Christopher Lochhead Wants You To Stop F-ing Up | PoP 244

Share this content
Christopher Lochhead Wants You To Stop F-ing Up

In this episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Christopher Lochhead about how to stop f-ing up.

Podcast Sponsor


Brighter Vision is a turnkey website solution designed to help health professionals attract more clients and thrive on the web. We offer health professionals the entire package. Amazing website templates crafted by design professionals, lifetime support, Search Engine Optimization and more! We don’t just give you a template, like other companies, and send you on your merry way. When you become part of the Brighter Vision family, we custom build you a website on one of our frameworks, adding your unique colors, fonts, textures and images to make it 100% unique to your practice.

Sign up here and use the promo code ‘Joe’ to get one month free.

Meet Christopher Lochhead

Christopher is a former three-time, Silicon Valley public company CMO and entrepreneur. The Marketing Journal calls him one of “The Best Minds in Marketing,” Fast Company Magazine calls him a “Human Exclamation Point,” The Economist calls him “off -putting to some,” and Newsweek calls him, “The Howard Stern of Entrepreneurialism.” At 18 he got thrown out of school, and with no other options he started a company. After 30 years in business he retired. Christopher can’t remember his wife’s phone number, but can recite much of The Big Lebowski. He’s a proud advisor to non-profit t 1Life Fully Lived, a surf and ski bum who gives the occasional ass-kicking talk. He’s living happily ever after with an amazing woman, a great tribe and six little dinosaurs in Santa Cruz California.

Christopher Lochhead’s Story

He was born and raised in Canada. His family is originally from Scotland. He became an entrepreneur by accident when he was 18 and got thrown out of school. He had no money, no experience, and no education, but was faced with either becoming an orderly in a hospital or starting his own business.

“I had to learn by doing, seeking out coaches and mentors, and reading.”

In This Podcast

**Explicit content**


Christopher Lochhead provides invaluable insight into how to successfully market your business in an innovative way known as ‘categorization’. This involves setting up a unique category by identifying a problem and marketing how you solve that problem. Christopher also speaks about the importance of entrepreneurs and avoiding competing with others.

How To Make a Difference

“Entrepreneurs build our world.”

Entrepreneurs are the type of people that can go from having nothing to building an empire. We all have an obligation to change the world in whatever way we can. If you want to raise a community up, empower entrepreneurs.

How To Be Successful In Your Business

1. Be a category king

  • Identify a problem
  • Position yourself in the context of that problem
  • Market your point of view instead of your service
  • Be known for the problem you solve

2. Three major levers when marketing a business:

  • Product
  • Company
  • Category

“Instead of marketing features, market problems. Problems create categories.

Competition is for losers. Don’t compete, stand alone.


Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.




Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

File: POP 244 – Christopher Lochhead wants you to stop f-ing up
Duration: 0:43:31

Having anxiety with your website should never happen. Creating your website is a milestone for your private practice and should be celebrated like one. My friends and colleagues over at Brighter Vision know the situation all too well and have come up with a process to make your website experience as easy, fluid and enjoyable as possible. Trusted by thousands of therapists around the world, Brighter Vision is the website solution that your private practice needs. As a gift to my listeners, Brighter Vision is offering a month off of their services. Go over to to get one month free off your Brighter Vision subscription.


This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, session #244.


Joe Sanok: I am so excited that you are here. Welcome. Welcome.. Welcome. As you may know, we are here live in the Radio Centre Two Building. I am Joe Sanok, your host. The building next to me is still going up, up. Watching bricks and everything going up, going up. Hope you are doing awesome as you are implementing these innovative ideas to start grow and scale a private practice. Big shout out to the next level Mastermind people. I quietly launched a couple Mastermind groups for people that were right around that $1000 mark and were going to the next level. And we filled up those two groups rather quickly. If you want to be on the wait list for one of me or Alison’s Mastermind Groups to start a practice, grow or scale a practice – also if you are interested in consulting – you can head on over to You will see the application form. If you want to read a little bit more about what we are doing before you applied to do one of those things, you can head on over to or just click start consulting on the main page there. We have had some major issues with the website and those of you that reached out to me via email saying hey, I have been trying to get on your website. Thank you so much for reaching out. We knew about it, but to know that you all were looking out for me, I appreciate it. What we ended up discovering was that we had thought we had a dedicated host and that the hosting was completely dedicated and that it wasn’t. And that actually all along we were really at the threshold of the highest amount of traffic for the site’s hosting package we had purchased, and our hosting company did not let us know that. So that when we just barely went over that amount, it hit the ceiling. It made our whole website crash over and over, and you guys didn’t have access to that website off and on for the last couple weeks. And I am so sorry about that. We have upgraded our hosting temporarily with that company, but we are looking to move away from that company because to me that’s not acceptable when, you know, my business is run through it as well. You all have really important things to be doing and not reloading my website over and over. So if you experienced that, I am so sorry. Thanks for working with us and letting us know. And yeah, so today on the podcast, we have Christopher Lochhead. If you didn’t hit session 243, go back to that because this is a big gigantic conversation that we had, ended up lasting about 2 hours instead of the hour that we had scheduled. And this one’s going to cut out and then we are going to continue in the next episode. But one thing about Christopher is he calls it like it is. And so there is some profanity in this episode. I believe it’s totally worth it and I just want to say that in case you are with kids or you are in a situation where some of those naughty words may not be acceptable. And again, thanks a lot to Brighter Vision. Brighter Vision makes awesome websites. Thanks for sponsoring this and so many of our podcasts. You can head on over to to check them out. So without any further ado, I give you Christopher Lochhead.


