Christopher Lochhead’s Legends & Losers

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183: Jay Larson Sales Rep to CEO

What exactly is the power of hard work? Why does it always pay to be all about goodness? Jay Larson joins Christopher Lochhead today to share the legendary story of how he went from Sales Representative to CEO slowly but surely.

"It was always better to be the number two guy in an A opportunity than the number one guy in a C opportunity." - Jay Larson

Three Things We Learned

  • It's important to have the right move at the right time

When Chris first asked Jay some scotches ago if he saw himself becoming a CEO anytime in the future, Jay had been convinced that he wouldn't. But now that he's on his second time being one, he finds himself looking back and remembering how he had a great run at sales before eventually becoming the leader that he's meant to be. He wasn't the guy that felt the urgency of becoming one, but with how things have unfolded, he's very fortunate to have made the career move at the most opportune time.

  • Conscious decisions for a successful career

Jay took his time priming himself despite the truth that the software business works at a rapid pace. He's always been confronted with choices of doing deals that didn't strike him as terrific even as a CEO or running a sales or field operations for a terrific company as an employee. But his conscious effort to grab any learning opportunity and being patient with his growth has paid off.

  • You need to go high before you can go wide

Before he can become a full-fledged CEO, he had to develop the skills and learn the functions needed to run an organization. His many experiences in the field made Jay a lot more willing to test out his mettle and take the next logical step in his career. He took on the role of a leader when he was finally convinced that he was great and capable enough at what he did even when he had to do it at almost fifty.

The tech business is a constantly changing world with everyone seemingly caught in a race to reach the top of the ladder. Many tech geniuses start out young, but there are those like Jay who take their time learning the ins and outs of the biz before finally taking the plunge. And for some, it's the perfect way to go.

Bio / Links:

Jay Larson started in sales in Oracle and Siebel. He became Head of WW Field ops at Mercury Interactive, Head of Sales at SuccessFactors, President of Jive, CEO of Birst. And now, the CEO of red-hot Optimizely.


182: Ray Wang #1 Tech Analyst

Today, Ray Wang joins Christopher Lochhead to talk about diversity, startups, and why Alexa is kind of terrifying. They ask questions of how much privacy humans are willing to sacrifice for convenience. They also discuss the digital rights of humans.

"At some point, the right to be disconnected is also going to be a huge right." - Ray Wang


Three Things We Learned

  • Inclusion is a long-standing and complicated systemic struggle

From educational institutions to the corporate sphere, diversity has been a decades-long problem that can't be easily resolved by lobbying for inclusion to meet quotas and improve statistics. To be inclusive doesn't mean to merely increase the percentage of people of color in schools or female CEOs in networks. What needs to be done is to continue upholding meritocracy and fairness in order to affect actual changes that will allow for realized diversity.

  • We should probably get paid for our data

For the longest time, people have been selling their personal data in order to avail of services without realizing. Everyone bills for the products from these services, but it's time to treat data privacy as an asset and part of the process of moving society forward. If data privacy were made a property right, it would offer more protection to the digital footprint people leave behind.

  • Too many exception-based rules have been passed

When people's privacy rights are taken away either in whole or one by one, they're trampled on and people enjoy less freedom. In turn, the demand for new rules to be passed in order to protect this freedom shoots up. This cycle is actually more counterproductive than effective because society has reached a point where exceptions are made the rules when in fact, policies must have a larger, broader scope in order to truly protect everyone and everything.

With the digital world constantly expanding, our exposure to the digital sphere we navigate increases. There are several drawbacks to increased digital engagement, and most glaring is the potential to ultimately lose our data privacy rights and freedom. Humans need to work harder in order to keep this from happening and more rigid policies must be passed in order to strengthen our protection.


R "Ray" Wang (pronounced WAHNG) is the Principal Analyst, Founder, and Chairman of Silicon Valley based Constellation Research, Inc.  

He's also the author of the popular business strategy and technology  blog "A Software Insider’s Point of View". With viewership in the 10's of millions of page views a year, his blog provides insight into how disruptive technologies and new business models such as digital transformation impact brands, enterprises, and organizations.  

Wang has held executive roles in product, marketing, strategy, and consulting at companies such as Forrester Research, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

His new best selling book Disrupting Digital Business, published by Harvard Business Review Press and now globally available provides insights on why 52% of the Fortune 500 have been merged, acquired, gone bankrupt, or fallen off the list since 2000.  

In fact, this impact of digital disruption is real.  However, it’s not the technologies that drive this change. It’s a shift in how new business models are created.

