He used charm, others’ personal tragedies and fake celebrity endorsements. How Christopher LaVoie cast his reality show and reeled in successful entrepreneurs like Tony Manero, one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the Philippines, is a story of how LaVoie’s success didn’t just take two of the best TV hosts in the country — it took him a decade.
I met him for the first time several years ago when I interviewed the co-owner of a small technology company that LaVoie helped get started, after she told me he was the most capable person she could find to help her through a challenging business period.
I’ve since interviewed LaVoie five times. I’m sure he could tell that I was in awe of his ability to cut his way through obstacles and reach people he couldn’t have reached through the media, but it wasn’t until I met him at a lunch he had with the Filipino community in New York City in March last year, where we talked about how he used his celebrity to build a business that’s been in various stages of growth for the last six years, and yet is one he never imagined he could.
The first time LaVoie was on stage as a guest speaker at the 2014 TED Conference in San Francisco, a few months after he’d joined Forbes as a columnist, where we talked about his experience being a celebrity in the Philippines as a child, and how he and his parents “spent so much time being celebrities.”
He was then at the forefront of the most famous TV show in all the Philippines, called “Mabuhay” (“Your Face”), which had already been on the air since 2000 and lasted for nine years.
LaVoie’s talk at TED then, and this one at the 2014 TED conference, which took place at the same time as this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week and which took place at the end of April, was on how he was able to successfully use his celebrity as a platform to change the Philippines