Sep 17 • 1HR 49M

How to become a category pirate | Christopher Lochhead (author of Play Bigger, Niche Down, Category Pirates, more)

Open in playerListen on);

Appears in this episode

Lenny Rachitsky
Interviews with world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.
Episode details

Brought to you by Mixpanel—Event analytics that everyone can trust, use, and afford | Vanta—Automate compliance. Simplify security | Round—The private network built by tech leaders for tech leaders

Christopher Lochhead is a 14-time #1 bestselling author, top podcaster, and former 3x public tech company CMO and has been an advisor to over 50 VC-backed tech startups. He is best known as a “godfather” of category design, and Adobe named his book Play Bigger one of “the five greatest marketing books of all time.” In this episode, we discuss:

• What exactly category design is

• The “Frame It, Name It, Claim It” framework

• How to go about designing your category

• Why “languaging” is so powerful

• Rating yourself on the category design scorecard

• Why Chris considers “product-market fit” a dangerous concept

• Chris’s spicy take on positioning

• The “better trap” and why it’s crucial to avoid it

• The magic triangle of product, company, and category

• How to embrace negative feedback

• Why the greatest time in the history of innovation is now

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Google, Overcast, and YouTube.

Find the full transcript at:

Where to find Christopher Lochhead:

• Twitter/X:

• LinkedIn:

• Website:

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter:

• Twitter/X:

• LinkedIn:

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Chris’s background

(05:08) Why Chris shares his negative criticism on his website

(11:58) A simple explanation of category design

(18:00) How Purell mastered category design

(23:07) What Gong got right (and wrong)

(29:01) The “better trap” and why it’s crucial to avoid it

(38:51) Reflective thinking vs. reflexive thinking

(44:45) How Lomi created a revolutionary solution for food waste 

(48:50) The “Frame It, Name It, Claim It” framework 

(49:08) The concept of “languaging” 

(54:00) Examples of languaging 

(59:19) Spend more time on the problem than the solution

(1:01:37) The power of “backcasting”

(1:07:33) The truth behind building legendary brands

(1:10:39) The problem with product-market fit

(1:16:11) Chris’s spicy take on positioning

(1:19:20) “Damming the demand”

(1:24:49) Laws from Chris’s book The 22 Laws of Category Design

(1:29:46) Word of mouth: the most powerful form of marketing

(1:34:05) Chris’s closing message to listeners

(1:39:01) Lightning round


• Rick Rubin Says Trust Your Gut, Not Your Audience:

• How to identify your ideal customer profile (ICP):

• Grant Cardone on Twitter:

• Tai Lopez on Twitter:

• The Difference Between a First Mover and a Category Creator:

• Gojo Industries:

• Gartner reports:

• Forrester reports:

• Gong:

• Clari:

• Threads, Instagram’s “Twitter Killer,” Has Arrived:

• Kevin Maney:

• Red Bull cola:

• Microsoft Copied Apple’s Successful Retail Plan. Now It’s Shutting the Whole Thing Down:

• A New Way to Think, with World’s #1 Management Thinker Roger Martin:

A New Way to Think: Your Guide to Superior Management Effectiveness:

• RJ Scaringe on Twitter:

• Lomi:

• Otis elevators:

• How to build a breakthrough … the secret of Backcasting:

• John Bielenberg’s website:

• Eddie Yoon:

• Marc Andreessen on Twitter:

Snow Leopard: How Legendary Writers Create a Category of One:

Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets:

Niche Down: How to Become Legendary by Being Different:

The 22 Laws of Category Design: Name & Claim Your Niche, Share Your POV, and Move The World from Where It Is to Somewhere Different:

• An inside look at Deel’s unprecedented growth | Meltem Kuran Berkowitz (Head of Growth):

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah:

What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-Smart Executive:

Inventing Anna on Netflix:

• The rise and fall and rise of Tony Eltherington:

Production and marketing by For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.