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

Monday, January 30, 2006

I'm sorry...did you say a Trillion?

Estimates on the amount of disposable income in the hands of Boomers is over a trillion dollars. And as the allure of a trillion dollars of potential revenue becomes more and more enticing to marketers and businesses, I suspect that the efforts made to attract that revenue will increase exponentially. With the media hype over the first Boomers turning 60 over the past couple of months, all attention is sitting, right now, pointed directly at 50 plus. All I've been seeing for the past month are fabulous 60's tunes tagged onto ads for healthcare (Bob Dylan), weight loss (Cher) financial planning, and funeral homes. Very, very lame. Beyond lame.

However, that trillion dollars may not be as disposable as the pundits are hoping for. There will be thousands, if not hundreds of thousands...if not millions of 50 plussers who will be seeking new employment after having seen an unfortunate early end to their current career.

When I started Gen Plus, it was because of my observations of the coming decade as a Boomer. Born in 1959, I'm not quite yet a 50 plusser, but I have many friends who are. When my first friend, 53, a high-powered corporate sales exec, was bounced out due to his salary, I watched him head back to school to learn a new discipline and hope to find work in an entirely new field. He did. Eventually. But it was a heartbreaking path for him to follow and a challenging time for his family to support.

When my next friend, 51, was axed from her job as a Director of Marketing, she could not find work. Any work. She rented out her home to roomers to pay her mortgage and is struggling with starting a new business.

And it is no different today than 20 years ago, when my mother, at 50, tried to start her career again, as a divorced woman...and she could not. Eventually she did start her own business, but she could not break back into the traditional work force.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the writing on the wall (oh... and the rocket scientists are out of work too -- I know quite a few of them.) The word is ageism and it threatens to take the self-esteem of a generation that built a world filled with hope and optimism and brave forward-thinking movement. So the trillion dollars does belong to 50 plus, but a lot of aging Boomers will be hard-pressed to spend it. They'll be banking on that money to support another 3 decades of living. Every day, we search to find more small businesses and 50 plus friendly employers to give you more work options so that you can continue to contribute to the workplace and earn for many, many more years.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Del Webb gets Fifty Plus and Boomer Thinking

Del Webb (Sun City, adult living communities) has shifted their marketing and direction over the past few years to properly target the changing interests of Boomers and young seniors. They have launched several Active Living communities that target active (and still working usually) 55 plussers.

The reason I bring up Del Webb, is because, as an industry leader in retirement living, they have jumped ahead of other marketers and proactively reshaped their message to one that acknowledges the reality that people 50+ and 55+ and 60+ will continue to work, want to work and NEED to work in order to maintain their quality of life and standard of living.

They are sponsors of the wonderful series on PBS about Boomers, aptly named Boomers! Redefining Life After 50 (which if you haven't watched, you ought to as it is delightful.)

Other developers will certainly try to follow Del Webb's lead, but as someone who is always scanning media and buzz looking for reactions to the changing 50 plus demographics, they are on track, on target and ahead of the game -- providing relevant living communities for our aging, but vital population.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chicago Sun-Times picks up the 50 plus theme

The Chicago Sun-Times has produced a solid piece on frequently asked questions regarding employment after 50. Give it a read. There are some good tips.

The hard reality is that revving yourself up for job search at 50 plus requires marathon training...including relearning things you always took for granted. Like learning to ride a bike.

Except the world has changed greatly since the last time you really looked for work. Plus this is a different climate.

So, it isn't really like riding a bike. This time around it is like knowing how to ride a bike, but realizing that you need to learn to ride a unicycle...atop a tightrope...through a flaming hoop...in a Cirque de Soleil production.

You’ll find some more in-depth relevant pointers on your own personal branding in past articles on our Gen Plus blog. Here are a few you can click to for a quick refresher course on Jobseeking 101 in 2006!

