Swiss Startup for the Financial, Emotional, and Intellectual Possibilities of Life After 50

Wake-Up Shake-Up Thrive is a startup with a holistic approach to supporting over-50s to find purpose, career direction, and well-being.

Why did you start Wake-Up Shake-Up Thrive?

We were both looking at making a bigger impact and realized that joining our experience and expertise would be even more useful to the people we love to support.

More and more we realized that a majority of our coaching clients were coming to us for a specific reason and that eventually, our coaching ended up going in many directions. For example, Deborah came to Ellen to lose weight and, through coaching, we discovered that her overeating was due to job dissatisfaction and stress. Fred hired Dominique to find a new job but was lacking in self-esteem and confidence to present himself at his best.

We quickly realized that together we provided the holistic approach our clients needed to thrive in several aspects of their lives, combining Dominique’s expertise in helping people create a purposeful professional life, manage mindset and personal branding with Ellen’s expertise in supporting physical well-being through health and lifestyle. 

“Jump, like us, into a successful life”

Being in your 50s, did you feel your age was a positive or negative to getting the business started?

We both seem to attract people of our age and inspire them to jump, like us, into a successful life. In Dominique’s case, a well-balanced, happy, and successful 6-digit entrepreneur. In Ellen’s case, a vibrant, healthy, energetic 50-something in great physical shape.

Together we are proud to bring nearly 60 years of real experience to the table. Not only do we bring tools, techniques, tips, and tricks to our clients, but we also bring credibility and understanding through the numerous stories and adventures we have encountered.

If we were in our 20s, 30s, or even 40s we would not be so relevant and have so much for our clients to tap into — age makes a massive difference.

Finding Purpose and Well-Being

What did you both do before you started Wake-Up Shake-Up Thrive?

Dominique worked for 30 years building an executive career internationally. As Global Head of HR for a major Group with over 94,000 employees operating in over 150 countries worldwide, in 2016 she decided to create her own business. She quickly built a solid reputation and results and today does business across 12 countries. She helps people reinvent careers aligned with their purpose and supports organizations to manage their 4 generations at work.

After 10 years as a Senior Management Consultant in the finance industry, in 2003, Ellen found her new self and body through nutrition and lifestyle change. She then dedicated 9 years to a C-Suite position in the multinational corporate weight loss arena. Seeking to go beyond weight loss and toward total well-being, in 2015, Ellen began her own business dedicated to nutrition and workplace wellness — promoting a non-diet, mindfulness-based approach to eating, physical activity, holistic health, and self-care. She has coached hundreds of individuals and groups in dozens of organizations to make sustainable lifestyle changes, empowering them to go from knowing what to do to actually doing it!

Older People Are a Precious Commodity

Switzerland seems so vibrant for older people. Is this why you chose to start your venture there?

For Dominique, Switzerland is her home country and although she has worked and traveled extensively across all continents, she has never forgotten her roots. Ellen, born American, discovered Switzerland in 1982 during her bachelor’s degree year abroad. She returned to learn French in 1984, met her husband and has lived in the Geneva area with her husband and 3 children ever since.

With an average life expectancy of 84 and a fixed retirement age of 65, most Swiss have another 20 years to contribute purposefully to society! Many other countries including France, Brazil, and Germany are also expecting a huge skilled-labor shortage in the future. It therefore makes sense to benefit from the skills and resources of this precious commodity — us!

We are both proud of Switzerland’s reputation. One of quality, innovation, professionalism and trust. We are relying more and more on the quality of relationships and integrity in the business world, so Switzerland is a perfect match for our professional and personal values.

Sharing Inspiration and Filling the Labor Shortage

What is the need you see your initiative filling?

There are two sides to the needs we fill: Organizations and Individuals.

For Organizations: According to Deloitte’s, UBS, Credit Suisse and the Swiss Federal Statistics Office, the 50+ age group can help tackle the looming labor shortage expected in Switzerland. Each year, retirees account for a higher proportion of the total population, while too few younger workers enter the labor force to replace them. It is estimated that by 2030, the Swiss labor market will face a shortfall of between 230,000 and 500,000 workers and the ratio of 65+ to 20s which is almost 1:1 today is projected to be 1:6 by 2050.

Similar trends are visible in other countries where demographics force us to adapt our workforce strategies. Our “Wake-Up, Shake-Up, Thrive” initiatives drive us to re-think our traditional “pre-retirement” programs, which were essentially focused only on finances, and prepare to inspire and activate this population.

For individuals, this means acquiring new ways to effectively manage their career, their health and their relationships beyond 50 and especially beyond 65. As soon as they “wake up” and take charge of their life again, they need new tools, tips, strategies and inspiration to successfully embark on their new life. Our group programs are most powerful for sharing inspiration.

Over-50s’ Biggest Obstacles

What are the biggest problems you see people our age have?

We see 3 main issues, each touching on a different domain of our life. No wonder we needed a holistic approach.

1) Losing purpose: During this time where children leave home, parents age, and changes at work may not always (or no longer) feel in alignment with our values, many of us start wondering what’s next. Even friendships and relationships take on new meaning as we try to figure out what really matters and what we want or need to do in the next phase. Sometimes this causes confusion, disruption, and a feeling of being lost.

2) Health worries: Fear of illness, deteriorating health, and healthcare costs remain true concerns everywhere. Our bodies change and we are not always as educated as we might presume about how to stay healthy with age. People often do not realize that “aging” is simply an accumulation of habits which can be changed and the way we live these changes is largely determined by us!

3) Financial uncertainty: With demographic trends showing we live longer along with retirement ages remaining largely unchanged, we face financial challenges in most countries. A sound understanding and solid financial planning is needed for those who need to work, those who want to work, and those who are fortunate enough to be financially at ease because by 50+, we’ve worked for many, many years and hope to fully enjoy this third chapter of life.

Research shows that when people don’t prepare for retirement or simply getting older, they tend to fear it, delay it or ignore it. Over time, without support, people take for granted that the years ahead will be a continuum of routine, boring decades, waiting for years to pass by.

How Employers and Individuals Can Use Wake-Up Shake-Up Thrive

How will people utilize your services?

Our goal is to work with both employers and individuals to “wake-up and shake-up” the mindsets toward our aging population. Through our workshops and coaching, we aim to improve inclusion of and confidence in older people through a culture of dialogue turning disruptive demographics into productive possibilities and opportunities for all!

How will Employers use it? Wake-Up, Shake-Up: Through awareness sessions with business leaders, we raise consciousness about the questions addressed above, ensuring that diversity initiatives include the 4 generations working effectively together. We reveal statistics and challenge the status quo and also provide checklists and thought provoking conversations showing that seniors add economic & social value to all aspects of society.

How will Individuals use it? Thrive!: Through group workshops or individual coaching, we propose a unique approach to help support individuals 50+ through a personal discovery of the 5 Integrated Dimensions of Well-Being — Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Spiritual and Financial — so that they feel equipped to face this exciting third chapter of their lives. We don’t want them to grow old waiting but to take charge and thrive!

International Reach

If people are not in Switzerland, can they still use it?

Our programs are cross-cultural because they are based on coaching. That is, a client-centered, holistic approach. We both have always had international careers and are comfortable working with different cultures and local realities. We adapt culturally and linguistically as needed to meet our clients where they are. We work in person or remotely, with groups and individuals all over the globe.

We invite all of our clients for a cost-free discovery session and to our website for a “wake-up assessment” to determine what their priorities are right now.

Our final suggestion? Don’t grow old waiting!

See medical disclaimer below. ↓


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.


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