Champion Nichols, known by his friends as “Champ," is a senior executive at The Shark Group — a branding and consulting company owned by fashion business pioneer and ABC TV’s Shark Tank star, Daymond John.
Growing up in Queens Village, New York, it took Champ a while to find his passion. Far from a stellar student, unfocused, unmotivated and distracted by the streets, after being left back twice, Champ was several months past his 19th birthday before finishing high school. Unprepared and uninterested in higher education, he spent the next four years traveling the world in the army; after that, he spent several more years traveling between various jobs in New York City.
“The higher the level of people’s perceived self-efficacy, the wider the range of career options they seriously consider.” ~Albert Bandura
In 1999 a childhood friend, Keith Perrin, co-founder of the globally recognized fashion brand FUBU, invited him to visit the company’s headquarters on the 66th floor of the Empire of State Building. While the view overlooking Manhattan was breathtaking, it was the diversity of the people working at FUBU that left an indelible mark. Seeing so many key decision makers in the company who looked, talked, and dressed just like him, forever changed Champ's perception of the business world; more significantly, it changed the role he imagined he could play in it.
Champ’s business and entrepreneurial journey started with an unpaid internship at FUBU; over the following 15 years, he transformed himself into a senior executive, business owner, and even a college graduate. Although he attributes part of his personal and professional development to his former work and military experience, Champ credits being engrossed in an entrepreneurial environment with his peers as having had the greatest impact towards his success.
Armed with a desire to empower others with the spirit of entrepreneurship as he was, in 2016 Champ launched InnerVation Lab, which he co-designed with the direct input of Darden Business School at University of Virginia professor, Dr. Sarasvathy — a world renowned scholar on the cognitive basis for high-performance entrepreneurship. InnerVation Lab is a unique, customizable action-learning experience that couples Sarasvathy's scientific research findings with the practical knowledge and insight of world-class entrepreneurs, in order to teach a universally applicable mindset and method to practice entrepreneurship.
Today, Champ is also the co-owner and president of Shark Speakers — a public speaker management, booking and consulting company he co-founded with Daymond John. According to Champ, “We don’t manage public speakers, we manage elite executives and world class entrepreneurs who speak." His roster includes notables such as Kevin Harrington, “Original Shark” from Season 1; Kimberly Bryant, Founder & CEO of Black Girls Code; Jay Abraham, Strategic Marketing Legend; and Alfred Edmond Jr., Executive Editor at Large of Black Enterprise to name a few. Beyond speaker management, Champ has brokered strategic partnerships between his clients and some of the largest corporations in America, including the United States Post Office, AT&T, Miller-Coors, and INC Magazine.
Champ primarily resides in Jamaica Estates, Queens, but he can often be found fishing on a lake near his summer home in upstate New York. His work and adventurous spirit has taken him to exotic destinations such as Australia, Africa, Iceland and Japan, just to name of few. Champ is an avid fan of boxing and old school reggae music and has a weakness for Haagen Dazs ice cream.
Connect with Champ on Twitter @ChampNichols or on Linkedin.