S2 E16: Chris Pirillo: Technology Jedi & YouTube Entreprenerd

What You’ll Learn…

  •  What led entrepreneur and tech geek, Chris Pirillo, to the Seattle area and how he started his current business.
  • The different mediums/methods through which Pirillo shares his knowledge and thoughts with others.
  • How Pirillo balances work and home life, specifically when it comes to his daughter, and his awareness of the dangers technology can have on youth.
  • Pirillo’s thoughts on how technology has impacted Seattle and what may be on the horizon.
  • Some lightning round questions and Pirillo’s greatest hopes and fears for Seattle moving forward.

Since 1992, Chris Pirillo has lived as a self-proclaimed geek. Born and raised in Iowa, he moved from Iowa to San Francisco, San Francisco to Los Angeles, and finally Los Angeles to Issaquah, Washington (on the east-side of Seattle), where he has lived since 2004. He loves the culture of Seattle, as it is much more in line with his own goals and vibe than spots like LA (he notes that he did not have to live in LA very long to learn it was not for him). While Pirillo admits that he doesn’t exactly have a “main hub” when it comes to his business, he discusses a bit about his writing and vlogging on Lockergnome.com, YouTube, and his most recent and prominent work as a consultant and “influencer.” Being a practitioner himself for many years, he loves having the opportunity to teach others about technology and stressing his view that technology is a means to an end, not the end itself.

Pirillo has been playing with video for years (he notes the first digital video he ever recorded coming from a camera that used floppy disks, for some reference!). About ten years ago, he began livestreaming from his office, which eventually developed into the streams and vlogging he does today. While many refer to Pirillo as a YouTuber, he rejects the title only because he points out that if one is to attach his- or herself to a particular platform and that platform goes under, the title will go under with it. He also mentions that some people believe he started as a TV host. While this is a part of his career, Pirillo does not want to be tied down to one potential path and even notes that a lot of his most valuable information is actually not shared online, for he prefers to save those bits for his consulting work.

In addition to Pirillo’s legacy YouTube channel, he also has a Star Wars channel that has opened up some wonderful opportunities and helped him bide his time in between consulting. During Pirillo’s vlogs and livestreams, it is not surprising to see his daughter right there with him. While he tries to involve her in his work as much as possible, he also shares his awareness of the dangers too much technology can have on a young mind.

Pirillo mentions that his daughter is growing up to be a digital native; she is being raised in a world where technology is at its most pervasive, which, while great, can also have drawbacks. It is much easier for people to hurt others when they are behind a computer screen, for they do not have to look the other person directly in the eyes. He compares it to putting your child behind the wheel of a car; you wouldn’t do it without first teaching your child how to drive. However, this is what many parents do with their children and technology. If we can teach our children how to use technology wisely and even limit their use of technology, as Pirillo does with his daughter, the risks we have seen would be drastically mitigated.

Pirillo has always been a particular fan of developers. He feels that these innovators are like modern-day magicians in that they can make their future what they want it to be. As with any creative spirit, you need an area that can allow said spirit to flourish; this is what Pirillo believes the Pacific Northwest provides, an area conducive to letting developers thrive. When he first arrived here, Pirillo loved how the Seattle area allowed him to make his own way (in LA, he felt that his destiny was in the hands of someone else). He appreciates and hopes that Seattle doesn’t go the way of a Silicon Valley, as he feels that more opportunities can arise in a Seattle-esque environment. An entrepreneurial spirit is written into the DNA and geography of Seattle and it can be felt in the vibrant start-ups and self-starters who choose to grow roots here.

One of the major things that Pirillo sees on the horizon in Seattle is the same aspect of technology that fascinates him the most: the ability to adapt to rapid change. Often, in his discussions with businesses, the same question arises: What can tech do for my business? In Pirillo’s opinion, technology can act as a quicker and more efficient method to reach the same goals. However, it can only be effective if business owners are open to change; if they can let go of the way things used to be and be more flexible, they will have a better chance of embracing the sure changes that are coming to technology in the future. Overall, Pirillo feels that we are still in the “Dark Ages” when it comes to technology and that there are certain things to look out for as we move ahead (such as trusting technology as a god). If we can balance an openness to change with a skepticism of technology’s trustworthiness, we can avoid potential dangers down the road.

Pirillo has some interesting thoughts on the popular tech devices of today. For example, while he thinks that assistants like the Google Home and Amazon Echo are neat, he argues that you may not actually need one. He also has some straightforward thoughts on phones, noting his distaste for the way Apple runs itself today and the fact that phones in general are overpriced in today’s market. He does enjoy Lenovo’s Jedi Challenges AR headset, but overall just hopes that 2018 brings a more compelling usability experience to technological devices that he hasn’t seen in recent years.

Pirillo feels truly blessed to live and be able to raise his daughter in such a progressive area as the Seattle area. He hopes that other cities begin looking to Seattle for guidance and that Seattle doesn’t decide to slide in an anti-progressive direction, for he feels this would result in a massive loss to the region’s current culture. He is proud to say that he is from Seattle and greatly fears the threat of a natural disaster or other event that could come in and shake up the city’s foundation and quality of life. Aside from his worries, Pirillo looks forward to perpetuating the trend of progression in the Seattle area and looks forward to a future where he may continue to use his skills and knowledge as a practitioner to help others gain a better understanding of what technology is and how it can benefit their lives and careers.

About the Interviewee

Chris Pirillo is a consultant, influencer, content creator, vlogger, and Star Wars fan. He has been featured in a variety of online and traditional mediums, from written work to TV, livestreams, and vlogs. He can be most easily and popularly found on LockerGnome.com and YouTube, though you can also find him at chris.pirillo.com, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn. You can also watch LockerGnome videos on Twitch and follow LockerGnome on Twitter. Pirillo currently resides in Issaquah, Washington with his wife and 3-year-old daughter.


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