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, December 30, 2007

Goodbye 2007 and Hello 2008

I always find myself conflicted at the end of a year -- nostalgic for the time that has passed and optimistic about the year ahead. This year is no different. So, to avoid nostalgia completely, I thought I'd go a bit off track for the end of 2007 and share some of my exciting resolutions for 2008.

Resolution #1:
Eat a lot of chocolate.

Resolution #2:
Find creative ways to burn off more calories throughout the day in order to eat more chocolate (for e.g., I sit on a yoga ball while at the computer, which makes me believe that I'm burning calories, while strengthening my core, and ergo, an extra 350 calories per day to indulge. Frankly, I think I'm only burning 5 extra calories for all the balancing, but what's 345 calories difference anyway?)

Resolution #3:
Eat chocolate in smaller amounts to allow for a higher frequency of consumption.

Resolution #4:
Make many more friends who love chocolate so we can indulge in our guilty pleasures guilt-free.

Resolution #5:
What the heck...just eat chocolate.

Hope you all have a great New Year ahead and thanks for sticking with me over the past few years. Your comments, emails and encouragement are what keep me focused on publicizing the challenges facing Boomers and 50 Plussers.

Off to eat some English chocolate now. Ta.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gen Y reshaping the employment game

An interesting article by CNN writer, Anthony Balderrama, which shares some insights into how Gen Y is affecting employment practices caught my eye today, particularly in light of my post earlier this week on multi-generational workspaces.

A significant number of employers are looking at ways to attract and retain the always-on-the-move Gen Yers demanding higher salaries, work/life balance, job flexibility and top tier technology. The overall technological savvy of this generation is too compelling for employers to ignore. According to a recent Careerbuilder survey:

Fifteen percent of employers reported modifying their policies in order to
appease their Gen Y employees. Of those employers who made changes, 57 percent
implemented more flexible work schedules and 33 percent created new recognition

From what I can see, we are still a good five years away from employers realizing that they have a lot of transient talent, but little longevity, and even less in dependability, general management or supervisory skill sets. I'm looking for a hint of another 15% of employers who decide to aggressively and proactively target 50 plussers specifically for those experience-heavy requirements.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Looking ahead to 2008

I love, love, love this time of year. The air is crisp in California, life simultaneously speeds up and slows down over the week between Christmas and New Year's, and just like "spring clean", I go through a "year-end clean up."

Going through some old magazines, I pulled out one that had an intriguing article that I hadn't written about, but seems very appropriate going into 2008. The magazine, Icon, the magazine of the American Society of Interior Designers, focuses on the creative direction of designers, looking at trends and innovations in American design. In the January/ February 2007 issue, there was a solid article on redefining the workplace based on generational work habits and preferences. Creatives always tend to be ahead of the trend, because they invent and reinvent by picking up on change -- or a need to change or progress, which inspires their creativity.

I haven't been able to source a link to the article " Workplaces That Span Generations" by Michael Berens, but there were some creative observations that translate directly to the changing face of the workforce. Were these observations ahead of trend? Yes. Is the workforce slowly, slowly shifting in a way that recognizes these trends? Barely. But starting. Here is what Berens, director of research and knowledge resources for ASID, observed:

From Bureau of Labor statistics, the workforce is working longer and the age spread between younger and older workers is growing from 30 - 35 years to upwards of 40 years. In the next ten years the 55 plus age group of workers will increase by 50% whereas only by 5 - 10% in the younger age categories.

What are the age cohorts or demographics? Traditionals (my mom -- born and raised around the World Wars -- 1900 - 1945), Baby Boomers (me -- born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (Gen X - my younger cousins -- born 1965 - 1980) and the Millenials (also called Generation Y or Gen Y, born 1981 - 1999...my daughter was born in 2000, but I consider her a millenial.) Each of these demographics enjoys very specific types of work values and styles of work. In a nutshell, the traditional is the typical "company" worker, who responds to power of position. Boomer is competitive (we know that) and values performance and symbols of recognition. Gen X distrusts institutional structure and heavily values work/life balance. Gen Y is "wired" but accessible. Wants to make a difference doing "value" work, expects good technology and likes to socialize.

The new direction in design is to create work space that respects these values and the drivers that push each group. So, for example, a private office wasn't as important to a younger worker as overall office design. Gen Y'ers find their privacy behind iPods and earbuds, but still crave interaction and direction. Traditionals and Boomers value office space. So the most creative designers are showing employees that they are valued by creating flexibility in the workplace design that reflects the flexibility that workers are looking for. Community area is increasingly important for interaction and workplace design looks for ways to integrate younger and older workers, who benefit from the best that each demographic has to offer. Some examples include wired breakrooms (think corporate Starbucks) where workers can work, meet and socialize with their laptops. Ergonomics (and privacy) are important for older workers, so ergonomic design is a choice -- including things like adjustable workstations, keyboards, lighting and surfaces...think good chairs, larger monitors and ways to address hand and neck problems.

Designers have recognized that they can do their best by bringing the generations together. Now it is up to employers to catch up and do their best, by proactively seeking out the 50 plus employee.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ignites.com Includes Gen Plus Among Social Networking Category for 50 Plus

TIAA-Cref Crafts Boomer Social Networking Site

Article published on Dec 19, 2007

By Hannah Glover

TIAA-Cref hopes to make a connection with its baby boomer clients by encouraging its retirement plan participants to make connections with each other.In February, the firm plans to invite 20,000 customers over the age of 50 to participate in a social networking site, Myretirement.org.Rather than focus strictly on investments for financial planning, participants will be invited to post their musings across various channels including family and life, health and fitness, travel and relocation, work and money, volunteering and social activism and “redefining retirement.”Each area will be moderated by a “Role Model,” or a retired TIAA-Cref customer whom the company has deemed to be an expert. About 500,000 of the 3.3 million TIAA-Cref customers currently collect retirement income, according to the company.And while TIAA-Cref compliance representatives will also monitor the site, none of its products or services will be advertised, according to Jamie DePeau, senior vice president of marketing at the firm. The goal, she says, is to help TIAA-Cref customers adapt to the ever-changing concept of retirement and to present a holistic set of tools.“We have a longstanding relationship with these people and we are interested in building a lifelong relationship,” she says.Building such relationships can also engender loyalty, analysts agree, potentially resulting in assets rolling out of the retirement plans into the retail product line. More importantly, analysts agree that the social networking site is a savvy use of the interactive marketing opportunities unique to the Internet, and they expect other firms to soon follow suit.“Consumers like to be empowered,” says Dennis Gallant, principal and founder of Gallant Distribution Consulting. Consumers’ expectations have been shaped by their experience in the retail market place, where the explosion of blogs and other online tools has created a forum for people to exchange their views on practically everything.The Internet has diluted the power of the consumer brand, says Ray Villares, interactive marketing managing director at Acquity Group, a Chicago-based digital marketing firm.Companies that provide a portal that speaks to consumers’ needs and offers objective or peer-generated advice will have an advantage, he says. “It’s about convenience,” Villares says. “Your website can subliminally communicate how customer-oriented you are.”The more complex the topic, the more assistance and feedback people crave, and there are few topics more nerve-racking or complicated than figuring out how to spend — and finance — the rest of one’s life, Gallant says.TIAA-Cref’s customer base lends itself naturally to such a community-driven mind-set, since the company’s 90-year heritage comes from delivering retirement plans at low cost to educational institutions and nonprofits, he says. To help engender that close-knit sense, TIAA-Cref plans to recruit heavily among participants in Lexington, Ky., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Ann Arbor, Mich., according to company spokeswoman Abby Cohen.TIAA-Cref has faced its challenges in attracting new assets, says Morningstar analyst Christopher Davis. Despite efforts to broaden its retail reach, most of the company’s $430 billion under management is locked into qualified retirement plans. Competitive pressures in the nonprofit retirement plan space from companies such as Vanguard and T. Rowe Price, along with outflows, subpar performance and the loss of some large state-sponsored 529 college saving plans programs, have proven to be difficult challenges for TIAA-Cref.Still, Davis notes, while the company has struggled to boost its retail brand recognition, its retirement plan customers consider the company “one of the good guys” and “an advocate.”By and large, asset managers have underutilized such Web 2.0 tools, says Lee Kowarski, a managing director at consultancy kasina.“The idea of community is so important, particularly around retirement planning,” he says. Although social networking may be most readily associated with the school-age set, Kowarski says those over 50 years of age are online too.In fact, of the 34.7 million Americans between 50 and 64 years old who went online last month, a whopping 20.2 million of them visited social networking sites, according to data from comScore, a Chicago-based firm that tracks online consumer behavior.On average in November, each of those boomers spent 142.8 minutes, or nearly two and a half hours, on such sites, comScore data show.Sites such as AgingHipsters.com3, GenPlus4, IRememberJFK.com5 and Saga Zone6 each testify to the appeal of social networking among boomers. Eons.com7, for example, has registered 600,000 users since it launched in July of 2006, according to a company spokesman.It’s not only boomers who are motivated by peer communication and online communities. FRC research shows that retirees and those over the age of 50 command about 59% of the industry’s marketing attentions when it comes to retirement income planning. Meanwhile only 12% of such efforts are geared toward those between 30 and 40 years old, and 7% at those under 30.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Amy Zuckerman profiled on CNN

Lots of hullaballoo this past week over the very important survey that Amy and I put together to get some stats on the virtual business trend and careers for Boomers and 50 Plus. We teamed up with EONS, who featured the survey on their home page over the weekend and now have it installed on my Eons group. I encourage you to make yourself heard...your voice counts.

And so does Amy's...she was profiled on CNN -- Living. To learn more about the concepts that are shaping and changing the workforce, read the article!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Blogging Boomers Carnival #50

Wow. BBC 50. How can a year have come and gone so quickly? Well, it is my honor (honour for my Canadian, UK and Oz readers!) to be this week's host site for the Blogging Boomers Carnival and bring you the last Carnival for 2007! When we started posting, in carnival format, last year, we didn't know what would happen. Most of the original group are still here (and still in fine form) and we've added in a few other fantastic bloggers to our carnival over the year. If you've never enjoyed a carnival before, then you are in for a treat this week. Lots of delicious posts from some of the most interesting, informed, and invested boomer bloggers around. Click on the links and see what is being written about. If you like a particular blogger, why not subscribe to their feed and get to know them even better? Here goes -- in no particular order:

Don't Gel Yet takes a peek at Manhattan travel costs and idiosyncrasies around the holidays. More smart-aleck than anything else...so enjoy it!

Life Two tells us that at times it may drive you crazy, but according to researchers, marriage can make you smarter.

With the Holiday season upon us, The Wastrel Show reminds us that getting back to basics just may be the low- cost alternative to gift giving we need right now.

Your Drum has a humorous video that pokes fun at baby boomers set to "Born To be Wild." You'll have a chuckle and sadly, wonder how much of it is true.

Can you believe that Dustin Hoffman turned 70 this year? How about Loretta 'Hot Lips Houlihan' Swit? Or Bill Cosby? Head over to Contemporary Retirement to see who else turned 70 in 2007 and to see if you can tell who's had a little 'work' done and who hasn't...

If you're planning on asking Santa for a little bling bling this Christmas then hop on over to Fabulous after 40, where The Glam Gals have all the news about the hottest trends in fine jewelry.

Despite boomers' claims of wanting to help society, is it possible most would rather retire to a life of travel and golf? So Baby Boomer sets us straight!

If you just can't get enough...did you know that there are a ton of websites dedicated solely to baby boomers? The Boomer Chronicles tells you all about them.

And finally, in Gen Plus news, two important items this past week -- the first is the excitement in the air over the Kelly Services pilot program with Gen Plus, targeting the 50 plus jobseeker; and second, an exciting and important survey in collaboration with EONS.

On behalf of all the Blogging Boomers, happy belated Chanukah, a Merry Christmas, festive holidays to all and a happy, happy New Year!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Amy Zuckerman and Wendy Spiegel join forces: New national survey on Eons

I'm very pleased to announce that after some serious trendwatching, Amy Zuckerman (of A-Z International) and I have put together a relevant survey on what our demographic is thinking regarding their future careers and the virtual business trend. We teamed up with Eons to get the word out and the survey is picking up interest. It features this weekend and over the next couple of weeks on Eons. Please stop by and make your voice heard. Here is the intro to the survey:

Millions of Americans work out of home or small rental offices utilizing technology to drive their work or business. How many are doing so is unknown as the U.S. Census Bureau has not changed its questions to track the virtual business trend. To do so requires a Congressional mandate, and to date no one in Congress has made public their aim to champion this issue.This may change soon as the New York Times Magazine and NPR recently put a focus on the home-based working population, with Times writer Matt Bai in early November challenging the 2008 presidential candidates to focus on the needs of the growing number of home-based business owners. What he missed was the larger trend – the rise of the virtual work place -- of which home-based entrepreneurs are just a percentage.
Working virtually means operating a business in a small-office setting with technology as a key support mechanism.Given that many people working virtually are Boomers, EONS has teamed up with Amy Zuckerman, the EONS Virtual Business manager and Wendy Spiegel, the EONS Careers for Boomers and 50+ manager, to develop a survey to gather data on the virtual work place and shed some light on Boomer career ambitions. Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey so we can collect missing data, and inform the public. Without data from you on your work styles and retirement plans neither government or service providers -- from homebuilders to broadband providers, health insurers to technology vendors -- can meet your needs.

7 year itch + social philanthropy = jobs for 50 plussers!

I've got the 7 year itch...that's right...I'm 48 1/2...turning 49 within a few short months. That is an exponential "7". 7 squared. 7 x 7. Am I going to buy a new car? Yup. Try to get into better shape? Yup. Make some exponential changes in my life this year? Yup.

I don't know what it is about 7. This past summer, on July 7, 2007 (7/7/7) more people chose to get married than on any other day in recorded history (on a Saturday, the seventh day of the week and many tried for 7:00 pm.) Lucky 7, tripled -- or even quadrupled!

So, this year, in July, I turn 7 x 7. One year away from the big 5-0 (which I am already celebrating in my advocacy of all things 50 plus).

The big question is where is the itch going to take me? Am I going to uproot myself and family and head to a new city for new adventures? Travel to China, finally? I'm not sure, but I feel the wave.

My most compelling itch lies in my desire and need to give back -- in my case, continuing my social efforts on behalf of Gen Plussers (Boomers and 50 plussers) and their need to find meaningful employment opportunities.

And it turns out I'm not so unusual. A colleague passed along an article that was in last week's Business Week, by Toddi Gunther, an interview with Marc Freedman's efforts through think tank Civic Ventures.

My take-away from the article was that, in Freedman's view, Boomers and 50 plussers are determined to continue to find meaning through their social philanthropy -- i.e. giving back to the community -- whether through the type of work they choose to do, the organizations they are involved in, the continued education they take onboard. Freedman has coined the term "encore" careers, which really means the jobs you take on in your continued stages of career choice/development/necessity (!)

How do you define an encore career?
It's when someone can earn income, find new meaning, and use accumulated experience in ways that have a positive impact on society. At the same time, encore careers fill a set of talent shortages that threaten to compromise our education and health-care systems. They represent the best use of the accumulated experience of the baby-boomer population.
Why do you use the term only in the context of
give-back jobs?

We know from surveys that a significant percentage of boomers is already thinking about working in an area of the social sector. Our challenge is to take all of those people and get them jobs.
This resonates with me is because of the efforts (and strides) Gen Plus has been making in connecting the 50-plus friendly employer with the 50 -plus jobseeker. One case in point is our new and very exciting collaboration with Kelly Services (head to our work site for more details or sign up as a jobseeker to look up the job postings!) Not only is Kelly Educational Services focusing in on substitute teaching positions as a viable option for transition or permanent career choices, but according to their Senior Recruiting Specialist:

We see many mature workers come to us because they want to feel that they are giving back and teaching fulfills that.

You may not realize it but you might already meet most of the qualifications to be a substitute teacher, and from folks I know who take on teaching as a career choice, they find it highly rewarding, both emotionally and financially.

If you live in any of these regions, there are jobs posted that may appeal to you:

Los Angeles
Washington DC
New York
Los Angeles
San Francisco
New York
We are highly commited to the success of this pilot program and need you to make your voice heard. So go online, register as a jobseeker (all of this is free, by the way) and if you are interested in one of the Kelly Services jobs, make sure to apply. The recruiters are waiting to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Al Gore, Nobel, Going Green and Finding Jobs at 50 plus

I was listening to a snippet of Al Gore's acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. His efforts on advocating for green actions to reduce and/or adapt to global warming are quite exceptional. A few things struck me.

1) He had to reinvent himself after a particularly hard fall. Not much can be more humbling or devastating than to lose a federal election in the way he did.

2) He has dedicated himself to the cause of our global environment.

3) He is 50 plus (he's 59.)

I have an idea just circling around in my head. I'm not sure where I'm going with it yet, but it definitely has to do with connecting 50 plus jobseekers, global warming, and green action to address the planetary crisis we are finding ourselves in.

Just a few thoughts:

There is a connection here. I've got my antennae up.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Blogging Boomers Carnival #49

Contemporary Retirement is this week's unretiring host for the Blogging Boomer's Carnival. Hop on over for some of the most interesting boomer snippets being posted on the web in the past week.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Air Car

I've been looking for the right car for me for the past year. I drive a luxury mini-van that happens to be fairly fuel-efficient and would love to move to an electric, hybrid or some sort of vehicle that is more "green" and also gives me the versatility I'm looking for in a mini-van.

I've found it. Not here yet, but MDI in France has developed The Air Car...a car that runs on compressed air under 30 mph and switches to fuel for higher speed driving. It is cute as a button AND comes in a "van" style (pictured above left is the Mini-Cat -- the tiny city version) similar to the SMART car (above right, which I fell in love with in Italy), although I like the MDI family version of the car, too (pictured below). 2, 4 and 6 cylinder version and at a sweet, sweet price -- well under $20K for the fully loaded versions. Coming out in summer 2008 in France and India. I'm on the wait list for the US.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Welcome Kelly Services -- Hello Jobs for 50 Plussers!

After several months of communication and discussion, Kelly Services is piloting a partner program with Gen Plus (www.genplususa.com) to target the 50 plus jobseeker. Over the next few months we'll be trying to match up job openings that are decidedly 50 plus favorable with jobseeker needs and help get you back into the market faster.

One area of particular interest is that of substitute teaching. You'll start to notice more and more postings cropping up on the Gen Plus site and you'll also be surprised at how easy it is to become a substitute teacher in many states.

Kelly Recruiters also engage in passive search and this morning, in our conference call, one of the questions came up about how to access resumes of our jobseekers. So head's up. If you haven't signed up (free) as a jobseeker on Gen Plus, please do so asap (www.genplususa.com/work.aspx). As well, if you have not posted your resume, please do so asap. Every minute you are not making yourself available is another minute wasted in your job search.

Kelly is looking for you. Don't disappoint them (or me!) Get online and start applying to the jobs posted on Gen Plus this week. I'll be posting on specific opportunities as they come up.

It is VERY hard to find employers who will open their doors to the 50 plus market. Kelly has a division dedicated specifically to the mature worker and they get a big vote from me for proactively helping to get this program together with Gen Plus.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Chaa...ching. Money talk, for women

I was unable to take part in a blogger news conference last week on the Pax World Women’s Equity Fund with Sujatha Avutu and Julie Fox Gorte. However I was delighted to get a few of my questions asked in my absense and here is the link for any of you who would like to get some top notch education first-hand (or should that be "cyber"hand?) The purpose of the news conference was to brief bloggers on issues surrounding investing strategies for women, making policy-aware investments and the nature of a mutual fund committed not only to the financial bottom line but to the ethical one as well.

For those of you who do not stay on top of what goes on in the financial world, this is a must-listen. This is a lively discussion and filled with fantastic information on social investing, sustainability, micro-investing and on and on. This is named a women's fund because their is a service focus on the gender needs of the client and the type of information that women must be aware of as they invest, however, the fund is open to all. I love these types of e-conferences. Bloggers really offer an exciting form of new media (vs. traditional media) -- they are not beholden to anyone other than their own personal mission or direction -- and as such they are determined to source the best information they can get for their readers. This conference is no exception.

Chappy Chanukah!

A very happy Chanukah to those of you who celebrate this sweet holiday and the lighting of the menorah.  Sadly, I'm allergic to white potato starch...but this year...it will be SWEET potato latkes (no allergy!) I'm very excited.  Check out this recipe.  Yum.  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/105919

My new media penpal

Last night I had a great privilege.  I got to meet a fellow blogger.  For many of you who are 100% time-committed to blogging, you may attend blogger symposiums and conferences, meet niche bloggers at niche events, like BlogHer, or spend time with other writers, journalists or techies who spend the majority of their time in the new media medium.


But, for me, a single mom, corporate executive by day and super-blogger and champion of Boomer and 50 plus by night, most of my interaction is, necessarily, online.  I’ve had the wonderful good fortune to make many new cyberfriends and develop business associations with like-minded bloggers.  We see each other’s pictures online, have rapid-fire exchanges of ideas, and meet up through online vehicles.


So when I have the chance to meet a fellow writer, blogger, advocate, in person…I am beside myself.  Occasionally a blogger will head to LA and because I do travel in my daytime world, I am in many cities across the US, so I tend to meet up with kindred spirits on the road.  Imagine my excitement when I got an email from a fellow blogger who, at the last minute, was coming to LA. 


And so, of course, we met up last evening.  Although it was the first time we had met in person, we were like little girls, curled up on an outdoor sofa at a Beverly Hills hotel, exchanging our thoughts, ideas, sharing links and diet Coke with Mac on lap!  Cynthia Samuels is a wonderful writer, free spirit and a breath of fresh air. Her blog travels from  Costco to Vietnam and on to Randy Newman!  The few hours flew by and I felt just the way I had when as a young child, I had the opportunity to meet one of my penpals (except I was much younger and really had nothing to talk about at the time.)


Lately, I’ve been hearing from other bloggers who are looking to meet up if we end up in the same cities…and for me…what a wonderful way to mesh the daily world and the online world.  Two communities really converging in a new century way.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Blogging Boomers Carnival #48 is up!

The always fascinating Baby Boomer Chronicles is this week's host to the Blogging Boomers Carnival -- chock full of interesting, insightful and sometimes insufferable boomer insights of the week!

And on a side note spaces are filling for the Gen Plus Town Hall in LA on January 22nd -- if you aren't working, looking to change your job/career, or just looking for a meaningful strategy for the next decade, we'd love to have you join us. Click on the link for more info on this free event.