How can you sell against the odds? By becoming a student of your business. Lance Tyson’s guest in this episode is none other than Chad Johnson, the SVP of Sales and Service and the Chief Content Officer with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Chad emphasizes learning every aspect of your business and knowing how it impacts your ability to produce. Lance and Chad also review recruiting challenges, dive into what makes a great sales team, and Chad reveals what he looks for when recruiting sales talent to build his teams. You will come away with major insider secrets after listening to this episode. Tune in!
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Against the Sales Odds Speaks With Chad Johnson on the Value Of Becoming A Student of Your Business
I have been chasing this gentleman down to do this interview. I’ve been going after this for months. He’s so busy, but I couldn’t wait to get this interview done. I have Chad Johnson, who I call CJ. A lot of his friends call him CJ. He is the Senior Vice President of Sales & Service and Chief Content Officer for the Jacksonville Jaguars. CJ, welcome. Tell everybody what that title means. That’s one of the bigger titles.
We have a pretty diversified business here in Jacksonville. With the Jaguars, I oversee our ticketing, sales and operations group. I oversee our gameday operations and facilities management, guest services, food and beverage, all of our building partners. We have a music business. We have an amphitheater we own here called Daily’s Place amphitheater. I program all the concerts there. That’s where part of the Chief Content Officer comes in. I help collaborate with all of our content creators in the building to manage our outward-facing, customer-facing content that we put out there, whether from the game footage or marketing aspects. It’s a lot of fun. It keeps us busy and I love every minute of it.
One of my most interesting conversations all year was with you talking about how you bring content into the stadium. You were telling me about Greta Van Fleet and I’d never listened to the band at all. I have now downloaded a couple of songs. You told me all about how intricate the whole booking content is. I remember we’re having lunch at that stadium club there and you were telling me all about it. I was absolutely fascinated with the conversation.
It’s different in Jacksonville than in a lot of markets. We’re a secondary market. You’ve got South Florida, Tampa and Orlando. Our amphitheater is only a few years old. Our stadium being a secondary market, we weren’t part of the normal routing of shows. When a tour would go out, they would be skipping Jacksonville. It was logical that I, as a salesperson, got involved and I started going out on the road, meeting in front of agents and selling Jacksonville in our building like we would be outselling hospitality packages in suites. The process was similar to what we’ve seen in ticketing.
It’s an interesting part of your job and I didn’t even know it was going to go there until I read the title and you started to talk about it. Would you say that’s more of a sales job, a negotiation job or both?
Both. I’m going to tell you a quick story about what we do that’s different here. There’s a gentleman named Louis Messina, who promotes some of the biggest tours in the country, Taylor Swift being one of them, Eric Church and George Strait. We had not been on his radar, but our owner had met him and he said, “I’ll bring you one of my shows as soon as you can get 500,000 more people to move to Jacksonville.” He came back and told me, I said, “That’s not going to work. I want to go out and meet this guy and I want to show him how creative and different we are.”
At first, I used the example, I wanted to ride into his office on an elephant. It’s difficult to rent an elephant in Austin, Texas. People that go see Louis will bring him some barbecue or whatever. I’m like, “We have to do something different here.” I found out he was a big fan of sushi, so I brought our executive chef from Jacksonville here, who happens to be a former chef of TAO in Vegas and big into sushi. We bought a 500-pound tuna. He rented an RV and drove to Austin and met me there. We went in and filleted that tuna live in front of him and his whole staff, fed the whole office and had a three-hour lunch that blew everybody away.
The whole idea was that just because we’re Jacksonville doesn’t mean we can’t think bigger or bigger than anyone else. Now, we have a great relationship. We’re talking about opportunities. That’s the sell and then we get into the negotiation on what the business terms are. There’s a lot of cool stories that come out of those.
You always sell before you negotiate. In this episode, with every leader, we go back. I’ve talked to a lot of people that you’ve been connected with. I had Doug Dawson on. First, we had Chad Estis and Mike Ondrejko. The folks you were raised in business with. Where did you start? Where was the trajectory of your sales career?