  1. Need a job at 50 plus? Here is how we do it.
  2. Making your job search sexy!
  3. Action word of the day
  4. Taking it to the (Cyber) streets
  5. Thinking out of the box
  6. Defining personal brand

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Kansas City Star Brings Gen Plus to 50 Plus Jobseekers

Kansas City Star columnist, Diane Stafford, featured Gen Plus in an article concerning online services for Jobseekers. Click on the link to read the full article. And a hearty welcome to all our new members from Kansas and Missouri!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Retirement Reconsidered!

If you have not made the time yet to watch Boomers! Redefining Life After Fifty, this would be the week to start watching. Nancy and Mark Mills take a closer look at what the future holds for the fifty plusser. The reality is that at fifty, you are likely looking at another 30 years of living and with a relatively short earning period in your lifetime, it becomes very important to understand what you need to do to take control of your finances early on.

This week's episode is all about what the new definition of retirment really is. For local times, visit the Boomers! site. This is the first series to explore what Boomer is all about. Please give the Mills your support so that we can enjoy a second season!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Calling all Employers!

Even with all the chatter about the focus on 50 plus and aging Boomers, there is still really....mostly chatter. What is becoming clearer, day by day, as the result of many, mighty, meticulous studies on Boomers is that Boomers and Young Seniors will continue to work -- often well into their 70's. Now, I don't think we really needed the studies to tell us that. As Boomers and Plus, we are certainly well aware of our own financial and emotional needs going forward.

However, what the studies are doing is raising awareness in the Employer landscape. About two years ago, one of the largest headhunter and placement firms, Korn Ferry, started polling its jobseekers to find out what their company's were doing to plan for the management shortage that is creeping in. (If you have been an active jobseeker, you are starting to notice the increase in job openings. If you are an employer, you've begun to notice how hard it is to fill your management positions.)

The challenge that is facing us...at least over the next couple of years, is that employers, generally, are not up to speed yet on the value of posting to the niched 50 plus market. If you are an employer reading this, then welcome! Because we need you. What we are seeing at Gen Plus, is that the demand for jobs is very high among our 50 plus members. However, most employers generally do not recognize (yet! We're working on it!!) the value of hiring within the niche of 50 Plus.

So, of course, we have some wonderful employers who post with us and hundreds of job openings across the US. They value, need and actively recruit the 50 Plus demographic. And for many reasons. Work ethic tops the list. And management experience is a big plus.

So what are the fields that are typically 50 plus friendly so far? Banking and finance, Healthcare (anything! from administrative, to nursing, to facility management), Engineering, Education (big! Especially at younger age levels -- pre-school, elementary school), General Management and even Law.

Even with the media exposure we've been picking up, we need and want more qualified employers. The ball is rolling, but the more employers who set their sites on our 50 plussers, the greater their benefit. And at Gen Plus, we only advertise jobs that are posted by companies that really do look for the 50 plus worker.

As someone who has hired (yes, and fired) many in my corporate life, the easier the search, the easier the prequalificition, the happier I was. I was never a fan of the shotgun approach that some of our competitors use. It looks great, but is an HR nightmare. Imagine posting for a Management position to have thousands of resumes fly in -- half from Gen Y'ers. It can seem exciting when you have ONE position to fill. But when you have TEN or (yikes) two HUNDRED, then it can become a little overwhelming.

So pass along the good word to recuiters, employers, small business owners - especially those in smaller communities...all who are desperately looking for the best talent. And tell them to come to Gen Plus. Our talented jobseekers are waiting with open arms.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Jump-starting at 50-plus

One of the things that our members tell us they find the hardest, is converting the overwhelming challenge of jobsearch at over 50 into positive, forward moving energy. There are so many roadblocks, such fragility of ego, and a necessary personal redefinition, that often something I'll call "Age-Block" occurs.

Much like writer's block, Age-Block is an internal shutting down of hope and perseverence due to societal impact. Searching for work, for a new life, or for continued assurance of a current lifestyle is fraught with setbacks after 50. And the ease with which one takes a risk, leaps at a challenge, disturbs the nest, changes and slows down and finally stops as we age.