Joe Sanok: Well Christopher, we have been talking about category design. We have been talking about some amazing concepts. Those of you that are just tuning in, in the last episode I went really deep with Christopher and I decided similar to just a handful of other podcast interviews, we are going to break this up over two different podcasts. So Christopher Lochhead, welcome back to the Practice of the Practice Podcast.

Christopher Lochhead: Thanks for having me Joe. It’s great to be back again…

Joe Sanok: Yeah!

Christopher Lochhead: …on this spectacular, spectacular show.

Joe Sanok: (laugh) Well, thanks. Well, thanks.

Christopher Lochhead: Or should I say legendary…

Joe Sanok: Legendary. We haven’t been on Legends and Losers yet, but you know, Entrepreneur on fire, my interview is next week and…

Christopher Lochhead: Oh, congratulations.

Joe Sanok: Thanks. Yes.

Christopher Lochhead: It’s very cool.

Joe Sanok: So that (crosstalk)…

Christopher Lochhead: Actually, you know, I have been worried about JLD with the Hurricane. I have been [meeting 00:05:02.12] the sentiment note. I saw the news, that’s when I went holy.

Joe Sanok: I know. Yeah.

Christopher Lochhead: Right? Puerto Rico. Wow, so…

Joe Sanok: We’ll see how is internet is next Tuesday.

Christopher Lochhead: Yeah, exactly. I wonder. You know, there is a possibility we might have a break in Entrepreneur on Fire, I don’t know, but fingers crossed for everybody in Puerto Rico, and frankly everybody is being affected by this…

Joe Sanok: Oh, it’s been nuts.

Christopher Lochhead: Yeah, I think. How many checks are we are going to need to write? You know, when Houston happened… my wife and I went, oh, my god. You know, we didn’t believe. Send love, prayers and money. And you know it looks like we are going to have to do that for some big part of the Caribbean and potentially Florida and East Coast here.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. Yeah. We saw YouTube play last weekend and as usual they had big things about texting money to help to support, and it was just an inspiring show.

Christopher Lochhead: Those of us who can must.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. My wife and spent some town down in Haiti and helped start a microfinance program down there and…

Christopher Lochhead: Love that.

Joe Sanok: It’s just like you know when you have gone to places like that, and you see someone who is living on, you know, 100 bucks a year, 200 bucks a year, and you are like, okay, how much do you spend on going out to eat in a month, and then you are like if I gave $100, they could buy a giant bag of rice and resell it for, you know, $200 or $300. They can pay back that loan in a year. There are so many amazing organizations that are out there that really feel like are kind of first world problems, like we need to reach out and do something about it.

Christopher Lochhead: Well Joe, are you familiar with

Joe Sanok: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Christopher Lochhead: Yeah.

Joe Sanok: Actually one of my therapist here… Muhammad Yunus, who pretty much started microfinance, he wrote the forward for her book.

Christopher Lochhead: Oh, did he really?

Joe Sanok: Yeah, so she is connected with Muhammad Yunus and kiva (crosstalk)…

Christopher Lochhead: What’s her name and I [Inaudible 00:06:52.22]…?

Joe Sanok: Dr. Marilyn Fitzgerald.

Christopher Lochhead: Okay.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, so… but yeah, I mean kiva does such good work or “charity: water” [Inaudible 00:07:00.1] if you have heard about them?

Christopher Lochhead: [Inaudible 00:07:02.0]. No.

