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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Late to the gate on the Kindle?

What is this thing? Reading my daily subscription from The Boomer Chronicles, I discovered something that I had not yet seen. The Kindle! An electronic reader that approximates the experience of reading a book - -but digitally. Kind of the iPod for the literati. So I headed over to read about Kindle and there are already almost 1000 reader reviews of the item...some great, some not so great...but wow. A great concept. Right now, they are running at $400 a pop...which means that like the Shuffle, the Mini, etc., within a couple of years we'll be seeing the Mini versions going for $50 - $99.

But if I had $400 to spend right now? I'd head right over. Step aside i-Phone. Reading is back in vogue.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gloomy national forecast may not be so gloomy for boomers and 50 plussers after all!

Despite the slightly gloomy US national economic forecast that came out today (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16748091) not all the news is bad.  Unemployment is still under 5% and is anticipated to hold at about 4.9% next year.  So, even though you may be having trouble finding work, the good news is that there is, in fact, work to be had. 

The trick is in the finding it.  Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some very solid and exciting information with you on the fields that are specifically starting to focus on the Boomer and 50 plus worker.  Another trend that is going to pick up steam over the next few years are multiple tracks in careering.  So you might be a virtual worker for one company, building a home-based business and at the same time, reporting for work 32 hours a week at a brick and mortar location.

If I look at this prime demographic, there are many people who, in addition to their daytime jobs, are building small businesses outside of work hours and even consulting in addition to that.  Our age group is looking to reshape and redefine what constitutes work as we move into the next third of our lives.  More to come.

Monday, November 26, 2007


It's that time of year -- time to buy gifts, time to make winter holiday plans, times to check out the old bank account. For a lot of us, this is a tough time. If you are a 50 plus jobseeker, out of work for awhile, it's a harsh time of year.

With words like "recession" hanging in the air, people tend to get scared. On one hand, prices are rising (gas, mortgages) and on the other home sales are falling. But depending upon who you listen to, things are about to get dire...or things are really going to stay pretty much the same. There is no way of knowing, until the economic climate settles in. One thing I do know is that there are some strong numbers that will indicate health in certain industries regardless of the economy.

We are an aging population, so everything to do with us (yes, Gen Plussers), will remain a fairly stable and powerful market. For example, we may not always be able to afford healthcare, but healthcare workers will remain in high demand. Teachers are retiring and there are not enough educators to take their place. Retail is having trouble finding Gen Yers to stick around a couple of months at a time. Customer service is in deep trouble...more often via phone, but where retail traffic is high and there are not enough staff on hand, I'm hearing customers complaining more and more.

But to allow for my flight of fancy in recession era thinking, I was chatting with someone the other day about what people really, really need to survive. In this consumer society, we want a lot, but how much do we really need? We need shelter, food, clothing, a means to afford the shelter and food, contact with other human beings. I can't help with shelter (other than emotional support), and I'm a mean cook, but can't send a plate of pasta through cyberspace, but there are jobs on Gen Plus for you to peruse, and a way to find some love in the right demographic .

From many of your emails, I know that a lot of people are finding money a bit tight right now. It makes me ask the question: what do I really need?

I took a close look at what I think I need and could certainly live without. I've embarassed myself with what I don't really need and so I thought I could share that with you (and I'm pretty stingy with myself...or so I think...and keep in mind that I'm still on turkey cloud nine, so not thinking that clearly yet...)

To start:

  • landline phone, a cell phone and a blackberry.
  • cable-connected internet (I believe that I can't live without my cable) a PC and a laptop and DirecTV High Definition (may daughter believes that she cannot live without the Disney channel)
  • spend money on my child and my dog
  • take trips at winter holiday, spring break and in the summer.
  • send my daughter to summer camp
  • have a van -- it's really old and I love it. My dad told me to sell it last year and I didn't heed his advice. Now it needs about $3K in repairs. I have to buy a new car.
  • shop at Target too often for my own good -- never, ever able to leave there without dropping $100
  • eat sushi too often
  • get home paper delivery
  • have magazine subscriptions for Bon Apetit, National Geographic and a few others
  • buy books often instead of taking out books at the library
  • pay a woman to clean my home once a week
  • pay a gardener to mow my lawn once a week
  • get a massage once a month
  • have season subscription to a local theater

Where do I try to save money?