It is a little more than mind over matter. If it were just mind over matter, then the fears projected by the media would not be gaining in credibility every day. And so, to quote an insurance agent commenting on getting FEMA monies after the '94 Northridge earthquake, "Tha squeakier tha wheel, tha mor' oil it gits!" To become an inspired jobseeker, that seized up engine block must be oiled to start moving.

And what better way to foster creativity and positive thinking than to surround yourself with beauty. My mother, who is a published poet, once agonized over her real writer's block. Her mentor told her to surround herself with beauty and creativity as it would reignite her fire. And it did.

What a great technique! I have discovered, that no matter what the insurmountable challenge, a day at a museum, an afternoon at the theater, looking, really looking at a child's piece of artwork, going to a compelling independant film, taking a drive in nature, spending a weekend in the country and walking barefoot in the grass, picking up Dickens, looking at Spanish architecture, studying the stars...any of these things and more (oh much more) stir up inspiration.

By immersing yourself in creativity you foster creativity. Snow crystals grow when inundated with positive thought. People thrive when they have a dog. Monthly massages deliver touch to untouched bodies. And when this energy becomes unblocked, so do the roadblocks. It isn't that ageism disappears. But resourcefulness -- looking at what you do want and how you will get there, increases...simply by oiling the machine, bringing beauty and creativity to your mind. Try it. You'll be pleased you did.

Then let me know what happened.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Over 40? Turning 50? Or 60? Must-see TV for Boomers like ME!

Program your TIVO, forget late night talk show hosts...the second episode of Boomers! is on! If you missed it last week, tune in for this intelligent, fun show that hits the mark with all things Boomer. For local listings, head over to the Boomer site or Blog!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Gen Plus -- Dissolving Age Boundaries

Hot off the presses, our latest release.

(PRWEB) January 10, 2006 -- Anywhere from 1.3 to 2 million new jobs are predicted for 2006, and everyone, from marketers to economists, is gearing up for a feeding frenzy similar to the one that heralded the dot.com era. Everyone, that is, except the 40 million or so baby boomers older than 50 this year. In fact, by 2012, all 78 million boomers will have already turned 50. But here’s the dilemma: Ageism still exists in the North American marketplace and magically rears its ugly head around 50. Just as the last boomers are leaving the marketplace in droves whether they want to or not, there will be massive job openings that the younger generation will be unable to fill.

Headquartered in California, Gen Plus,™ (http://www.genplususa.com) a web-based organization focused on services relevant to 50 plussers, is trying to reeducate employers and, at the same time, build the confidence of those over 50 that they have a well-earned place in the workforce. The Gen Plus™ user-friendly resumé posting and jobsearch model, combined with an online cyber-interview, positions 50 plus jobseekers exactly as they are… experienced and older than 50.As Wendy Spiegel, Gen Plus™ founder, explains, “There is still such rampant ageism that 50 plus jobseekers are going to have to be creative, inventive, and aggressive to keep or get their foot in the door – despite the anticipated surge in job openings and shortfall in managers.”

Take Diane (not her real name), for example. At 52, an experienced professional with over 20 years of diverse experience in management, strategic planning, and communications, she suddenly found herself laid off. And she was aware it was due to her high salary. With a background that included marketing for a retail solutions company and a leading airline, she was confident her experience would land her a new position quickly. After a disheartening year of unsuccessfully looking for a new employment opportunity, she had no choice but to start her own small business and change many of her lifestyle arrangements. A homeowner, she rented out two rooms to help cover mortgage payments and augment the income she earns from her business. Would Diane take advantage of a new employment opportunity? In a heartbeat. But she, like many of her peers, knows that unless a company is willing to invest in an over 50 candidate, she is going to have to make her new venture work.“How can a talented manager find herself unemployed in the face of statistics that show skilled people will be needed?” Diane asks. “Our society is still redefining what constitutes a market, and who, exactly, is employable in an aging world.”