Joe Sanok: Their model is super cool, where they have people that say we will fund just kind of your infrastructure, your salaries, your Xerox paper on a monthly basis. So all of the admin is separated by accounts and so if people give money, 100 percent of that goes to the water. And so there are like a two-sided system. If people just want to say, “I want 100 percent to go to new wells. I don’t want to have any percent of that go to the admin. So it’s just is really great model for people that say, I want to be a sustaining donor versus I want to be a one-time donor.

Christopher Lochhead: Very, very cool. And what I love about microfinance is entrepreneurs build our world and I am somebody for whom… I don’t have a theoretical relationship with entrepreneurship, right? What entrepreneurship really means is that somebody with nothing, with no reason ever to be successful. Can go from that nothing and become very successful. That’s my story. And it’s a story of so many other entrepreneurs. And so I think one of the greatest things that we can do is to stoke entrepreneurship in America and around the world and to do everything we can to support those entrepreneurs because economic growth drives the growth of a human society. And so I don’t think there is anything more noble than being an entrepreneur.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, what’s really cool about the research that Muhammad Yunus did in finding the gender differences in the developing world… how? When women make money, they invest it back in the community. They make sure their kids are fed, they put it into education. They have that mentality that the family and community comes first. But they found that in their research that men often invest in their friends and alcohol and other things. So that’s why they put so much of the effort, and of course that’s not universally true (crosstalk)…

Christopher Lochhead: Hey, somebody has got to keep Jack Daniel’s in business, Joe. Come on!

Joe Sanok: Right, right. I just thought there is a woman that has some distillery in the middle of there, that she is selling… yeah, yeah, keep spending your microfinance on me. I think we have been doing the World Changers Challenge a few times this year which is an online community of people. So in June we have done what’s your big idea to change the world outside of the world of counseling and private practice… this one week blitz towards that. And then in September, we did write an e-book in a month around your big idea, really with the idea that we already have more than enough, and so we can grow our businesses. We can scale. We can pull back our time, but we need to really affect change and if we get 600 or a 1000 people that are going to write world changing books together, kind of help launch those books, that we can make a pretty big impact within our lane of traffic. And so I just feel like we all have that obligation to try to change the world in whatever way we are able to.

Christopher Lochhead: You know there is that great quote by Kevin Spacey, where he says if you are – paraphrasing, but the quote is along the lines of – if you are lucky enough to get to the top, you should send the elevator back down.

Joe Sanok: (laugh) It’s pretty cool.

Christopher Lochhead: Yeah, I love it, and our book, “Play Bigger” came little over a year ago now, and I retired after the book came out. And the first six months after “Play Bigger” came out, you know, I was kind of on the beach and enjoying life and really wondering what I wanted to do with the back-half of my life. I was 48 at that time, for I am 49 now. And as I was sort of thinking about that and having fun with my family and surfing and just enjoying life, you know, the book was taking off. So there was always inbound from the world and which was incredible, and as I started to interact with people I really just had this aha which is you know what, I have tried to make a difference in lot of places in life, but the place that I make the biggest difference is business, and in particular entrepreneurial business. So I have dedicated the back-half of my life to try and make the biggest difference I can make for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in America with the lowest level of entrepreneurship in recorded history in the United States according to MIT and the Brookings Institute. In March of 2016, the Wall Street Journal ran a story based on that research with the headline that said, A crisis in America Entrepreneurship with the lowest levels of company starts in American History. There are more companies that die every week in our country than are formed, and that’s really fucking bad. And then in the rest of the world, in the developing world, to your point Joe, if you want to raise a community empower a handful of legendary entrepreneurs.

Joe Sanok: Mm-hmm, Mm-hmm. So people that are at the beginning stages of their entrepreneur journey or are in that first half of life, like what do you wish you had known earlier on in your career?

Christopher Lochhead: Great question. So number one, we live in a winner take all world and you want to be that category king. Number two, and this is even bigger. Most of us have an unquestioned, unexamined belief that we pull two major levers when we are building a business. One is product and the other is company. Now when I say product, product service whatever it is, the offering, whatever your offering is…

