World Champion of Public Speaking, Inspirational Speaker, Austin, Texas

I first heard about Ms. Ramona Smith after she was announced as the winner of the 2018 World Public Speaking Competition. Who was this American, Texan, a school teacher, mother, and a fighter? I was intrigued to find out about the real woman behind the speech. After months of scheduling, we met in Austin, Texas. I was quickly enamored by Ramona’s confidence, energy and her tremendous willpower to shape her life. Ms. Smith knew that finding her passion was just the beginning; she had to keep pursuing opportunities to achieve greatness. Her goal is to become the “African American female Tony Robbins” of course (I love that!!). And much like her winning Toastmasters speech title, Ms. Smith is Still Standing, promoting her craft, travelling much of the year, creating a better life for herself and her son.

What was the last time life knocked you down, she asks in her speech? In the Q/A she answers that very question and more. Thank you for inspiring WOW Woman to keep going and to keep rolling with the punches.

1. Name.

Ramona J. Smith.

2. Where is your hometown?

I am from Cleveland, Ohio. I currently reside in Houston, Texas.

3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?

I resigned from teaching in December 2018. I taught senior high school students (grades 10-12) Human Growth & Development and Child Development. I am a professional/motivational/inspirational speaker. I am the president and founder of the Ladybug Speaker LLC?

4. What was the journey like to get where you are (in life and career-wise)? What are some accomplishments you’re most proud of, and what was the turning point to set you on a current path in life?

The journey began for me when I was 19. It’s taken persistence, failures, disappointment, growth, self-confidence, and learned lessons. Most importantly, an unwavering, unshakeable faith in my dreams. A few accomplishments I’m most proud of are: birthing a little king, helping that little king beat cancer, and my little king and I celebrating me graduating college Magna Cum Laude after dropping out four times. The turning point was motherhood.

5. What did you study in school?

I studied public relations and marketing.

6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?

At 20, I honestly had no idea how my life would look at 32. So, it’s so much more vibrant, beautiful and inspirational. And, every year gets better!

7. Was there a time when life knocked you down or out and how did you get back up on your feet?

Life knocked me down the day the doctors said that my two-year-old had a cancerous tumor growing in his beautiful brain.  I got back on my feet by holding on to my sanity. Choosing to find gratitude, happiness, and peace even in my darkest hour. I learned how to control my thoughts, visualize heaven, and create my own Zen. Keeping a positive mindset was difficult, but it saved our lives.

8. Advice for other women?

Stop limiting yourself. You can do anything. If you seriously want to, you will.

9. Knowing what we know now in a current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it, for "feminist values"?

Yes. Women are the most powerful creations on the planet. The dilemma is that because we hold so much power we are often oppressed before we can actualize it. The way forward, as I see it, is for more women to empower one another and keep doing the impossible.

10. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?

I’m tallest on stage, speaking in front of an audience.

11. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?

I’m most proud of my writing and reading. My writing is therapeutic and helps me keep a record of my evolution. Reading keeps my brain sharp and takes me to secret worlds.

12. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?

When I grow up I want to be the African American female Tony Robbins. I want to travel the world inspiring the human race and helping families and individuals in need. I want to be a NY Times Best Selling author, an actress, and a supportive wife/life partner to an amazing man.

13. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?

Fear of not living my life to the fullest.

14. Anything you'd do differently, if you had another go at life?

Either never divorced or never married. I don’t ever want to commit to another human for a lifetime and then back out after a few years.

15. What inspires you?

My little king inspires me, and people in need of inspiration inspire me.

16. What are you hopeful about?

I am hopeful about my future and the future of my son.

17. What are some ingredients to a good life?

In the words of my Aunt Hattie, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Other ingredients include: patience, faith, gratitude, commitment, peace, self-ful-ness, confidence, spontaneity, silence, hugs, kisses, and good food.

18. What are qualities you most love about yourself and why?

I love the fact that I never give up. I love that I continue to grow in strength and beauty with each challenge I overcome.

19. What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

Get to know who you are. Spend more time doing the things you love. Find a female mentor and never leave her side. Start thinking about your future NOW!

20. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)

Right now I am reading Getting the Love You Want: A Guide For Couples by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. Mostly, I gift self help books because we all need to invest in ourselves more. My favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

21. Who is a WOW Woman in your world who inspires you and why? Can you nominate three (or more) women you know who perfectly fit WOW WOMAN description? What would you tell them, if you had an opportunity, why you admire them?

My sister Ashley is a WOW Woman who inspires my world. She was my protector, my cheerleader and my rock. She pushed me beyond my limits and helped me learn how to fly. I nominate Nikki Jones, Margaret Bernstein and Stacey Allen. I would tell them I’m still listening. I admire them because they shine their lights on me.

22. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?

IG, SnapChat and Twitter: @ladybugspeaker

FB: Ramona J. Smith