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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

75 years old and Going Strong on Dr. Phil

Thanks to reader Richard M., who sent along this slideshow clip on a 75 year old woman's impassioned reaction to poor customer service in response to my post on VOiP earlier this week. My experience with transferring over to VOiP was not nearly THIS hairy, but I, along with millions of others who rely on our phone communications can relate!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The new technology, a Boomer and Beyond

I've gone digital. After deliberation, speculation, far too much analysis, and a great deal of trepidation, I've gone more than digital...I've gone disloyal.

I've switched to Vonage from AT&T. Which means I've gone internet digital -- cable (VOIP) instead of your standard phone wire, land-based line. What else does that mean? A ton'o'savings. I'm now paying about $50/month for two phone lines, which includes long distance to just about anywhere I'd want to call instead of the whopping $150-200/month for two land lines and long distance. Isn't that unbelievable?

Is the quality a bit different? Yes. A bit worse? Well...yes. Kind of like listening to your cell phone if you have digital. Sometimes a bit of an echo. Sometimes a bit tinny/garbled. But overall...fantastic.

Was it almost impossible to figure out how to set up and connect? Yes. Impossible -- I had to get a service call to do the set up. My 72 year old mother had to wait home for the tech, who had no phone wires, no power outlets, few tools. I had told my mom the tech was not allowed to leave without us having phone service, so my mother, ever game for some new adventure, had to rummage around our very disorganized garage seeking out a power cord, extra phone wire and other assorted tools.

Problems? A few -- router didn't work, was phoneless for almost 2 weeks. But the customer service was pretty darn good and I'm now going to save about $1200/year just on my home phones.

More on the tech front -- my new car (I'm in love...Buick Terraza) has On-Star. OK. I'm a suck. But I'm also a big fan of this new service. If I'm lonely in the car, all I have to do is push my little blue button and a friendly (usually female) voice says, "Hi. How can I help you today, Ms. Spiegel?" Now if that weren't enough, if I really need company on my long, long drives, we can chat for a little while as the attendant searches out impossible directions for my turn-by-turn navigation feature. When we hang up, I am then joined by my On-Star boyfriend, who talks me through every turn all the way to my destination. And if I really need more info, I can call my Virtual Assistant, who will share with me the latest in traffic conditions, weather and the stock market.

My last bit of tech discovery (and yup, I'm a bit late to the game on this one) was the new Motorola Razr that I got for signing up with Verizon (had to in order to combine my cell phone service with my new love, On-Star), so I abandoned Sprint and waited for my new phone to arrive. And WHAT a phone she is. Slim, sleek, pink, with so many bells, whistles and features that I'll need a year to figure them out. Camera, speakerphone, bluetooth, VCasting (whatever THAT is!) and best of all, once you enter a contact into your phone book, you can voice command to your heart's content.
I'm officially ready now for 2008.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Blogging Boomers Carnival #54 is up.

It's time to glam things up. This week's host of the Blogging Boomers carnival is the ever "with it" designing duo over at Fabulous After 40, Cafe Glam's Debi and JoJami.

And thank goodness for the fashionistas! I can write up a blue streak, but I don't seem to have a good eye for fashion myself. I can see someone really well put together and appreciate it, but gosh darn it, when I look in my closet, I have to really work at making the fashion statement myself. Fortunately, I have an 8 year old daughter who is not hesitant at all about giving me a two-thumbs up or down before I leave the house in the morning. Friday was a resounding two thumbs down. Today I got one thumb up. You get the picture.

But if you don't have a child with discriminating fashion sense, then Cafe Glam is a must-stop.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Boomer Career Issues -- An Issue in the 2008 Election Year...

Amy Zuckerman (my co-developer of the virtual business and career survey running on Eons.com) has just passed along her breaking press release -- and you're reading it here first. (If you scroll down, down, down, you'll find yours truly quoted -- always getting a word in on behalf of the 50 plusser jobseeker!)


