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 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 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 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. In 2000 the A & E Biography Channel did a “Biography Special” featuring Wendeen which can be seen on you tube. But her accomplishments in poker haven’t necessarily taken place in front of the cameras in recent years. Rather, they were far more 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 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 “that woman with the funny hat” is.
My favorite Wendeen story (and I have many) is as follows. About 15 years ago, I stood with Wendeen in long hallway at one of the largest poker events in the country. At the time, two of the biggest moguls in the game were Jack Binion and Bob Stupak. As we were talking, Binion appeared at one end of the hall. Quite by coincidence, clear at the other end of the hall, Bob Stupak was seen. Both casino legends caught a glimpse of Wendeen. The immediately dropped what they were doing and instantly paraded towards her. Wendeen, not knowing who exactly to turn towards and greet first (who do you turn first towards among those two giants?) stood as both men gracefully walked up to Wendeen. As if Queen Elizabeth herself was standing at her throne, both greeted her at the same time. All Wendeen had to do was stand there, reach out her hand, and accept simultaneous greetings from the biggest names in the casino business.
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 tom 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 data base 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 is certainly controversial. She has acquired some sworn enemies along the way. But her friends are aplenty and she considers them “her treasures.” Anyone who has dealt with Wendeen has a definite opinion about her!
And she most certainly has lived a life full of adventure-for a fascinating book that may one day come to pass. 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
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 data base 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,” provide a constant reminder of a human’s most distinguishing trait.
What living person do you despise?
Richard Cheney for an unconcealed high opinion of himself while making clear only his inability to tell the difference between his truth and world reality.
If money were not an object, what profession would you chose?
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, mezmerizes.
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 for equally for Mass and West Side Story as performed during his 70th birthday celebration at Tanglewood.
What upsets you the most?
Imperfection in my work, not getting my way at home, even if I don’t deserve it, and getting lost while driving on the 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.
Note: Nolan Dalla currently is a host of “Poker Night in America’ on CBS Sports.