Joe Sanok: The counseling, group therapy…

Christopher Lochhead: Whatever the thing you offer to the world is, and company is the people who work in your practice, your business model, your distribution capability if that’s all applicable, and more importantly particularly in kind of the practitioner world, is the ecosystem that you sit inside of. Are there tools and technologies that you are using, research etc. You are part of an ecosystem, right? So most people, they pull those two levers. And they think, hey, you know, what I am going to do. I am going to be the best massage therapist possible. I am going to be the best divorce counselor possible, and what they are competing on is essentially features. So here’s the aha. There’s a third lever called category, and instead of marketing features, category designers market problems. Because problems create new categories. When we talked earlier about Birdseye, if you look at old Birdseye ads which you see is stuff like, “wouldn’t it be wonderful to have peas in February.” And what Birdseye’s doing is framing a problem. When Steve Jobs launches the iPad, he literally puts up a slide you can go and watch it on YouTube. It’s a master sensation [Inaudible 00:14:05.20] category designing work, where he has got the iPhone on one side and the MacBook on the other and he says, we believe there’s room for a third category of device. Now let me tell you why. And so category designers teach us how to think. And when we think the way they do, particularly about a problem and therefore a solution, a boom – they win. And it’s the distinction between going to market and having the market come to you.

Joe Sanok: So teach me how to think. So if someone like myself maybe says, well, we have counseling, we help divorced couples, we have angry kids – they come in for 45 minute sessions. Also I do some consulting and it looks like this. So I am describing features – the wheels on the airplane basically. You were to teach me how to think = I am your coaching client whatever, where do I start in regards to being able to think like a category designer?

Christopher Lochhead: Awesome. Number one, what’s the problem. Fall in love with the problem, not the solution. Most practitioners are in love with the solution. Most practitioners think the way forward is learn more skills. Right? That’s great. Learn skills. Be legendary at being a counselor for the love of god, but Picasso was a legendary painter. Nobody gave a shit, right, until he did cubism. And most importantly, he educated the world about cubism. And so first we start with problems. What’s the problem that we solve? And we want to get really steeped and soaked in that in that problem.

Joe Sanok: And I want to underline what you just said, because I see this all the time with my coaching clients where they are like, I’m going to get this certification so that I can attract this client. That’s going to help you serve them well, but that’s not going to be what gets those clients. They don’t care that you have an extra five letters after your name or that you’re (crosstalk).

Christopher Lochhead: …and we don’t know [Inaudible 00:16:10.01] C-F-D-F-I-D-D-O-G–F-A-R-T. We don’t know what any of that shit means.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, and so that’s the mindset of higher education learning which isn’t bad, but you nailed it on the head. I wanted to just underline that and say so many therapists in particular or you know any practice owner who wanted to go for more and more education – and I think part of that’s the fear of marketing themselves. They think that if I get that extra piece of paper, they people are going to come. You are saying frame the problem.

Christopher Lochhead: Frame the problem, and then when you position yourself, position yourself in the context of that problem. So you are actually… So the second piece of this is have a provocative engaging point of view. So legendary category designer… so I’ll give you a simple example. One of my favorites is a Sara Blakely that category designer of shapewear and the founder of SPANX. So you think about SPANX as a product, right? And I am married to a woman, so I have the shit in my closet. Right? And what do I know, but it looks like a modern girdle to me. Right? And so if she was a tech entrepreneur, she could have easily called this the girdle [Inaudible 00:17:20.26]. That’s what happens in the tech industry. We put [Inaudible 00:17:24.05] after things we don’t know what the hell to say. But she didn’t do that. She wanted to – and I am going to use these words on purpose – distinguish herself from everything that came before, and category designers want what comes after to be compared to them. See… Steve Jobs… there is no fucking way that guys was going to let his iPhone get compared to what the guys of Blackberry were doing. Absolutely, no.

Joe Sanok: Right (laugh).

Christopher Lochhead: The experience he wanted the world to have is there was nothing, and then there was iPhone. And everything comes after that. And even today people forget that there were decades, generations of mobile phones before the iPhone. No, no, no. They are the category king. Everybody goes away and they become the reference point. And so category designers differentiate themselves by A – getting really grounded in the problem. And we can talk about the types of problems if you want. And B – they develop a provocative and engaging point of view that explains to the world why this problem matters. And there’s an incredible thing, psychologists and therapists sort of in that domain would get this – when you and I hear somebody articulate our problem better than anyone else, we assume they have the solution.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, absolutely.

Christopher Lochhead: And so legendary practitioners who are category designers are actually marketing the problem. They don’t market their service. They market their point of view.