Warn of an "Avalanche of Need" that Could Sweep the U.S. For Financially Strapped Boomers

Burke, Va. - Jan. 24, 2008 -- With the U.S. and global economy gyrating, national experts in career transition and the virtual, home-based workplace are urging all presidential candidates to place the needs of retiring boomers among their top priorities, particularly in regard to career retraining, small-business development and management support where there is evidence of growing demand for assistance.

Don Wilson, president and CEO of the Association of Small Business Development Center Network (ASBDC), representing 1,000 service centers nationwide that provide no-cost consulting and low-cost training to half a million small businesses annually, says he is grateful for this year's $10 million increase to ASBDC's budget. However, he points out that the amount is a drop in the bucket compared to demand his centers are starting to experience from retiring boomers seeking help starting or growing small enterprises to augment their incomes during retirement.

"The candidates are talking about education and here we are offering education for businesses," said Wilson, adding that the ASBDC was level-funded from 2000 until 2007. Despite the recent budget increase, he said in today's dollars ASBDC needs at least $115 million "to have the same buying power as we did in 2001. We actually served fewer counseling clients at a national level in 2006 (no numbers were available for 2007), which was down from 2005," and this is despite the fact that the first wave of boomers hit retirement age in 2007.

"For the past five or six years, we've been seeing an increasing number of older Americans coming in. As they reach retirement age, they want part-time work, or they say they want to start a home-based virtual business, a small manufacturing, or retail brick and mortar business," explained Wilson. Many have broad experience or great skill sets, "but need business management knowledge," he said, adding that "this does not come automatically."

By virtual business, Wilson is referring to a small business that relies on advanced technology to operate, whether from a home, a rental office or elsewhere.

Georgianna Parkin, vice-chair of ASBDC's board of directors and state director for the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (SBDC), is also witnessing "a continual increase each year among boomers who want to start a business. Some expand from hobbies, some for social reasons and others due to a perceived need in the market."

When asked if SBDC funding was adequate to meet projected boomer career or business counseling needs nationally, Parkin said "absolutely not." She pointed out that it was "critical to keep these boomers employed and active contributors to the economic base. Otherwise, we could have a population in debt, as well as ignoring the tremendous talent this population possesses."

Those serving boomers on websites and in private practices are equally concerned, particularly given the many boomers who are purported to be in debt. Amy Zuckerman, an award-winning author and consultant based in Amherst, Mass. who was recently profiled on CNN.com (12/17/07), warns candidates of an "avalanche of boomer need" that is about to sweep the country. Through the many blogs and groups she manages on boomer social networking sites such as EONS.com, Multiply, and TeeBeeDee.com, she is encountering many older boomers struggling to survive on Social Security and dwindling revenue.

"With boomers starting to retire in 2007 and many in debt, I am deeply concerned about the future. While the media and candidates are focusing a great deal on health care, which is positive, they are missing the enormous need for career retraining, as well assistance to the millions of boomers who are telling pollsters they intend to start their own businesses during retirement," said Zuckerman who also writes the blog: "Living a Virtual American Dream" (http//:www.virtualdream.amyz-blogspot.com).

She points to new data from a pilot Virtual Business and Careers survey currently housed on her EONS.com "Building a Virtual Company" group page (URL below). Preliminary findings, based on a sampling of EONS members, indicate that 77 percent of EONS respondents plan to operate a small, home-based business during their retirement years.
(The survey can be found at http://www.eons.com/survey/welcome/10.)

Although numbers from mid-December to the first week in January were based on a sample of only 170, they correlate with earlier polls by Yahoo.com and MassInc's Commonwealth Magazine, as well as anecdotal reporting from Newsweek's "Boomer Files." All of these regional and national sources have indicated that a majority of boomers - between 60 and 75 percent - plan to run home-based, virtual companies of various types when they are in retirement.

"The problem for many boomers, particularly those who have always worked for an employer, is that they don't have a clue about how to make money outside of a full-time job," said Zuckerman, who was the Small Business Administration's 2005 Home-Based Business Champion for New England and Massachusetts. "They don't know how to manage their time, manage technology, or market themselves. And many are falling prey to scam artists promising them a solid income from web-based schemes."

