The road to success is not always easy. It is often long and winding, with plenty of twists and turns. Nobody can attest to this better than Ed JC Smith who went from – literally – almost throwing himself under an oncoming train to becoming a successful business and life coach. Once on the brink of taking his own life, today the UK-born founder and CEO of The Champion Academy inspires others to follow in his footsteps.
Growing up, Smith was full of doubts. He was brought up in a middle-class family, with an unhappy father who took out his frustrations on the young man. “My dad was working all the time for very little return and had very little time with us,” he says. “He wasn’t happy with the way he was. He had a tough upbringing and didn’t do the things he wanted to do. He didn’t achieve the life he wanted to achieve.”
Smith was failing at school, as attested by the three Es he still so vividly remembers. At one stage, he was even diagnosed with dyslexia and told that he would never be able to handle the stresses of everyday life. Today, Smith says that it is the difficult home and school life, coupled with a severe acne condition that shattered his self-esteem, that finally pushed him over the edge.
Moment of Transformation
Things came to a head for Smith after an argument with his father, something he says happened regularly. “I decided that life just wasn’t worth it. That there was no point. It was a very low period. I ran to the nearby train station, stood on the platform, and waited. As the train was approaching, I started running towards it,” he says.
He was pulled back at the last minute by a homeless man, who made him make a promise that he keeps to this day. “He made me vow that I would never try to do that again, that I would never give up on my dreams,” Smith says. “That was probably the best coaching session I’ve ever had.”
“It took time and took some healing, but I am truly grateful for that experience. I look back and think, I am so lucky because I never had the intention of being here so every day is a blessing,” Smith continues.
After ending up in therapy, Smith picked up a job as a fitness trainer—a job he refers to as a “glorified cleaner”—at the local gym. And as the 16-year-old built up his body with exercise, his confidence also improved. He started helping people with their fitness routines and discovered that he was finding himself by helping others reach their goals.
Gradually, Smith started to help people suffering from depression and couples struggling with relationship problems. He eventually rented a space on Harley Street in central London where he used his therapy experience to treat his patients.
Helping other people find their freedom, Smith found his own. He got involved in one-on-one coaching before working with corporate clients in group settings. “Since then I have collected an immense amount of knowledge that I have put into training programs. I’ve created over 24 online courses and have published three books,” the 40-year-old says.
Creating Your Reality By Helping Others
Smith is a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason. “It’s simple for me. That moment that I got pulled back from the train tracks changed my life,” Smith says, adding that he has tried to find the man that saved his life for many years.
“One of my favorite books is Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning,’ which is his story of going through the holocaust and how he found his purpose and meaning in life by going through something so horrific. You create your reality around what you say life is. The meaning in life is up to you to choose,” he explains.
And Smith has found his meaning and purpose. Helping others achieve their goals is a passion that has dominated the better part of his life. Over the years, the entrepreneur has hosted countless events to help others build their mindset and business skills, some of which have attracted up to 1000 participants.
The Champion Academy
Good and bad, the events in Smith’s life form the bedrock of The Champion Academy, an online coaching business that helps students set up, scale, and get clients with their coaching and consultancy businesses. His seven-week signature Clients On Automation coaching program has seen over 200 participants set up successful coaching businesses in a variety of niches.
“One of our coaches teaches women how to have orgasms. She struggled with this herself and once she overcame that, she wanted to work with other women who were having the same issue. Another of our coaches is in her 70s and helps people cope with arthritis, from which she suffers. Another helps coach people who have lost loved ones, after losing five family members herself,” Smith says.
Aimed at both professionals and novices, the practical program goes through the steps required to establish a successful coaching business. Some of these include identifying a niche and client base, strategies to attract a target audience, creating online courses, and automating various business processes using the same tools that helped Smith reach financial freedom. “Also, participants are given weekly tasks to complete and access to our support systems for a full six months after completing the course,” Smith says.
Making the most of available opportunities, Smith also takes his coaching program on the road. His annual retreats in Bali see hundreds of participants learn about letting go of limitations and scaling up their coaching businesses. Smith also has a YouTube channel and a podcast where he shares coaching-related insights.
Smith has never forgotten the pivotal moment and the homeless man that changed his life so many years ago at the train station. “I wanted to find a homeless society that I could help, so I reached out to St Mungo’s Broadway. I worked with them for around six years to build a business system to help the disadvantaged learn new skills and return to the economy.”
The quietly-spoken young man is also involved in a stem cell research foundation that he started with a family member and he also supports a school in Bali. “Visiting the school as a part of my annual retreats teaches our clients the importance of giving back. The participants get to spend time with disadvantaged children who don’t have the level of expectations that they do. It’s all about creating an experience where they are humbled and appreciate what they have. To see what great thing they can do once they have a successful business.”