Having a big idea can be life changing, yet many of us abandon our ideas as pipe dreams. Our fear of taking risks, our lack of courage or conviction to follow our dreams, often leads to regrets and disappointment. Have you ever asked yourself why you haven’t pursued an idea you had? Maybe it was for starting a business, creating a new product, or for a living the life you’ve always desired.
The excitement of creating new ideas and bringing those ideas to life is the topic of Haley Hoffman Smith’s new book, Her Big Idea. She recently shared with me how we all have the power as creators to change our lives with our ideas.
Bonnie Marcus: Your book is candidly written for women who want to come up with an idea and bring it to life. Is it just a book for entrepreneurs?
Haley Hoffman Smith: I really appreciate this distinction because I think ‘entrepreneurship’ is such a buzz word nowadays, and no one really knows what defines one. It leaves out the millions of women who are working full time corporate jobs, but have ideas that they enact in different ways. The overall urging of the book is to rather fixate value in the power we have as creators to come up with an idea – any idea – and bring it to life. That doesn’t necessarily mean a product or a service that we quit our jobs for, and commit our whole lives to building.
Marcus: What type of ideas do you encourage, then?
Hoffman Smith: Much of the book emphasizes the idea we have for the life we want to live, so we take on an entrepreneurial role in the creation of our own lives. It’s the notion that we can be the architects of what we give to the world and in turn, what we experience. One of my favorite parts of the book highlights the wisdom of J Douglas Bate, the co-author of the Strategy of Innovation. I went to a workshop he held at Brown a few years back, called “Create Your Life”, at a time when I was feeling particularly lost, even though I was working hard in college and my startup was succeeding.
He talked about the power of intention, and fixating on the idea of what our life COULD be if it was our ‘dream life’ – in our careers, our families, you name it. So, the book shares a hypothetical about a woman who is an accountant but wants to run her own restaurant one day. There are two options: the first is that she could call it a pipe dream and sweep it under the rug. The second is she could keep it in her mind’s eye that she’s open to opportunities that gets there; or she’s holding it as her intention. This makes her more likely to see clues to lead her to her ‘dream life’ – the example in the book being an ad above the creamers in Starbucks searching for a new head chef at a luxury restaurant, which could lead to a chain of ‘serendipitous’ events, propelling her closer to her dream.
Because we consume only a sliver of the billions of bits of information we’re bombarded with every day, it’s all too easy to ignore opportunities that are square in front of our faces if we aren’t looking for them. So, if we choose to be cognizant of what we intend for the creation of ‘perfect life’, we may be able to shift our perception and be more open to opportunities.
Marcus: How does this translate for women in corporate careers?