We had the good fortune of connecting with Cheryl Heller and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Cheryl, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?

Two values matter most, in myself, in partners, colleagues and friends. The first is purpose; inspiration bigger than any single person’s or organizations’ agenda. Purpose makes work exciting, worth investing time and energy in, worth thinking deeply about and cultivating the patience to overcome the barriers and inconveniences that inevitably arise along the way. I don’t much enjoy working with people who aren’t compelled by a desire to do the best they can, or to stretch themselves and learn. The second value or principle is to honor what we say, or keep our word even when it’s inconvenient. These two values are connected, because it takes both of them to accomplish things that change the status quo and that actually add up to something worth doing. My husband likes the expression that cowboys used, of “throwing in” with someone. It means you agree to go on a journey with another person and no matter what comes up, you are in it together. I think that’s what makes great teams and what helps us create. I realize as I say this that it sounds very serious and not a lot of fun, but actually these are principles that make life compelling and delightful. They are values that, when shared, facilitate seamless collaboration.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
It’s been a lifelong challenge to describe what I do. I’m a designer, a writer, an educator, but that doesn’t explain much. I’m passionate about real communication and think it can solve every problem we face. I’ve worked with a lot of large, successful companies and helped them become larger and more successful. I’ve worked with foundations, nonprofits and hundreds of entrepreneurs and tried to use what I know to help them accomplish their visions. I came to education late and try to incorporate learning from the real world into what I teach. All of our work is ephemeral, it’s the nature of human society. So the things that have lasted and made a difference in other people’s lives are the most important to me. It’s gratifying to watch the alums of the graduate program I founded succeed, to see how their sense of what’s possible was changed by what we learned together. I’m gratified that things I did because I was curious have grown and made others curious about how design can be used to improve social equity and environmental justice. And now, I’m working with an extraordinary group of people at ASU to grow a transdisciplinary program in Innovation and Venture Development that’s a partnership between the schools of engineering, business and design. I think it will contribute to the lives of our students and expand their view of what’s possible for them.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hmmm. In the time of COVID. I would cook for them in our Phoenix back yard. Or go hiking in Sedona. 

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So so many people, too many to mention. Teams, co-workers, colleagues, students, teachers, husband, friends. But in particular, I would like to give a shout out to all my amazing, extraordinary, powerful, smart, courageous women friends. I am enormously fortunate to have so many incredible women in my life.

Website: msi-ventures@asu.edu
Instagram: cheryl heller
Linkedin: cherylheller
Twitter: @cheryheller
Facebook: I’m over it
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnYTzUVR5_8
Other: http://commonwise.design

Image Credits
Gary Scheft

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