Wang has held executive roles in product, marketing, strategy, and consulting at companies such as Forrester Research, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Personify, and Johns Hopkins Hospital.  

He is a prominent and dynamic keynote speaker and research analyst working with clients on digital, innovation, business model design, engagement strategies, customer experience, matrix commerce, and big data.

His Silicon Valley research firm, Constellation Research, Inc., advises Global 2000 companies on the future, business strategy, and disruptive technology adoption.  

Ray is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review and well quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg, CNBC TV, Reuters, IDG News Service, and other global media outlets.  Wang has thrice won the prestigious Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR) Analyst of the Year Award.



181: Digital Body of Work

In this special episode, Christopher Lochhead contemplates his conversation with Isaac Morehouse on Episode 170. Isaac is the founder of the company called Praxis, which pioneers a new category called career launch. In this particular episode, Christopher talks about a couple of terms he encountered during that particular dialogue that made him think about one's online credentials and digital body of work.

"It is increasingly getting more important to understand what happens when people Google you." - Christopher Lochhead

Three Things We Learned

  • We turn to Google to learn more about people
It can be an acquaintance you meet through a social network of some sort or someone you corresponded with over e-mail. If we think about it, when we meet someone today, that first thing that most people do to find out who these new people are is to run to Google. One simple, 15-minute search will provide you with the necessary information needed to get to know someone you just met.
  • What happens next when we get Googled is critical
Whether you're a professional, an artist, an executive, or just a regular person is neither here nor there. People will look you up online to find out more about you. And what they pull up when they do a Google search on you will highly dictate not only their impression but also their perception of you as an individual in this highly digital world.
  • We need to be more proactive about our digital presence
In order to thrive in various online industries, we need to start putting in more work to build our digital presence. We need to start thinking about our digital body of work. We need to build our own websites, LinkedIn profile, and post blogs and content to gain traction and increase engagement and ultimately, chances of breaking through our own niches.

What is your digital body of work? What social proof do you have? By building our digital presence, we're also shaping ourselves into becoming our own credentials, and that is most important.


180: Niche Down Thank You

Christopher Lochhead shares good news and expresses his gratitude for the successful launch of Niche Down. He shares how dreams do come true and how moving forward in the face of no results can turn out great.

"No matter how much we think we make us successful, the truth is, it's other people who make us successful." - Christopher Lochhead

Christopher Lochhead - A Successful Launch

Niche Down was number on both of its categories on the day  it was launched. It is very clear that the main reason for this is that the listeners of the Legends and Losers podcast headed over to Amazon, bought, and downloaded the book on that fateful day. With this knowledge, Christopher wishes to thank everyone from the bottom of his heart for making this happen and for making this possible.

The Story Behind

There was once a 19-year-old entrepreneur with no education, no contacts, and no money. But he had a partner, a dream, and a book by Michael Gerber, The E-Myth. When Christopher was 19 years old, he read the book and the book changed his life.

In the book, the author lays out why small businesses fail and while franchises break through the market. It comes with guidelines on how to build a process-oriented business that can run and not be run to the ground without you. The book, along its legendary brethren, has made a huge difference in Christopher's life and helped it turn out the way it did.

Dreams Do Come True

If someone had come up to him and told the 19-year-old Christopher that he would be authoring Niche Down three decades later and said book would top and beat The E-Mythfor a time, he never would have believed it.

Overall, the experience is absolutely mind-blowing, one that he will never forget. And Christopher is eternally grateful.

"And all that has happened because of you, the Legends and Losers listener." - Christopher Lochhead

To hear more of what Chris has to share with you, download and listen to the episode now!

Find out more:

#1 Amazon Best Selling Book

Niche Down


179: John McDonald - Semi-Handmade

John McDonald was once a struggling screenwriter and actor who niched down and became known for Semihandmade. He opened himself up to a career and entrepreneurial opportunity, seizing it and making a name for it. In today's episode, John talks openness to opportunities and vulnerability with Christopher Lochhead.

"If you're willing to be vulnerable, anything is possible." - John McDonald

Three Things We Learned

  • There's no rush to figure things out

They say that life begins at 40. When he was 40, John was struggling to penetrate the woodwork industry. The road that led to the decision to give woodwork a shot was long, involving forays into screenwriting and waiting tables as the angriest waiter in Hollywood.

  • Opening yourself to vulnerability will open doors

John came to Los Angeles with a vague notion of wanting to be part of the film industry. He ended up assisting in production and writing scripts to the side, but even then he didn't feel happy. Several rejections and failures later, he was finally able to become the rockstar, go-to guy for designing custom doors.

