How did a guy from Charleston, South Carolina end up living in Finland working for a wellness company? Now that's a story worth hearing. Many of you might know Lawrence Smith from either doing business or maybe you've watched him in some of our videos. Lawrence joined Smart Break over two years ago after a successful career playing professional soccer. Now with a wife and three children, Smith knew it was time for his next big move.
Smith grew up in Charleston, South Carolina spending the majority of his time either surfing or playing soccer. After graduating high school, Lawrence attended Georgia Southern University. Smith studied business there before signing his first professional contract with the Charleston Battery in the USL. After finishing up his first season there, he continued to live out his dream by moving to Jamaica to play.
Lawrence discussed his time in Jamaica, "I started out living in North Kingston where I was fortunate to be staying with a family I knew from before. I had spent time there when I was younger, traveling there with teams to play and learn about different playing styles and cultures. So I had a level of comfort that helped in the process. After a few months, I moved to Harbour View, a part of Kingston where I made some very good friends and engulfed myself into the Jamaican culture and lifestyle. I left Kingston with memories both good and bad, but that place will always hold a special place in my heart."
After his time in Jamaica, he pulled a 180 and moved to Finland! He has now lived here for nearly 13 years.
What brought you to Finland? How have you enjoyed living here so far?
I came to Finland in 2007 to play soccer for KPV in the Ykkönen. From day one I have enjoyed living here and over the many years, it has become my home.
What are some of the biggest comparisons you have between living in the US and Finland?
There aren’t that many comparisons from where I grew up and where I ended up. I grew up in Charleston SC on the east coast of the US and it is very different than living in Finland. I guess the only comparison I have would be that I live near the water as I did in Charleston. The food at times can be very similar and that is pretty much it.
How were the transitions from a full-time soccer player to VP Smart Break? What advice would you give people transitioning from one big phase of their life to another?
The transition from football to work-life was not too hard. I treated it like a new challenge and one that I knew that I would have to practice at and think on my feet. I have adapted pretty well with everything and of course, I am still learning and it is early in my career. My advice would be to embrace the challenge and to not be afraid to start over again. I think for athletes it isn’t difficult to transition from a sport to a new profession because you understand failure and how to turn that into drive.
You’ve traveled a lot for both football and work, where is your favorite place to go?
Recently I have been traveling to NYC quite a few times these past two years, and I enjoy the hecticness of the city. However, my favorite city besides my hometown of Charleston has to be Stockholm, Sweden. A close second is St Gallen, Switzerland strictly from its scenery.
When you're not working or playing soccer, how do you like to spend your time?
Work and soccer take up a good bit of my time, but when I am away from that I spend the rest of my time with my family. Lately, my boys like going to the fields and kicking around, but we also just like to spend time being together and goofing around.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
My one guilty pleasure as of lately has been when the kids nod off to bed I like to watch Barstool Sports Stool Scenes. And of course cheese. Always cheese. The stinkier the better!