Name: Ramona J. Smith
Profession: World’s #1 Public Speaker
Admittedly, I am not overly overwhelmed when I encounter individuals that are supremely articulate and have the mental capacity to communicate exactly what they intend regardless of the audience. Being a lawyer and in the business world has somewhat conditioned me to expect this type of delivery, and while impressive, it has become rather routine. However, Ramona is quite different. Before we get into her path and aspirations, let’s take a quick step back and see how we got here.
A couple of months ago, like any other day, I was going down a rabbit hole on Instagram and somehow ended up on Youtube watching “2018 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking, Ramona J. Smith.” It is an understatement to say that I was literally blown away as I was watching this video. Her passion, delivery, content, and presence immediately caught my attention, and at that moment I knew that I was viewing a master of speaking. Being someone that speaks for a living myself and teaches complex theories, I do not immediately jump to exclaiming someone as master, but Ramona has reached that level in my opinion. In the video that I watched she spoke on “Still Standing” in the face of adversity. As I intently listened the themes of overcoming obstacles, picking yourself up after you fall, and fighting on resonated with me both from a human and business perspective. Needless to say, my intellectual curiosity was stirred, and I was hungry for her background.
I immediately stalked her Instagram, watched videos of her interviews, and read anything that I could find. Like I implied earlier, I am not impressed easily, but Ramona immediately struck me as being different. But more than anything, I wanted to ensure that the person on that stage was the same person in real life. I wanted to see whether that strength through vulnerability, openness, and unapologetic delivery that I witnessed on stage translated to her everyday walk. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that she surpassed my expectations. My observations have shown me not only is Ramona a world champion that beat out thousands of contenders for the title, but that she is also a strong young woman striving to build her brand, she takes risks for the betterment of her business, she is honest with her social media audience, and she breathes motivation into others all while having the confidence to not have to pretend like she knows all of the answers.
Her natural holistic hunger for success and accomplishment guided by transparency reminds me of my walk and forced me to reach out to her to start building a relationship. She is the exact type of person I love working with through Jared Miller Ventures. Whether it is strategic partnering, investing, joint ventures, client relationships or a simple feature, Ramona is what I look for in relationships. Collaborating and building together with strong people is key in reaching new heights.
With that said, here is Ramona J. Smith in her own unedited words:
Question 1: According to research you beat out 30,000 people to become the 2018 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking, what was the first notable change in your life following this newfound championship status?
Answer: The first notable change was the publicity. I was still teaching at that time, and the interest of the media was nonstop. Every week there were reporters and camera crews coming into my classroom to interview me and capture footage. I was flooded with emails from different media outlets asking for my story.
Question 2: Was winning a competition like this something that you knew you always wanted to achieve or is this something that you stumbled upon?
Answer: Winning the contest was a goal that I set in 2015. This was my third attempt at becoming the World Champion of Public Speaking.
Question 3: In full disclosure, I am asking you to brag on yourself, so with that said, what are a few things that you believe allowed you to stand out amongst the crowd of tens of thousands?
Answer: My passion for speaking was clear. I was genuinely living in the moment and connecting with the audience. Being a down to earth woman, and a fearless woman helped me stand out. I was vulnerable on the stage. I shared three of my biggest failures with 2,000 strangers. My usage of the stage, body language, and creativity also helped me stand out.
Question 4: Given that this is a business consulting and investing firm, let’s shift gears slightly: what components or qualities have you taken from public speaking that you are utilizing as you build your brand and business?
Answer: The most important component that I’m utilizing from what I’ve learned as a public speaker is giving value to the audience. As I build my brand, I create content that is catered to my audience. In the past, my speeches would be written without keeping the audience (my customer) in mind. I would often speak from my ego. I now understand that I must use my voice and words (my products) to inspire, educate, persuade and motivate. It’s not about me, it’s about using my gifts to change lives.
Question 5: It would seem that your natural safe space is teaching and public speaking, what has been the most challenging aspect of building your business and brand?
Answer: The most challenging aspect of building a brand is separating my brand from my personal self. I’m still learning how to protect my image. I can’t post certain pictures on social media anymore. I can’t speak on certain topics freely anymore. Until August 2019, I’m not only representing my brand. I’m the face of Toastmasters International too. I must be mindful of the perception of both my brands.
Question 6: What has been the most rewarding aspect of going on this entrepreneurial journey?
Answer: The most rewarding aspect of this entrepreneurial journey is my freedom and flexibility. Everyday I choose what I want to do. I don’t have a boss, supervisor or manager. I don’t have to punch a clock or worry about being fired. I don’t have to wear a uniform or do anything that I don’t want to do. I’m doing what I love, traveling the world, and living a stress-free life that I’ve created.
Question 7: What is the one thing in business, investing or being an entrepreneur that you want to learn more about?
Answer: I most definitely want to learn about how the stock market works. I want to take advantage of compound interest. I want to gain an understanding of different ways to invest my money both long and short term.
Question 8: In 5 years, Ramona is ______________ (fill in the blank with whatever you would like – as few or many words as you desire)
Answer: In five years, Ramona is the best motivational speaker in the world. She is a multi-millionaire. She has traveled to over 100 countries. She is a New York Times Best Selling author. She’s graced the cover of Forbes, Essence, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Cleveland Magazine, and Time. She is a fashion icon. She has given to impoverished families and has sent five students to college with full rides. She’s interviewed with Oprah, Ellen and Jimmy Kimmel. She’s married, successful and continues to inspire and change the world.
Question 9: A lot of people look up to you and hope to be where you are one day, what piece of public speaking advice, or entrepreneurial advice, or both would you give them?
Answer: As a public speaker, keep your audience in mind. Although there is nothing new under the sun, find a new way to say something people have heard before.
As an entrepreneur, build a team. It will be nearly impossible to do everything on your own. Find people who are as passionate about your product or service as you are. Don’t be afraid to let someone go if they aren’t producing results.