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

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Road Warrior's Lament, ET, iPhone and the Summer of Love

You can't surf more than a couple of minutes without finding some chatter about the iPhone. I have to admit, that I'm one of those people who is drooling to have one. I'm a Boomer obsessed with technology that I don't understand. Even though I have a crackberry (blackberry) and am reasonably addicted, I want more. I want that touchscreen and to be able to follow any whim, any desire and have the information right at my fingertips.

As a road warrior (perhaps not as many as most, but I spend about 25% of my time on the road), you'd think I'd have travel down to an art. Well...I kinda, sorta do. But I have NO sense of direction. HATE renting a car in any city, even when it makes better economic sense. I'll confess. I get lost. I don't know where to go to eat. I can never find my destination. I can NEVER find my way back to the hotel. (I can't even find my way back to the parking lot to find my rental car from whatever the best mall might be in that particular city.)

I'm navigationally challenged -- I travel with a compass, pre-printed driving routes, have google mobile programmed into my blackberry, and keep a list of local people that I can call up any time of day or night to direct me to my destination.

There was one commercial for the iPhone that sold me on the spot. I don't remember the exact sequence, but it was something like this: X gets a phone call and decides to go out for dinner. The iPhoner then researches sushi (or Greek?), calls for a reservation from the webpage, gets driving directions and then (I think?) starts to play some music or watch a video clip as they head out.

Whatever it was, it filled me with an unstoppable desire to get one! While there is no way I'll be standing in long lines, or shelling out the big bucks to get one right now, nonetheless, a funny thing did happen.

I was reading an article about the iPhone on a relatively new blog, Over 50 Now . And I had a reaction. It wasn't quite drooling. It was...yes...it was an ET moment. Do you remember ET intoning, "ET...Go Home. ET...Go Home." Well, my head started repeating, "Wendy...iPhone. Wendy...iPhone." I couldn't shake it. And I realized something. I had romanticized a summer of love, starting off with thinking about fireworks on the 4th of July.

But that is NOT what my summer of love is really going to be about for me. It is going to be about my unrequited desire for an iPhone. "Wendy...iPhone."

Really. I have got to get a grip!

Friday, June 29, 2007

What reinventing is all about

Every morning and every evening I take my sweet rescue dog for a walk. I use the word "sweet" next to "rescue" with purpose. Off leash, my dog is a wonder of charm, wit and grace. On leash, she is a valiant protector, ready to lunge at a bird, squirrel, cat, or human being wearing a funny hat. So, it is a delight whenever we bump into a dog person who immediately bonds with my dog, rubbing her head, her ears, and if she really likes them, her tummy.

There is a man like that who lives a couple of blocks away from me. Always in his garage, playing music, puttering around. He and his wife love dogs....but he...he LIVES for dogs. And so, when my dog and I stop at his house, he and my pet play, bond and wiggle together for many minutes. That is how his wife and I have got to talking...as dog and man bond, the two gals chat. About the dog and the man.
Shirley shares with me that Ron suffered a massive heart attack several years ago and was forced into early retirement. He couldn't afford to retire, either financially or emotionally, and he didn't have a plan, either.
But he LOVED collecting old vinyl records. His hobby has now evolved into a homegrown business over the past few years. Operating out of his garage, he collects, trades and shows records. He heads out to various trade shows across the country and has become well-known for his collections. His hobby has given him love-based revenue.

There are so many 50 plussers that are discouraged. If you are one of them, you'll likely have applied to jobs, posted resumes, attempted to network, tried to start businesses and it may just not be working.
I started Gen Plus and this blog as a direct result of a close friend and business colleague being ousted from a prominent corporate sales position with no job prospects in sight. He went back to school to become a teacher...and that is what he does now. Teaches. He reinvented himself completely. Just like my neighbor, and just like many of you are being forced into.

