Strategic Coach Workshop Review

Last updated: January 18, 2023

This was the 2nd quarterly meeting in the 1st-year Strategic Coach program. (Previously: Review of Q1 Strategic Coach in Chicago with Chad JohnsonThe class went from 9am to 5pm on Nov 30, 2016, with breaks every 90 minutes plus a longer lunch break.

I’m starting to like these workshops. We began with self-reported big wins from the past 90 days. This activity gives us business owners the gift of reflection, satisfaction, and a space to be proud about what we’ve accomplished.

Hello Stephanie Song in Chicago! She works for Strategic Coach

The Signature Program by Strategic Coach is a class for entrepreneurs whose businesses are generating at least $500k of annual revenue. There were 24 customers of Strategic Coach in the class, plus Chad (instructor) and three Strategic Coach employees in the back of the room to assist with A/V (hello ladies!). Breakfast and lunch were provided, as well as unlimited non-alcoholic beverages of all type.

Course Notes


  1. Workshop Notes & Prep
  2. The Workshop Focus (Growth)
  3. Learning How To Avoid The Gap (Growth)
  4. The Pocket Coach (Growth)
  5. The Kolbe System (Unique Ability)
  6. Unique Ability
  7. The Weekly Planner (Time)
  8. The Workshop Wrap-Up (Growth)

The Workshop Focus

Listing our Achievements / Reasons Why / Further Progress / First Action. Example of one of mine:

  • Achievement: Leadership Strategy Meeting (which my colleague Tasia actually led and organized, but…)
  • Reason Why: Aligned w/team, huge goals for 2017
  • Further Progress: Manager’s Meeting, recap of key points
  • First Action: Write out my recap in Manager’s channel on our Slack (I haven’t done this yet, sadly)

The One Thing: What’s the most important thing that I want to get out of today’s workshop? My answer: Rel-align with the tools and core concepts of Strategic Coach. Book a free day.

We also shared out about what books we’re currently reading, and what apps we’re using.

What books are we reading, and apps are we using?

“The Gap”

Based on the end-of-day recaps, this was the most impactful part of the workshop for many of the attendees.

Entrepreneurs are guilty of being so future-focused that we forget to celebrate our wins with our team, or sometimes even to acknowledge them.

The Gap is defined as “the permanent difference between the Actual and the Ideal.”

It’s like if I was to look at my company Museum Hack and measure the success…

If I measure Museum Hack based on my “Ideal,” then the company is not doing well enough. Because my “Ideal” is a much, much larger company making massive impact with many more people on staff.

If, however, I measure Museum Hack based on the “Actual,” then we’re doing great. We have dozens of incredible employees, we work at amazing museums around the world, we’re profitable (barely), etc.

That difference — between my “Ideal” success and our “Actual” success — is called The Gap. Many entrepreneurs live and die in The Gap.

We constantly measure ourselves and our businesses against the Ideal, which makes us feel like failures, frustrated, guilty, depressed, etc. The goal of thinking about The Gap is to get us out of the Negative zone and into the Positive zone. We want to feel successful, satisfied, confident, a sense of enjoyment, and optimism.

Chad told us that in order to get out of The Gap mindset, we must follow this simple rule:

A. M. B.

  • Always
  • Measure
  • Backwards

This idea of The Gap was a really popular discussion subject! Chad gave us lots of time to voice our opinions, and almost everyone grabbed the mic to give input.

I spoke up, raised my hand, and said: “I’m sort of OK living in The Gap. I feel that measuring myself against my Ideals drives me to be more successful. I don’t want to lose that.”

Chad and Marilyn gave me a lot of push-back about why I shouldn’t think like that, and why it is really unhealthy. They said, “Why do you like being depressed?” And I don’t, I don’t think I’m depressed. But it made me realize that even if I’m OK flirting with measuring myself against my Ideals, my employees probably aren’t. They want to celebrate their successes, and I can do a better job of recognizing those.

It is also a lot more powerful to come from a position of confidence and success when talking about my company.

The Weekly Planner

aka The Entrepreneur Time System: “Start spending your time like you spend your money.”

Strategic Coach encourages its clients to break their time down into three separate day-blocks:

  • Free days,
  • Focus days
  • Buffer days

A lot has probably been written about this formula, so I won’t go into too much detail.

I asked this question: Can the free day be 2pm to 2pm, instead of midnight to midnight? (I’ve been struggling with booking a Free day, because I really like my work, and the idea of taking an entire day off and never once looking at email… seems hard.)

Answer from Chad: No, I encourage you to do midnight to midnight. If you half-day double-stack it, you’re not recovered from a night of rest, etc.

The Pocket Coach Guide

Strategic Coach defines The Pocket Coah as “a vital focusing tool that captures all of your most important priorities for the quarter.”

It is a foldable worksheet that we used to list out some of our goals for our Free, Focus, and Buffer days. We also wrote down Lifetime Goals, 3-Year Goals, and 1-Year Goals. I enjoyed filling this sheet out as it was a nice review and space to think about my goals.

There’s a lot more that I have to learn about this tool to integrate it into my life. Chad spoke about how powerful it was to use it with his assistant, sort of like his own personal operating system.

Action shot of Chad Johnson talking about Kolbe scores


So much to say here, but it was after lunch, and I was pretty tired. I’ll catch up on my Kolbe notes in my next 10X writeup. In the mean time, here’s another tool that is similar to Kolbe:

Two books that were recommended for me

Unique Ability


Misc Workshop Notes

  • THANK YOU to Marilyn who gave me some special attention and coaching around The Gap. She also spoke up a few times to give input during Chad’s presentation.
  • At the end of the day, several people in the group were choking up (aka crying a bit) thinking about how they live in The Gap. I don’t think there were many dry eyes in the room as we all recounted stories of being hard on our family, friends, and colleagues.
  • I got really tired after lunch again. Am going to tweak my diet and caffeine intake for the 10X workshop to see if it helps. (Update: it did! No coffee until after lunch, and eat a lighter lunch totally carb-free.)

Personal Notes

I didn’t plan enough time after this session to “decompress” and soak in the lessons we were taught. My flight out was also delayed, causing me to get home around 1am and not have a great night of sleep. Another member in the class said he was staying in Chicago overnight after the class in order to give him time to reflect on the class. I might try that next time. TBD.

Thanks Marilyn for VIP coaching around “The Gap”

The End

Send me an email if you liked reading this! It’ll encourage me to share more from these sessions.



  • Alex Valdés: Great info!
    • Nick Gray: Thank you for leaving a comment Alex! It helps me to know my writing is read and appreciated.

What you should do next...

1.Subscribe to my free Friends Newsletter.

You'll get exclusive life hacks, business research, top tech gadgets, and see new productivity tips. See why 18,000 people say it is one of their favorite emails.

2. Get your 2-page Party Checklist from my book, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party

With over 19 things you can do right now to improve your next party. Plus an Executive Summary of the key lessons inside my book.

3. Read this list of my 21 favorite home gear items.

See my favorite electronics, kitchen toys, and even bathroom toiletries in one of my most popular blog posts ever.