not a girdle. It's not a bra. It's not a controlled top tummy. I don't know what it's, it's, it's, quote shapewear and she said it's a new invention. These aren't accidents,

Isaac Morehouse 32:13
that that transition is so interesting, because when you're talking about, you know, 20 years ago, nobody would know about tweeting, you know, what your sentence that you just said, we're tweeting out of microblogging social media platform. And if you would have attempted to introduce that terminology 20 3040 years ago, it wouldn't have done any good, right, you would have been too too disconnected from where people were. And so I think there's this interesting dance like, you need to be able to connect to the frameworks people already have. But you've got to be able to, I don't know if it's take them someplace new, or show them something new or an unveil something that they already knew, but nobody put in words,

Christopher Lochhead 32:54
you have to take them from the way it is to a new and different way. And category design, we call them photos from tos. And I was just talking to a CEO buddy of mine about what open AI has done in the last less than year. Think about this. Think about how much new languaging they introduced in order for their category to tip at radical scale. And think about the masterfully fucking legendary job they've done of having a deeply technology oriented conversation with inside the context of a big business, societal impact conversation. In other words, they've been able to do what very few deep technology companies have been able to do, which is to have a deep technology conversation with a deep, let's just call it outcomes or results or new possibilities, conversation that that lands for many, many people who are not deeply technical. They have done this in an extraordinary way. If you watch Sam Altman, regardless of what you think about his position on anything, is watched the way in which he communicates when he goes to the Senate. Listen to him on the LEX Friedman podcast. Like they're doing a masterful job at introducing new language and think about how much new thinking you and I have. We didn't know what a large language model was. I didn't the minute I understood what training data actually meant. My head exploded. We didn't know that idea. Not that long ago. And Sam and open AI the category designers in space and many others now ecosystem, giant ecosystem venture funds the whole thing right industry, eat A system bordering on industry, when you're able to introduce your breakthrough, with new breakthrough language and create new language for new thinking, but don't go so far out that we don't know what the fuck you're talking about. And sort of take us on the Frodo the word of the day is journey, right? Take us on the Frodo journey, we can get there from here. And then if you have the product, or the technology that delivers against it, because this must be said, to follow the open AI example, when you go to use the thing. If you're not mesmerized by that, I don't want you to fucking wake up. So the product delivers on the category promise.

Isaac Morehouse 35:45
So I want to I want to change gears for just a second here, because I've heard you talk about this rant about it. And I've loved it. So I want to, I want to ask you, because you know, as everyone kind of watches, the market moves more and more towards you know, people looking again for, for those they can trust that they believe can lead them to that promised land. There's this understanding that like, you know, companies trying to get you their latest blog content, less interesting, less noise to compete with, then individual people they trust like you, you're a podcaster people trust you, right. And so a lot of people see that and say, Cool, I gotta build my personal brand. I know that that phrase pisses you off. Or at least it's not your favorite. I don't know, I don't know if I would say give me like, What do you think is the difference between going out there? I guess category design is done by individuals as well as companies, right. And individuals usually have a stronger voice in the market. Like you mentioned, Sam Altman. That's an individual a face that we put with, you know, that company that's, that's a person. So what is the difference between doing category design and building your personal brand, let's say

