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

Monday, March 31, 2008

BBC 63 is here...

From living with Mom to looking good sitting behind your computer, this week's Blogging Boomers Carnival, hosted at I Remember JFK (LOVE that blog!) is filled with great pickin's to get your week going. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Diversifying Your Porfolio...Career Portfolio That Is...

In money matters, financial advisors tell us the rule of thumb is to diversify our investments. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Never 100% in stocks and certainly never 100% all in one stock. You need some cash, some bonds, CDs or term deposits, mutual funds, stock mix (domestic and international), big and small business. That way if one sector crashes, at least you are safe in your other areas of investment. Your portfolio may wobble, but it will not fall.

If you are risk adverse, then you hedge your portfolio to the bond/cash side of conservative investment. If you are risk confident, more money to play with, you look for dynamic trends and high paying, riskier stocks. And there is a whole world of range in between.

So why would we, as boomers and 50 plussers treat our career portfolios so differently? I've been exploring the concepts of multi-channel in career, or "career-chunking" and from what I sense, this will become the new direction for our demographic. If you think about your range of career, whether you stayed in one job for 25 years (not as likely anymore) or one industry for 35 years (often the case) or moved around every 4-7 years following a new pursuit (very often the case especially for the later boomers --1957-1964 range) then you have a lifetime of experience and diversity in your skill set that can and should translate into different chunks or opportunities in the job market.

If you are risk adverse, then you'll want one job with one employer and the security that implies to you. That's what you'll look for, that's where you'll feel comfortable and you'll send out 400 - 1000+ resumes in your job search until you find a position that does or doesn't fit into your goals, but will be a job. The fallacy is that there is job security. Take a look at the competition -- the Gen Y'ers that employers are falling over themselves to hang on to. Does Gen Y stick around for more than a couple of years? No. They look for opportunities that fit their life goals and work/life balance and not the other way around. Employers like them because they are very technology savvy -- in fact, way ahead of most of their employers, so they bring a desired skill set to the table. But...they don't have stick-to-it-iveness, don't deliver or believe in customer service, want what they want now (including heft salary jumps), and if the job doesn't fit in with their lifestyle, they'll leave and find one that will.

A one-year job is a long time for a Gen Yer (tech stock) and is a drop in the bucket for a Boomer (blue chip). Wow. Worlds apart, no? So, if there really no longer is job security, and even worse, if it continues to be so hard to find work at 50 plus, how do you pay the bills? That is where chunking or multi-channeling comes in.

Small business will continue to grow as 50 plussers create business in order to make money. We will no longer be saved by (for the most part)traditional jobs with traditional employers for many of us. Pensions are a thing of the past, employee contribution into the medical plans is growing, succession planning is taking a back seat in favor of basic retention initiatives.

So, in order to even understand what you have to offer, in order to take the greatest advantage of career opportunities while minimizing your risk, you need to look at your full portfolio and see where you have spread your work investment. Once you've identified that, then you can focus on your own ROI (Return on Investment).

Let me give you an example. I started off at university with a BA -- liberal arts and a love of film and theatre. My career portfolio then went on to embrace sales, theatre and film careers, non-profit (public relations and development), field director of operations, national director for a large corporation, and building a small business while learning social media and social networking. That is very diverse. My strongest assets are my general management expertise combined with my knowledge of social media (Web 2.0). And within the range of general management alone, I can split out P&L, budgeting, marketing (service or product), management, training, content creation, knowledge management....and on and on...you get the picture.

The smart move, if traditional, conservative job search hasn't been working (and yes, jobs are being cut, and yes, there really is a recession edging in on us...) is to look at each skill set as a portfolio chunk and find focused jobs, contracts, or positions that embrace an individual skill or chunk. This means I retool or reposition my skills to maximize my return on that set. Spreading or diversifying my career portfolio and capitalizing on each area as a subset of that portfolio.

Let's say I had a less eclectic, more traditional career path...if I had been in the mortgage industry for 25 years, or an office manager for 20, it would then be important to identify and isolate the particular skills I developed in those positions to prepare them for retooling and diversification.

To my perception, this is an important theme and one that I'll continue to revisit.

Here is some food for thought. China has 400,000,000 citizens over the age of 50. More than the population of the entire North American continent. They have moved from a rural, agrarian culture, to an industrialized one in a very short time. Kids have left the farms for the cities, leaving aging parents to care for the land. An entire culture is going to be retooled because the government cannot create the types of programs needed to service so many -- all converting demographics at the same time. Kind of like our social security debacle, only multiplied many times over and over again. Compared to the scope of that challenge, boomer chunking/diversification should be a piece'o'cake.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

BBC 62 is up!

