Stephen A. Smith

ESPN columnist, sports analyst and radio host Stephen A. Smith speaks to students at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 12, 2014.

Stephen A. Smith was greeted with a standing ovation when he arrived at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday night.

Smith is the co-host of the popular program “First Take” on ESPN 2. His presentation included his thoughts on becoming successful in corporate America.

“I don’t believe I’m negative,” Smith said. “I believe I’m real.”

He encouraged students to work hard and fight adversity.

Smith said students should understand the world they are living in and act accordingly. He also spoke about the importance of creating a brand.

After an audience question about journalists being censored by networks, Smith spoke at length about his recent weeklong suspension by ESPN after his on-air comments about Ray Rice’s domestic violence situation.

Smith said he chose his words poorly but did not think he deserved to be suspended after his comments.

“Under no circumstances should you put your hands on a woman,“ he said at the event.

Hena Patel, a 20-year-old UF nutritional sciences student, said she didn’t know much about Smith before the event.

“I thought it would be weird since I didn’t know anything about sports, but I really liked it,” Patel said. “He really told people a lot of things that they don’t normally think about like the real world.”

[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 11/13/2014]