Facing the Firing Squad: Wendeen Eolis
Wendeen Eolis has been at the center of New York City power politics for nearly four decades. She’s befriended and advised world leaders — from Prince Albert of Monaco to Nelson Mandela. Her work frequently puts her in the company of powerful people. That makes her powerful, and one of the most interesting people I know.
MEET WENDEEN EOLIS
Wendeen Eolis defies description
But I’ll try.
She’s been at the center of New York City power politics for nearly four decades. She’s befriended and advised world leaders — from Prince Albert of Monaco to Nelson Mandela. Her work frequently puts her in the company of powerful people.
She is the Chairman of Eolis International Group, a company that evaluates lawyers and law firms for the legal profession, big business, corporate boards, and governments. She established the first attorney headhunting company in the world—45+ years ago—and then established a singular niche in reviewing whole law firms. Her stamp of approval assists lawyers and law firms with promising legal careers and potential clients –often with a simple phone call. (Her silence is a dreaded reference). She’s coached high-profile lawyers, top executives, and government officials on their careers and decision strategies and has served as an advisor to mayors and governors, the federal government, and government agencies overseas. Since 9.11, Wendeen has been increasingly involved in vetting lawyers for governments and survivors (and in related humanitarian initiatives) in the aftermath of catastrophes—terrorist incidents and weather-related events– bringing her to some of the most dangerous and ravished ports of call. Oh, and she knows a thing or two about poker and the casino industry, too.
Wendeen was the first woman ever to cash in the World Series of Poker Main Event Championship, in 1986 and she was the first woman to cash in the main event twice (1993). She was also the first woman to win a European Open No Limit event (1990). In 2000 the A & E Biography Channel did a “Biography Special” featuring Wendeen which can be seen on YouTube. As her business and government affairs career soared, she also expanded her accomplishments in poker in front of the cameras, often behind the scenes. Wendeen was one of the first to openly speak out and work tirelessly towards making poker rooms in America smoke-free. She is passionate about the game and the business and is a leading activist in promoting a favorable environment for poker competition as a game of skill and fun.
She has written extensively about the business of poker and the legal and legislative battles surrounding the gaming industry, especially online poker. She has been the subject of numerous stories in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and has appeared on BBC, and has been featured in GQ Magazine among others. She has been a leading ambassador for the game and writes with the perspective of a unique insider— player, gaming consultant, and government advisor. She supports regulated online gaming.
When you see Wendeen at a poker tournament, she’s almost always surrounded by the most powerful people in the room — be it friends including Jack Binion, Lyle Berman, Mitch Garber, Ty Stewart, and a host of other executives who have made major contributions to the game — to strangers who wonder who is “that woman with the fancy hat?”
That’s who Wendeen is.
Wendeen has met just about anyone who’s famous, especially if they have ever been connected to the legal profession or high-level New York politicians. Although an independent politically speaking, she’s advised more Republicans over the years, driven by her close friendships and associations with New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New York Governor George Pataki. However, the always pragmatic Wendeen has also worked closely with many Democrats, including officials in both the Clinton and Obama Administrations. Wendeen doesn’t really concern herself with labels. All she cares about is working with top decision-makers (she doesn’t like going through intermediaries to get answers) and reliable people she can trust and those who can get the job done.
Although she’s not a lawyer by trade, she has a worldwide database that contains lots of information about them. She also knows many of the most successful attorneys and judges in the country, personally, and has established herself as a top resource when lawyers or law firms are needed for a complicated matter. Wendeen can make or break careers with either a recommendation or an abstention, making hers a most coveted endorsement.
Naturally, with such power comes fear and even opposition. Wendeen is not short on personal or business “philosophy” and pursues her principles —aggressively. She does not shy away from taking a stand on controversial issues. She faces down critics and acquires good friends along the way. Her friends are aplenty and she considers them “her treasures.” Anyone who has dealt with Wendeen knows exactly where she stands!
And she most certainly has lived a life full of adventure-for a fascinating book that is on the near horizon. More than one publisher has recruited her to do a memoir or a book of real-life stories on lessons from poker. She says she is considering the idea, very seriously as part of a celebration next year of her 30th anniversary since becoming the first woman to cash at the WSOP Main Event. I deeply appreciate Wendeen taking time from her busy schedule, traveling the world, to join “Facing the Firing Squad.”
Visit Wendeen Eolis’ business website HERE.
Visit Wendeen Eolis’ Wiki Page HERE.
What are some of the things you stand for?
Civility at the negotiating table, and dancing as fast as I can.
What are some of the things you stand against?
Obsessive needs for control (including my own, on occasion) and white carbs, which never seem to forgive my indulgence.
What living person do you admire the most, and why?
Alvin Toffler—the futurist’s sage advice in the 70’s “Computerize your database and work from a home office,” And so I did!
What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?
Descartes, whose words, “I think, therefore I am,” provides a constant reminder of a human’s most distinguishing trait.
What living person do you despise?
Any politician with an unconcealed high opinion of himself/herself, who also refuses to connect his/her truth to world reality.
If money were not an object, what profession would you choose?
Every evolving moment of my career as a negotiator; I like when the alarm clock rings, calling me into action.
What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?
Learning to respect, deeply, the positive impact others have had on my life—especially including my parents.
What is it about yourself that you’d like to change?
A long list of manageable faults–if only to be less predictable.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?
A safari in South Africa, where the “big five” animals laid in wait to amaze and entertain us–as no human can.
What’s the most unusual time and place you’ve ever visited?
Israel March ’82 on the eve of Israel’s return of the Sinai to Egypt.
Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go.
The bucket list is overflowing; I would be happy to draw straws between sightseeing and massages–in Thailand.
Favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite musician.
Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass contains my favorite poem of all time — Oh Captain, My Captain
Movies rarely move me, except to hit the road when violence erupts on the screen.
Musician: Alan Gilbert, conductor of the NY Philharmonic, mesmerizes.
Favorite Painter /Composer
Painter: toss-up between Renoir and Monet. And, my older sister’s charcoal portraits from grade school days are right up there.
Composer: Leonard Bernstein– equally for Mass and West Side Story as performed during his 70th birthday celebration at Tanglewood.
What upsets you the most?
Imperfection is my work, not getting my way at home, even if I don’t deserve it, and getting lost while driving on a dark road.
What bores you?
I have the attention span of a gnat for idle chatter, except as a segue to change the subject of an unappealing conversation.
My favorite quality in a man or a woman:
Promises to love, cherish, and protect—kept; with family, friends, and lovers.
Do you believe in an afterlife and why do you believe it so?
If happy celebrations are guaranteed, I am all for it.