I’ve heard from some of them how they talked about when they worked outside of the sports industry or if they did. I was lucky. Right out of college, I got a job selling. I handled the State of Wisconsin, the UP of Michigan, Duluth, Minnesota North. I’m very Tommy Boy-like. I drove a car. I put out about 65,000 miles a year and was in the manual transmission and agricultural equipment industry. It’s something I didn’t know much about, but I was a guy that graduated with a degree in Biology and didn’t get into med school.
Have a student mindset and educate yourself in your business.
If you know my personality, I’m probably not going to do well in the lab, sitting around and studying deer shit or something. I was lucky because I had a mentor when I started by the name of Clifford Pym. When you’re on the road selling and having to learn how to run your own business out of your apartment, I didn’t have an office, so I was working out of home by myself. I moved to Madison, Wisconsin where I didn’t know a soul. He was able to help teach and mentor me on a lot of the basic skills I needed that had to do with relationships and organization. When you work out of your home and you handle that territory, you have to be organized and disciplined.
You’re on the road. Time and territory management all day.
It was a challenge that when I got back into a business environment or corporate world environment, that I had some skills that I had acquired through that time. That helped set me up for success and is a big part of who I became.
How long did you do that?
I did that for about two years. I was quite successful at the time and I was growing and learning the industry. I was doing well, but my heart wasn’t there. I didn’t wake up every morning and go, “I can’t wait to get back after this again.” That’s what led me into the sports world. I had some friends and a lifelong friend, a childhood friend of mine, Chris Hibbs, was working and transitioning from the Pistons down to the Tampa Bay Lightning and I got a chance to come to visit him for a little vacation. I met a few of the guys and an opportunity presented itself for me, which got me into the sports world.
If you took the greatest part of it, you said, “Time and territory management, personal management leadership, I had to figure that out being on the road.” What’s the hard skill that you brought in the pro sports arena? Were you able to resolve objections? Was it an attitude? Was it a skillset that you brought to the table from that job?
One was discipline. I brought the ability to self-manage and self-motivate because when you don’t have a boss in your office or a colleague, you’re on the road 65,000 miles a year, you’ve got time to think and plan. I’d be in the car 6, 7 hours a day, so I had time to plan. The second was becoming a student. I had so much time on the road and I was in hotels by myself. That’s where I learned how to become a student, read, and educate myself. To this day, I do probably more than anybody you’ll have on this show is how much I read and educate myself.
There’s no doubt. When I bring up a concept that doesn’t ever seem like it’s foreign to you, a lot of people will bring a strategy that they’ve never heard about it that I always have the feeling that you’ve touched on it at some level, so you know where I’m headed. Especially that last thing we did with your team. We did all the planning tools. That totally made sense to you because I felt you’re already down that road somehow someway. You jumped into pro sports. Chris Hibbs has had a ton of success with the Bears and is out now in LA launching that stadium, SoFi, for the Rams and the Chargers. Did you go to what team?
I went to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1999. At the time, Palace Sports & Entertainment had just purchased the team. They sent a group from Detroit down to Tampa. They all arrived in about June and I started about December 1st of 1999. They had had a little lead time which they needed. I had to give those guys a head start before I caught them. I joined in late ’99.
Is that in inside sales or as an account exec because you had some experience?
I was lucky to come into the account manager role because I had a couple of years of outside sales experience. I’m able to jump in right away, but I had to learn the industry because I didn’t have that startup time in the inside sales world and learn that process.
You jumped into sports entertainment sales. You have this experience. You played an away game with sales on the road and it’s harder to play an away game than it ever is to play a home game. What was the thing you came out of the gate strong with that you’re able to do well? Was it picking up the phone? I’m going to flip that question over. What did you have to be coached on the most?
What I learned in my first job was all of it was face-to-face on the road because my clients were all around. Technology wasn’t there at the time when I was on the road in those areas. I learned right away when I got to Tampa that my face-to-face meetings were so important and every part of what I did. I had little phone time. I probably had the fewest outbound calls because all my calls were to set up face-to-face meetings.
I made a concerted effort that way to keep that because that’s what I was comfortable with. I never dialed for dollars before, so I wasn’t comfortable. I remember talking with Chad at the time and he said, “Let’s try it this way for a while and see if you can be successful. If not, then we’ll go look at what some of the more traditional ways of doing it are.” Lucky enough, I was able to get out and get in front of people and have some success with it.
He let you try your way or he said, “You do it my way first.”
He let me try my way with the experience I came in. He said, “You’re going to see call volumes probably down right now. You’re not going to see time on the phone the same. I might be gone for three-quarters of the day, but if you trust me, that’s how I’m managing what I’m doing and hold me accountable for it. Let’s see if I can produce some results.” Lucky enough, I was able to.
Connect with the person you’re talking to and understand the conversation.
What did you get coached on a lot when you got in sports? Even tie that into your mentor in your first role in the Ag business and transition to that.
The first piece of it was a little bit different. It dealt with engineering and specs and why my stuff would fit and work. I was selling something different there. Here, I’m selling a want. I don’t have a product that I can give you the spec sheet on. I don’t have a product that I can say, “This is why it fits what you’re doing.”
You’re thinking, “I’ve got something for you.” It’s a much different type of move.
I had to learn differently, especially in the opening. The why speak and how I was getting in front of them were different in the sports industry. Once I could get through the first few minutes, I was on, but I had to come up with a way to connect with that person and understand that the conversation was different from my beginning. That’s why I struggled at first.
First year on the board, the first job, you’re competing against yourself. Now, you’re in this competitive situation. The group you started with is one of the only groups I ever heard of that came in the first year that most of you are still in sports and have moved up the food chain. I’ve had a lot of those people on the phone like Stehlik and you. Stehlik was there when you were there, too, right?
Where do you fall that first year? Is it near the top or in the middle? Because I’ve heard it all over the place from different people.
I started a little late. I came in mid-season and I was middle of the board for that first year. It was my second year when it clicked, going into my second selling season. I would have called myself above average in the first year because I was learning those changes we talked about and how to cater to what I was doing. By my second year, I moved up to the top and that’s when some of my colleagues were starting to take their next step. Chris, Mike and Brent were all starting to take the next step. If I saw that window right there as a time to capitalize on moving up the board, that’s what I did.
Where did the trajectory go from there? You moved to the top of the board inside that window of 24 months. What was that promotion? What was that recognition you got?
After two and a half years of selling, I was able to become director of inside sales for the Lightning. As we were going through it, Chad had left and gone to Cleveland and we started going through what the next step of leadership would be. I was lucky enough to come in as an Inside Sales Director and manage that team. I did that for shy of two years.
One of the things that are your greatest strength and I know I’ve never said this to you is you’re a master of tailoring a system to the talent you have. You have some divine design with that. When you got that Director of Inside Sales because you inherited a system that was plug-and-play from what I know. Did you get creative with it there? I look at you as innovative in how you assemble a team and hit a problem. Did you get innovative and change some things or did you keep it?
I did. I took the strategy when I moved into that role. The group of people we had, I was only looking for the intangibles, the things I couldn’t teach. I cannot teach hard work. I can make you work longer hours, but I can’t teach you the desire and work ethic. I can’t teach honesty. I can punish you when I catch you cheating or lying, but I can’t teach you honesty there. I can’t teach integrity and being a team player.
I took the approach of, “Let’s line up the people that have those intangibles.” I took what I learned from my first job, being a student and letting me be a teacher to them. In order to be a great teacher, you’ve got to be a great student. With them, I took the approach of individually teaching them. There’s a system, as you mentioned, but catering it to each of them.
Similar to what happened with Chad, where I said, “This is what you’re telling me your comfort is. This is your strength. Let’s work on it this way. If there are no results, we’re going to look at it through a different lens.” I didn’t do standard 60 calls a day, X dials and this many next steps. I didn’t use the standard metrics when I first moved into that role.
Thinking about how you came in, you came in a little non-traditional, so that feeds into that thought process, which is interesting. From there, the Director of Inside Sales, talks about the route from that point.
That was shy of two years. Michael Yormark was the Chief Marketing Officer for the Tampa Bay Lightning at the time and he took the COO job of the Florida Panthers. I moved over to become the Vice President of Sales & Service for the Florida Panthers in 2003. I left prior to Lightning winning the Stanley Cup that year. I left in 2003 to be the Vice President of Sales. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. I brought in the marketing piece and some of those aspects there at the Panthers. In 2010 when the Marlins were building their new ballpark, I was lucky enough to get to go work with that team for a couple of years and gain the experience of opening up a new facility.
It’s not what your route was. I love the fact that you said lucky enough. Dealing with you in the last couple of years, I think you’re deliberate and well planned. How much was luck? How much was like, “I’m going after this job? I’m going after this responsibility.” If you rewind to your experience getting the Senior VP of Sales and Marketing with the Florida Panthers, you got marketing with it. Did you fight for that? Did you manage up loud? Talk about that for a second.
I’ve taken the approach that I’ve never asked for a promotion or asked for the next step or asked where I go from here. I take the approach that you go be the absolute best at your job and if you do it good enough, someone’s going to tap you on the shoulder. How that happened, how that played out with the Panthers and getting the marketing piece, the game presentation piece and the broadcasting piece was I was so deliberate in my ticket sales and how marketing would help drive that that I learned every aspect of the marketing department. I didn’t wait for them to bring me a plan. I got involved in the detail.
I started looking and saying, “If this is how we’re communicating to people outside the building, why when they come is the messaging or the way we communicate with them differently? Shouldn’t it be the same?” That’s how I got involved in the game presentation piece. “When our fans are here, here’s how I’m going to talk to them to get them here. When they’re here, here’s how we need to talk to them.” The same thing happened with the broadcasting piece. I got so intimately involved with that. “If they’re home watching, shouldn’t it be similar?” It happened to be through my desire to get involved. Eventually, that tap on the shoulder comes.
You have to be the absolute best at your job. If you do it good enough, someone’s going to tap you on the shoulder.
I’m going to dub it a little bit different but tell me if I’m wrong. You’re good at a 360-type leadership model. You’re threading yourself into these other jobs and other parts of the organization that would be considered your cohorts or it’d be considered your peers at some level. You’re tying their roles into what you’re doing, so you’re perceived many times as an ally. A lot of times, sales and marketing are two separate pieces in their adversaries. Are you saying that to everybody?
Yeah, it’s exactly how I approached it. I keep telling you about being a student. I wanted to learn every aspect of what they’re doing so I could better understand how it impacts what I do. As I became a student and as I made it clear to them that we have the same goal, if they helped me sell as many tickets as they can, they’re going to be rewarded. As with the salesperson, if I help you make as much money as you can, I’m going to be rewarded.
When they understand the goal is exactly the same, they’re not coming in trying to change, get out of your lane as they say, but they understand you’re coming in to help make sure we’re rowing toward that same goal, then you tend to get the support and get the resources to learn. That’s the approach I’ve taken with all of these.
You then go to the Marlins. All of a sudden, in this era from 2010 on where some executives have gotten some experience with these new stadium projects, which I would think at some level are the gold standard in sports entertainment because not everybody gets the shot, but you get that opportunity. You go after the Marlins job, they come after you and you land that role.
Why I said lucky enough was because it was in the same city I was currently living in. Here I am in South Florida. I had just had a daughter. She was born in 2007, so I wasn’t necessarily overly excited about looking at opportunities outside the market. This happened to present itself there. It was a great learning opportunity for both the Marlins and myself because the two franchises didn’t necessarily have the best relationship.
When I got a chance to sit in front of David Samson at the time, the president, he said, “Chad, I’m not so sure I want someone that brings the Panthers strategies and cultures here.” I said, “David, I’m not so sure I want to join the Marlins and their cultures and strategies, but let’s get it out on the table and let’s see how it works.” We left the meeting going, “This is a great fit.” He told me when I sat at his table, “I didn’t even want you in my final list of candidates, so let’s discuss why you’re here.”
