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
Is 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.
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 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, www.gothamgal.com, 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.
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 1: Jessica Mindich, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 2: Veronica Beard, Fashion Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 3: Emily Liebert, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 4: Lyss Stern, Mom-trepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 5: Lauren Slayton, Nutritionist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 6: Elizabeth Moyer, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 7: Annabel Monaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 8: Holly Gordon, Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 9: Jill Salzman, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 10: Jennifer Levinson, Jen’s List
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 11: Jenny Hutt, Media Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 12: Angela Santomero, Kids’ Media Creator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 13: Carola Donato, Yogi
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 14: Tiffany Washington, Pastry Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 15: Emily Giffin, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 16: Alana Sanko, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 17: Cara Lemieux, Journalist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 18: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Authors
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 19: Nikki Mark, Author & Foundation Director
Shonda Rhimes on Doing It All
Indra Nooyi on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 21: Jill Bryan, Comedian
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 22: Cindy Callaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 23: Stephanie Hirsch, Artist
My Times of India Interview on Work-Life Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 24: Whitney Dineen, Author/Baker
AmEx’s Sobbott on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 25: J0-Laine Duke-Collins, Dessert Stylist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 26: Whitney English, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 27: Jennifer Gooch Hummer, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 28: Melissa Amster, Book Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 29: Nigel Marsh, Author and Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 30: DayNa Decker, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 31: Amy Selling, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 32: Heather Sonnenberg, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 33: Allison Winn Scotch, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 34: Bibi Kasrai, Entrepreneur and Chef
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 35: Karen Sutton MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 36: Samantha Ettus, Balance Expert, Author, TV/Radio Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 37: Pam Yudko, Holistic Health and Transformational Coach
THE BALANCE PROJECT| No. 38: Nancy Huang, Nonprofit Outreach Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 39: Mary Laura Philpott, Writer, Editor and Illustrator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 40: Towanda Long, Marketing Communications Specialist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 41: Kristyn Kusek Lewis, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 42: Tracy Pollan, Actor and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 43: Christianne Phillips, Fitness Consultant and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 44: Susannah Lewis, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 45: Kimi Culp, Producer, Author and Creative Consultant
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 46: Traci Bild, Entrepreneur
The Balance Project Interview Series Turns 1!
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 47: Laura Vanderkam, Journalist and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 48: Amy Tara Koch, Style Expert and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 49: Cozy Friedman, Kids’ Hair Expert
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 50: Bobbii Hach-Jacobs, Music Promoter
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 51: Niketa Jhaveri, Game Creator and Web Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 52: Sheri Silver, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 53: Lori Pollan, Cookbook Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 54: Chatón Turner, Attorney and Blogger