If you need a dose of inspiration, let me introduce you to Haley Hoffman Smith, the powerhouse Brown grad who wants to take your idea and supersize it.

Haley, who has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur and The Washington Examiner is the founder of the Her Big Idea Fund in partnership with Brown’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, which awards grants to women who apply with BIG ideas.

She’s also the author of “Her Big Idea: The Next Generation of Entrepreneurs”, a book on ideation and women’s empowerment which debuted as a Top 3 Women & Business Bestseller.

Her Big Idea highlights the successes of the greatest female entrepreneurs of the 21st Century.

In it, Haley reminds readers that any woman, regardless of circumstance, can bring an idea to life. She also shares the story of her own entrepreneurial experience. An experience packed with the conception of her nonprofit, first for-profit, first book…and her first experience with failure.

No stranger to advocating for women, she is also the creator of the first ever Women’s Entrepreneurship Incubator at Brown. Its purpose is to help female students bring their ideas to light.

How It Started

When having a conversation with the managing director of a prominent venture capital firm, she was even more aligned with her purpose when she asked him, “Why are so few women funded by venture capitalists?” He responded, “Because women don’t typically come up with ideas that require millions of dollars in funding.”

Mic drop.

So Haley has made it her mission to challenge that idea.

“It was easier for them to think big about business ideas that weren’t their own,” she told me. “But when we flipped the script and I had them apply those same exercises to their own idea, the ideation ceased. I believe it’s for very personal reasons — the reasons we might not come up with big ideas (any of us, not just women), is because we may not believe we’re capable of bringing them to life…of doing what has never been done before.”

But what exactly is a big idea?

According to Haley, a big idea is “an idea that disrupts an industry because it completely changes the way we work and live.”

What’s even cooler is that she has taken these topics on the road with the “Your Big Idea Tour”.

Intended to inspire 1,000 new big ideas in the 2018-19 school year, it covers ideation techniques and teaches how to break past the blocks that arise that stop people from pursuing their ideas.

So far, she has hit places like Harvard, Northeastern, Yale, Columbia and CU Boulder with some great reviews from attendees.

“A powerhouse to motivation.”

                                         – Sunny R.

“[Her] talk changed everything.”

                                        – Carly T.

“[She] had me at “hello”. It took three seconds for me to be locked into [her] message.”

                                        – Jules H.

But, don’t worry — there are more dates and locations on the way if you want in on the action yourself! Haley is hitting the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Stanford, John Carroll University, and the Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference in 2019… just to name a few.

Your Big Idea

During the presentation, she uses real case studies and challenges to give the attendees a well-rounded picture on two things.

Why they should think bigger and how to do it.

“Everyone has an idea but there are always excuses as to why they don’t pursue them.”

You either make excuses or you make progress. That’s Haley’s motto. She says that the amount of energy invested in either of those choices is actually the same.

Out of The Mouth of a Babe

“Start before you’re ready”

Even when she first decided she wanted to do a tour for the book she booked every step before ever sitting down to write her presentation.


Because she knew if she waited to write it, it would never get done. She knew she had to start before she was ready, and she gives that same advice in every speech. “We are so good at talking ourselves out of going after an idea or an ambition,” she shared. “We have to force ourselves to live on the other side of fear.”

“Motivation has an expiration date.”

If you don’t take immediate action on something you’ll forget what was said, and more importantly you’ll forget how you felt about it.

Momentum is everything and it’s crucial to keep it rolling when you spark an idea. She encourages the audience at the end of her talk to take action immediately if they feel the least bit of motivation or inspiration from her talk.

The Idea is Where the Adventure Takes You On

So what does Hoffman Smith ultimately want?

For people to learn to get past the fear of failure and enjoy the adventure instead because remember, everyone has a big idea – whether it’s for a business, a podcast, a music album, a book, you name it – there are ideas we all want to create, and we owe it to ourselves to get started.

If you want to book Haley at your school, business or conference on her ‘Your Big Idea Tour’ you can contact her directly at haley@herbigidea.org.

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Creative Writer | Content Creator With a background in communications, writing, and marketing, Nikki is the founder of Casey Copywriting, her own freelance copywriting business with a clientele consisting mainly of women entrepreneurs and success coaches killing it in their respective fields. In addition to freelancing, she loves her role as Director of Style with the leading digital platform for the boutique industry, The Boutique Hub. There she combines her love for style and writing while curating daily tips, fashion forecasts and building a digital community for fellow boutique fashion lovers. Her creativity knows no bounds as she continues to work on her debut novel along with big picture aspirations to one day create a creative and educational platform for young writers to help facilitate and develop their writing and assist in their published achievements.


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