  • dye my own hair and do my own nails
  • buy really nice clothes, but always on sale
  • ditto for shoes/purses
  • drive a really old van (stop laughing)
  • ummm....

So, honestly, how much money am I technically wasting here? Shocking, isn't it?

If you look at your own expenditures, what are you wasting money on? Might help you to find the extra bit of cash for the gifts you wanted to get. Or the "interview" suit you need to buy at the holiday sales!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bye-bye Thanksgiving, Hello Chanukah and Christmas!

In order that my holiday shopping remains fun and festive, I search relentlessy for the new, the interesting, and the downright inventive every year. From atomic clocks to keychain tools to dancing dreidels, I search for them all -- and particularly if they are made by a 50 plusser.

The first item worth mentioning this year is the inventive AND preventive MenorahMate, an ingenious addition to the Chanukah celebration. For any of you who celebrate Chanukah, or who have been to celebrations at the homes of Jewish friends, you'll remember seeing the beautiful menorahs...with streams of hot wax...dripping down on the table...or as in many homes, on a sheet of aluminum foil!

Hello MenorahMate:

“We knew that there simply had to be a better way of protecting the table. And even more importantly, we wanted to create a renewed connection to the three traditional blessings, to encourage everyone at the table to participate,” comments the product’s creator Debra Wurzel (a Gen Plusser, of course) of Los Angeles.

What is MenorahMate? A smart concept -- a protective, d├ęcor-enhancing mat with a soft, non-skid backing, designed for use under the menorah combined with the Chanukah blesssing imprinted right on the surface in Hebrew, English, and transliteration.

In addition to protecting the tabletop, “This product is unique because it places the blessings right in the center of the holiday, where they belong,” says Wurzel.

I find it a great product and in addition to the contemporary design, I particularly like the fact that the wax just pops off the mat after a bit of time in the freezer.

Launched just in time for Chanukah 2007, MenorahMate already has generated excitement within the Jewish community and has popped up in stores across the US. Best of all, this product is manufactured in the US... in Los Angeles, California. For more information, a list of retailers or to order MenorahMate, visit www.menorahmate.com.

Lots of fun, not too expensive, great for a family or friend gift and also wonderful for office acquaintances and friends. I'll let you know about any other great finds as I continue on my merry shopping jaunts.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Feedblitz newsletter service

I'm giving some Thanks to technology! If you are a subscriber, you've been receiving double posts for the past month. When I changed the way in which I use my newsletter distribution service, somehow all my posts started getting sent as doubles. I think (believe, hope) the double email dilemma has been resolved.

If you are still receiving double newsletters, please shoot me a quick email at wspiegel@genplususa.com so I can continue to investigate.

Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving feasts. I'm triptophaned (sp?) and blissed out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a warm wish to all of you for a happy Thanksgiving holiday. I have a lot to give thanks for -- my family (especially including my daughter!), my dog (who would be angry with me for not including her in the "family" category, but she is so special she gets her own segment), good health, a home, a car (that may or may not decide to make it into 2008) -- and you.

I'm very appreciative of your support, interest, sometimes really tough questions, and involvement in this ongoing exploration of the issues related to boomers and 50 plussers.

Hope you enjoy your Turkey, or Tofurkey, have a good snooze, relax with good company, and have mighty fine leftovers. I hope you are with family and friends that make you happy. If you are not, then consider this readership your cyber-support.

As a recent US citizen, I have to say that this is my favorite holiday of the year. LOVE it. Gobble, gobble!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blogging Boomers Carnival #47

The always refreshingly remeniscent I Remember JFK is this week's host for the Blogging Boomers Carnival. Head on over for a snippet, a taste, a sampler, of some of the most interesting Boomer finds of the week.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Is Ladders crossing the line in taking on American Airlines? You tell me.

I keep tabs on what other job boards, recruiters, and social networks are honing in on, so that if there are trends or issues that pop up I can pass them along to you, my dear reader.

One company that I admire is called The Ladders. While I don't like the fact that they charge jobseekers to pay for access to their job bank and I generally take a stand against that practice, this particular brand has done a pretty good job in staying niche-focused and aims to attract the higher salaried jobseeker. (Personally, I don't want to charge a 50 plus jobseeker to pay for resume search when they are already quite worried about their pocketbook but his niche is highly targeted and a bit more flush.)

Well, CEO Marc Cenedella, had a bad week of travel and wrote about it. And this is what I'm talking about today. He's really gone out on a limb talking about the challenges of poor customer service and focused on one questionable American Airlines employee. Is he talking the right stuff? Or is this going a little too far? I'm betting we'll hear more on this particular newsletter. Feel free to add your comments by clicking on the title of this post and hitting the "comments" link at the bottom of the post. (No, you cannot comment directly to this newsletter if you are a subscriber. You do have to go through the actual web page.)

Here are excerpts from his newsletter (I've deleted some of the letter that is not directly relevant to this topic):

A grumbly Monday morning to you.

Folks, other people’s travel hell stories are about as interesting as other people’s "kids" or "new exercise regimen" stories, so I’m not going to bore you with one of those.

And as a matter of fact, my recent flight on American wasn’t uniquely miserable. It was just run-of-the-mill lousy.

But what really got me bummed out was my flight attendant’s outfit.

Katherine had gone to the trouble of wearing buttons with all sorts of sayings on her uniform.
You know, when you’re on a flight on one of the legacy airlines, you kind of hold out hope that somebody - anybody - will give a damn. And like a drowning man might, I saw Katherine’s buttons as a statement.

She cared! She was going to stand out against the ennui and mediocrity of her co-workers and let the world know that she, Katherine of American Airlines Flight 673 from Miami to New York, was taking a stand!

A stand for friendliness, and approachability, and caring about her customers.

Now, if you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you know I am a bit of a nut for our customers...

...So when I see somebody breaking out against the norm, standing up for customers, and daring to care, I can get pretty excited.

And so as Katherine approached me I strained to get my work weary eyes to read the fine print on her button.

It was a light blue button with dark blue writing, and I could just about make out the words:


And I have to tell you, that was just about the most deflating, disheartening, dispiriting, depressing thing to read after a relaxing weekend.

And I won’t share them with you here, but the rest of her buttons were of an equally sour-puss nature.

And you know, Katherine and her type stand for everything that’s bad in the world. For every one of us trying to achieve great things, there’s a Katherine standing nearby ready to tear it down. For each of us trying to make the world a better place today, this hour, this minute, there’s a Katherine in the wings sticking her tongue out.

And not only is there a Katherine, but there’s a company willing to hire her. Like American Airlines.

And while Mom said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, I wish the Katherines and the American Airlines of the world nothing but failure. Failure in their campaign to pull down the productive people, failure in their efforts to keep winners from winning, and failure in the marketplace so that better people and companies can serve American Airlines customers.

So don’t be a Katherine! As you go about this job hunt, don’t waste your talents or fall into the trap of working for a company that doesn’t respect you, in a job where you stop respecting yourself. You’re too talented, and forward-looking, and capable to waste your years away inside a rotting body like American Airlines...

...Whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short, and don’t let the Katherines of this world bring you down.

I’ll be rooting for you!

Warmest Regards,
Marc Cenedella, Founder & CEO
TheLadders.com, Inc.

Blogging Boomers Carnival #46

For this week's eclectic collection of what some of the best boomer bloggers are writing about, head on over to this week's host, Cafe Glam. From birthing twins at 49 (!), to pink flamingos, to a call for sexual re-revolution...inquiring minds want to know!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Finding a Job at 50 Plus...I Can't Sleep at Night

Just about every day, I receive emails from frustrated jobseekers, who at 50 plus, find themselves unemployable.

