ImagesOne definition of freedom in the dictionary is the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.  Freedom is powerful.  As social media has swept across the world we see people in many areas around the globe wanting freedom.  The ability to make your own decisions, live your life as you see fit and enjoy the wonders of just being alive.  It is easy to forget that freedom is one of the greatest gifts that we have in the United States.

I am thinking about my freedom or even my own kids freedom.  I grew up in a divorced family where one day we had money and the next day we did not.  We were far from poor but the life that we came to know was no longer.  My Mom raised us to be independent and take care of ourselves.  If we ever started to fall off the path she would be there, not always happy about it, but she would prop us back up and push us to get back on the path. She wasn't particularly warm and loving but she was a doer and made sure we could all stand on our own two feet.  Perhaps that is what drove me or maybe I was just driven when I was born but I never felt freedom in some of the decisions that I might have made for my career path. 

Early on I chose a specific path because I wanted to have financial freedom.  I knew that it was me and nobody else who was going to pay the bills.  Other choices down the road were made because there was not only me but kids and a husband. 

When young people ask me what would my advice be to them starting out in their careers, I always say to follow your passions because the road is long and the dots always seem to connect.  Certainly I see many people who are graduating from college who don't have the freedom to so easily do that as they too need to make sure they can pay the bills. 

Our kids are very lucky, they have freedom in a way that I dreamed of having when I was their age.  They are all different and the good news is that they are all driven to find themselves and the right path.  Nobody is a slacker yet the freedom they have is powerful.  They can use that freedom to do a lot of different things that many can not. 

I find myself with more freedom than I ever could have dreamed of and with that I have chosen to fund start-ups with a bend towards women, give back to organizations that I believe are making an impact in NYC and hopefully other peoples lives.  I have always believed that with financial success you have a responsibility to return something to the community.  I even talked about this when I chaired MOUSE back in 1998. 

This generation of kids who are more connected than ever seem to have more freedom to make choices and perhaps that is why we are seeing this surge back to community with an endless supply of everybody wants to be an entrepreneur in every industry from tech to food to health-care.  I think this is a good thing as from my birds eye view we are seeing more balance.  We are also seeing a group of individuals who grew up with laptops become adults and their evolution is why we are seeing the explosion of disruptive companies that are huge and also not that huge.  We are changing the way we live our lives. 

All and all…just an observation. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. kirklove

    Great, great post and timely for me as I tend to be consumed with both thoughts running through this post. A) Finding your passion (still don’t feel I have yet) and B) Getting to financial freedom (which is much much tougher for me in NYC). The latter when you don’t have it makes life extremely stressful as I’m sure you know and even Fred recounted the other day. Shingles and all. 😉

    1. Gotham Gal

      NYC is not an easy place to achieve B. Finding your passion is a tough one but your love of music comes through in every aspect and being able to participate in that world every day is pretty amazing.

      1. Erin Newkirk

        Kirk, I also think you are an amazing storyteller 🙂

    2. awaldstein

      KirkEconomics is one thing. Passion maybe another.You’re tie to music is infectious and your Tumblr posts have changed my musical tastes.That being said, lately I’ve been musing over the differences of thinking with your heart and your head in business. Very different.

  2. andyswan

    Great post. On of the things I’ve come to realize is that “financial freedom” is a MUCH Llower bar than most people think.If you’re having trouble defining it, spend a week with some of my extended family…who literally fish, hunt and grow everything they eat (besides doritos and beer haha).It is a very liberating realization that you don’t NEED what you want, and you are more than capable of creating the wealth you NEED, even if your bold and ambitious plans fail.You are more free than you know, there is less risk than you think, and the opportunity we enjoy via freedom is unlimited and amazing.Grab the bull and ride.

    1. Gotham Gal

      grab the bull…nice

    2. Guest

      So true Andy.  If your personal burn rate is low, you don’t need much to be wealthy.  I’ve met plenty of people whose possessions are their prison.  

      1. andyswan

        Yes and believe me I like and want nice things, mobility…all of that.  To many people, I’ve “got it all”…to others, I’m a wannabe.  It’s all relative.  I want more and I’ll go after more.  But I’ll do it with the safety-net of competence and the only assurance I need:  I can always get back on my own feet.

