Motivational speaker V.J. Smith visits Philip

by Del Bartels
“I can’t wait until our best kids think it is a good thing to stay in South Dakota,” started V.J. Smith at his public presentation at the Philip High School, March 29.
Having spoken in front of crowds as small as eight chief executive officers and as large as 13,000 people in a stadium, Smith stated that he must be interesting, informative and nonboring, because of Americans’ diminishing attention span.
Some experts say the average attention span, before any digression no matter how small intrudes, is eight seconds. “That’s a bull ride, a successful one,” exclaimed Smith. “Because of electronic Internet devices, our brains are being rewired. Even when you are here, you are always away. What is wrong with now!”
Giving someone your attention results in the biggest word in the English language – care. “You have to want to care. No one can make you care,” said Smith. “Perception is reality; we often get so caught up in our own reality so we don’t even want to listen to anyone else. It’s sad.”
“Listen. Be fully engaged. Always look others in the eye. No interruptions, which means no interrupting,” said Smith. He told stories of him learning to not interrupt others, and not interrupting even himself. “The students earlier today listened to me for an hour. They did not need to listen to me for an hour and 15 minutes.” And, young or old, devices or not, we all need to learn to listen. “I don’t think getting older necessarily gets you smarter. We all know older people who are challenged,” half-joked Smith.
He praised the power of saying you are sorry. “You can’t put a ‘burp’ back. Do you acknowledge it or ignore it. It is amazing what happens when you apologize.” And, it is not an apology if you say, “I’m sorry, but ...” “We show we are human beings and our own feelings when we say I’m sorry,” said Smith.
“It is very difficult to hear criticism, no matter how it is spun,” said Smith. “But that is how you get better.” He told of a young man who rankled hard at criticism from Smith, but later came back to thank him saying, “ ‘I don’t want to be doing those same things 20 years from now.’ ”
“We are called on to forgive. It has to start with a request to forgive,” said Smith. He related several stories of people who listened, gave apologies and showed that they were engaged in him by going an extra step. These stories were of employees, sales people, repair people, relatives and others. “It is tough when you have a boss who has no empathy. Try not doing your job for awhile; you will find out how important your job is (to others and to yourself).”
One story was of a mother who asked for forgiveness from her son, and they began healing mother/son wounds. Shortly after, the son was in a fatal accident. She told Smith, amidst her lost, she still could say, “He died at peace with me.”
Smith, a renowned motivational speaker, is best known for his book, “The Richest Man in Town.” It is Smith's story of getting to know Marty Martinson, an elderly Wal-mart greeter in Brookings, who affected thousands of people across the country. The book includes many lessons on life that Martinson taught Smith – give a little more of yourself; the only person who can make you happy is you; be a better you. Smith is also known for his saying, “Thank you, say it often, people will love you for it.”
Smith has been a professional speaker for more than 20 years. A two-time finalist in Toastmasters International's “World's Championship of Public Speaking,” he has given more than 2,500 presentations throughout America, and has been named a  favorite speaker of meeting planners in America by Meetings and Conventions Magazine.       

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
E Mail:

Sign Up For Breaking News

Stay informed on our latest news!

Manage my subscriptions

Subscribe to Newsletter feed
Comment Here