Known to hundreds of thousands of readers as the Gotham Gal, where she blogs about everything from dinner parties and parental advice to her thoughts on business news, Joanne Wilson is one of New York’s savviest angel investors. Her investments span a variety of sectors, from tech startups like Justworks to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses like Berg’n and Blue Bottle Coffee. She devotes much of her efforts to women-founded startups, and she is co-founder of the Women Entrepreneurs Festival. The sixth annual convention will take place this April at the One World Trade Center.
She and her husband, noted venture capitalist and partner at Union Square Ventures, Fred Wilson, are the parents of three children. The couple’s latest adventure, as the Gotham Gal described in a recent blog post, is presiding over an empty nest — though it seems they’ve got plenty to keep them occupied.
In her own words, here’s how Wilson fits sleep into one of the busiest schedules in the business of busy schedules.
I go to sleep every night somewhere between 9:30 and 11, depending on the night. I am one of those people that goes to sleep, sleeps well, gets up in the morning, runs at full steam all day — and repeat. I can always function even if I haven't had solid sleep or went to bed too late.
What’s on my bedside table? A bottle of water, an old-school clock and my Kindle. Right now I am reading Purity by Jonathan Franzen, with The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante teed up. I love to read. I always read before going to bed. Sometimes I read for a couple of hours, and sometimes just for 10 minutes. Depends on the night and the time.
I get up around 6:30 or 7 a.m. I work out three times a week, so those mornings I take a shower afterward. The mornings I don't work out, I get up, take a shower and get ready for the day. Every morning, after shower or before exercise, I go downstairs and check my email, post my blog, walk the dog, eat breakfast, read the New York Times front to back [and] do the crossword.
I fly often, but I treat jet lag as a state of mind. When I get to a country, I just immediately get on that time zone. It takes me about 24 hours to feel normal. Sleeping at high-altitudes is tough. [I have] super weird dreams. You toss and turn a lot, but you also sleep super-deep. It's strange.
If you have kids at home, make one night a date night and stick to it. Then talk about other things besides your children. Fred and I always invite each other to evening events. We rarely do work-related evening activities. Evenings and weekends are for family and friends.
My best advice for busy parents is to have a routine for your kids. Bath, dinner, a bit of playtime and then to bed. Read a book with them before bed — it sets the stage for good reading habits later on. Then lights out. If they cry and want more, ignore it. Wait five minutes before going in and saying, “Go to bed.” Then wait 10 minutes. Eventually they will stop the nonsense because they know you won't react.
Kids need boundaries and rules. They can manipulate you from the second they come out of the womb.
I am a coffee drinker. I grew up with my mom grinding beans every morning for the Melita drip. I am always trying the latest and greatest when I travel, even if I have been to the same place multiple times. The key is finding the best barista of the moment, settling down for a good cup of coffee and the Herald Tribune while you watch the people stroll by.
I try to stay in bed until 7 a.m., even if I am awake. It gives me a little time to just chill before I start the day. My personal meditation.
I dream heavily.