Christopher Lochhead 37:11
so first of all, I think the term personal brand personal branding is sad more than anything else. Because it, it comes with so much that is fucked up. So first of all, you're not a brand, you're a fucking person. This is stark. Second of all, by definition, it's a contrived image. Now look, certain images are great if you love rock and roll, rolling stones have an image. Right, cool. rock bands have images Jay Z as an image. Okay, I get it fine. It's a stick. For buying the stick. In business, you really want to be known as dickster. I don't know i don't i. So here's my point. You could argue that right now, the two most successful CEOs in the s&p 500 are Tim Cook and Satya Nadella. So these two gentlemen are running the two most valuable companies on planet Earth and Microsoft. I don't know what their market cap is now, but it's in the high two trillions. And an apple is $3 trillion. These gentlemen spend zero time on this topic. Fucking zero. And what do they do? They spend a lot of time on. How do I powerfully communicate things that matter? How to how to how do I help our company be the leaders of the conversations that matter in our industry to shape the future? See, here's the AHA, there's two kinds of people. There's people who get paid to extend the past. And there's people who get paid to create different futures. They're both equally valuable, very much. So I want people who are paid to maintain and do incremental improvement, running our air traffic control system. Okay, we don't need any fucking pirates, dreamers and innovators on that shit. Okay. We don't, we don't need school bus drivers who are inventing new categories of driving this now what we're looking for. So, but there's a small percentage of us who get paid to create different futures. And so fundamentally, that that's what this is about. This is about studying how the, the people who created a different future, here's an AHA about that. Everything is the way way that it is, because somebody changed the way there was. Everything. Everything we value, including human life itself, we have been taught to value. Do you know there was a time when diamonds were virtually worthless. The diamond Marketing Board DeBeers educated us that a engagement ring A should be a diamond and B should be two months salary. Look that shit up. That's called category design. That's called Building an argument framing a problem around a different idea, which is, before De Beers, women mostly wore a pearls. So they literally changed the category of what an engagement ring was, from pearls to diamonds. And they established the value of the diamonds at two months salary,

Isaac Morehouse 41:17
something you said about, you know, CEOs who are leading these massive companies not not spending any time worried about this concept of personal branding. It kind of connects with stuff I've seen you say about word of mouth, which is and always will be the best, the most powerful form of marketing, that it's not a volume play. It's not just like, whatever words will get attention from whatever people will give them attention. It's the right words in the right mouths, I think you say and like that, I think is just so again, it taps right into this idea of trust. Like everyone is inundated with people I call it algo sipping, just sipping the out like trying to get massive reach massive impressions. You introduce AI now you can generate content. You know the the flavor of the month has been carousels on LinkedIn Oh, carousels get more reach to like everything gets turned into a carousel like everyone's just, it's just gaming it all the time. It's not that you can't get value out of those things and whatever, like, you know, you play the game to varying degrees. I'm not saying all of that is bad. But the difference between the right words from the right mouths, at the right time, and just words getting rich, right in like the abstract. I think that's really, really understated with the infinite scale and you know, potential reach that we have on these social platforms. I almost think people are there, they recognize that it's some part of their brain that that's easy to game. And they're like reverting to they're looking for something more solid than that they're looking for words that actually have weight. And that connects more deeply to the problem and from the right people at the right time. So I just think that's a, I don't know, I don't know if that's a you know, it's a timeless thing in a way. But I think we almost came into the digital age as like these new babies getting this new toy. And we're like, Whoa, this is amazing. We can get rich, we can get cheap leads, we can get all this stuff. And now we kind of like move past that phase where everyone gets all those games. And there's, there's more sophistication. I've heard you say that like, you know, with AI, the valid devalue of just sort of repackaging and regurgitating existing knowledge and what people call you know, content. It's plummeting, right so you have to have something deeper than that and you have to have like you do talk about a creator a capitalist I think there's a connector capitalists too right like who who we can connect me to the person if I can't get you to your promised land Chris if your your promised land is you know whatever the best new surfboard you can get I know you're a big surfer down there in Santa Cruz. If I can't get you your promised land because I'm gonna surfer can I connect you to someone who can write like having the ability, the depth, the insight, and then connecting with the right people who can help you solve that problem? I feel like those are stock is rising. And just like getting the word out, so to speak, distribution volume stock is is plummeting.

Christopher Lochhead 44:26
Okay, lots there. Also, I did want to put a little bow on the prior conversation. I think what people are confused about is what you really want is called a reputation. A brand is a concoction. A reputation is something you earn. And so I think that's really what's up you want to become known for a category that you own and, and how you get there is you build a reputation as a person and or a brand or company Who is thoughtful is leading and delivers on its promise and behaves like a like a category designing category leading company should behave which is you're on a mission to make a particular difference in the world around a problem and a solution. And so that's you know, and then the other part of this is the sort of narcissistic bullshit, which is like am I gave it me am having a burrito you know, the all that selfish shit and then and then you think by looking in your phone and going, Man Hey, it's Wednesday. It's hump day. And so, yes, if you weren't a that would be the weekend and you could do it. And you know, we think this bullshit is a value. You know, I was just listening to fucking Marc Andreessen on Lex Friedman. Marc Andreessen is doing that shit. Right? So these are stupidities. Gary Vee posts 200 times a day on the internet. But what? Grant Cardone, right, that Enix is winning. Really? Oh, my other favorite Ed my lat. One more. His PR people reached out to me his new book, one more is coming out. We want to get him on your podcast. You know what the books about? Do one more push up. Make one more sales call. Right? One more line agape that do. I mean, these people are insane. It's ridiculous. It's it's, it's it's mental on its face. And yet an entire generation has been duped into this bullshit. That's okay. Now I can stop.

