Imagine: a future with no more killings. It seems utopian, as headlines regarding school shootings and global violence sprawl across the news seemingly daily. But, the biggest ideas of all are those that, as Arthur Rock once said, “change the way we work and live.” Changing lives through saving them, in this case, is likely one of the biggest ideas of all.

“When you make the business model, you have a much greater opportunity to actually achieve the mission.”


Meet Rick Smith

Meet Rick Smith, the CEO of Axon and author of the newly released book, The End of Killing. He’s on a mission to render the bullet obsolete, and is doing so by encouraging conducted electrical weapons and body cameras.

Rick’s journey started in 1993, after losing two dear friends to gun-related deaths. Knowing there had to be a better, more peaceful way, he sought out to end killing by creating TASER and now, leading Axon. Axon is now worth over $3.5 billion, while Rick himself has made millions and made many others millionaires, too.

Making Money While Pursuing a Mission

Recently, at a conference, protestors asked Rick why they should trust him when he’s made so much money. There may be a perceived dissonance between a mission like “ending killings” and raking in millions of dollars, but this, too, is at the heart of a big idea. Every idea needs to be transformed into a business model, and Rick says when we feel called to serve a greater mission in the world, we should ask the question, “Who would pay me to solve this problem?”

“When you make the business model, you have a much greater opportunity to actually achieve the mission. Name someone who has changed the world more than Bill Gates… I can’t define a stronger way to change the world than becoming an entrepreneur.”

Let’s Do This!

So, how do we get started? It should begin, Simon Sinek-style, with the “why.” Rick shared a step by step formula for beginning the structure of a mission-oriented business model:

  1. Define for yourself: “What is a problem that’s worth solving?” Remember, the best products and companies present a solution to a pressing problem. “I never think about making money, I think about what are the problems I am solving… And everything else takes care of itself,” Rick shared.
  2. Figure out how to get started – and it’s more than likely that the beginning will be messy. You can’t wait for the perfect business plan to fall down from the sky, into your head. Dig in, do some research, talk to people.
  3. And, perhaps the hardest part, is getting to the “I’m going to do this” moment – then just doing it! This step is a great time to assess how much solving the problem really means to you. “You need to be passionate enough about it to work on it for the next 10 yrs even if you’re just squeaking by. If you go into it to make money, then when times get tough, you’ll fold,” Rick shared.

Solving problems of this magnitude is, assuredly, a long game. I was struck when Rick said that the next step is “investing a productive decade of your life into solving the problem.”

“The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s just a really crazy idea.”


Big Idea, Bad Rep

Now, the way I define a BIG idea in my book, Her Big Idea, is as follows:

B – Blue, from Blue Ocean Strategy. The market segment you’re entering has fresh, blue waters, as opposed to the red waters with plenty of competition. Are you the first to venture into this territory?

I – Intelligent, and backed up by market research. Do people NEED this product or service? (The best part about solving really BIG problems is that this component is ALWAYS backed up by plenty of evidence.)

G– Grand. A BIG idea is something no one has ever started to think about before. And, the bigger the “grand” is, the more an idea could get a bad rep.

Rick shared the example of self-driving cars, after an unfortunate incident in Arizona that resulted in a pedestrian being killed. That one incident has irreparable slowed the process of autonomous vehicles – even though 1.3 million people are killed at the hands of regular drivers and cars every year. The biggest and most innovative ideas scare people.

His new book, The End of Killing came out earlier this week, on May 21st. Rick began to write the book when he recognized that one of his biggest obstacles has been, and continues to be, public perception. He shared that he was very straightforward in the book that some of his ideas might, frankly, be bad ones. But, he also leans on this Peter Diamandis quote for encouragement and inspiration: “The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s just a really crazy idea.”

The Power of a Crazy Idea

Once we can tap into what we truly feel is our mission to solve in this world – even if it seems like a problem that is so much bigger than what one person can solve – the crazy brainstorming can begin. He offered one interesting perspective:

“If you’re telling your idea to people and everyone is telling you it’s a good idea and not crazy, it’s actually probably not that good of an idea. If you come at things from a totally different angle, will feel weird at first because new & different.

But, if they tell you it’s crazy, should be MOTIVATING to you, because you’re thinking about it differently.”

It’s worth the jump and the adventure. We have a world to change! Rick Smith remains a steadfast inspiration of someone who’s thinking big and solving a problem that truly can and will change the world.

Learn more from his inspiration and perspective in The End of Killing, available now on Amazon.


  • Haley Hoffman Smith

    Speaker & Author of Her Big Idea

    Haley Hoffman Smith is the author of Her Big Idea, a book on ideation and women's empowerment which debuted as a Top 3 Bestseller. She has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and the Washington Examiner, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown in May 2018. She 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, and Her Big Lash, a cosmetics company.

    At Brown, she was the President of Women’s Entrepreneurship and started the first-ever women’s entrepreneurship incubator. She speaks on topics such as women's empowerment, innovation, social impact, and personal branding regularly across companies and college campuses, most recently at Harvard, TEDx, SoGal Ventures, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, and more.