Spiegel comments further, “There is such confusion in how to market to 50 plus! Marketers generally target societal segments. But the huge demographic shift of our aging world is turning all these segments on their heads. The boomers span an age range of almost two decades, each with very particular needs: There are early boomers, born 1946-51; mid-boomers, born 1952-57; and late boomers, born 1958- 1964. In other words, either they are solidly in their 40’s (pre-mid-life crisis), or currently around 50 (true mid-life crisis) or, this year, are just turning 60 (to retire or not to retire? -- that is the question).“Now it really gets confusing. There are the pre-retirees, the active retirees, the true seniors (also called the older-old, which really ticks them off), and all the blurred lines in between. ‘Golden-ager’ seems like a term used centuries ago, ‘senior citizen’ has become meaningless, and even 50 plus organizations are reshaping taglines and trying to reach out to the younger boomers! And, not to get anyone’s knickers in a knot, who are all the folks who are generally charged with creative design and marketing to these boomers and beyond? The young-young, of course.”

If it’s confusing to marketers, people who find themselves chronologically within these pragmatic boundaries are equally frustrated. Gen Plus™ doesn’t distinguish between the different categories of boomers. If you’re over 50, you are a Gen Plusser. The company aims at demystifying the market in order to address what a reinvented 50 plus really needs.

As Spiegel notes, “Employers have to be looking beyond this year’s bottom line to five, ten, fifteen years ahead in order to save their businesses from a potential employment drought. They need to challenge their current employment practices now in order to be ready for the future. There will be no youth culture in the workplace if there are no senior mentors to show younger workers the way, to preserve company historical knowledge, and to manage the companies of the 21st century.”

50 plus jobseekers are invited to visit Gen Plus™ at http://www.genplususa.com. Interested human resource professionals can follow the employer link. Local media can contact Gen Plus™ for information specific to their community.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Gen X-ers worried about Boomers?

In addition to all the concerns over 50 Plussers who need to continue to work, according to some studies, the generation following the Boomers, the Gen X-ers, are finding it challenging to step into management roles due to Boomers holding onto their jobs longer. The studies also claim that there is a misperception that Gen X-ers don't believe that they need to "pay their dues" in the same way that Boomers and the WWII generation seniors did.

I've been in the business world for about 30 years. I started off as a cashier, in Junior College, to make enough money anything my allowance didn't cover...and to save up to move out at nineteen...for my last year of university (that, and travelling to Europe, was the thing to do in my neck of the woods.)

I worked through university and never stopped. I took the jobs that I could to give me sufficient experience to move up in a career path that I didn't even see yet. It wasn't about a 401K...I never had enough to make it from paycheck to paycheck, much less have a clue what a 401K was. When I made the leap into theater in my twenties, I worked 18 hour days for $150/week and didn't bat an eye. That is just the way it was.

In my cumulative work experience, where I interview and hire many staff each year, I see Gen Y and Gen X'ers graduate from university or try to move up in the workforce with an absolute sense of entitlement. I'm not saying this to get anyone upset, but I see recent graduates with expectations of salaries of $50K. I see recent graduates unwilling to take positions for $35 or $40K. I have trouble staffing $12 and $14/hour positions and I find that startling.

Now perhaps it is symptomatic of Los Angeles, where everyone compares themselves to everyone else and nothing is ever good enough, but I'm troubled. How will it be possible for these 20, 30-something year olds (and yes, I know I'm lumping a bit of Gen Y into my X) to step into management positions if they are unwilling to struggle through learning how to manage? How can they get work experience if they aren't willing to challenge their life experience?

If I have a Gen Plusser (50 plusser)in front of me who is willing to do what it takes to get the job done vs. a 20-something who is only interested in working for me as a stepping stone to the next salary jump, I'll choose the Gen Plusser every time.

