He used charm, others’ personal tragedies and fake celebrity endorsements. How Christopher LaVoie cast his reality show and reeled in successful entrepreneurs like Adam Neumann.
By JERREY GROTHA
Christopher LaVoie, 37, is a big, soft-spoken man with dark eyes and hair, and a little bit of a goatee. So goatee it is, that it seems to be growing at all odd points. He wore a dark suit the last time I saw him around a table full of people at the San Francisco headquarters of his new production company, The Big Idea Productions.
“I’m trying to be one of the guys in this business,” he says. “For the first couple of years, I wanted to work in television.”
LaVoie, who is the founder of the production company, started playing in music bands when he was 13, and he has performed with his own band, which has toured the country, and played the 2010 World Series with Willie Nelson and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has also been in bands with his brother, Mike, who had earlier formed the band Serenity. He started the production company, The Big Idea Productions, about two years ago, based on his own philosophy: “I believe that you can be on stage, you can perform for an audience, and the audience will come up to you, make a connection, and that connection can be a business.”
LaVoie didn’t just use that line as a marketing slogan. The reason he started The Big Idea, and why he made his way into the business as a solo entrepreneur, was a very personal one, to share his personal, sometimes painful story. The Big Idea Productions is his latest venture into the business arena.
“In 2009, I was diagnosed with ALS,” LaVoie said. “It started to turn the corner, and we were finally able to say we’re past that point.”
LaVoie’s mother passed away from the disease, and when his father passed away from complications, he was left to manage his father’s business and