Money can buy you love, if you have a contract with this Harvard MBA

In their wedding photo, Elena Wechsler and John Simpson are the picture of matrimonial bliss. The image captures the modern-day Romeo and Juliet in medias res: Wechsler appears to have run, perhaps in slow motion, to her husband, who has gathered her into his tuxedoed arms, lifted her above an impossibly green field of grass, and proceeded to kiss her so thoroughly that Wechsler's bare left foot has kicked up behind her in response. The resulting visual falls somewhere between adorable and beautiful, cliché and earnest. In short, it is perfect.

Printed in the New York Times Vows section, the photo has a story behind it — and the real author of this love story is not a Times reporter, but a Harvard MBA who cashed in on her marketing expertise to create a romantic empire.

*****

Rachel Greenwald's greatest success story might be her own. As she takes a window seat at Cucina Colore, a contemporary Italian restaurant in Cherry Creek, the woman who coached Wechsler in finding a mate is all concentrated grace. Her face framed by delicately curled hair and thin oval glasses, she smiles (elegantly), shakes hands (firmly) and then smoothes her shirt (carefully) as she sits.

"You will make a lot of dating mistakes, and you have to get those moving," Greenwald says before she even finishes looking at the menu. She is a firm realist, if an exceptionally polite one; she is not a feminist. "You're going to have lots of failed relationships. Have you thought about how many kids you want?"

Greenwald is originally from Denver, and she attended Graland Country Day and Kent Denver before moving on to Wellesley, Harvard and big marketing gigs on the East Coast for companies such as Evian and Carolee Jewelry. If this were a first date, she would not have to worry about snagging a second one.

Her clients, however, still do. Over the past twelve years, Greenwald has crafted a second career as one of the country's most well-respected and frequently requested matchmakers — a career that started as a calculated afterthought. When Greenwald was in her late twenties and living in Boston, still single, she knew that she wanted multiple children and began to feel constrained by time. But the first step was finding a husband, so she set out to find one, using everything she'd learned while getting her bachelor's in psychology and a Harvard MBA. Among other things, she threw a party — an event carefully constructed to draw men who had the potential to become a future husband, or could introduce her to a man who had that potential. Working on her invitation list, she was looking through a directory for an acquaintance with a big social circle and decided to invite a more distant acquaintance listed underneath him, a man she had spoken to on the phone a year earlier. He made the cut despite Greenwald's thinking that his directory photo was unattractive. In real life, though, he was anything but. Brad Greenwald asked her out the Saturday after the party. Three years later, they were married.

In 1999, with two children and two successful careers, the couple moved back to Denver. The next year, as they contemplated having a third child, then-34-year-old Rachel realized that she was unlikely to find a marketing position that would be flexible enough to let her focus on her home life. So she decided to find a job that fit better with the rest of her life. But what job? Months of brainstorming ended with a brazen concept: Greenwald, without ever composing anything outside of a term paper or a party invitation list, would become a writer. Writers have completely free schedules, right? Having determined this, she turned to the Internet to research her new career. She searched for "How to become a book author" on Amazon.com and unloaded a couple hundred dollars on the highest-ranked results.

But to be an author, you must have something to write about — and Greenwald's plan didn't yet extend that far. In order to identify her passion, Greenwald used her practical experience to record in a journal a week's worth of activities in hopes of finding meaning in one of them. While compiling her list, Greenwald ranked every activity on a scale of one to five, depending on how much she enjoyed it.

"How many things do you think you would rate a five by the end of your week?" she asks, and then shakes her head. "Somehow, I only had two: drinking my morning tea and talking to a single friend on the phone who had called to complain about her love life. I was so excited, pacing my kitchen while telling her all the things she had done wrong and how to fix them." One year later, her friend was married — and she credited Greenwald's advice with making the match possible.

Today, close to 800 married couples can thank Greenwald for not making her next career tea-drinking. Instead, she decided to apply everything she knew — both from her formal education and from her own romantic life — to writing a book about finding a husband. She began working with friends and acquaintances, all of whom could serve as examples in the pages of that book. The way she found her husband — it's not really appropriate to say she "met" him — is outlined in "The Program" in that book, specifically step No. 12: hosting a party. By the time Find a Husband After 35: (Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School) was published in 2003, Greenwald had that third child, as well as the beginnings of a new career that would go far beyond just "writer."

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10 comments
Laura
Laura

What a fascinating and enlightening article. It's hard to be single, and Rachel brings great hope and determination to an otherwise frustrating and sad experience with dating. Rachel's positive spirit, her passion for others' happiness, and her smooth, easy manner are all elements of her success. But she's also a great, down-to-earth mom, wife and fabulous friend.

michelle g
michelle g

Hmmm . . . I found my amazing husband for FREE.

Sonya
Sonya

I think all that matters is that the people wanted a partner and the matchmaker got it for them. Does it matter how? She got the results. Shrug.

