My journey to success began when a homeless person saved my life
Ed JC Smith owes his life to a stranger who stepped in at the last moment to save a teenage boy from ending his life.
Ed has built one of the most successful coaching businesses in the world. He is in demand as a speaker around the world, he runs regular retreats and he is the man coaches turn to when they want to scale up their businesses. But for the kindness of a stranger, it may never have happened.
"I had a pretty miserable childhood, my father and I were at war most of the time. I wasn't the son he wanted, I had bad skin and curvature of the spine that prevented me from playing sports. I sucked at school and got terrible grades," he recalls.
When he was 13, after a terrible fight with his dad, he decided to end his life. "I walked down to the train station and waited for a train to come. Just as I was about to step off the platform, a hand reached out to me and dragged me back from the edge," Ed tells us.
He suspects the man was homeless but has never been able to track him down again. The stranger walked him home and made him repeat, over and over, that he would never give up. Ed took the message to heart and built a life the young boy could never have envisaged.
High School Dropout
He got the worst possible school grades and tells people, your schooling doesn't define your life. He's done very well regardless.
"My first job was in a gym as a cleaner and then started working with gym clients as a trainer. There was no such thing as a personal trainer in those days, it was just something you were expected to do, along with taking out the garbage and cleaning the toilets," he laughs.
As he got stronger and saw the people he was working with get stronger both physically and mentally, his confidence started to improve.
He began to take courses in psychology and healing modalities including NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) CBT and fast action coaching. He hired a room in central London and started to work with clients one-on-one.
Ed's path to success has not been without its hitches, and this he says adds to his ability to relate to his clients. Early in his coaching career, he worked one on one with clients but quickly made a name for himself working with corporate clients on success strategies.
His personal business life ended badly in his early 30's when his investment company tanked due to bad advice, the lessons he learned around money see him on a far steadier course these days. He didn't give up, he started over.
"I've only ever been a coach, I've worked with every niche. I've now written three books and created 22 courses and I am living proof of what can be achieved if you can change your mindset," says Ed.
It wasn't long before Ed realized the only way he could grow his business was by scaling up. He made videos to attract coaching clients and he created courses for those who wanted to start their own coaching careers.
"I've had people who have a wide variety of interests from helping women to reach orgasms to coping with death, the same principles I teach apply," he says.
Ed has also invested his time and money in charity, including in his early days when he volunteered at a homeless shelter for men. "I always wondered whether I would see the guy who saved my life. I haven't but I still felt the need to give back," says Ed.
These days he is known as the coaches coach, he's been able to grow his business with a team of people who work behind the scenes on marketing, sales, and managing his course content. Giving him time, one of life's great luxuries for a man who worked tirelessly to build himself up.
"I'm proud of a few things, overcoming my lack of education and the community we've built. The more people who come through our courses and scale-up, the bigger our community is and the more people we can help," Ed says.
He tells his coaching clients, "the most valuable thing you have right now is not the business that you run, or the stuff you have or the investments you have made, it's what you know. That is the greatest investment you have ever made. The blood, the sweat, the tears, all the challenges, all the hard times that you have had to go through to get to where you are right now is your most valuable asset."
Growing a coaching community has taken years of work, study, he has overcome personal and financial challenges and his advice is among the most highly respected in the coaching world.
These days Ed JC Smith can sit back and look at it all and enjoy his success, with his business at the stage where he can take time off whenever he feels like it.
"In normal times I run a retreat every year in Bali. I help set up a children's charity and all the retreat participants spend time there as part of the training. So much of what we do is about helping people to improve their lives, and understanding how lucky we are is important to our development as coaches. Gratitude is a big thing for me, I have a lot to be grateful for," he tells us from his home in England.
Ed JC Smith's life could have turned out so differently, it could have ended while he was still a teenager. Looking back now he knows how lucky he is that there was someone there to pull him back from the edge.
As a coach, he's been able to be that hand, that stranger, sometimes it doesn't take much more than a little kindness to put you on another path.
Coaching Makes Sense
"Coaches play a huge role in life, yes we get paid but the best of us are people who genuinely care. We ask the right questions, we take the time to understand, working with a coach can be life-changing," says Ed.
Thousands of coaches have trained under Ed, multiply that by all the clients they work with, all the coaches they go on to train, the courses they create and the kindness they generate, and the numbers become huge.
Best of all for Ed is that having more time means he has more time to help and for this quietly spoken Englishman, that is the true measure of success.