Isaac Morehouse 46:49
No, I love that. Because, you know, I was just talking to some younger Well, I'm old enough to call them younger people recently about this and like, they were like, well look, when people do these, you know, I call them algo SimBin games. But when people do the algo symbient. It works, it gets reached, they build their audience. And I thought but there's a there's an unseen cost to so you see all the people that like it, but you don't see and you don't ever get tangible proof of the people who see that and now take you less seriously. And trust me, they're out there. And they tend to be the people who are more influential. And the types that you would actually like to have a good reputation with the people that tend to like that kind of stuff. Are the people who themselves want to be influencers and want to get reached. It's like It's like the you know, personal coaching business. It's I just had no time coaches, how to coach coaches to coach coaches you know, it's like everyone's influencing influencers on how to be an influencer and

Christopher Lochhead 47:47
that's how you make money as an influencer is making other influencers. Right, right. I just saw this great one on on Facebook. So this some guy I don't know who the fuck he is. I don't know why I'm friends with them on Facebook. And then I'll go on there very often. I'm looking at two times a week guy now but anyway, this guy posts on there a photo of his two cars, and he's got like $750,000 Ferrari or Lambo or some kind of dingdong bass car. He's got like a $250,000 souped up, dingdong truck, and they're both painted the same. And the paint job is ugly on both of them. And the reason I know the price of the car, is because the fucking guy told me that in the post. And his post was iron. I couldn't get very far with it. He was using the vehicles as an analogy for like, using the specific tool for a job or some boat. It was some stretch of an analogy. And the purpose of the whole fucking thing was to say look, I got a million bucks where the car right here and they both look the same only ones a truck and once no one's a sports car. And I just looked at I was like I was I came this close to fucking posting something just saying Hey, Jimmy. I know you think this is cool and everything. But you realize that anybody with an IQ larger than their shoe size, sees this and make makes you think makes us think you're a doggy. Anyway, I decided not to do that. But I did unfriend the donkey.

Isaac Morehouse 49:22
We're wrapping we're at time here. I feel like we could we could go like I've done we're just getting started. We need one of those like marathon sessions with some whiskey. Let's let me just ask you give me like a quick take on where we're going. I know I briefly mentioned it but you know, you've used this phrase a creator capitalists like with everything that's happening with AI. What changes? What changes do you think are here or are coming really soon? And what are like, if you're somebody who wants to position yourself to win in the future, what do you have to change? What do you have to do differently?

Christopher Lochhead 49:56
A couple things. First one Giant transformation happening in plain sight. More than half the American population now are native Digital's. And that's somebody who's roughly 36, maybe 37, by now, that is to say they came of age, in the era of the smartphone, the internet in the cloud. And the thing that is missing about this is they are a new category of human. And best we could tell the last time there was a new category of human like this was probably shift from hunter gatherer or to farmer, maybe from farmer to in to industrialized world, maybe. But here's the AHA, if you are plus or minus 40, or north, then you're a native analog, that is to say, your primary life experience is in the IRL. And you can have a very deep, rich, digital life. I do. I've grown up in the technology industry, and I'm still a native analog. I'm a deeply technology I have a deep technology life. And and I work in the space and and, and and then, but my primary will always be analog. The opposite is true for native Digital's and here's the simple aha for people. If you invite me over to your house, and I arrive, how do I let you know I'm there.

Isaac Morehouse 51:45
You knock on the door, but a younger person will text me.

