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

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The financial challenge ahead -- for echo boomers

In my daily life, I'm in contact with many age groups -- seniors, boomers, Gen X's and Gen Y's (or echo boomers). And while I dedicate my energies to the concerns of those over 50 years, I am captivated and intrigued by the 20- (and almost 30-) something Gen Y'ers. These children of Boomers and have grown up with the spirited resolution of their Boomer parents and a solid foundation in the middle class.

Where Boomers were fighting against the restraints of the 50's and living free love and free protest, Gen Y'ers are anti-establishment in their attachment to technology, ie., they i-pod, myspace, pda, notebook, and text their way from job to job, iteration to iteration. They invent and re-invent themselves on a whim, at the turn of a dime. They are easily bored and quite rightfully frustrated by the slower thinking speed of those of us born used to seconds and minutes, rather than nanoseconds and gigabytes.

They expect to get paid and paid well for their world savvy and they also expect to move up the ladder quickly. We are seeing school principals in NY, in their 30's replacing the current crop of retirees. We are also seeing financially concerned 50 plussers start to take out reverse mortgages on their homes to supplement their income and cover looming medical costs.

At the same time, their children, Gen Y are seeing the financial support they have grown used to from their consumer-driven Boomer parents...dwindle. But the future is mighty scary and I'm now seeing (and reading letters to the editor) young adults in their twenties, trying to figure out how they will handle the very shaky financial future they see ahead. As one writer put it very well in the NY Times:

If parents' income cannot cover their own medical costs, then this financial support of their children, and their children's children, will abruptly stop.

I am a twentysomething, and my husband and I have maintained our financial independence through graduate school; and now that we have a child, we have little hope of owning a home because we value living close to our parents.
One of the few chances of owning a home was the possibility of inheriting our parents' home. But I guess our parents' houses will probably be sold off by the bank.
The question is, Who will be able to afford them once the baby boom generation's wealth is gone?

Lara Triona Felton, Calif., April 25, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

Calling all Inventors, Designers, Creators!

Do you have a product relevant to a 50 plusser? If so, we want to know about it. Our shop section focuses on getting the word out about products that you have invented, produce or represent, and want distributed. So, if you dabble in jewelry, sew, knit, fiddle, create, innovate, produce, represent, we want to know about it.

If you have products related to travel, aging (gracefully, of course), fashion, business, cooking, home products, grandchildren, pets or cars...we may have a spot for you by our campfire! And if you have a product that can open the tops of glass jars with ease, then we know a few people who want to know about it pronto!

Send a description of your product, why you think a 50-plusser would want to buy it, and a digital pic to shop@genplususa.com and we'll get back to you in a flash.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Italy, Life and Entrepreneurship

I have just returned from my first trip to Italy (and this will not be my last, I assure you). Italy is an unusual country. There is bountiful, abundant history textured by gorgeous art and stunning architecture, which gives you both a step back in time and a truly "living" country. But the true richness of Italy lies in its people. I am certain that the reason that anyone who has been to this gorgeous country returns over and over again is due to the warmth of the Italian culture. There is a sense of family so that you are embraced into the hearts of Italians. Welcoming, warm, balanced. Although the fast-pace of the west creeps into Italy little by little, for the most part, most stores and restaurants still shut down for the mid-day break. People return to their homes, have lunch with their families and then return to tie up business for the day.

Unlike the American culture, which seizes every opportunity to gain property and money, the Italian culture seizes every opportunity to embrace life. And that is a big win. And also...what is causing a major economic challenge. With the weak American dollar against the Euro, Italy is hard hit in its tourism revenue. And even Americans visiting are spending far less than in past years. Even though European tourists still flock to Italy, the loss of the US dollar has affected the pocketbooks of the Italian population terribly. On top of the bad economy, there is political strife at the highest levels of government and within this conflict, a clear challenge. Entrepreneurship is barely limping along in Italy. There are very few new mom and pop shops. Very few small owner operators starting up new ventures. And with no zip, no zing, no zeal for pursuit of the unknown and the promising, the Italians are facing a crisis of despair over their futures.

As one lovely gentleman said to me, "Yes, Signora, Italia is a beautiful place for a tourist to visit...but to live? Ah no. The life is too hard. The job market is impossible."

So, what happens is that with no entrepreneurs, there is very little job creation and very little turnover of existing staff. Which means no job-hopping opportunities. So many Italians are "stuck" in their jobs...possibly for life. And to kick that one up a notch, the Italian Baby Boomer generation is also just starting to look at bleak retirement prospects and little chance of continuing employment after retirement...and few opportunites for those 50 and older.

A gorgeous, gorgeous country, with beautiful people and a scary lining for 50 plussers sitting underneath the political cloud.