Welcome to the Gen Plus Blog

It's a backstage pass to info on jobs and life at 50+. Gen Plus, headed by Janet Wendy Spiegel, is dedicated to baby boomers and the plus generation of age 50 and older. Read up and speak out on issues affecting your future: jobs, income, life and respect.

About Me

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Northridge, California, United States
Successful businesswoman, consultant, entrepreneur. I operate two businesses -- social media consulting, AND premium pet care services in the West San Fernando Valley. Love what I do, love life.

Gen Plus has relocated to www.GenPlusUSA.com

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


The thing that is so fascinating to me about the blogworld is that it is like reality TV on the web, except that you are not separated by the screen. What is even more fantastic is that you can communicate with any stranger on any topic.

For those of you who follow my blog (and thank you!), you already know that I am obsessed with connections on a large scale. I like to look at things like the sudden interest in Sudan, find out that oil reserves are available in the Sudan...hmmm, discover that China purchases recyclables from many countries and converts them into synthetic oil....hmmm, that China tries to take over Russia's national oil company (the bid fails), but does purchase 76 in the US. So, big picture, China needs oil. And China is going to get oil. And the US and China are playing out a not so hidden power dance through the Middle East. For me...a lot of....hmmmm.

And then I comment on what I observe. Very macro-oriented.

Well, a few days ago, as I was blogstrolling, I randomly came upon a site that grabbed me. A lovely man, Cass Brown , http://cancergiggles.blog-city.com/live_with_cancer.htm, is living...really living...with terminal cancer and shares a blog that is so deeply personal, so loving of life, so caring of others in his life, so concerned with strangers thousands of miles away that he creates magic in cyberspace. He caught my heart immediately.

He is funny, brilliant, observant...and almost 180,000 other folks think so too. In the year and a half since he was diagnosed, this one man has touched 180,000 other hearts. His musings, his pics, his expansive love for his child, his wife, his innermost thoughts...very micro. But this inner energy reaches out so very strongly and makes connections...in a most visceral way...across the internet to 180,000 others.

Cass has unintentionally turned micro to macro. His single story is the story of the thousands of others who read, write to him, comment on his site. I love him already. Please visit him. He is macro and there are many, many beautiful people who will benefit from sharing his journey with him because it is their own journey too. A great connection.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Thank you John Tierney

In a compelling opinion piece in the NY Times (The Adams Principle, July 21, 2005), John Tierney clearly articulates what Gen Plus has been pushing for months. There is going to be an employment crisis. Older workers need jobs. Age discrimination prevents many companies from considering these older workers for the very jobs they need to fill.

Thank you, Mr. Tierney, for so clearly pointing out the obvious. It does not make sense that our country is not proactively working to a solution that Mr. Tierney and I both see. Put older workers back into the job force. Do it now, while they are still current and employable. Don't let them fall out of the working force. They are touted as the largest consumer demographic in recent history. Turn the consumers into producers.

At Gen Plus, we are pulling in the resumes and profiles of 50 plussers who need or want to stay in the job market and making them attractive and desirable to HR professionals and Employers. As a Canadian expatriate I see my social consciousness infect my business practices.

The prevailing attitude in the US toward older workers must change and will change just by the sheer force of the need of 25% of our population. We will see the same challenges, but five-fold in China, in India, in Japan as those societies also face a huge older demographic that will rely on support from the smaller, younger workers.

UCLA Visiting Scholar, Professor Mark Burgin, has written a wonderful paper, defying and redefining the chronology of aging. He believes that every part of the human ages on a different timeline. He also believes that our society must redefine aging based on the quality of the individual and that chronological aging has to be looked at only as one small part of the human equation on aging.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Getting Started

This week is very exciting at Gen Plus as we shoot our "Getting Started" fitness DVD. Our trainer is fantastic...very educated, knowledgeable and full of energy and life. Our "students" on the video are just right. Exactly what real people between 50 and 75 are really all about. At the same time as we shoot the DVD, I can't take my eyes off China. A compelling PBS special on China with a look at how reliant so many businesses in the US are on China produced-for-America products.

But where the real eye should be is on the growing consumerism in China. A challenging and tricky business world...almost impossible to penetrate, but where all things American are highly prized. It is so challenging to sell American in China that very few companies are willing to take the risk and the time to find their way into Chinese consumerism. This is where I keep my eye. I see the future and it is in the 20-somethings finding their way in Beijing and Shanghai.