Christopher Lochhead 51:48
Exact Exactly. Now, that little simple thing is more profound than most people realize. Which is when a native digital is confronted with an analog problem. With a many generation, well known, well understood, socially acceptable solution. The native digital is so digital first. It didn't even occur to him. As a matter of fact, there are native Digital's today, Isaac, who find it insulting. If you fucking knock on the door, ring the doorbell in the same way they find you calling as opposed to texting, invasion of privacy. So these may sound like subtle things. But here's the AHA. If you're a native digital, your primary life is digital and your adjunct to your primary life is is analog. And if you're a native analog, it's the opposite. That's a radical change. Okay, so that's point A. Point B is all of that. With AI, here's what's going on. Peter Drucker coined the term knowledge worker, to roughly 75 years ago, if I'm not mistaken, I might be off, but it's, I don't think it was 100 years ago. Anyway, we could check it out. The purpose of the term AKA, new category of person who works for a living was to delineate between those who earn their money or their living with their muscles, and those who earn their living with more or less their minds. And ever since then, the the greatest thing you could be is a high end knowledge worker. And the definition of knowledge worker roughly is I acquire some valuable knowledge. And I get paid to apply that knowledge to produce some kind of a result or an outcome. That's why my mom wanted me to Doc be a doctor or lawyer. And many moms want to do that, right? Because high value, knowledge worker job. Well, here's the AHA. In an AI world, acquiring and applying knowledge is a decreasing skill, a decreasing in value skill, still important. But it's going to decrease over time. I mean, said simply, what happened to the factory worker is going to happen to the knowledge worker, right? Let's just Hello. So what does that mean? Oh, and it also means by the way, the average person now has a super, super brain friend. As a super friend with a giant brain called all the knowledge of humanity. Ever all of us have that now, just like all of us have had Google For more than two decades, and that's made a huge difference. Okay, so what does that mean? It means that there is now a new rung a higher step on the value ladder as a person. So, if knowledge worker was the highest value doctor, lawyer, accountant, nurse, radiologist, etc, etc, etc, firefighter, etc, etc, right? Jobs that were blurred firefighter cop, blah, blah anyway now there's a new layer, the value stack called person who can create net new knowledge. You might think of it as a creator, capitalist. See, they're people who create things, but don't necessarily monetize them, which is fine. I play guitar, I don't monetize my guitar playing. It's just fun to play guitar. And then there are people who create things, and monetize, that is to say, get paid to create. And like everything is like that's a spectrum. So you could be like, this friend of mine named Melissa, who is an accounts payable manager. And her company fired her because they thought she, they could replace her with technology and lower cost people. Well, turns out, Melissa had traded a set of what you might call crater capital, that is to say, net new thinking net new approaches about how to do what they do that she was fantastic at doing. She knew that shit, she was creating more and more of it as the company was growing and doing acquisitions. And anyway, long story short, it was hard to replace Melissa with the machine, and low cost wages because she was continuously creating new monetizable intellectual capital treat or capital of some kind. That's the doctor of the future. That's the nurse of the future. That's That's what Mr. Beast is in entertainment, which is why he can't hire from Hollywood because nobody gets this. Right. And the truth is, what it really means is entrepreneur, what we now call entrepreneurship, had historically had a massive, massive bar that you had to get over. And that bar is being lowered and lowered and lowered to the point where you can be an independent creator of something, whether it's a software developer, or writer or an entertainer or you name it. Or you could be an employee, like Alyssa, who she's not, Mr. Beast. She's not writing AI software. But in her category of work. She's innovating and creating net new, not just relying on applying existing. And that's the breakthrough. And that's the 1000 axing of the human being, because we got a native digital world with native Digital's taking over. And now those native Digital's have an ability to create net new value at scale. In a way that has never happened in the history of humanity. And I think that's why right now is the coolest fucking time. Because we're right on it. And if you see what's happening in plain sight, and many don't understand a lot of this stuff, but if you see it, you can tell right, those of us who are around for the beginning of the internet, there's a lot of pattern recognition here.

Isaac Morehouse 59:02
That was an amazing place to end it. Right now is the coolest fucking time. There's ever Lochhead thank you so much. Partner up. I don't even think I have anything to promo I mean, you well you can go get the the near bound sales blueprints at your That thing has been blowing up. We just dropped it. Same day. I'm recording this really, really great stuff. But Lochhead thank you so much for coming on the show. Partner up we will catch you next time.

You've successfully subscribed to PartnerHacker
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Error! Could not sign up. invalid link.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Error! Could not sign in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.