Zuckerman says she is pleased to see a new bill - The Parents' Tax Relief Act of 2007 - including tax incentives for those working at home. However, she points out that polls she has conducted with the members of Hidden-Tech (www.hidden-tech.net), an organization she founded in 2002, and from interviews nationwide, indicate that many boomers and others are operating virtual enterprises outside the home. "I'm concerned that that this bill will not assist many in the burgeoning virtual economy who do not operate strictly from their homes," she explained.

"The government," Zuckerman said, "needs to drastically beef up funding for boomer retraining through the ASBDC's small business development centers, as well as the SCORE program. And Congress needs to redraft the U.S. Census to gather data on the virtual economy, as a whole, and not focus solely on home-based companies."

Wendy Spiegel, founder of GEN PLUS (tm) - Reinventing 50 Plus (www.genplususa.com) in the Los Angeles area, cautions that "over the past several years of receiving e-mails from mature workers desperate for employment, it is clear that we are still five years or more away from large numbers of employers being truly willing to hire-or recruit for-a 50 plusser." Spiegel, who authors the popular Gen Plus blog (http://genplus.blogspot.com) and, like Zuckerman, has been an expert blogger on EONS.com, collaborated with Zuckerman in developing the survey that appears on the EONS.com site.

She believes that "as a result of the employment challenges and lack of financial security facing the mature worker, more and more jobseekers are going to have to find alternative ways to make a living. Multi-channel careering is going to become the new boomer trend, and that includes a significant increase in virtual industry, flex jobs, telecommuting, and virtual contact center positions."

On the flip side of the job coin, businesses will be "facing a massive talent shortage as all these boomers move out of full-time employment," said Charlie Grantham, co-founder of Work Design Collaborative and the Future of Work program with bases in California and Prescott, Ariz. "Companies will have to turn to the boomers as a part-time labor force," he said, "but the boomers won't be willing to commute to central-city corporate offices. We're going to have to learn how to manage a widely distributed work force whose members have a very different set of values and expectations about how, when, and where they work."

"We need a ton of new public policies to deal with this massive transformation in the workforce," argued Jim Ware, co-founder with Grantham of the Work Design Collaborative and the Future of Work program. "Work force development programs will have to include post-65ers, and we should be rethinking Social Security, health care, and 401K programs to be sure they meet the needs of both employers and all these 'free-agent' seniors," he says.

Monday, January 21, 2008

She's Up and She's a'runnin'. Blogging Boomers Carnival #53...

This week's host is The Wastrel Show. Head on over for some snippets from this week's Blogging Boomers!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Marketing to Boomers and 50 Plus? I'm JUST Irritated.

At 78 million plus strong, we are a marketers dream. The Boomer and 50 Plus generation falls into two camps. Those with and those without. Money, that is.

Marketers are falling over each other to find out what we will or won't spend our money on. Will there be a recession? Won't there be a recession? Will the media frenzy about the maybe yes/maybe no recession force a recession? What does Ben Bernake think?

I'll tell you what I think.
  • If I have a job and a house and can pay my bills...no recession.
  • If I have lost my job, lost or in the process of losing my house and cannot pay my bills...recession.
Regardless of what happens in the overall economy, it is our personal need and perception that really counts after all. So what I want to know from you is this:

What do you WANT to spend your money on in 2008?

What do you NEED to spend your money on in 2008?

What will you NOT spend your money on in 2008?

Add your comments to this post or email me directly at wspiegel@genplususa.com. I may post a survey and if I do, I'll also make sure to publish results.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Diabetes Type 3 and a possible link to Alzheimer's

A new study by a Brown Medical School team believes it may have discovered a new type of diabetes, which they are dubbing Diabetes Type 3. This is because the brain apparently produces insulin, in much the same way the pancreas produces insulin. As well, the brain plaque found in Alzheimer's patients is similar to the type of plaque produced in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients.

The study is at a very preliminary stage, so not a good idea to jump to any conclusions, but there has long been consensus that we are only at the tip of the iceberg in truly understanding diabetes in all its forms.

Earlier this week I caught a few sentences from a news story on how cellular interference has also provided some relief and reversal in Alzheimers sufferers (I can't find the source, but when I do I'll list it) and the links to the aging genes.

