THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 55: Joanne Wilson, Investor and Blogger

Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”

2015 marks the second full year of The Balance Project! And there’s lots in store: First, The Balance Project is celebrating its first birthday. Read all about how it got started and what I’ve learned from it here. Second, my second book, THE BALANCE PROJECT: A NOVEL, will be published in April. It’s women’s fiction and it was inspired by these interviews. More about that here. Third, in preparation for the launch and because these interviews have received such tremendous response, I will publish new interviews two or three times per week, not just on Fridays. Thank you for your continued support!

No. 55: Joanne Wilson, Investor and Blogger

Age: 52
Where I live:
 New York City
Job: Angel Investor, Blogger of Gotham Gal, and Co-Chair Women’s Entrepreneur Festival
Kids: Two daughters (21 and 23) and a son (18)

joanne_wilson-HR-8059Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
I have had several careers. I was in the retail/wholesale business at the beginning of my career and left that after our daughters were 3 and 1. I spent a few years home before figuring out the next step of my career. I ended up being involved in a company that was reporting on the start of the Internet age. It was the mid-90s. That link to the tech community is where I stayed, although shifting into an investor and blogger about ten years ago.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
What does having “it all” really mean? Life is long. Each segment of your life, even from the time you are in college, starts you on a path where the dots all connect. You learn from one experience that you bring to the next experience. And if you are lucky you have a family and make some really good friends along the way.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Thinking about “balance” is something I have grappled with my entire career. It takes thought to have a career, taking time for yourself and raising a family at the same time. You have to work at it.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
As my children have grown up and begun to build their own lives it becomes easier as I no longer have that daily responsibility. It isn’t so much about balance but the amount of time to do everything I want to do.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance from your mother?
“Do what works for you. If you are happy, your kids will be happy.” It was life changing.

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
I’d spend it reading, going to a museum, seeing a movie, doing something educational around the arts.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That nothing is standard. You can create your own path.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
I am entrepreneurial. I can’t imagine having to report to someone. It has never suited me well, and I realized that early on.

Favorite books?
I am a voracious reader. There are a few faves over the years such as: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer to name a few.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished three books: I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and Diane von Furstenberg’s autobiography The Woman I Wanted to Be. All good.

Biggest food vice? All food is a vice. I was raised to enjoy good food. Going out to the latest restaurant and cooking good meals is part of my daily life. Figuring out how to keep my eyes smaller than my stomach is the challenge.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
I sleep a good 8 hours a night. Sleep is important.

What do you read every morning?
I read The New York Times front to back every morning before doing the crossword puzzle.

My kids: are my greatest joy. Watching them grow into young adults, building their own friendships, seeing their never-ending curiosity for life and knowledge is beyond words.

Anything else you’d like to add?
One of the things I am most proud of is my endless support for not only entrepreneurs but for women entrepreneurs. I have not only supported women through investing in their visions (70% of my portfolio companies are started by women) but have co-founded with Nancy Hechinger the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival celebrating women entrepreneurs.

joanne_wilson-HR-8223About Joanne:
Joanne Wilson has had many careers. She started out in retail, eventually moving to the wholesale arena. She then transitioned to the media side of the technology world, before reinventing herself as an investor. She is currently an active angel investor with a portfolio of over 65 companies such as Food52, Catchafire, Vengo, Nestio, Captureproof, Makers Row, Le Tote, and Little Borrowed Dress. She has been involved in numerous real estate transactions from beginning to end and continues to make investments in that world. She is also an investor in a few restaurants in the New York area. In addition to these endeavors, Joanne has been involved in various education projects and chairs Hot Bread Kitchen, a non­profit committed to increasing access to the culinary industry for female and minority entrepreneurs. She also sits on the boards of The Highline and Wesleyan University. Joanne has maintained her very popular blog,, for over 10 years. She loves to bake, cook, throw a good party, travel, read, collect art, do the crossword, and stay on top of what’s happening around the globe and in NYC. Her most successful venture is being married to her best friend, Fred, and raising their three kids:­ Jessica, Emily, and Josh.

Find more about Joanne here:
Twitter: @thegothamgal

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