Jack Mackadoo
Jack Mackadoo

This is a fine story, Kelsey. But I will admit that I'm skeptical about utilizing the services of a matchmaker. I can see the pros and cons of it: Pros--especially with online dating, outsourcing the daunting task of weeding through hundreds of potential dating partners to find the ones that are a good fit is a huge time-saver, and a stranger can often advise you better than family or friends on what your strengths/weaknesses are with regard to dating capital. Cons--it's expensive, it's methodical, it's calculated, and the matchmaker's job is to get your ass down the aisle, but at the end of the magical fairy tale it's still you in the prom dress.

If a matchmaker's success is rated by how many couples she gets married off, then what makes her different than a chapel in Las Vegas? I would measure success by how many couples she matched who are in healthy, happy marriages after one year---five years---ten years.....

Leighsin
Leighsin

This is the most ridiculous use of an MBA from Harvard...not to mention the idea that we continue to put women in these horrific roles to "hunt" down men based on the very stereotypes we have tried so hard to get away from...shame on Westword for making this a cover story about a very shallow woman who has learned to capitalize on other people's need to find a partner

pleaseletsfixthis
pleaseletsfixthis

I find Ms. Greenwald’s business a bit appalling. People in the 1960s and 70s expended a lot of effort to break down discriminatory policies and to support and create opportunities for women to go to business school. It is disappointing to me that Ms Greenwald took the opportunity thus created to go to Harvard Business School and chose to spend it in this way. Isn’t she reinforcing patriarchal marriage, where the woman is the primary parent, disenfranchised and demobilized in deference to men in the political economy, and oppressing the children because that’s the only power she has? I am worried she is charging huge amounts of money to people who are vulnerable and who don't understand the ramifications of patriarchal marriage and that modern, two-earner, two parent egalitarian marriage is now available (and is especially widely pursued by Gen-Y and Millenial age men and women, but also by many in Ms. Greenwald’s Gen-X cohort). And she is training other women to do this. Is this kind-of like a cult?

It is interesting to compare Ms. Greenwald’s approach to that of some other women Harvard Business School graduates of her Gen-X era: Sheryl Sandberg and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. Ms. Sandberg, Facebook COO, shares equally the unpaid work, responsibility and power of her home, including parenting, with her husband. And she married her good friend, by the way; Is it a coincidence that she is capable of being friends with men (and didn't need a matchmaker) when she has this more adult and responsible attitude? Ms. Sandberg also just served as one of the chairs of the prestigious Davos Financial Forum. Ms. Tzemach Lemmon, Newsweek editor and the author of the bestselling book “The Dressmaker of Kabul”, has done excellent reporting about businesswomen in places like Afghanistan and busts stereotypes that US warmongers circulate about the US needing to go to war to protect the women there.

Some of the most serious harms of the patriarchal marriage fall on the children; I gather Ms. Greenwald doesn’t really reach that issue. They range from abuse/neglectful/traumatic parenting by both men and women, high divorce rates, biological clock issues in the children of men who father children at older ages, and children having to take care of mothers who can’t stand on their own.

She says she has few successes in her business; are these serious flaws in her business model the reason?”

Chesterton
Chesterton

Western Civilization will be much better off when it returns to honoring the traditional family, with Husband, Wife, and children. All of these experiments with bizarre alternatives are proving to be failures. Worse of course is the single mother paid by the state to raise children without a father. That results in boys who are utterly without male role models, resulting in gang behavior, no work ethic, poverty, crime. And many women are finding that after wasting their childbearing years toiling in a thankless corporate world they are left with nothing, no family, and for some only grudging respect of the business world. Money can't buy you love in that case. The folly is in pretending that men and women are interchangeable and that God did not create men and women with unique characteristics, the melding of which in the form of the family, results in the correct situation for life, and for the world. Most of the time people like to point to one bizarre family they know that is good, such as two men, two women, or any other combination of people, and then extrapolate that to the bizarre conclusion that therefore the traditional family means nothing and any combination of people should work just fine for everyone. Thousands of years of history prove what is right. The current experimentation will prove to be wrong. Nature will win out in the end.

pleaseletsfixthis
pleaseletsfixthis

You don't "buy" love, in any case. I would suggest that if you think you can, you may not really know what it is?

I imagine these are scary times for people who have not adjusted to the progress of the 20th Century. Having women do things like go to Harvard Business School is particularly scary to people who have issues from the female-dominated childhoods that patriarchal marriage insists upon. If you are having trouble adjusting to being a real dad, a book many men have found helpful is "The Modern Dad's Dilemma" by John Badalament.

You are correct that nature will win out in the end, though: there is no God. That is a fantasy created by the dysfunctions of the patriarchal family, which is a stop-gap (i.e. temporary) invention created only because paternity could not be proven and disproven. Our political and legal system has not quite caught up yet, but it will soon. In the broad range of human evolution, patriarchal marriage and male monotheistic religion is but a blip.

 
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