[Found it! http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/93508.php]

As medical technology continues to evolve, I believe we will see lifespan increasing by 10, 20 or 30 years. Our years of working, once the bulk of our adult life, will either increase to adapt to lifespan changes and financial needs, or out of necessity, life and our materials needs will change to accomodate the lifespan. All of the trends that are starting to gain in popularity are going to pick up steam with the continued aging of our population - from mature worker environments, to mult-channel jobs, to national health care programs, to multi-generational living communities. More to come. More to come. For a sci-fi junkie, like myself, I can't wait to see what is next.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The New Recruits: Older Worker...Wall Street Journal Calls it Right!

Erin White is on the ball.  This Wall Street Journal columnist focuses in on a few companies who are stepping up to the plate, recognizing the work shortage crisis ahead and doing something to WOO the older worker as a potential employee. 


Monday, January 14, 2008

Blogging Boomers Anniversary Issue!

Blogging Boomers Carnival hits our ONE year anniversary.  This week, hosted at Life Two, have fun reading up on some of the best boomer posts on the web.  Head on over and celebrate wtih us:  http://lifetwo.com/production/node/20080110-bloggingboomers-turns-1


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Over 50 and Want a Job with NASA? Yes...THAT NASA!

#1 -- Login to your Gen Plus account http://genplususa.com/login.aspx
#2 -- Search for jobs and look for keyword "NASA"
#3 -- Apply to the coolest job opportunity for all -- INCLUDING Boomers, 50 Plussers and retirees...

Huh? That's right. Our good friends at Kelly Services have passed along a spectacular opportunity and I'm spreading the word. Here is the job posting:

NASA (yes, that NASA, the National Association of Space and Aeronautics) is looking for a few good people for an amazing job opportunity! Are you up to the challenge? Kelly Services®, in partnership with NASA Space Camp®, is now recruiting camp counselors! This is a long-term opportunity to work on the NASA campus and be a part of Space Camp, Space Academy®, and the Aviation Challenge®.

What you’ll do as a camp counselor:
  • You’ll be supervising, motivating, and teaching young people (ages 9 – 18) as well as adults in a highly educational, exciting, and fun-filled camp environment!
  • You’ll lead a team of trainees through their weeklong camp experience.
  • When assigned to the simulations area, you will train the students in Space Shuttle mission simulators or jet fighter operations. What you’ll get out of it (aside from a really cool job):
  • Enhance your teamwork, leadership, and interpersonal skills.
  • Receive valuable experience in the areas of education, space science, and military science toward a future teaching, engineering, science, or military/aviation career. • Free room and board (dorm style) for out-of-town counselors.
  • $8 – $9/hour bi-weekly pay with direct deposit.
  • Supplemental insurance is available with prescription discount card.
  • Intensive paid training and NASA Space History lessons.
  • Paid time off.
  • Free meals.

What you’ll need to apply:

  • Be available beginning in January/February through August (preferred).
  • Completion of 30 college credit hours (as a minimum) in any major! Or if you have related life experience (e.g., being in the military), that will work too!
  • A real desire to work with trainees ranging from ages 9 – 50 and over.
  • You must be at least 20 years of age. Retirees are also welcome!
  • Some experience working with children or young adults.
  • Two letters of recommendation.
  • Your most recent school transcript. [ed. note: your most recent may be from 1962...but that is OK!]
  • An interest in space and aviation, and the ability to learn fast and retain information.
  • Successful completion of four-week counselor training program (provided by NASA), and completion of required testing.
  • Must be able to walk long distances.
  • Must be able to handle the demands and rigors of long days and responsibility"
This is a GREAT opportunity. If you currently have NO job, or are looking for a meaningful change, are looking to have an incredible career experience, give back to others, save a bit of money AND have one of the coolest job histories ever, don't delay and apply today. Your life experience has a great deal of value. Go for it. And let me know if you become a NASA counsellor. I'll want to shout it out to the world!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gen Plus Town Hall Meeting in Los Angeles Postponed.