What I love about Ron's story is that he followed his heart -- which was about his love of record collecting -- which jump-started a business venture. When I encourage you (relentlessly) to post your resumes on Gen Plus and on other job boards and to apply to thousands of jobs if necessary, it isn't because you will necessarily find a job that way at 50 plus. But when you open your mind to possibilities and to opportunity, when your eyes are watching, your ears are listening and your heart is open, then you might find your own bit of vinyl to spin into a direction for your future.

How a man who suffered a major heart attack can live each day with such a passion and a zest for life is inspiring. His passion for living is so obvious -- brimming over to his patting of my dog. His love of life pushed him to reinvent himself.

What passions do I dream of? What do you dream of? What would reinvention look like, or mean, to me? I'm working on it - for me it my passion for Gen Plus and the 50 plus demographic. What about your reinvention? Certainly worth a thought or two.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Fireworks, page rank and reading glasses?

There is something about the notion of being in love on July 4th that just tickles my fancy. It may have to do with high school summers and kissing under the fireworks (except it was Canada, so that meant it was July 1st, not July 4th, and our local fireworks weren't as spectacular as what I'm come to associate with July 4th in LA...but I digress...)

So, I decided to do a Google search. If there would be any one place that I could find love on July the 4th, surely Google would direct me there. There were 11,700,000 references that came up under the search words: finding love on the 4th of July.

So I decided I'd better narrow it down a bit by adding quotation marks.

"Finding love" on July 4th -- gave me 22,700 -- a bit better odds of finding love.

So I thought I'd take it one step further.

I ran "Finding love" on July 4th at 50 plus.

That took it down to 775 references -- with my blog being the number 1 reference. I thought that was pretty funny. So I dug in deeper.

I ran the words "Finding love" on July 4th for 50 plus singles. 712 references. My blog, the #1 spot. (To be honest, Gen Plus does have a singles site, but I would not call myself a matchmaker by trade. A romantic? Yes. Matchmaker? No.)

So I decided to be really, really specific.

I used the words "Finding love at 50 plus" and took out July 4th.

Only 1 link came up. Mine. Gen Plus.

From almost 12 million down to 1? My blog has a strong page rank, but honestly, I wasn't finding this so funny anymore.

I like love...just like the next gal (or fella). I like cuddling up and watching the fireworks reflect in my man's eyes. So what if I need reading glasses to see them? So what if half a century has gone by? Doesn't a 50 plusser still rank to find love? I was feeling a bit insulted.

Now either 50 plussers are not looking for love online (which I know they are), or they are not FINDING it. So...time for just one more search. I put my glasses back on and this time, I decided to go for the kissing and forget about the fireworks.
So I plugged in "kissing" at 50 plus. Thank goodness. 2,040,000 references. OK. I realize where I erred. Maybe the message is that we should stop worrying about finding the love and just enjoy the fireworks?

Blogging Boomers Carnival #27

Well, we've passed the 1/2 way mark (26 weeks) AND the summer solstice and the Blogging Boomers are still going strong, bringing out the interesting and the bizarre in the cyberworld of Boomer. Rhea adds her own special touch on The Boomer Chronicles as this week's host of the Blogging Boomers Carnival. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Spotting the Scams

Up until this past year, there has been no down-side to posting one's resume on the two giant job boards -- monster.com and careerbuilder.com. Lately, I've been hearing a lot of complaints from readers who are inundated with bogus and scam emails from unscrupulous companies looking to take advantage of the vulnerability of the jobseeker. So I decided to run my own personal experiment.

I posted a resume confidentially (so that my personal details could not be accessed) to see what kinds of recruiters would contact me. And I have to say I was very surprised and extremely irritated by the response I got. I was inundated by potential "job offers". Many of them were the money scams that we've all been getting via email...only now these are coming under the address of hiringmanager@monster.com or recruiter@careerbuilder.com which gives them a sense of credibility. This is the type of offer (spelling and all):

Closing Date: Open until filled
Position: Investment Payout Manager
Salary: Depends on Work Scope/ bonus & benefits
Duty Location: United States (?)
Description of Duties
Dividend Manager:
What you need to do:
1. Receive Client’s dividends on your bank account
2. Go to the Nearest Money Gram Љ branch office
3. Use Money Gram Money Transfer service to deliver
funds to the client
4. Report to the manager about task finished and
provide him with Money Transfer Control Number you
will obtain in Money Gram’s office.
1. Receive correspondence/packages from our clients.
2. Repackage correspondence
3. Ship the package from the nearest USPS office.
If you are creative, independent, focused, accurate, detail-oriented, professional,
flexible, skilled, hard working, polite, purposeful and want to reach success, then
you will be interested in this position. please follow this link
and register, our managers will contact you as soon as possible. *
*please note that only short-listed candidates shall be notified.

The next type of "opportunity" are for commission only insurance or finance companies. The tone of the email is always that there is a recruiting session in the next few days to fill a few small opportunities. These positions are commission only and, in my opinion, provide a much greater benefit to the company than to the commission worker.

The other email I've been receiving in droves are ones where you are "assessed" as a tutor or some sort of professional. Once you are qualified, you start receiving offers to purchase products from other companies. Basically there are two styles -- one, in which they ask for your birth date (this is a scam to watch for as your identity can easily be stolen, as well as you "usual" login name and password), and one which is a pure traffic generator for other companies to hawk you their wares.

Will legitimate companies contact you? Yes. Many companies mine the posted resumes, however, if a company is interested in you, you'll typically get a phone call, along with company information. Some of the financial companies will call you, but it is up to you to decide if you are interested in a commission only type of arrangement. If you post on this type of job board, keep your personal information confidential. A legitimate recruiter will contact you through your email with an appropriate inquiry message.

Please let me know if you've experienced any other "unusual" types of job offers. Just remember...if it seems too good to be true, then it likely is.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Judging a Book by its Cover

The other day, flying back from the East Coast to LA, I had a wonderful conversation with my seat mate, a 60 plusser, who heads up a non-profit association in the supply arena. Like me, she sees many 50 plussers who are finding themselves in a tough predicament -- even in this very particular niche of supply and distribution. They cannot keep a job and they cannot find a new job. There are a few reasons -- the first, is that the supply industry has changed and the smaller suppliers are quite simply getting swallowed up by the mega-giants (no different than the mom-and-pop retail stores getting overwhelmed by national chains). The second is that at 50 plus, they are finding themselves getting overlooked for positions. These jobseekers file into this woman's office (I'll call her Carol) and ask her for help in finding jobs. And no surprise to me, her number one, biggest piece of advice? Get a good haircut and buy a new suit -- something current. In the supply world, very little emphasis is put on looks -- unlike, for example, marketing, cosmetics, fashion -- however, when the job search gets tough, employers will typically make a judgement assessment based on first appearances. Fair? Not really. But no one said life is fair. There are so many debates over whether or not to dye hair. At a more fundamental level, the reality is, visual appeal and visual presentation is judged. Do you have to look current, be fashionable, get groomed? No. You don't. But when you were twenty and heading out for your first job interview, what did you wear? Likely your best suit, spent hours on choosing accessories, briefcase, polishing shoes, fixing hair (and makeup and jewelry if you are a woman). So why would someone find that so objectionable at 50 plus? Because of pride. Because of wanting your life and work experience to count for something. At twenty, without work experience to back you up, all you had was your smile, your enthusiasm and your outward appearance. The way you were judged back then has not changed.

If I were a jobseeker at 50 plus, I'd listen to Carol's advice. I'd dye my hair (OK, well, I already do that), get a good haircut, ensure my makeup, nail polish and accessories were perfect and I'd wear my best business suit...to make certain that once I got IN the door, the employer would only be looking at one thing...my qualifications.

You will be judged. It may not be fair. But your job, when looking for a job, is to put your best foot forward. Not try to make a generational statement. I love to read. I buy tons of books. And I can assure you, as shallow as it may seem, that if I don't like the cover, I don't open the first page.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

BBC 26 just in time for the summer solstice!

Just when you thought it couldn't get any hotter, Your Drum, sets up this week's Blogging Boomers Carnival #26. Always entertaining, mildly insane. Enjoy the best of what Boomer Bloggers are talking about this week.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

California Sunshine No Longer Enough

At the end of May, the Public Policy Institute of California (www.ppic.org) sent out a release detailing recent findings on a potentially dramatic impact on the California economy. For the full release, click here. What is alarming to the state is that there are now less college educated workers moving INTO California and those who already live here are not graduating in sufficient numbers to keep up with work demand. An overall shortage of college educated workers in California means potentially higher wages for those who will choose to live and work here. Part of the challenge is the soaring increase in cost of living. Home purchases are not affordable, traffic is really horrific in the major metropolitan areas, gas prices are high. Sunshine just ain't cutting it anymore.

This is the start of a geographic shift in our own country (a few weeks ago I wrote about the massive Chinese migration happening across that great geography) and I also suspect, strong opportunities for the hoards of 50 plussers, who have the skill sets, are prepared to stay where their roots are, and are willing to work.

Keep your eyes on California. All trends start on the West Coast. If California need can help drive employment for the 50 plusser, then we will see that sweep across the country...from the West, through the Center of our country (which needs the most help right now) all the way to the Eastern shores.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sharing a cuppa and getting enlightened

If you ask most people who they'd like to hang out with, most will give you the name of someone younger than themselves. People are typically attracted to the energy of youth. I like hanging out with my daughter. She delights me. But if I really think about it (which I am doing, right now, at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am...but typical for us writing sorts), some of my most genuinely delightful encounters have been when sitting around and enjoying the wisdom of the elders. I'll proudly admit it. I like 70 and 80 year olds. Because I am always on a quest for more knowledge, strive to be an agent of social change, and have a deep interest in world movement, history and politics, some of the best sources of opinions and overall wealth of information sits with our elders. Underutilized, generally ignored, but, in my opinion, priceless.

A couple of weeks ago, my prolific mother, who at 71 is really unstoppable, had a group of her acquaintances over to our home for a pre-theater brunch. My mother teaches a brilliant play-reading class that has grown over the years and brings about 50 very bright people together every couple of weeks to delve into the mysterious depths of the playright's mind. So, as is her tradition, once a year, she invites these wonderful people to our home, where we eat, drink and make merry. Most of the attendees are in their 60's, 70's and 80's and the power of knowledge that sits in our home (and around a table every two weeks) is formidable. A sample of just a few: a former television producer and director (now philanthropist); a grande dame of the Quebec theatre scene for decades; a retired teacher who still tutors troubled teens; a patron of the arts who supports just about every theatre in Los Angeles; and on and on. I learned more in two hours than in two weeks of regular living -- in a living room, drinking decaf (a lot of you will laugh over that), and eating around a few tables.

I used to hang out with my grandmother. An artiste, a pioneer in women's rights before there were women's rights, flamboyent and tempermental, but she was my friend and a strong influence into her 90's. We would discuss life, world politics, the world of art, smoking, travel, sports. Her favorite color was purple. Her favorite artist was Lismer. She was a horrible driver. She LOVED a good cuppa coffee.

Now, I like to hang out with my mother. I don't have to. I have a world of friends, acquaintances and work colleagues. But she is a lifelong learner and so am I and I delight in our conversations, our agreements and our disagreements. She's a spitfire, my personal rabbi, a teacher by nature, an artist by design. So, yesterday morning, after an extremely busy weekend and an ungodly amount of driving in LA traffic, I had to hop back on the road for yet another day of 3 hours of driving. Just before I left, I heard the sound of fresh coffee being ground, followed by a pot percolating and as I was heading out the door with child in tow, my mother, my mom, my elder, passed me a little brown bag with a breakfast for the road and a mug of steaming fresh coffee to warm me up. This is not a daily occurance, but it was an instinctive extension of love to get me on my way. It made my day. Amazing. Just like that, in a moment. Mixed in with a discussion of a recent article in the Globe and Mail on geographic movement of the workforce.