Good thing we're getting in shape!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Looking for Connections

I always look for connections. I inherited that curiousity from my mother. From an early age, I have found the world a fascinating puzzle and the people in it, players in an intriguing game. As a result, I keep alert to connections...almost as if discovering information from many different sources illuminates pressing concerns, hidden agendas, and important issues that must not be ignored.

Interestingly, two articles have surfaced in the past few days that tie political agenda to the issues facing 50 plus...and the issues that create the backdrop for the services developed by Gen Plus.

The first article, published today, June 12, 2005 in the NY Times, and written by ROBIN TONER and DAVID E. ROSENBAUM talks about boomer retirement as the political "white elephant" and challenges AARP's defense of senior workers in North America. In fact, it is quite clear that it will be much easier for the politicians to come up with ridiculous formulas to take themselves off the political hook -- formulas to address social security challenges, without addressing the true financial concerns and needs of our aging population. Follow the link for the full article.

The second article, an editorial, published on June 11, 2005 in the LA Times, hits the aging issue from an immigration approach. That as boomer teachers retire, not only will there be an employment crisis in teaching, but that the Hispanic immigrant population will fill the void. Follow the link for the full article.

Now, in my personal life, my 5 1/2 year old has just graduated from Nursery School. Teachers in private nursery earn somewhere between $20 - 35,000 per year depending upon their longevity. The teachers at this nursery, are bright, dedicated, loving and determined to educate our children with as many resources as possible to give them a good head start. I have had many conversations with the school's director. She firmly believes that contrary to the political positions, that the best workers...the teachers that she will be looking to hire, will be those 50 and older. For many reasons -- dedication, integrity, higher level of education, willingness to work for less money in a second/retirement career.

So, as far as connections go? Well, it is clear to me, from the many articles and discussions rising up over the past several months, that the politicians do not know what to do. And more importantly, they don't have their finger on the pulse. A huge percentage of the population in the 50 - 75 age bracket will want to work...will need to work. Our government is not prepared to address this challenge. Boomers and seniors are staring at themselves in the mirror and recognizing the white elephant reflecting back at them.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

New study pits teens against 50 plussers!

In a groundbreaking study, by Paul Harrington, an economist at Northeastern University, LA teens employment patterns were studied.

One of the main reasons cited for challenges to teens finding employment, and to rising unemployment numbers for those teens, was due to the fact that older workers are staying in the workforce longer and taking entry level jobs in order to sustain themselves financially.

What I find astounding is that information comes to light in a study on teen employment patterns. 50 Plussers are taking entry level jobs in order to pay the bills, support their families, stave off poverty, feel useful. They are unable to sustain themselves on retirement income, severance pay and are unable to find employment in their field.

I feel for the teens who cannot find work. But I'm saddened that the reason 50 Plus are taking these jobs is for one reason and one reason alone. They, too, cannot find work. The study sites a certain level of ageism regarding teen hires. The lack of job experience means they cannot get a job.

And on the reverse end of the spectrum, there is ageism. A person of maturity, with life and job experience, cannot find a job within their field of expertise, and they, therefore, take away a job from a teen.

In a story in the LA Times, Nicholas Riccardi, looks at the implications of the study. Below is the portion of the article relating to older workers.

Add to that more competition from better qualified workers. Teens are being crowded out of jobs by older workers and immigrants of all ages, who are willing to take menial jobs that once were the province of teens. Employers generally see both groups as more reliable than teenagers.

"The percentage of adults over age 55 in the workforce has risen since 2001. Some older workers are choosing to work longer to stay occupied, but surveys show that the majority keep laboring because they have not saved enough for retirement.

"The competition is not just other youths right now, it's the older population who's been laid off and is willing to take these jobs because they're willing to do it with less pay," said Sharifa Austin, a counselor who tries to connect teens to jobs for the city's Community Development Department.

She recalled a recent trip to a movie theater during which a gray-haired usher took her ticket. "What adult in the past could you think of who actually would work at a theater?"

Employers attest to the desirability of older workers. Walgreen Co., the national drugstore chain that is expanding in Southern California, has formed a partnership with the AARP to recruit more elderly employees.

Walgreen spokeswoman Tiffani Bruce said that the company's rapid growth left room to hire teenagers as well, and that it was not dropping the number of teens it employed to make way for older workers. But older workers are a particularly good catch.

"They're incredibly loyal and serve as good role models for our younger workers," Bruce said, "and I think they bring a level of maturity to the role."

To read the full story about the study, go to: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-teens31may31.story