The Wendy Project: We Want What Wendy Has. No, Not The Car.
By Karen and Erica
Do you watch Billions, a not-completely-realistic tale of a battle between a prosecutor and a hedge funder? Addictive, even though the characters are difficult to love. Or maybe because of that. We watch, and watching gave birth to the idea of The Wendy Project.
If you watch too, you know that Wendy Rhoades is a psychiatrist who works as a performance coach for the hedge fund employees. She optimizes their functioning by being their smart, educated and experienced sounding board. She elucidates, for those in the fray, how they, their colleagues, and their adversaries are thinking. She offers expert behavioral insights, new perspectives on knotty problems, and dispassionate judgment about tense situations. She is embedded in the business. Her office is on site, and any employee who needs help just walks in.
Doesn’t this sound exactly like a structure that would suit many of us? Retired career folks who have seen many things over the years, and can help those still in the fray detect patterns in the chaos and identify solutions?
A job structured like Wendy’s would be perfect for our new status. Most of us do not want have our noses to the grindstone the way we did before, and there is no reason why we should have to do the kind of work we did while we were on the way up. Nor do we want to be the boss. Been there, done that.
What many of us do want is to give those who are still in the trenches the benefit of what we have learned. We don’t want to step up, but we don’t want to step out, either. We want to stay in the mix but step to the side, where we can be available as needed. We don’t need to be part of the management or compensation structure. And we won’t be expecting the kind of pay we had before, or even the occasional Maserati (unless we are working for Axe Capital).
For an employer, we offer to those still at battle stations the benefit of our experience—distilled. If we were on site, embedded and available, we think our years of working, our tested judgment and honed insight, would be valuable to those who are facing daily challenges like the ones we faced. Our advice could be sought as to professional issues, but also as to workplace issues, like how to ask for advancement or deal with harassment or communicate with reporters. Our communications could be confidential when necessary. And the position could be designed to terminate after an agreed period unless both sides decided to renew\\ for another agreed period.
So that is the Wendy Project. For for those employers who choose to accept it, your challenge is to create a position like Wendy’s so that a retired expert can help your organization thrive. Ten thousand Boomers retire every day. They take with them experience that would be valuable to any enterprise: experience that takes years to acquire, experience that by definition is not possessed by people with fewer years of work. That experience can be yours.
For a CEO or ED or CFO, this should be an offer you can’t refuse. Figure out a way to harness the power of these resources, use them, profit from them. Your vision—and your Wendy—will pay huge dividends.