  • Success is found everywhere

When he first ventured into Hollywood, John knew he wanted to be rich and famous. Writing didn't hand him these successes, but woodwork was the stepping stone. By not limiting himself to something he wasn't fully committed to and didn't give him the satisfaction he needed, John was able to become legendary.

Some of us spend our whole lives trying to find success in what we think we like to do and in things we think we're good at. But success is ultimately self-determined and can be found anywhere if we only try to look more closely and elsewhere. John is a testament to that, and we can all be legendary if we want to be.

Bio / Story:
In 2002, at the age of 34, John McDonald traded screenwriting for custom cabinetry. He launched Semihandmade in 2011 using IKEA cabinets as a base for handmade craftsmanship at a competitive price.  
 The concept is simple: when purchasing kitchens and other cabinets, IKEA gives customers the flexibility of not buying doors. That’s the after-market space Semihandmade fills. Offerings include doors for both the new Sektion and recently-discontinued Akurum kitchens, as well as several IKEA bathroom, closet and media systems. 
 In five years, Los Angeles-based Semihandmade has grown to over 40 employees and 17000 SF of manufacturing space. Showrooms include Palm Springs and Burbank, CA. Doors ship throughout the Continental US and Canada, with clients that range from homeowners and designers to contractors, architects and commercial builders. Over 1300 Semihandmade projects were completed in 2015. Also in 2015, Semihandmade made Inc. Magazine's list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the US.
 Sequence-matched Walnut, Teak and Mahogany veneer doors are the company’s signature look. More exotic selections include Reclaimed Lumber, Rosewood and Zebrawood, as well as collaborations with companies like Art of Board (recycled skateboards) and Stikwood (reclaimed lumber). 
IKEA-priced styles such as paintable Shaker and Slab, textured melamine, and colored thermofoil complete the Semihandmade selection.  
 In April 2016, Semihandmade will launch its PRINT line of IKEA doors in collaboration with artists Rex Ray, Lisa Congdon, Erik Abel, Eloise Renouf, Elizabeth Olwen and others. Also this Spring, Semihandmade will open a third showroom inside shared-space WeWork Grant Park Chicago in preparation for the launch of a private-label line of bathroom, media and storage cabinets at NeoCon in June. 
Additional WeWork openings planned for 2016 include Brooklyn, Austin and Seattle.  
Links for show notes:

178 Niche Down Launch - Christopher Lochhead, Heather Clancy and Jaime Jay

In today's special episode, two guests join Christopher Lochhead to talk about the most-awaited book that will help you become legendary by being different, Niche Down. Heather Clancy, co-author of the book and Jaime Jay, co-producer of Legends&Losers podcast sit down to discuss the stories and inspirations behind Niche Down, which launches today.

"Follow your soul. I've always believed that your heart will tell you what you need to do." - Heather Clancy

Three Things We Learned

  • To Niche Down is to do things your way
A classic, family-run deli in Montreal where both Heather and Christopher came from is the embodiment of niching down. While smoked meat is a big deal in the municipality, their specific manner of preparing their sandwiches has helped them become their own niche. They have distinguished themselves among the others, and this is the very embodiment of the concept of finding a way to do things differently and rising above others in doing so.

  • Heather is Christopher's hero
Heather was one of the few journalists that taught Chris the industry back when he was only getting started with his career. He would read her column religiously every single week, absorbing her articles like a sponge. When they finally met, it was like meeting a hero, and the rest was history.

  • Niche Down was born out of public demand
Christopher's friend Jason Maynard at Net Suite first planted the idea of writing a book for category design. Coupled with the clamor following Play Bigger, Christopher pitched the book project to Heather. Much to his surprise, she said yes, and after a long time since then, Niche Down is finally hitting the shelves.

The world is saturated with people wanting to become bigger and better than others. The secret to becoming the category king is to be different. And to be different is to become legendary.