Joe Sanok: Mm-hmm. I mean you think about in our industry, Dr. Gottman. So the Gottman’s and his work – John Gottman started studying couples 40 years ago. By studying couples in a laboratory, within about 15 minutes he was able to, with 92 percent accuracy, predict divorce – in the next 10 years they are going to get divorced or not. So he started with the problem that we really have no idea why people get divorced. And so as he developed that problem more, he then looked into communication styles, he looks into other things, then informs practice rather than saying let’s just create a better way to help therapist do practice. No, let’s go back to the problem. We have no idea why people get divorced. We have no idea why people stay together. And that’s what the best research does and then they translate that into something different. If you look at Brene Brown or other people in our field that stand out, it’s exactly what Christopher is saying – what you are saying here that they define that problem so well. I know for me, I naturally go back to the features. How do you push back on that to look at that value and that problem or is it just a matter of practicing it?

Christopher Lochhead: So you could practice it. I prefer you do a stop, change, start, and just cut it out. And I will help you cut it out.

Joe Sanok: Okay.

Christopher Lochhead: Most practitioners, more innovators of any kind, most entrepreneurs and CEOs, they get very excited about their drills and their drill bits, their product. Customers buy holes, not drills. Legendary category designers – and you said it Joe – they differentiate themselves and there’s a big distinction to be drawn between different and better. See, most of us make an unconscious, unquestioned choice to compete on better. Oh look, I am a C-F-D-I, F-I-R-T – CFDI, FIRT – certified. I don’t know what. You know, they are not or whatever the hell, like and it says all you are saying is look at my drill. My drill is better than theirs. Oh, theirs is a 4-second drill, mine is a 3-second drill. Oh, they have a 3-second drill, I am the 2, you know… and it gets more and more ridiculous as we have this features conversation. We want to be the point of reference. So, you know, simple example. I recently had the pleasure of being on the Ziglar podcast. And Zig Ziglar taught me how to sell. If you go back in time, you know he is of course sales and motivational speaker. There weren’t many of them, so he was pretty early. There were some. Here’s Zig’s point of view. Zig declared this thing called the automobile university, and that what there is to do in the automobile university is to learn, and put that automobile time to good use. If you roll the clock back 30 years ago, of course there were no mobile phones and there was no… you know, we were listening to podcasts in our car – none of that stuff was happening. Right? And so the minute Zig says automobile university, what he is doing is he is opening the world up to hey, wait a minute. I have all this downtime in the car that I sit there and wait. I could be listening to, in this case, Zig Ziglar tapes and filling my brain with great new ways to sell and motivate and so forth. And so here’s my point. The minute Zig says, hey, automobile university and the light bulb goes on our head that says, you know what, yeah that’s right. I should put that downtime to good work. The minute we acknowledge the problem called I am wasting my time in my car, I then don’t go think, oh, what other sales motivation tape training should I look at. No. I go and I immediately fucking buy Zig Ziglar tapes. And so that’s a very simple way to differentiate. And particularly in this world, have you heard this expression Joe, niche down?

Joe Sanok: Yeah, yeah.

Christopher Lochhead: Yeah. I think it’s a very powerful idea – to find a very, very tight area of expertise. Be known for one small, powerful thing and that thing is the problem that you solve. So for example, my accountancy guy named Greg Finley in San Jose. And Greg Finley is the only reason I have any money. And you think about accounts as a category that’s been around forever and very hard to distinguish ourselves in that category, right? So what does Greg do? He needs to stand. He decides fairly early in his career, he is going to focus on personal tax for technology executives. Because he discovers there’s a set of needs they have which I can explain if it mattered, that is actually quite different than typical executives, particularly around the use of stock options and how to deal with them and how to think about them, taxes, is very complicated. So “niches down” and he becomes the category designer where he specializes in solving the problem of the technology executive who owns equity in their company and he becomes one of the most successful accounts in Silicon Valley. In a category that you would think, you couldn’t ever differentiate. And so what problem do you want to be known for solving, that’s the seminal question. And the next one is do you have a powerful and provocative point of view that captures people’s attention about that problem and opens them up to it, i.e. automobile university and then they get pulled to you. Because once we see the problem, we can’t unsee it.

Joe Sanok: Man! Okay, I want to be respectful of your time. Do you have time to go into the types of problems? I know don’t have a hard and right at the hour, but I want to make sure I am sure respectful of your time.

Christopher Lochhead: I am retired, Joe. (laugh)

Joe Sanok: (laugh) Why? I know you are doing lot of podcast interviews too.. So, cool! Is it okay we keep going then?

Christopher Lochhead: Absolutely.

Joe Sanok: Man, I am loving this. Okay, so you said types of problems that if we wanted to, we can dive into how to articulate types of problems. I think that would be really, really valuable. What are the different types of problems that people can articulate? And I think that’s going to help us, get a real spinning in applying to our own businesses.

