Heather Willems - Humble and Visionary

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What are your “and” words and why? Humble and Visionary: My creative nature leads me to dream big and paint a detailed scene of what the future may hold. When those dreams come true, I often credit the army of people that got me there. I love collaborating to draw big ideas into reality.

What you are known for saying / a quote from you. What does this quote mean to you, (or if it’s from someone else, why does it inspire you)? "You deserve the best life. Life deserves the best you." I heard this in a yoga class 3 years ago and it has been on my fridge ever since. It is a reminder to me that in order to live my best life I need to make decisions from a place of purpose that is tied to my values. I feel most alive when I am facilitating corporate leadership retreats or coaching entrepreneurs. In each situation, I emphasize that to design your best life, all areas: business, personal and family, must be nurtured.

Which other Ladybadasses inspire you and why? There are so many. I have been reading Ani Defranco's memoir. I grew up in her music. She uses her gifts to draw you in and serves you up with her spoken truths. I studied under Ann Hamilton. In my 20's her immersive installation artworks introduced me to a new way of making art and processing problems. She creates her imagination. By surrounding herself incredible people, she creates experiences that shift your emotional, physical, and intellectually state. Saving the best for last, my mom. She relentlessly battles life's challenges with grace, empathy is woven into her DNA, and positive encouragement flows abundantly in her heart. I hope I grow up to be my mother someday.

When did you first realize that you had some Ladybadassery in you? I was being introduced before my talk at the Women's Conference in Austin, Texas. In a room of 900 people, my accomplishments were read aloud: working with the leadership teams at Google, Nasa, and LEGO, co-authoring the best selling book Draw Your Big Idea, and traveling the world speaking about visual strategy. I felt like she was talking about someone else... but it was me! At that moment we were in Ballroom D of the Austin Convention Center, the VERY room 9 years prior, I soft-launched a new service that transformed my business: graphic recording for danah boyd at the SXSW conference. At one point I was drawing the speaker's key ideas, then later in the same room, I WAS the speaker having my big ideas drawn.

Later that day I got a tattoo to commemorate that "full-circle" moment.

What keeps you motivated on days when you aren't quite feeling like a Ladybadass? I give myself self-care rewards. I draw out activities on cards so they are visible and in front of me. The rewards always get me moving and change my mental state.


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Power through 1 hour of draining work = cash in a card for 15 minutes of yoga

Write that proposal for 90 minutes = recharge by walking with a friend around the block

Respond to an inbox of emails = 10 min of a Spotify dance party

Works like a charm.

What is your advice to other women who are trying to tap into their Ladybadassery? What has helped me the most in my life is aligning with my values and seeking purpose in my business, personal and family life. In my experience, when I am making decisions in a meaningful way, I meet less resistance and more doors seem to open.

Heather Willems, CEO of Two Line Studios, is a pioneer in visual storytelling and helps leaders gain clarity & think differently using creativity as a powerful problem solving tool.