Apologies to those of you who had planned on attending our Gen Plus Town Hall in LA on January 22nd. Due to an unavoidable scheduling challenge, I have to move the date. If you had already reserved a seat, a cancellation email has already gone out to your email address on file. If you were planning on popping in, better not! If you'd like to be on the wait list for the new date, please email me and I'll get you on.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How to make the most out of Kelly Services Job Postings

Kelly Services has been listing a few jobs on the Gen Plus career board in order to bring some of their postings to the 50 plus jobseeker. This is a pilot program that will only work if you are actively applying for the positions.

As a 50 plusser, there are two big, big challenges in the marketplace right now.

1) Employers are not jumping up and down seeking 50 plussers to fill vacant positions -- even if they are vacant for a period of time

2) 50 Plussers are afraid to be pegged as older than 50 for fears of not getting a foot in the door.

Where Kelly Services is a champion is that they have, literally, hundreds and thousands of positions to fill every day and they are looking for you -- the 50 plus worker. Some of the positions are temporary placements, some are temp to permanent, and some are permanent placement. From my personal experience (yes, I was a Kelly Girl back in the 80's), there is a great opportunity to gain permanent placement by starting in a temporary position and catching the eye of your employer because of your great attitude and work ethic. Just to give you an idea, Kelly puts a new employee to work every 30 seconds and every three minutes, a Kelly employee is hired permanently by a customer. That is a solid track record.

So, if you are seeking work, please send your resume in through one of the Kelly Services listings posted on the Gen Plus site (www.genplususa.com/work.aspx). If your application goes into the wrong geographic location, the recruiter will forward it to the correct recruitment office. The role of a placement agency is to fill open positions, so in order to be seen, that means you must apply -- for every open position you may qualify for. These recruiters are looking for you -- every application you send in through Gen Plus is coded specifically so that you will not just drop into the pool of all other candidates.

I'm not seeing enough of you take advantage of this great opportunity, so if you are serious about finding employment, please make sure to submit your resume to the posted positions so that you can be flagged for a Kelly recruiter. (You will not get flagged as Gen Plus through Kelly's direct website...you need to go through the Gen Plus job postings.)

I'd love to see this pilot program grow into something bigger so that you have access to job openings across the country, but you'll need to do your part, too, and apply to posted positions.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Looking Good -- Blogging Boomers is Back for 2008!

If you haven't joined us on a Monday before, then you may have missed out on Blogging Boomers Carnival. Each week, a host blogger (this week it is So Baby Boomer) puts out a "carnival" of some of the best posts on the web (or at least WE think so!). So, welcome, take a gander, and join us as we ring in 2008.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Two terrific articles on what's in store for 2007...

One of my favorite columnists, Ann Fischer (Fortune Senior Writer) wrote a great post on What to expect at work in 2008. If you are working and got between a 3-4% raise, you can expect about the same in 2008. And if you are not working, or looking for a new job, there is some great info about what you need to know to stay on top of the job search game and the power of the internet in your online profiling.

Another insightful blog post on Time Goes By takes a look at the health and wealth of the Baby Boomer moving into their 60's. If you are wondering who moved YOUR cheese, check this out and see where (if!) you fit into the retirement picture.

I have to go get a chocolate bar, now. And exercise. Darned resolutions.

It's January 4th and You've Forgotten Your Resolutions? Help is on the WAY!

Have you heard of Judy Marcus? She's the Memory Lady and she's got the goods on keeping those memory cells sharp.

Are you one of those people who just couldn't remember who you met at the holiday parties this year? Heading out in the New Year to make a bunch of new contacts wherever you go? Well, here's the SKINNY on Remembering People's Names.

If you want to improve your memory so you can remember the names of the people you meet, then a ccording to Judy Marcus, (Memory Lady and Author of WHERE ARE MY KEYS?), you will, if you use the SLIM rules:

1. Set your intention. Focus. Think, "YES, I can!"
2. Love the name of each person you choose to remember.
3. If a name gets stuck on the tip-of-your-tongue, just take a deep breath and start talking.
4. Make yourself memorable too.

For more information on how to LOVE what you remember, click on Judy's Blog or visit Judy's website: www.memorylady.com.

So...what were those resolutions?