        1. Gotham Gal

          the feeling “i can always get back on my feet” is one that I see in all entrepreneurs.

        2. Guest

          Mobility is key. FU money so to speak.  That number is different for everyone.  And I feel like you, as long as I have my brain and my feet, I’ll be fine. Edit: I’ll be more than fine, I’ll be happy.

  3. Rohan

    Great post, Joanne. I look forward to these. 🙂 A couple of thoughts come to mind as I’m somewhere between being a kid of the new generation that’s grown up with laptops and the Gen X. – In a world where opportunities are more abundant than ever, I find that the importance of self discipline more important than ever. As the saying goes – 1 half of success is discipline, 1 half is luck. Without disciple though, you wouldn’t know what to do with luck.- In a world where individuals arguably have more power than ever before to do things/change things/influence things, there are of course an equal number of distractions thanks to our love for instant gratification..As Spiderman would say, With great power comes great responsibility..All about balance, I guess…

    1. Gotham Gal

      you are VERY wise for a young man.

      1. Rohan

        And you are VERY kind. 🙂 I had an interesting quote of the day today on wisdom..’Observation, not old age, brings wisdom.’ I’m still thinking about it.. Fascinating insight!

  4. Dory

    I’ve said it before, but I’m saying it again.  You’re just great.

    1. Gotham Gal


    2. pixiedust8

      This is pretty much how I felt reading the post, too, so I’ll just second you!

  5. ATG

    I had the same experience growing up. I lived a very pampered life until my parents went through a bitter divorce, the result of which was a drastic lifestyle change for my mom and I. I too became determined to be independent and find financial freedom and, like you, felt I needed to pursue a career path that would guarantee a large paycheck and enable me to provide my hypothetical kids with the freedom I always wanted and that yours have. When I read your blog I often wonder whether one day I’ll have the opportunity and courage to pivot and find an outlet for my passions. 

    1. Gotham Gal

      it takes courage but if you are thinking about it, that is a good sign!

  6. awaldstein

    Choice is everything. The ability to be free in that choice is success.When I go for early morning walks along the southern tip of Manhattan, I can’t help but remember this personally as I look at the Statue of LIberty.I’m young enough to feel a net natural in my thoughts. Old enough to be brought up in a family where my grandfather sat at the head of the table, speaking yiddish. He came here through Ellis Island when 8 or 9 (!) from Russia on a boat on his own.He had nothing. Couldn’t read English. Worked in the garment district and felt he had everything. Freedom to do what mattered to him.

    1. Gotham Gal

      having the experience of watching grandparents start their lives over from nothing is a powerful reminder of the freedom that we have in the usa. the ability to be free in that choice is absolutely everything.

  7. Jill

    When I separated, we went from living in a beautiful building in Tribeca with 2 academy award winning actresses as neighbors to renting an apt. in Peter Cooper Village.  I guess I moved down several notches financially.  Oddly enough, the downslide was not so bad!  I am still not at ‘freedom’, as my choices are still affected by outside factors, but I am getting closer! The journey is IT, as they say!

    1. Gotham Gal

      the journey is absolutely it. you also know that no matter what comes your way, you will make it work which is a powerful trait.

  8. Erin Newkirk

    “I always say to follow your passions because the road is long and the dots always seem to connect.”Love that. Counting on that.

  9. Yaniv Tal

    One of the last big suppressors of freedom in our country is the corporation. Sometimes it feels like a career in the corporate world is like walking up a ladder but at the bottom is a swath of lava. If you miss the jump onto the ladder after graduating, you’ve probably missed your shot. There are islands of startups, artistry, NGO’s, and interesting opportunities in the lava and they’re always there – mocking, tempting. It can be fun and rewarding to hop around from island to island but you know that once you jump off that ladder you’re probably not getting back on. One of the interesting developments of our times is that so many islands of various shapes and sizes have sprouted up. People that have made the jump are seeing that the lava isn’t that dangerous and they’re helping one another – keeping them from falling in.Considering the number of talented people that have left and shunned the corporate world, I wonder if one day corporations will recognize talent and ability as the only criteria for a job. I wonder how the idea of career will transform and morph over our lifetime.

    1. Gotham Gal

      you are spot on. certainly an idea of a career is changing as we speak.