Unfortunately, in the current climate, most employers won't and that is what is going to cost millions and millions in lost history and management strength for many, many companies. The 50 plus worker must be in place to mentor the younger workers coming up through the ranks...just as I learned to be great at what I do by learning from seasoned managers along the way...and just as I mentor those below me, even though I sometimes have to kick and push them to success.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ahhh....those Golden Arches

Today, as I was driving my child home from a Dr.'s appointment, we stopped in at McDonald's for a drive-through Happy Meal. Of course, since I relate everything to Gen Plus and the 50 plus marketplace and have been washed over by the nostalgia of the great new series Boomers!, I immediately reflected back to my youth.

When I was about 8 years old, a McDonald's franchise (the first one for our city!) opened up. And it was a really big deal. At that time, fast food was limited to rollerskating waitresses at the Orange Julep, where you'd drive up, park your car, roll down the window and wait for a waitress to skate over and take your order. When the order was ready, she'd bring it over on a tray that attached to the driver's side window and we'd have a blast eating in the car.

So the idea of fast food, McDonald's style, was incredible. Plus they were advertising that your meal would cost under a dollar...that you'd get change back from your dollar! Our whole family of 6 could eat for under $6.00. That was very appealing to my Dad from a financial point of view and for my Mum, from a practical perspective (no cooking, no cleaning up, happy children...)

And so off we'd go, dressed up in our finest, along with many of our neighbors, to experience a great burger that always tasted the same, crunchy fries that we thought were to die for, and real milk milkshakes that gave Dairy Queen a run for her money! (They had to come out with the Blizzard in order to make a comeback -- you'd hold it upside down for 3 seconds and if it fell out of the cup, you'd your money back AND a free new Blizzard.)

Fast forward to my teenage years where McDonald's was THE place to go after snuggling with your boyfriend in the movies. And where my grade ten boyfriend spent all his savings on taking me there through a summer (I found that out later...after we'd split up...and yes, I felt really bad about it!)

And now...for my child, no nostalgia of remembering the signs that proclaimed "over 1 million served"...just the promise of a Narnia toy which is far more important than the meal. Well...that was my little Boomer blast from the past for the day. Loved those arches.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Boomers TV Hits the Nail on the Head

Last night, and throughout the month, the new PBS series, Boomers, launches across the nation. I made the time to watch it last night and was extremely pleased with the result. Seasoned journalists, Nancy and Mark Mills, capture the right combination of nostalgia and forward momentum, to deliver a delightful show.

A bit like a road show...like if you met a series of Boomers while biking along Route 66 (but in your vintage car), this first episode has me waiting to tune in again next week and the week after that! I don't know about you, but I want to see where I've been and where I'm going. And the profiles of energetic Boomers convinced me to take that Pilates class tonight.

Their website www.boomerstv.com is chock-full of great Boomer info, too. Well done.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

January 10th Press Release

Our next press release, launching on January 10th, highlights some of the specific challenges facing the 40 million or so Boomers older than 50 and young seniors. The backup articles are fascinating and we'll include them on the blog.

Now that we are into 2006, with the first of the Boomers turning 60, watch how the media swivels strong attention to the demographic. It's already started, but we ain't seen nothing yet.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Boomers! TV meets up with Boomers.

Our friends, Nancy and Bill, sent along the latest information on their new TV series. Get your TIVO ready, because I've seen the previews and it is "must-see" TV for Boomers and beyond.

Pay it forward.


As the first Baby Boomers toast their 60th birthday in 2006, our new public television series will join in the celebration. Boomers! Redefining Life After Fifty examines the issues, challenges and opportunities facing Boomers as they make the transition to a new phase of their lives.

Boomers! Redefining Life After Fifty will begin airing in Greater Boston on:
WGBH 44- Sunday, January 8, 2006 9:30AM

For a list to date of the stations offering Boomers! in January, visit us on the web at: