Joanna Blanding is a wife, mother, brand creator, author and social entrepreneur. Joanna founded the Giving is Social in 2013 with a mission to inspire, inform and connect givers. Through Giving is Social, she partners with high impact nonprofit organizations and provides them support through private fundraising and advocacy. In 2018, she established her corporation called The Asian Blandings Collective that creates purpose-minded brands. Her personal life is much about supporting her husband Michael and being a hand-on mom to her children.
[Below are some highlights from the interview that are edited for clarity.]
Being a working mother
My family is always my priority. One of my struggles is being attentive to my son’s needs. I have three-years-old. We are living in the same space. We are going through our days in our home because we cannot go out much. We cannot work from outside of our house. It is a challenge to establish [schedule] when we are in a working mood and when we should play with our kid. We assigned a room in which we told our son that it would be our working area. He knows that now. It is a challenge of being present. I address this challenge by putting in my calendar when I should play with my son when I should have a date with my husband, and being intentional and strategic about it.
After my second son passed away, I commit to being more present to my family. I count the number of hours that I should put into work and make sure that I limit it to those numbers of hours. I try as much as possible to keep it within those identified hours. Otherwise, I will steal time from my family. I wake up at 4 am, and my husband and my son wake up at 7 am or 7:30 am. I have a good number of hours in the morning to be productive. Then, I spend the whole morning with them. I send my son to school. When he is in school, I work again until lunch. I pick him up, and I put him into sleep until 3 pm. Then, I work again. So, I have three slots to work during the day. I try to work within those hours. I allow my husband to remind me if I work too much or am not spending enough time with my son. He is very kind with his word. This is how I balance my work and family.
Childhood experience and aspiration
My father was in public service for many years. He inspired me to pursue something similar, although it is not necessary in politics. There were instances in my father’s profession that was helping the poor. He had all good intentions together with his team in the public service sector to support the very low-income people in the Philippines. They refused to get that help because they wanted to solve problems on their own. But they didn’t have enough resources. There were many challenges and barriers. Nowadays, I see that as well in my practice of community development. There are many people that I would like to serve, but I have to make sure that I am not offering handout for an aid. People, regardless of social status, want to be part of the solution. This is what I learn from my dad’s practices.
Messages to young women and girls
We, women, are created to be people of kindness and generosity. As women, we shine in a different way. We are capable of breaking barriers. We can use our capacity to give back to society and to be kind. When we talk about social enterprise, the term ‘enterprise’ is about business, and ‘social’ is about making social impacts. The social enterprise focuses on solving social issues. This is what we need right now.