Christopher Lochhead: Such a great question and it’s such an important distinction. So there are problems that the world knows it has, that you have meaningfully reimagined in some way. And so in this world, the person that I know the best is my therapist, Manny Camara. He is a founder of MyoTechnology in San Jose, California, and he is the category designer of a new space called “Mixed Method Recovery.” He is the Mixed Method Recovery expert. And he starts off in massage therapy and over time he realizes, you know, there’s all these techniques and technologies that are coming to the fore and if I reimagine myself as not a massage therapist, but as somebody who solves a problem called, I am a person – in his case mainly athletes who wants to and needs to recover as quickly as possible from injury or even just from excessive training or just sitting in the chair (laugh). And so he like every legendary mad scientist, he starts trying stuff and experimenting with his early adopter clients. Right? So today he uses oxygen therapy. So when you go to see him, he sticks oxygen in your face. Right? He is a pioneer in what’s called percussion therapy. So imagine going to Home Depot, taking a drill, and putting a hard rubber ball on the end of it, and using it to massage people, because with the drill, you can pgadagadagada, you can get in in a way that you never could with your hands. And on and on and on. Lots of different approaches… chiropractic… lots of different approaches. And so when you go to see Manny, he can… I just had a problem with my neck… p-boom… he solved me very quickly. Now, when he goes to the world and says, hey, I’m a massage therapist, I am this… the world goes, ha, I don’t know. That’ll be a one of a billion. And then he says, at MyoTechnology, we are the world’s first Mixed Method Recovery specialist. Everybody goes, what’s that? And he says, as you know, in order to optimize the intelligent design of the body, you need to use a number of different therapies to optimize your ability to recover from an injury or frankly from life, and we know how to do that. So you want to recover fast, you come to MyoTechnology. And so that’s a very simple differentiation, but here’s the thing. Once you hear it, you go, you know what. That makes a lot of sense. Why would I go to just a massage therapist or just a chiropractor? All of a sudden, what he is doing is he is changing the way a market category of buyers think about the problem. Lot of people, who… of course they want to recover if you go to a chiropractor or massage therapist, but what you’re really thinking about is chiropractic or massage, because those are the category names. He flips the conversation. So he goes from drills which is massage to holes which is recovery. And then he tells you the kind of recovery therapist he is – he is a Mixed Method. Those two words were never used by anyone else in the space. And then you go what’s mixed method. Now he goes from having to have this long conversation about, well, you know, I do this, I do that (laugh) and nobody remembers what the fuck he said to three words. “Mixed Method” tells you about what he does, at least at a high level and then he has the magic word “recovery.” So all of a sudden he has created a, if you will, a niche for himself centered around a very clear problem and guess what? It’s very fucking hard to compete against Manny now because he is not just another therapist. And if you talk to him and you want to shop so to speak, when you call therapist B, you say what? Do you guys do Mixed Method Recovery therapy or what you do? That’s when you know you’re creating the rules for the category. You are changing the way people evaluate, in this situation a body therapist. And once you do that, you are the category designer. You are the one everyone’s compared to. You are the one now that has pricing power. You are the one who’s now the thought leader, and look I know a lot of people, Manny included, go into this businesses because what at their core is the care about people. They want to make a giant difference. And when you are differentiated and therefore unique, you pull the market to you. You have a lot more clients, a lot more people you can make a difference to as a function of making yourself different, designing your own category, and evangelizing a problem.

Joe Sanok: Christopher, what I love about what you are saying is it’s so applicable for people at private practices. Because in any given town, the ability for practice is to market themselves in the competition. It’s just such a low bar. I have one of my first kinda in my email sequence for new practitioners, there’s this exercise that takes 3 minutes and I have little YouTube video that walk through [Inaudible 00:30:28.07] But what people do is they google just their town plus counseling or their town plus massage therapy or just to see the competition. And overwhelmingly because people actually me back and then I email back to them – I don’t just throw them into some like email function. They don’t fall into a deep hole. I actually talk to people, yeah shocking.

Christopher Lochhead: Wow.
Joe Sanok: (laugh) And so they’ll email me as, oh my gosh, I discovered that the top three people that are ranking have websites that look like they are from the 90s. They are super [Inaudible 00:31:01.05]. They don’t even have their phone number above [Inaudible 00:31:03.12]. So they are starting to think differently and the things you are talking about are so simple, but they are so advanced. It’s probably one of those things that there’s different layers to it. At first it’s probably simple, then you are like, wow, this gets really complex, right? Could be so much with this. But in any given community, you can look how many practices are really going after these advanced skills. It’s one, maybe two. So the ability for anybody listening to dominate the market quickly is so profound that it’s like the low hanging fruit of money and of being able to help people, whereas there is other spaces that is highly competitive in every single town, every single industry. And the world of counseling in particular, it’s just not that competitive. So I love when you walked us through with that first problem and how to frame that out because it’s low hanging fruit for people.