At the time, Turnkey had the search and said to David, “You need to spend some time with Chad.” I said to Len at the time, “I’m not so sure I want to go look at that Marlins job even though it’s a new stadium opportunity.” He said to me, “You need to go spend some time with David.” At the encouragement of Len to both parties, I was able to sit down with David and we learned that there were a lot of great things we could bring to the table and learn from each other. It was a great two-year experience.
They launched the stadium. You stayed there for two years and all sales are under you at that point.
We opened the stadium on April 4th of 2012, against the St. Louis Cardinals. The former president of the St. Louis Cardinals is a gentleman by the name of Mark Lamping, who’s the current president of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins share a spring training facility in Jupiter, Florida. The relationships there overlapped. I will tell you the date of April 4th, 2012, because, on April 5th of 2012, I was in Jacksonville finalizing the plan to join the Jaguars the next day after we opened the ballpark. I accepted the job on April 5th, the day after we opened.
You’ve been in Jacksonville for how many years now?
I joined on April 5th of 2012, so I’m into my ninth season in 2021. This has been my longest stop. If you look at the teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Miami Marlins, Jacksonville Jaguars, all in the state of Florida. That to a degree is calculated. When I say to a degree, the opportunity has to present itself. My oldest daughter still lives in South Florida, so I go back and forth on weekends, which is where I get to still be a student because I’ve got nine hours in the car, three weekends a month. It was calculated that Jacksonville worked because, in every situation, it has to work.
I tell our staff all the time that when I prioritize my work life, I’m a father, husband, student and teacher, in that order. That family piece with my daughter was important. It gives me a chance to continue to listen to those audiobooks. It gives me a chance to continue to share that with our staff here. I’m transparent with them about that when I’m traveling and all that. When they understand it, they support it.
As you landed nine years in Jacksonville and you look back at your career as a salesperson, come in from outside the industry, you move your way up, not to be cliché, you did it your way. You have evolved and tailored this. Non-cliché, as a leader right now, who are you? I’m going to build off what you said, “I’m a father and I’m a teacher.” What is your philosophy in your approach?
I would use a few terms and these aren’t cliché by any means. I’m aggressive and high-energy. I bring that and I don’t know how to turn that off. I don’t have that dimmer switch. I’m not sure how to control it. That’s a good and a bad thing. Sometimes it’s a really bad thing. Sometimes it’s a real good thing. If you look at a lot of the things we’ve done throughout the different teams we’ve been with, we’ve had to be creative. We’ve had to think differently.
Jacksonville is a great example of that. Here with the Jaguars, we call ourselves an incubation center. We can try things that other markets can’t necessarily try. We can be non-traditional, something the Bears or the Giants would never do. Jacksonville is an underdog city and franchise. We have to think that way. I would call myself solutions-based. If you asked my daughter what’s my middle name, she’d say, “Daddy Solutions Johnson,” because I believe in everything we’re doing. It’s all about the solutions. I get that here.
I remember when Sean Khan had one of his first meetings with me. He stopped me and looked at me and said, “What are you doing about it?” He stared at me and I was like, “You’re absolutely right. I’m in here telling you all the things I’ve found in my first couple of weeks of the business and all you care about is what I’m doing about it.” That’s an important piece.
Something good or bad, I move fast. We’ve done the exercise with our managers and other things like cost, quality, time, how you bank those things. You might remember, we did that with the managers and my answer was time. That’s only because of the environments I’ve worked in. That might be different somewhere else, but I have to read the business here in Jacksonville, mobilize, reread the business, and remobilize. That is a core part of how I try to help guide and lead this team.
You and I have had deep conversations on what your priority as a manager is. I’m with you. It’s how fast you can get something done, but sometimes quality suffers from that and sometimes cost suffers. Every leader-manager comes in a little bit different there. Probably what’s true about you, if you have a sense of urgency and somebody working for you doesn’t, that’s probably more of an issue if it was the opposite.
I’ve been lucky enough, Lance, that that’s how I am and that’s how I’m wired. It’s not going to change. I’m unapologetically me. As long as everyone knows that and as long as that’s clear, they get it. I’m also smart enough to surround myself with people that don’t let that quality fall. Chris Gargani, our Vice President of Sales, is absolutely great at everything I’m not. If I’m going too fast, he knows how to make sure the quality and the cost stay in line. You can work well in that environment if you have those people around you to help keep everything in the right lane.
When you bring Chris up, quality is number one. “We’re going to do this the right way,” and things like that. You play it off. I’m talking to Doug Dawson and he’s opposite of Chad with that, where Chad’s about the message and Doug’s about the process a little bit. It’s good to know that you’re very self-aware of everything. Last couple of questions. You deal with salespeople all the time. What’s the thing that you end up coaching the most on? What’s the thing that irks you the most and gets your hair stand up?
I’m going to use the word ownership. When it’s a sales manager, don’t run the numbers. Own the numbers. They’ll put a report in front of me and I’ll circle four things in three seconds, so I can tell all they did was run them. When it’s a sales staff and that group, I’m all about the details with them. If you help me understand the details, I can help you with a solution.
I remember as a salesperson, I learned this early. If I was on the phone with someone and I heard a dog barking in the background, I put notes in their account that they had a dog. The next time I call them, I’ll say, “How’s your dog? By the way, what kind of dog do you have?” Those types of details I can’t solve for if I don’t have all of the information. A lot of times, they come to you. I’ve heard our colleagues on your podcast here talking about batteries included and other things. Come to me with all the information fully baked out. That’s important to me right now as well.
Those details, when you are looking to recruit a person, what are some of the other things you look for? You’ve hired a lot of salespeople. Secondly, what are you looking for in a leader that you would hire? That says a lot about what you bring to your culture.
They’re two separate processes for me. When I’m hiring salespeople, whether inside salespeople, account managers, group sales, or premium, all of that group lumped together, I’m still looking for the intangibles. At that stage, I still have to be their teacher. They might have learned a sales process and some things in a team, but if they’re coming here, they probably only have a handful of years of experience. That’s less important to me.
I ask them a lot about their background and their family. It doesn’t mean that if you come from a well-resourced background or not, it changes things, but then I learned what makes you tick. You might hear someone say, “My father’s successful. My mother’s successful. My brother’s successful. My sister’s successful, so there’s no doubt I have to be.” You’ll know that that’s what drives them.
There’s someone else that says, “I’ve had to grind and work for everything I’ve had since I was fourteen years old. I’ve got student debts now.” I know that person is going to grind out for a different reason. When I’m looking at the salespeople, I’m looking for who they are, what makes them tick, and having tangibles. When I’m looking for someone in management, I focus on all those things I know I’m not great at. I focus on, “Can they be someone that can do that?” Because I am not naive to think that if everyone’s focus is time, that in the long-term, that’s going to work.
I look more at specific examples of them being able to show me what they’ve been able to accomplish in those areas of business. When I came here, I brought a guy by the name of David Altman with me because I knew what I would hit the ground running with and I needed someone to focus on those other pieces. I knew quickly with Chris Gargani and those types of scenarios. To me, that’s the resources. Hire people who are better at doing things you either aren’t good at or don’t like doing.
Last two sales and sales leadership questions that are timely with COVID. As a salesperson, if you can concisely say, how are you going to have to be as a salesperson moving forward? You know how hard your business has been hit and everybody’s is. Going forward as a salesperson, you’re probably going to have to do a hell of a lot better and then flip it over to as a leader, what are you going to have to bring to the table? This is a new business reality. We don’t get normal. We are in what it is.
With the sales piece itself, education is going to be a big issue for us with our fans. Educating them on the steps we’ve taken using fan testimonials so that they can understand the experience is different. Maybe going to that model of sample themselves so that they can see what the experience is like. Whether it be live entertainment, music, or sports. That process is different because you now have to be more sensitive to things than you used to have to be.
Have that empathy.
Coming up with those abilities to overcome their objections, you have to do it in a different and thoughtful way. That’s going to take a lot more coaching and it’s going to be something that evolves every month. Each month, we’re going to have to coach them differently on what we learned from the previous month.
Be in tune, plugged into the marketplace, plugged into the customer. You’re going to have to be agile.
We had a game. The Florida governor comes out Friday and says, “We’ve now entered phase three,” which is everything back to normal. All restaurants operating at full, all bars operating at full, no ability to follow policy with masks and other things. Those two things are different from what happened the night before. We have to then mobilize our staff, educate them on what that means and give them the tools to be successful.
From a management standpoint, we’ve all gone through this environment of work from home and coming back. Our staff is all back in our office full-time now. That’s a great opportunity for us. We thought it was important that they couldn’t be out selling to our fans as to why they should come to the stadium when they themselves aren’t coming to the stadium.
I wanted the phone number that they’re getting called from to be, TIAA Bank Field’s phone number, not their cell phone from home. I wanted the background on their video meetings they’re having to be in the stadium so they could see that. That’s important. With our team, I’m focusing on making sure they understand why we’re doing the things we’re doing so they can talk about it effectively.
It’s the level of transparency, then.
I don’t want to be cliché, but I use a lot of quotes on things. My old buddy Zig Ziglar said you’ll get everything out of life you want as long as you help everyone else get out of life what they want. They’re going through challenging phone calls and times. Make sure they understand why they’re doing it and then have a different buy-in because I’m trying to help them succeed. That’s all I care about. I get a little bit more from them than just telling them what they should be doing.
Great advice. I should ask that question more often. Everything you’ve covered with who you hire, how you manage, how you thread it in different roles and pull that in is masterful. If you had to give an example of a song that is best to find your sales leadership, what would it be?
It’s easy. It’s Eminem, one shot. The song is called Lose Yourself and I play it about twenty times a day. I walk around our office with my finger up in the air, letting everybody know that now we got one shot and then tomorrow, they’re going to come back, and tomorrow, they got one shot.
The last question, if you had to gift a book, what book would you gift the most?
Another easy one. It’s called Lead . . . for God’s Sake! Our former head coach, Gus Bradley, asked me to read this in 2014. I read it and it was a game-changer for me. It’s a faith-based but powerful book. It’s by Todd Gongwer. I tell everybody that asked me for a book, that’s the first one I give them. I read about 20 to 30 books a year, mostly audiobooks, because I have all that car time. I have a huge library I share with people based on their individual situation before I start giving out titles to them.
Chad, I love that you are in this great interview, exactly what I thought it’d be. I appreciate your time.
I’m happy to do it anytime.
About Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson serves as the Jaguars’ chief content officer, responsible for bringing together all company-wide content assets including Jaguars and non-Jaguars events, booking and production of shows and creative. His role was expanded in 2018 when he was named chief content officer, adding to his title of senior vice president of sales and service. Johnson continues overseeing sales and revenues in all ticketing areas – including suites, premium seating, season tickets, and group and single game tickets – as well as the team’s ticket service and operations departments and the fan experience group.
Johnson joined the Jaguars as vice president of sales in May 2012 and was promoted to senior vice president of sales and service in February 2013. His responsibilities grew in 2017 with the addition of Daily’s Place, the amphitheater and adjacent flex field that host a variety of concerts and events each year. Daily’s Place provides a popular venue for a full year-round schedule, and Johnson’s team is charged with all sales, programming and operations for those events. He also works closely with the sales team at Fulham Football Club.
Prior to joining the Jaguars, Johnson worked for the Miami Marlins as senior director, new ballpark sales. During his time with the Marlins, he was responsible for the sales of premium seating, luxury suites and season tickets, and group ticket packages for the Marlins’ new ballpark which opened in 2012.
Prior to joining the Marlins, Johnson served as senior vice president, sales and marketing for Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and the Florida Panthers Hockey Club. In that role he oversaw all ticket sales and service operations for all the entities associated with Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and the Florida Panthers, including suite sales and premium seating, as well as the club’s marketing and broadcasting efforts.
Johnson joined Sunrise Sports & Entertainment in October 2003 as vice president of sales & service, before being promoted in April 2005. Prior to joining Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, Johnson spent five years with the Tampa Bay Lightning as director of sales.
Johnson, who is originally from Chicago, graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. Johnson and his wife, MaryBeth, live in Atlantic Beach with daughters Victoria, Cate and Samantha.