"Have the courage to niche down." - Jaime Jay
Heather Clancy (Twitter: @greentechlady) 
Heather Clancy is an award-winning journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. She’s CoAuthor of Niche Down: How to Become Legendary by Being Different. 
Her articles have appeared in EntrepreneurFortuneThe International Herald Tribune and The New York Times.  
She was the launch editor for the Fortune Data Sheet, the magazine's newsletter dedicated to the business of technology.  
As editorial director for, Heather chronicles the role of technology in enabling clean energy, sustainable business strategy and the low-carbon economy.  
When she isn't writing, you can find Heather digging in her garden in Northern New Jersey, singing a cappella or scuba-diving with her husband. 
Christopher Lochhead (Twitter: @lochhead) 
The Marketing Journal calls Christopher Lochhead “one of the best minds in marketing.” Fast Company calls him a “human exclamation point.” NBA legend Bill Walton says he’s “a quasar.” 
And The Economist calls him “off -putting to some.” 
Lochhead hosts the acclaimed “dialogue podcast” “Legends & Losers”, Producer of the “6 Minutes of Legendary” podcast and is co-author with Heather Clancy of Niche Down: How to Become Legendary by Being Different and the Harper Collins “instant classic”: Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets.  
A former three-time, Silicon Valley public company CMO (Mercury Interactive, Scient and Vantive), he’s been called a “godfather of category design.”  
Christopher is living happily ever after in Santa Cruz, California, with a wonderful woman, six hens and two wild cats. He can often be found surfing, drinking whiskey or having a very good time. 
Jaime Jay (twitter: @heyjaimejay) 
Jaime Jay is Managing Director of Bottleneck Virtual Assistants, a Life & Business Coach, host of the popular, Stop Riding The Pine Podcast, and he’s the co-producer of “dialogue podcast” “Legends & Losers”. 

177 Niche Down - Hal Elrod

Hal Elrod is known as The Miracle Morning guy. Literally killed by a drunk driver, he suffered through the Great Recession and is now braving a rare form of life-threatening cancer. Despite everything that life has thrown at him, Hal continues to be the legendary person that he is.

His bestselling book series, The Miracle Morning, has now sold over half a million copies worldwide. He is also the host of the top podcast, "Achieve Your Goals".

“When things don’t go your way, you can feel bad about it, but for five minutes. If you can’t change it, move on.” - Hal Elrod

Hal Elrod - A Series of Horrific Events

In 1999, a car accident claimed Hal's life literally albeit briefly. A few years shy of a decade later, he went through a profoundly difficult financial crisis during the Great Recession. Currently, he is battling cancer.
A true survivor and fighter, Hal found inspiration in the series of mishaps that went his way throughout his entire life.  He transformed his life by niching down.

Reinventing Oneself

In a sea of thousands of authors, speakers and life coaches, Hal didn't stand out. There were many ex-sales folk who served the same tips as he wanted to. Even then, Hal didn't let it get him down.

In true spirit of the thesis underlying Niche Down, he began doing different and breaking ground. He wrote his book, The Miracle Morning, based on the many learnings he had from the unfortunate and life-altering events that tested his tenacity and will. 

Miracles in Mornings

Hal believes that what we do first thing in our day affects the whole day. If you can change your morning by getting up an hour earlier, the next twenty-three hours are profoundly affected. And if you can change your days, then you can surely change your entire life.

This radical idea was evangelized, eventually becoming the touchstone belief system of people who wished to be guided through all life phases and choices. The book has served people from all walks of life, and is changing one morning at a time.

Hal Elrod is the international bestselling author of The Miracle Morning series of motivational books and host of the “Achieve Your Goals” podcast.

176 John Warrillow Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You

Ever wondered how you could build a business that operates without you? Today we talk with John Warrilow about how to build a company that is worth buying, the importance of recurring revenue and how to build it, and more importantly, how to sell a company and live happily ever after.
If we want to scale up a business, it's all about the one thing whether it's payroll for nannies or Annieglass...and just keep doing that. As . an entrepreneur you may not thrive on repetition but the people working for you do. - John Warrillow

Three Things We Learned

We now live in a 'Subscription Economy'

Recurring revenue or subscription-based revenue is a key piece in today's business model. There's even a subscription service for Christopher's new favorite underwear and toothbrush replacement heads.  Recurring revenue is king. Buyers love it. Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club for 5 times it's worth because of the recurring revenue and the beauty of it is the revenue will continue to recur without the original owner.

A big personality is unsellable

It was popular several years ago to have a personal brand. The founder needed to have a huge personality and usually, the company carried her or his name as well.  While this was great for top-line revenue growth, it's absolutely horrible for the value of the company.  That's the definition of an unsellable company. One way around this is to look for a product that they can start leading with.  Instead of Dr.'s Johnson and Johnson's company, they began leading with Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. They were able to successfully separate themselves from the leaders of the company.

You've gotta niche down

Focus on selling one thing that you are truly a differentiator of. If you think of it from an acquirer's perspective, they are making a build versus buy decision. If your company is cross-selling and has a diverse line to sell and the prospective buyer could just lower their prices to compete, that's what they're gonna do. But if you've got one thing that is really tough to compete with, something that is unique, your business becomes really attractive. 

