My Accomplice: Louis Levy

For this fashion executive to be successful, he relies upon a surprising ritual. Watch the video.

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Introducing #MyAccomplice, brought to you by smartwater®: It’s that essential thing, person, or ritual— that twist of ingenuity without which the highest-performing people cannot do what they do. It is, more often than not, surprising and wholly unexpected. Today, we’re launching the first of three videos in which we’ll share stories of amazing people and their accomplices. Visit our platform to get customized inspiration, identify your accomplice, and share it with the world. 

Twice a week, before heading to his job as a vice president of The Levy Group, his family’s 80-year-old fashion conglomerate, 31-year-old Louis Levy wakes up at 6 a.m., walks his beloved bull mastiff Bentley, and heads downtown to the Fabio Clemente Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio on Manhattan’s East 12th Street. 

He flips on the lights, gets into his gear, and prepares to teach his students the finer points of the sport that has completely changed his life. To Levy, this ritual is essential. “Without Jiu-Jitsu,” he says. “I can’t do what I do for a living.”

Levy came to the sport quite by accident—after breaking his leg in the final game of his sophomore year in 2004, his collegiate football career ended. He found himself at a crossroads. “After my injury I started going down the wrong road,” Levy says. “I had a difficult time defining myself and was hanging out with the wrong people.”

That changed when a former teammate invited Levy to join him in his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. “I remember walking onto the mat and looking at all of the practitioners, most of whom had a quarter of my size and athletic ability, and I thought to myself, ‘I got this.’ And boy was I mistaken,” Levy recalls. “That day was a humbling experience that I would never forget. I fell in love with the sport. I realized that this something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

In the present day, Levy faces the tremendous pressures of assuming a leadership role in his family’s highly-competitive business and working to ensure it grows. He credits Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with making him more focused and energized at work, but also with enabling him to evolve into a successful businessman. “You evolve as a person through the relationships you develop, you evolve as a person because you really test yourself,” he says. “Because the only way to really succeed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is to lose. A black belt is a successful failure. And that’s what successful people are, really—they’re people who have been able to experience failure and take a step back and improve themselves and never, ever stop.”

These lessons inspired Levy to begin teaching a class for free twice a week back in January 2014. “Doing things like teaching and sharing passion and knowledge—that’s real happiness. I look in the mirror and I feel more confident and I know there is nothing I can’t overcome, and that’s all predicated on the philosophy of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,” he says. “Every time I introduce the sport to somebody, I look them in the eye and I tell them it can change your life if you want it to.”

Ready to join the movement? Start by building your inspiration board. Then share your story using #MyAccomplice.