The question really is, are they truly unemployable? Or is it just really challenging to match them up with a searching employer?

Do I think the jobs are out there? Yes. I do. I wouldn't be pouring my heart and soul into the cause of 50 plus employment if I didn't believe, that at the end of the day, there would be a positive outcome for 50 plussers in need of work.

The trick...and the one that has me awake at 2:31 am (Pacific Time, for you early birds on the East coast...or on other continents), is finding the ways to match up the jobseeker with that searching employer. Every career site tells you to "think out of the box" in job search. But what does that really mean? I'm going to share my strategy for how I help every jobseeker who writes me, to identify their strengths for the job market.

  1. About half of all jobseekers look for their next job via the internet. That's great...and I encourage you to get your resume in good shape, relevent and clean (bullet-pointed and with easy to understand vocabulary), and a strong cover letter. That must be one prong of your career search strategy. The reason you are encouraged to limit your career history on a resume to 10 to 15 years is that employers are really only interested in your past 5 years or so of history...because it is relevent to the current skill set you bring to the table. So you have to identify, for them, what you are really good at.

  2. The other half of all jobseekers find their next job through networking, knocking on doors, and by using good old-fashioned fancy footwork. This means making everyone they know aware they are in job search mode, literally hand-delivering resumes to smaller businesses who are not likely to advertise on internet job boards, and looking for positions outside the scope of your job history. (If you are in or near LA, make sure to join us for our free Gen Plus Town Hall on January 22nd. Just email me and let me know you'd like to join us!)

  3. Identifying your strengths and your desires. This is the most important part of any job search. Finding out what you are really good at and what you want to do. Have you been in sales the past 10 years and can't get a job because you are perceived as too old? But you LOVE gardening? Why not try to get a job in a nursery? Find what you love and apply your skill set to your passion. Employers will sense your enthusiasm rather than desperation.

  4. Developing a strategy. If you have no idea how to set goals and timelines, get a copy of my e-book: "Keep Dreaming: Creating a Strategic Plan for the Rest of Your Life." Small investment, strong result. You can use it for a simple strategy definition, or use all of it and create an overall business plan for your life. Up to you, but a strong piece and created specifically for the 50 Plus jobseeker. Even if you delay getting the workbook, you need to identify your goals, a timeframe for getting there, and measure your own results (just like your former employer measured your contribution to THEIR strategic goals.)

  5. Don't give up. Your current job status is not a measure of who you are as a person. It is exactly what it is. A measure of your employment. You either have a job...or you don't. If you don't, then you will get one. Don't give up.

  6. Sign up with every temp service you can find and call in every day for a job. If you have not signed up with Kelly Services, do so. They are very committed to the mature worker. (More on that in the next few days.)

  7. Claim your space. Don't have a profile on Gen Plus? Linked In? Eons? If you don't have a web presence, get one. It's very simple to head over to any social or business network and put up a bit about you on the internet. The first thing a potential employer will do is google or yahoo you. So you need to be on the web in a positive way...i.e. a presence controlled by you.

  8. Just like learning to ride a bike? When you were a kid, did you give up on learning to ride a bike? Fell off a few times and said to yourself, "Nah. I'm not going to ride that bike." Not likely. It is more likely that you got on the bike twenty or thirty times until you got the hang of the balance. It may take you hundreds of job applications until you get your next job. But all you need is one person to say yes to your hire....right?
NOW, maybe I can get to sleep! Have a great weekend.

Aqua-Dots, Your Children, Your Grandchildren and Your Pets!

Just in time for the holiday buying season, another product recall...this one with deadly consequences. Revolution Health publicized a recall of Aqua-Dots, a children's craft toy that can cause fatal seizures if any pieces are ingested. Made in China.

Here is the link to the full article: http://www.revolutionhealth.com/news/?id=article.2007-11-08.1382984325&msc=a62593

Monday, November 05, 2007

Blogging Boomers Carnival #45

November is here and so is Blogging Boomers Carnival #45. Your host this week is The Boomer Chronicles. Head on over for the latest and greatest in all things boomer on the web.