I've written before about multi-generational living. Really, it is just going back to community in the way that community used to be. 7 year olds learning from 20 year olds learning from 50 year olds learning from 70 year olds. That is the context I prefer to live in and the world I wish to be in. Rejoicing in the wealth of knowledge of my elders and enjoying the energy of youth. While drinking a cuppa.

Blogging Boomers Carnival #25

From Salsa to the Secret, John Agno's "So Baby Boomer" is this week's Blogging Boomers Carnival host. A collection of posts from some of the most interesting Boomers in the blogworld in the past week, including yours truly ;) (of course!)


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Shopping for a new car with a Boomer attitude?

Off topic today, but OK, I'll admit it. I have a mini-van. All I've been dreaming of for years, is owning a great little convertible and heading up the California coast (I live in LA) on the weekends, top down, shades on, chilling out while heating up the roads.

Reality check. I have a seven-year old daughter. And a dog. That sheds. (Wasn't supposed to be a shedding dog, but that's a whole different story.) Anyway, the convertible is still about two cars away. But I had to get that off my chest.

The mini-van. I have a love-hate relationship with my van. It's ugly. Not a sexy thing about it. But, it has leather seats that heat up in our cooler winters, great sound system, and room enough to pack in supplies for a week-long camping trip...with dog. And a built in screen for kids in the back (OK...only plays VHS, not DVD, but it is still fantastic.) It is loaded with every add-on you can imagine. Fog lights, leveller, power EVERYTHING.

I can't bear the thought of putting a car out to pasture before its time, but this one is heading toward the pearly gates. Something just clunked. Something else is squealing. And there is definitely a bit of this and a bit of that leaking onto the driveway overnight. So, a couple of months ago, I started looking at cars...ones that would appeal to my Boomer sensitivities and at the same time fill my needs. I started off by looking at the Toyota Prius. I LOVE the concept of that car. Everyone I meet loves their Prius, except for my neighbor (also a Boomer) who does not find the same sex appeal in that cute little vehicle that I do.

Sadly, my child, dog and luggage will not fit in the Prius. A great car, but probably not for me...for a Boomer who had their kids younger than I did...perhaps a green-thinking empty-nester? But that easy rationalization did not dissipate my longings for the car. So, of course, thinking about the Prius, all I see, on every street, in ever driveway, at every gas station? Yup. That little hybrid. Only I just started noticing that a lot of them have lots of dents. And a lot of them have duct tape holding the passenger side view mirror on. And there have been a bunch with dented bumpers. Either Boomers cannot see properly to drive and need their eyes checked, or the cars are so light that they bend easily. That made my decision. Not a week goes by without me bumping into a garbage can, a rose bush, or hopping a bit too hard off a curb. I'd destroy that car in a heartbeat.

Apparently, I need my soccer-mom, crummy-for-dating van. Evidently, I'm doomed to another decade of van. But not to despair. There is a bright side! My daughter has informed me that when she goes to college, I'm to ditch the van and get an RV so she and I can travel the country together on weekends and holidays. Something tells me that an RV is just a touch bigger than my sporty, sexy little van. Oh. And she also tells me that she'll be wanting a Prius.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Blogging Boomers Carnival #24 on I Remember JFK

24. No, not the TV series. It is the number of Carnivals that the Blogging Boomers have posted so far! For some of the most interesting Boomer and 50 plus observations in the blogging world, hop on to the Blogging Boomers Carnival, or just stop in for this week's offerings.

Better than a radio or TV series...we never have reruns. This week's host is I Remember JFK. Head on over to http://www.irememberjfk.com/mt/2007/06/blogging_boomers_carnival_24.html and give yourself a few more things to ponder in the week ahead!