I grew up in rural Minneapolis, KS (population approx. 2,000) on a farm with my parents and younger brother. Growing up lower, middle class – money wasn’t always easy to come by. However, this upbringing did instill a couple of principles in me that I still value highly today. Spending many days of my childhood summers throwing hay bales and fixing barbed wire fence, the value of a hard day’s work has never been lost on me.

Brad Johnson on the farm

Another principle I learned growing up in a small Midwest town was to always treat others as you’d want to be treated. Sounds simple, but in a hometown where “your parents knew if you’d been acting up before you even got home”, this was ingrained at an early age. I still value this principle and strive to run my business with it in mind.

Sports were a big part of my life growing up. Although I had a successful high school career in football, there weren’t many colleges looking to recruit a 165 pound senior. So my college football career started at a tiny junior college in the middle of nowhere, Highland Community College. There I went from non-existent on the depth chart to an All-Conference selection by the time I finished up. This led to a scholarship offer at Emporia State a Division II college in KS. While battling for a starting spot, I suffered a devastating knee injury, tearing my ACL on the very last day of spring practice. After sitting out a year and a grueling physical therapy regimen, I was able to come back from that injury to help our team to its first-ever playoff appearance as a Division II school, earning All-Conference and All-American honors along the way. My head coach later shared with me a note following that season that he’d written before that year started… he was unsure about starting me at free safety due to the uncertainty of how I’d come back from my injury and thinking “I’d lost a step.” In a weird sort of way, hearing his doubt after the way my football career had ended was actually very gratifying. It reinforced the fact that hard work does pay off.

Transitioning to the business world from college, I was blessed with an incredible opportunity and a bit of luck. I learned about Advisors Excel through a friend and joined the startup company as the 12th employee in 2007. At the time, our company was a small, unheard of brokerage company in Topeka, KS. Today, Advisors Excel employs over 530 employees and is the largest independent insurance brokerage company in the United States, our advisors gathered over $12B of assets last year. Featured in Tony Robbin’s recent NY Times Best Seller MONEY Master the Game, it’s been an amazing ride watching our small little company “grow up” and become recognized as the industry’s leader in the space.

At the core of our company’s success is a simple philosophy – “It’s very difficult to outperform the core group of associations you surround yourself with and this is what truly differentiates Advisors Excel. The simple formula of focusing on the biggest and brightest financial advisors in the country and facilitating the ease of how ideas are shared among them has led to results we could never have imagined.”

When not working, you can find me enjoying time with my family at our home in rural Silver Lake, Kansas. I’m blessed to have met the woman I was meant to spend the rest of my life with while still in high school. Sarah, easily has the more challenging career between us as she spends her days at home with our three young children: Braun, Nash, and Nellie (no easy task!). Sarah also stays busy coaching high school volleyball with three former state championship teams to her credit! For my hobbies, I enjoy staying physically active with CrossFit (also have a couple Tough Mudders under my belt!), bass fishing in our pond, and collecting (and drinking) red wine! I’m also passionate about giving to causes that help children in need, here are a list of a few of my favorite charities: Make-A-Wish, World Teacher Aid, The Help Foundation, Front Row Foundation.

Make a Wish Foundation

Tough Mudder


Favorite Food: Scallops!

Favorite quote: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” ~ Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

Best piece of financial advice received:

“If you’ve got your health, you can always make some money. But all the dough in the world can’t buy back your health. Isn’t it clear that the person who compromises his health in the name of making money is cutting himself a really lousy deal?” ~ Peter Barton, “Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived”

Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving

Favorite movie: To laugh… Dumb and Dumber. To be entertained… The Matrix. To be moved… American Beauty.

Hidden talent: Secretly good at video games…

If Brad could meet anyone, past or present, it would be: Elon Musk

What motivates Brad: Empowering others to do and experience what they fear to commit to.

Place Brad would most like to visit: Mars (Thanks for the inspiration Elon!)

Favorite book: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Something on Brad’s bucket list: To write a book. (in progress!)

Biggest accomplishment: Three amazing kids and marrying the woman I love.


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