Christopher Lochhead: Well, let’s talk about competition. Competition is for losers. Don’t fucking compete. Stand alone. Legends Steve Jobs did not compete with the Blackberry. That’s not what happened. Sara Blakely did not compete with girdle manufacturers. She created new category called shapewear. We want to stand alone. We want to distinguish ourselves. We want to niche down. We want the world, our competitors in particular, to be compared to us. I will give you another example. My doctor, Dr. Cathy Hallsten, god bless her, she has been my doctor for about 20 years. And she is a category designer. She is one of the first doctors in the Silicon Valley area to pioneer a new niche called – and this is exactly the phrase – Concierge Medicine. And so her thinking was, you know, she becomes a doc. She is a Stanford doc, incredibly smart. And everything you would ever want in a doc. Giant, giant IQ, giant heart [Inaudible 00:33:00.07] like the exact person we would all wish to be our doctor, is Cathy Hallsten. Right? So she goes into doctoring and she has this aha’s as a young doc, which is the paradigm in the industry is such that she doesn’t get to spend very much time with patients. Right? And I don’t how she would say, but you know she is like making hamburgers. She is like, no, no, I want to be like a doc. I want to know my patients. I want to be in their… I want to help, you know, etc. etc. And what you realize is the paradigm of the category is not going to allow her to practice the medicine that she wants. So comes up with a new paradigm, right? And I could explain the details of it if it matters, but she has a fewer patients. She charges them more money, and as a result of that if I email Dr. Cathy right now, I will have a response probably within 3 hours. I have talked to her when she is on vacation on a chairlift because she cares. Right? And she is a concierge doctor. That’s the service. So now, when she goes to “compete”… by the way, her practice has been shut, the entire time I have known her. She only takes family and friends of existing patients because she has technically been shut for 20 years. And the reason she has been shut for 20 years is she is not a doctor, she is not a family doctor. She is a concierge doctor. Now, the first time I hear that, you know, mm-hmm, what is that? I don’t know. Now she gets to tell you her point of view. Well, the traditional paradigm, you got 4332 patients. It’s like making hamburgers and I don’t really get to be a doctor. I wanted to be a real doctor. I wanted to care for people. I wanted to actually go back in time where you knew your doctor etc. You had real relationship etc. etc. and the only way I could figure out to do that was to be a concierge doctor and here’s the model and here’s how it works. And all of the sudden, you go, okay great. If you have the money, you are signing up for that shit. There’s no way you want a regular family doctor any more. You want a concierge doctor.

Joe Sanok: Right. What I love about that…

Christopher Lochhead: And that’s the power of category design.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. So many practices are moving in that type of direction for similar reasons and you’re speaking to my listeners because they are moving away from insurance. They are moving away from kind of being held to, “I can only be this creative.” Because in order to make a living, I have got to see 35 people a week. I only get $61 and 12 cents per session. The only way to make more money is to see more people. Whereas, exactly what you said, if you can focus in on what type of person I want to solve their problems, what kind of category do I want to have in my town or my city or my state, and how do I then raise my game to match that category, I mean that’s the stuff we talk about. Even little things I hear at Mental Wellness Counseling. Even we have a big refrigerator full of Frappuccino and full of new coconut water and we are in a small northern Michigan town. We use the Muse Biofeedback headband to teach meditation in sessions using medical grade EEG. Like there’s people who have crappy websites in town that can’t even do counseling well, let alone do a whole new category. So it’s when I can say everything Christopher is saying – you are saying it has worked for me, I didn’t call it category design. I just knew I had to be different, it is that snowboarding mentality, like I am not going to have an ugly website. I am not going to do that, but I am going to create something that’s entirely me and then other people compare to it. So amazing. So we are getting towards the end of the interview and I know that… yeah, I just feel like… you just feel like a day-long seminar with you. What are some bigger takeaways? I know maybe there’s a lot of other things that maybe we could have hit on. I want to make sure if there is any other bullet points. You want to make sure people take away, we hit those. And then what kind of go into help people connect with you more.