John Warrillow is the author of the celebrated, “Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You” and he is President of Warrillow & Co., a strategy and research firm that specializes in helping Fortune 500 companies get inside the head of small business owners. 
The firm counts twelve of the Fortune 100 and seven of the top ten business-to-business spenders in the United States as customers. 
Warrillow & Co.'s client list includes American Express, Bank of America, British Airways, Citibank, IBM, Microsoft, and Visa. 
John Warrillow studied at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and started Warrillow & Co. in Toronto, where he lives with his wife, Jennifer.

175 Gina Bianchini - Why Niche Networks Are Mighty

How does a future of online niches that feel like awesome parties sound? Gina Bianchini, CEO and founder of Mighty Networks, sits with Christopher Lochhead to talk about the importance of building digital communities founded on and maintaining actual human connections.

"I want to preserve and reserve 'community' for something very specific, which is a vibrant, connected, meaningful experience amongst people who truly treasure and value each other." - Gina Bianchini

Three Things We Learned

  • The present does not have to be the future
Gina feels extremely fortunate for being able to pick the line of niche networks. She's been able to imagine how social networks would evolve into a picture of the future that is different from what has actually happened. While present conditions and trends will most certainly predict what's yet to come, Gina believes that people hold the power to change and make better the future of online communities. 
  • It's only the beginning for the digital future
Facebook is fifteen years old, yes, and some people think that it's done. But this notion is actually silly and unnecessarily so. We have yet to figure out how to bring people down in the specific lifestyle that will trailblaze the future of online communities. And we're only at the beginning.
  • Some social networks fail to foster a true culture of community
A couple of years ago, Facebook began changing its algorithms with the intention of making better its users' community experience. Over time, this became detrimental because people are actually far more interesting than Facebook makes them out to be. This is how some social networking platforms actually fall short, limiting the chances of organic formation of communities that people actually seek.

The future of digital communities should reflect the wonderful, vibrant, and colorful world that we wake up to every single day. Digital realities need not be removed from what we experience in the real world. The same is true for communities and social networks that form within a virtual platform.

Gina Bianchini (twitter: @ginab) is an entrepreneur, investor and the CEO and founder of Mighty Networks a new type of social network platform for creating communities.
An early pioneer in social networking, she was CEO of Ning, which she co-founded with entrepreneur and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen
Prior to Ning, Bianchini was co-founder and president of Harmonic Communications which was acquired by Dentsu
She has also held positions at CKS Group and Goldman Sachs & Co.[6]
She graduated from Stanford University in 1994 and has been featured on the cover of Fortune magazine, on Charlie Rose and appeared in many top business publications.

174 Matt Cubbler - A Cop Who is Serving, Protecting and Creating

How does a series of events impacting both national and personal history shape a person's life? In today's episode, Matt Cubbler shares with Christopher Lochhead the story of how he became not only a decorated officer of the Army, a cop, a public speaker, but also a COO. By the end of their conversation, his tale of struggle and triumph will leave you changed.

"It will always be about working on the gray. You have to live in the gray. It can't be black and white." - Matt Cubbler on the paradoxical life of an officer

Three Things We Learned

  • Some naughty teenagers end up in service
Quite the entrepreneur back in high school, Matt used to profit off ghostwritten term papers on books his customers weren't aware he never read in full. He forged signatures of teachers for hall passes at two dollars apiece. Despite his budding skill set that is the completely removed from his eventual career path, service for the country called him and he even became an Air Marshal following the 9/11 terror.

  • Curiosity kills, satisfaction revives
His heart has always been in the right place, but Matt relished the insights he gained from his stints that capitalized on actively being part of "the other side." He wanted to know what it was like, what it felt like for people who conned and benefited financially from doing something that seemed so easy, repercussions notwithstanding. Getting arrested was the turning point, when the long-term "high" of wanting to do and doing good finally registered and became his purpose.

  • Our past actions don't have to become us
As if by some stroke of genius, fate laid the greatest irony in Matt's life by making his arresting officer the same person who would eventually help him land his first job as a law enforcer. This cop made him identify the good in him, and guided him to open up to it. By being under his tutelage, Matt was able to fully grasp the truth that his deeds back in high school will never become him.

Matt will have to swallow a lot more truth pills through the course of his life. But all these will be part of who he is at present, a man dedicated to service, to doing good, and inspiring others to become the legends they're meant to be.

Matt Cubbler