Life is all about decisions
Mondays is the day that I always write a post about a woman entrepreneur. Since I am on vacation, I am going to take the week off and instead write about a topic about women that has been making its way around the internet last week.
I read the article in the Atlantic that Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote as many others have. I was thrilled to see the honesty and transparency of how difficult it has been for her in the push pull between motherhood and the working world. It is hard on so many levels and very few people are honest about it.
This past week I was on two lists. One was in Business Insider, New York's Top Early Stage Investors and Fast Company, 60 Influencers Who Are Changing The World. I was certainly surprised to be on either of the lists but the one thing that I found irritating more than anything else was under my name in Business Insider it had to mention that I was married to Fred Wilson. Really? It certainly did not mention under Fred WIlson's name that he was married to Joanne Wilson. Just to add insult to injury, this week there was an article in the Daily News how Fred WIlson is bank rolling as well as it was his concept to create the Academy for Software Engineering. Really? Actually we are bank rolling it and I have been involved in the world of education since the mid-90s and we have been discussing the important of education, STEM and how we need to do something to make NYC the best place in the world around our kitchen table for ever. Why do I bring this up, because I read Anne-Marie's article about how she was at an event with the leaders of the world shaking hands but actually thinking about her 14 year old son. I so get it.
Life is about decisions. We are a country that does not embrace women the same way we embrace men. I see it first hand every single day. That is one of the reasons I invest in women. Not all my investments are women driven but I'd say about 85% of them are. It is more difficult being a woman than a man because if we have children we think about our 14 year old being home and agonize over it in a way that most men that I know do not. No offense to men, it is just not in the forefront of their brain. And if we aren't married and choose to not go that route, we are looked at in a different light too.
Women ask me all the time about having children and balance as an entrepreneur. My advice is consistent, just do it and you will figure it out. It won't be easy but you can't prolong youth. There is something to be said about having your children when you are young. I had our first at 29 years old and perhaps that is why I have been able to re-enter the work world, per se, and quickly make up for lost work time. I made many decisions when the kids were younger to be present in their lives, I was able to get off the train and be home with them. We were barely making ends meet because I was the bread winner many times over when I got off that train. It was not exactly the most healthy decision for my brain or ego but in the end, it all worked out. I am a big believer that things always work out for a reason.
The system needs to change in the US if women and men will be treated equally based on everything and anything. Do i actually believe that men will think about their children and their playdates, clothes being in their closet, that their homework is completed and that they show up to everyone of their sporting events like women do, perhaps. If society changed things up so that the hours of school or the events for kids were coordinated around a working persons life....and companies were more flexible for parents then maybe things would be different.
Women make many more choices and decisions that men make. If the curtains were pulled back and women were honest with other women about the choices they made and repercussions from those choices they made it would be a helluva lot more empowering. Getting up at 5am to go to work and then coming home at 9pm when your kids have nothing to say to you does not mean that you are going to have a fantastic relationship with your kids and that is ok if that is the choice you make. If you look amazing every day when you go work and it is because you hire someone to dress you and fill your wardrobe every six months that is ok too. If you have 3 assistants and 2 nannies because that is the life you chose for yourself because that is what you want and need that is ok too. If you chose to stick your kids in daycare because your salary made up the rent and you loved your job then that is ok too. If you chose to get off the corporate ladder and bake cookies everyday and run the family finances instead that is ok too. I think the key to women feeling ok with their decisions be it running a billion dollar company to running the PTA is all about honesty and transparency with other women. Any choice you make is ok because it is yours. Yet we should be honest about our decisions so other women coming up the pipeline who are 20 or even 30 understand that life is all about decisions and each decision has repercussions.
There is frustration among women who don't have families too. In many ways we have to redefine feminism. Women deserve the same opportunities as men to climb the ladder yet there is no doubt an underlying feeling of discrimination against women. I might be subtle or subconscious but it is there. I saw it first hand in my career. There is a reason I am a huge fan of women entrepreneurs it is because if you own your own business, you get to own your own life. You can create environments that work for you. Women need to create their own clubs, per se, and be champions of each other.
You know what, when I was 18 I thought I would grow up to become Fred Wilson. Ended up I married that guy who had no idea what he was going to do even at 23. I was driven from the moment I came out of the womb but kids, life and the real world got in the way. He didn't see the light for years but in the end I made the choices I made because life happened. I have a great relationship with my kids and maybe i would have no matter what choice I made but it doesn't make a difference. What makes a difference is that I am honest about why I made those choices when I did.
Does it piss me off that it is all about Fred the majority of the time, sometimes but unfortunately in this country, whether we like it or not, it is still a mans world. I hope that women write more articles like Anne-Marie because that type of honesty is what will truly make a change in our country as more women who have lived through the reality of those decisions need to speak up and be heard. Truth of the matter, it is the women running this country but they are the wizards behind the curtains. It is time for women to come out from behind the curtain.