This is a series of spotlight interviews with some of the incredible guests we'll see at the ASCEND Leadership Summit 2018.
What problem would you like solved?
That only 2% of 2017’s venture capital funding went to female founders. I want there to be more sources for funding for women’s ideas – especially young, college-aged women, so they can see entrepreneurship as a viable career path. I also would like to see more women making decisions as partners of prominent venture capital firms.
Advice you'd wished you'd had or had followed?
To focus on my ‘vertical’ – my genius space – and give my all to that rather than trying to be everything or achieve everything at once. I think we all have something unique to give to the world and it may not be apparent at the time, but if we laser focus on what rivets us the most and develop that vertical, it will lead to authentic success – first and foremost on a personal level (fulfillment).
What does success look like for you?
Similar to the previous question – to develop my genius space! But, I know that life is not all about work. I want to be fulfilled in my relationships with others, myself, and the world – to have the capacity and freedom (financial or otherwise) to choose creativity, travel, and philanthropy.
What is your best discovery?
I think the thesis of my book – that male VC’s believe women do not think as big – was a discovery of a ‘problem’, (which isn’t really a best discovery) – so I think it’s my best discovery because it led to the best solution. I love helping women think bigger about their ideas and encourage their propensities toward risk taking.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Lean on yourself and cultivate an independent confidence. It’s great to seek feedback from others, but listen to your heart about certain ideas, pieces of work, and strategies. Don’t silence your own voice with the opinions of others. Stay true to you.
Anything else we should know about (product launch, crowdfunding or marketing campaign, recent interview, job openings, etc.)?
Yes! On June 11th, my book Her Big Idea will be released. The book features the incredible Christy Johnson.
Here’s a description:
Her Big Idea is Haley Hoffman Smith's second book; exploring themes from creative ideation to the common pitfalls of entrepreneurship, the book underscores the big ideas of the greatest female entrepreneurs of our time with the overarching message that any woman, regardless of her age or level of experience, can too bring her idea to life. Featuring interviewees such as Headbands of Hope's Jessica Ekstrom and The Odyssey's Adrian France, a series of stories of favorite female-led companies such as Rent the Runway and Hint Water gesture to a new frontier of entrepreneurship. Hoffman Smith's extensive research, coupled with innovation strategy and expertise from Brown University professors and mentors, complete the book's task of becoming a guidebook for the next genHERation of entrepreneurs.
Half of the book's proceeds will be donated to Hoffman Smith's Her Big Idea Fund, which awards grants given to women of all ages and backgrounds who apply with big ideas as according to the book's innovation stipulations - B for Blue Ocean Strategy and creativity over competition, I for Intelligent, alluding to a degree of market research and understanding of the target customer segment, and G for Grand, encouraging ideas that have never been done before. The grants seek to mitigate the risk associated with pursuing BIG ideas, to make entrepreneurship an accessible experience for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Register today to attend the ASCEND Leadership Summit on May 30, 2018 at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA. We hope to see you there!