Review of Strategic Coach in Chicago with Chad Johnson

Last updated: August 8, 2020

I attended the Strategic Coach Signature Program 500K+ in Chicago on Wednesday, 19 October 2016. My instructor was Chad Johnson. This was the first part of a four-part workshop that I’ve signed up for. These are my notes from the day. Previously: my Strategic Coach 10x Ambition experience.

Instructor Bio: Chad Johnson

Chad (LinkedIn profile) is an instructor and he’s also a business owner with 90+ employees. His company prints labels on glass bottles, among other things, and he recently started a new division (or new business?) that actually buys the glass and provides raw materials higher up the supply chain.

Chad started the day with a monologue about his journey as an entrepreneur. He got a belly-laugh out of me when he talked about how Strategic Coach helped him to 10x his family, and he showed this family photo:

Pic of Chad Johnson and his family. Yes, he really does have 11 kids!
Pic of Chad Johnson and his family. Yes, he really does have 11 kids!

The Strategic Coach bio for Chad says that he is “the Chief Inspiration Officer of Ceramic Decorating Company, a 95-person firm in California that screen-prints premium labels on glass for craft beer, wine, and cosmetic products. Chad’s grandfather started the business with his brother in 1934, and his father and uncle carried it on for another generation.”


  • 9 students attending the class, including me
  • 1 instructor (Chad), plus 2 facilitators, plus catering staff for breakfast and lunch
  • This is a smaller-than-usual group due to people’s dates and availability. At our next meeting in late Nov 2016, we will merge with another group. Most Strategic Coach Signature Program groups are about 20 people.
  • Started at 9am and finished at 5pm
  • Their office is located next to the Chicago airport, easy to fly in / fly out


We used this formula to introduce ourselves:

Introductions: We used this formula to introduce ourselves.
I love icebreakers.

So mine was: “My name is Nick Gray. I’m from New York City. I am an entrepreneur with a speciality in making museums more fun and company team building in San Francisco. I’m here to help learn about systems and processes to run and grow my business more strategically.”

I liked that we said the “I am an entrepreneur with a specialty in…” instead of just saying our company name or job title. It made the introductions more interesting.

Group Members

Our group was composed of people who worked in these industries:

  • Accounting consulting,
  • Collection agency,
  • Real estate investing,
  • Renegade museum tours (me!),
  • Law practice RE: workers rights,
  • Construction,
  • Insurance,
  • Financial advisor.

Good Quotes

Things I wrote down which stuck with me:

  • In talking about us as entrepreneurs: “You all are in the top 1% of earners in the entire world.”
  • The phrase “Being in the chair,” meaning = we’re getting a lot of benefit just by showing up and blocking out this day for strategic thinking.
  • To retire is to expire! Strategic Coach does not believe in retirement at an old age. Keep working on cool stuff until you die.
  • “The CEO is the #1 salesperson in the entire company.”
  • “You’re going to get to where you want to go by saying no.”
  • Our freedom comes from structure.
Question to consider: What is the single focus and activity that would keep you absolutely fascinated and motivated for the rest of your life?
Question to consider: What is the single focus and activity that would keep you absolutely fascinated and motivated for the rest of your life?

Random Notes

  • Chad encouraged us to think about Strategic Coach as a 3-year commitment.
  • We talked a bit about how long we wanted to live, using a tool called the Life Extender. This was interesting, I guess, but again felt a little silly or unrealistic. It seems a lot of Strategic Coach staff and customers are much older than me and spend a lot more time than I do thinking about end-of-life. But maybe this is a fault of myself: perhaps I should spend more time thinking about my EOL.
  • I enjoyed references to Gary V (lots of people saying “Crush it!”) and Tim Ferriss (reference to the idea of mini-retirements, among others).
  • There’s a Strategic Coach tool called The Weekly Planner. I didn’t really feel committed to using this. Of all the tools they showed up, this one had the least connection for me. I guess that means I need to double-down on it!
  • Excited to fill out my Activity Inventory. This will be a list of all the misc stuff I do in my role as CEO of Museum Hack.
  • Our Top 3 actions from this workshop that they told us: Schedule and take 1 Free Day, 1 Focus Day, and one Buffer Day. Implement our Strategy Circle. And schedule half an hour a week to review our Weekly Planner.
  • Strategic Coach instructors are very good at being active listeners. I’ve noticed that both Chad and Kristi say, “I love that you…”  and “I love when you mentioned…” There is a lot of love going around! This is an effective technique in active listening and engagement.
My name tag and a Strategic Coach folder
My name tag and a Strategic Coach folder and my KOLBE score.

Operational Details

  • One of the facilitators was in charge of music during the breaks. If Chad gave us a 5 minute break to brainstorm and write things down, then music would immediately begin playing. It was a very nice transition, felt seamless, and very premium.
  • The music was like Spanish guitar. Nice in the morning, but boring and sleepy in the afternoon. Would have loved some musical diversity.
  • Energy level was very low around the 3-5pm time. The whole room felt heavy and overwhelmed. It’s hard to keep up energy in any day-long seminar (unless you’re Tony Robbins: check out my review from Unleash the Power Within).
  • Breakfast and lunch were provided. High-quality! Strategic Coach always takes good care of their guest appetites.
  • Because I got a Golden Ticket (aka free admission to this as part of my expensive 10x Ambition program), the logistical details of me attending were a bit mixed up. I was never really given the full information on where to attend and what time to show up until I asked. So I showed up at 9am, but I seemed to be the last to arrive – I’m guessing others were told to arrive earlier for breakfast and networking. Small thing, but as a new customer, this is something that made my experience less-than-ideal.

The Entrepreneurial Time System

Also known as: Free Days, Focus Days, and Buffer Days. This might be worthy of a post by itself! For now I’ll share my handwritten notes about each day.

My notes about The Entrepreneurial Time System
My notes about The Entrepreneurial Time System
I think we'll learn more about this next time?
I think we’ll learn more about this next time?


My favorite tool that we learned about was The Strategy Circle. The motto for that is, “All those things that seem to oppose our goals are actually the raw material for achieving them.”

This was a great “Part 1” workshop. I may have even liked it a little more than the 10x Ambition “Part 1” workshop. Our group was smaller, so it felt more intimate. The advice was more actionable. I’m looking forward to returning in late November for Part 2, and then I’ll be back in Toronto in early December 2016 for Part 2 of the 10x Ambition program.



  • Bryan-Michael Suarez: So did you ever go back? What do you think about the program a couple years later?

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