V.J. Smith has been a professional speaker for more than a decade. He is also a published author. Smith has also been a bill collector, solar collector salesman and a fundraiser. “Being a child of the early ‘70s, it took me a little while to figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” he says. As for his speaking ability, he credits that with growing up with three brothers and four sisters. “You had to learn to talk loud and fast or you didn’t get much to eat,” Smith muses. Drawing on his lifetime experiences, Smith peppers his talks with anecdotes and personal stories to illustrate key points. He feels he is better equipped to be a storyteller, not a preacher. Smith honed his speaking skills through his membership in Toastmaster’s International. On two occasions he was a finalist in that organization’s ‘World’s Championship of Public Speaking.’ A 1978 graduate of South Dakota State University, Smith spent the decade of the 1980s working for the Allied Signal Aerospace Company in Kansas City, MO. He returned to his alma mater in 1990 to serve as Assistant Athletic Director for the SDSU athletic program. He was appointed Executive Director of the SDSU Alumni Association in 1996 and resigned from that position in January 2007 due to the overwhelming requests for speaking appearances.