Christopher Lochhead: Yeah, the other one I would share is as you’re grounding yourself in what’s the problem and you are beginning to build your point of view around that problem, there is an exercise that I’d really recommend – and we talk about it in the book – it’s to get grounded in… we lovingly refer to them as [Inaudible 00:37:10.06]. So what most people do is to attack the existing market in a sense they have a marketing dialogue that’s says we are better. We are better, fast, and cheaper. Right? It’s their 4-minute ads or 3-minute ads. Look here’s what I am going to tell you about that. That’s a race to the bottom. That’s a race to commoditization when we have that conversation. Right? So when we differentiate, we go to a whole new place and one of the exercises you can do is if you take… you know, let’s say I am a marriage counselor today. That’s my primary discipline. That’s my primary differentiation. And as I think about it I go, you know, I am going to write a list of everything I think is wrong and/or should be different in the domain of marriage counseling today in a way most people think about it, in a way most clients or patients, if you will, buy marriage counseling. So you write a list of the way the marriage counseling category is today from the perspective of a client. And you go, I don’t like this. That’s not right. I wanted to be different, right? Then you write the corollary list for how you wanted to be. Those are the two’s. So the way it is, you want the world to view that as it from and your vision for the future i.e. your point of view of the way marriage counseling should be is the two. And rather than compete with the from, they are 4-min ads or 3 min ads, say, hey you know what, for the last 20 years marriage counseling has been pretty much about these three things. And while those things are important, we don’t do with those three things. We are different. We deal with a different three things and here’s why. And then this is the part that gets really hard to wrap your head around. If you want the three things that everybody else in a marriage counseling industry category does, go talk to them. And if you are interested in solving this problem, which we think is the higher order bit, come talk to us. And so differentiation is about forcing choice. And most of us compete on a comparison dimension as opposed to a choice dimension. So if I say to you, hey Joe, what do you feel like tonight – Sushi or Sashimi. That’s not much of a choice. Right? But if I say to you tonight, hey, what do you feel like, Sushi or ice cream, that’s a fucking choice. I am forcing that choice on you. Right? And here’s another one I’ll say. Legendary category designers have a brand that some people love and some people hate.

Joe Sanok: But it seems like they crave having people hate them because it gets the people that are a waste of time or not their ideal client, not even on their map. Just this morning when I was doing that keynote using Star Wars, I was talking about how defining who is in the rebellion and who is working with the empire, was part of the discussion, and how category designers do this. And part of that was we have a local business here. It’s one of the larger businesses in Michigan. It’s called Hagerty Insurance. They could have just been a regular insurance company, but instead they only do classic car insurance and on their website, they have this whole thing that’s you treat your classic than your everyday car. You are not going to find empty bin of French fry underneath your classic car. You are going to park it in a safe spot, your classic car. And they are one of the leading providers for classic cars. When J. Lennon needs classic car insurance, he calls Traverse City, Michigan. They are not going to insure my Pontiac Vibe. They are going to say, even when it’s a classic, we are not going to insure it because it’s a Pontiac Vibe. But it saves them so much time, when they only have their ideal client who can afford their insurance and then wants to be valued like a classic car owner is valued. The same thing can happen in counseling world and the practice world as well.

Christopher Lochhead: Yes that’s a legendary example and it doesn’t mean your brand needs to be hated by people who it’s not for, although maybe it is. To your point, it’s a hardcore differentiation. We attract exactly who we want to attract and we repel everybody else. Yeah.

Joe Sanok: Well, and so many people, I think, will just try to compete on their lowest common denominator. And that’s something we have tried to intentionally be two to three times more expensive than the average counseling practice here. And every time we raise our rates, we get more clients because I think there is also then that assumption that you are going to get better quality. If forces us to continue to raise our damn thinking in an innovative way where people are going to pay two to three times the regular rates of counseling. We better the offering, something that stands out and that we are not even competing in the same pool as other people.


Joe Sanok: So after that comment, we literally went on for almost again another hour. And so, we are having another Christopher Lochhead episode coming up next. We are so excited to have had so much content from him. I hope you are taking huge notes, would love you to tag him on twitter and follow his work. The next episode is going to be the rest of this interview. Thanks so much for tuning in and also thanks for supporting Brighter Vision, you can get a free month. They have been podcast sponsors for such a long time and make beautiful, amazing websites for therapists at such a reasonable price. Head on over to to get that deal. Thanks for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Talk to you soon. Bye.


This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered, is given with the understanding that neither the host or the publisher are rendering any legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one and thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for their intermusic – it is awesome.