The Balance Project

Susie Schnall is the woman behind the Balance Project.  Balance is one of my fave topics so I was happy to be interviewed for this.  I am in very good company of interviewees.  Being number 55 was an honor.  Loved the questions too.  Here is my interview below.

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

Comments (Archived):

  1. Emeri Gent [Em]

    It is good that Susie Schnall did interview one man as a part of her Balance Project and that this man was Nigel Marsh. Nigel detailed in 10 minutes in his TEDx talk, the basic fundamentals of balance.Nigel Marsh only problem with Schnall’s 55 interviews to date is that all of them have been conducted with photogenic people who would most likely also look good on their passport photographs. We live in a society where we don’t use passport photographs as our avatars in social media – so such interviews miss the ordinary majority – or most of the people who Nigel Marsh described as “living lives of quite desperation”.The interviews actually resemble the scene in “Lost in America” where the recruiter asked why Albert Brooks had movedLost in America – Recruiter Scene…The chief dialogue of interest occurs at about 1 min 40 secondsBrooks Character : “I’ve come here to live, I’m trying to change my life”Recruiter : “you couldn’t change your life on a $100,000 dollars?”The irony of understanding balance is comprehending a highly unbalanced existence – and the chief barometer of balance is gratitude and to understand how blessed some of us are. In some cases talk of balance is a luxury. Having spent just one day with my aunt in England whose husband has severe Parkinsons, brought home the life we pray and hope we will never have to lead – just the act of supporting my uncle to the washroom was a backbreaking experience. At that point I understood my own blessings and therefore understood balance.Balance then for the blessed is the barometer of gratitude, because it is this awareness that keeps us cogent about what it is we can potentially foul up – and how many people have fouled up a perfectly good thing, without any hard-bitten reality chasing them from behind.So the best we who do not live on the receiving end of life, can do with balance – is establish awareness of creating imbalances where there should have been balance all along. These are normally either mistakes that need forgiveness or pride and ego that need humility.The good thing about reading any woman’s account about balance is that there is an imbalance between men and women – and the answer to that balance is not equality. There is a way of achieving that balance, which is to formulate the creation of a law which states that men’s wages will be lowered so that they are paid the same as women. Where the passing of such a law becomes a blinding reality – one would instantly see the seeking of forgiveness and the show of humility – as men counter that women’s pay should be increased.Such is life that we who are fortunate can only intellectually grasp misfortune, and as such we should be counting our blessings even more, and in such counting there is always the discovery of balance.Regards[Em]

  2. Brandon Burns

    “Figuring out how to keep my eyes smaller than my stomach is the challenge.”Oh, man. That struggle is real.

    1. Gotham Gal

      every damn day.

  3. Mario Cantin

    “Do what works for you. If you are happy, your kids will be happy.”This is really good, common sense advice, which IMO should be heard more often.

  4. Steven Kane

    love the plug for reading morning papers. 🙂

    1. Gotham Gal


  5. Erin Newkirk

    Love that photo!!!

    1. Gotham Gal

      It’s my bad ass look

      1. Erin Newkirk

        Ha! I was going to say it was so you…guess I agree! 🙂

  6. Jessie Arora

    Love this. Just found it hidden in my inbox and just what I needed to read as a mom of young kids trying to get my business off the ground. Thank you.