The Cafe Glam gals are this week's hosts of Blogging Boomers Carnival #62. I can't think of a nicer way to hop into Easter!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

During Spring Break, we went on a family road trip...me, my dad, his dog...and my child. It was a lovely trip -- Scottsdale, Sedona, Indian ruins, luncheon at the Enchantment Resort, a lot of driving and a lot of vortex energy (whether you believe in vortexes or not, a visit to Sedona is always uplifting.)

Sitting on the long ride back from Sedona, I took off my shoes and planted my feet up on the dashboard. Being that we were in the desert with unending shrubs and cacti, I had the time (which I never really have) to take a good look at my feet (which I've never really done). My feet that have served me well for 48 years. A bit wrinkly, the weight of my life flattening out my heels just a bit. Not gorgeous feet...but certainly good feet. Solid, sturdy, a bit calloused, still flexible. Slightly bent big toes from 20 years in high heels. The spread that occured during pregnancy and left my feet 1/2 size bigger than pre-baby. So I took a picture of them...my feet...because I realized that I'd never, ever photographed my feet before and I might just want to look back on them when I'm 78 and they are a bit more crooked, a lot more crinkled and quite wrinkled. Like the lines of life that mark our faces, our feet tell the story of how we moved, walked, paced, ran through life and they bend and change through bearing our emotional and physical weight.

When my child was a teeny baby nothing thrilled me more than to look at, play with, nibble on her little toes. My daughter's feet, up until 8 years old, were perfect. Not a callous, scar or blemish. I've got pics of her feet at 1 and 2 and 3 years old...and, now, at 8, she is developing a few little marks here and there. Life's challenges are slowly starting to permanently change her little feet. On that long ride, I made a pledge to take pictures of her feet from now on. So that when she is 48, like her mom, she can proudly study her own feet with her life's travels upon them.

Friday, March 21, 2008


If you are a Boomer or 50 Plusser who blogs, and would like to be added to my "Z-list" please send me the link to your blog and a one or two sentence description of what you blog about. The criteria: you must be posting a minimum of once a week, you must be a boomer or older, if you stop blogging for over a month, you may find yourself removed. No adult content sites will be accepted and there is no guarantee that your blog will be listed. But if you are a proud blogger, send your site along for consideration.

Yes...It's Really Me!

You will notice a change on the Gen Plus Blog. My name.

You've known me as Wendy Spiegel for several years for a few reasons and I've now gone to my full name...Janet Wendy Spiegel. When I started blogging, I was unsure about how "known" I wanted to be. I also wanted to keep my personal life and blogging life very separate. However, as it turns out, the two have merged -- my business has become very entwined with blogging and as a champion of the 50 plus demographic, it is becoming very important to join the two worlds together. In addition to this blog, I run www.genplususa.com, a job site for 50 plussers, and provide a range of consulting services for small businesses -- from staff management, to office automation, to website development and content generation (and a lot more!)

There are other Janet Spiegels and other Wendy Spiegels, but, I think, only one Janet Wendy Spiegel...me. So you'll notice that my profile, signature and email now include my full name. For those of you who connect to me on Facebook, MySpace, or through LinkedIn, those profiles will change as well. There are some arenas, like Eons, where I may not be able to add my first name, but Wendy Spiegel and Janet Wendy Spiegel are one and the same.

If you are used to me as Wendy, I'll still answer to both names. And I'm as commited, as always, to the challenges boomers and 50 plussers are facing as they get older in the workplace.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Blogging Boomers Carnival #61

I'm the host of this week's Blogging Boomers Carnival -- it is unusual to host twice in a month, so I'm doubly honored to focus your attention on the thoughts, observations and meanderings of the eclectic group of bloggers who take part in our weekly carnival.

Right out of the gate, is a post by one of the Carnival co-founders, Wesley Hein. His post this week looks at what happens when spouses have different sleeping patterns; night owls versus early birds.

Now that you are awake, our other Carnival co-founder, Rhea Becker, stirs up a little political poetry: Could there possibly be a silver lining to the scandal involving New York Governor Eliot Spitzer?

Speaking of comedy...where does comedy fit in our political culture? Where should it? What’s changed since the Mort Sahl days? Anything? Head over to Don't Gel Yet for an insightful look into politics and humor.

So Baby Boomer brings some useful silver to the table: As Baby Boomers see retirement in their horizon, financial planners counsel against these common mistakes.

Now that you've turned your silver into a bit of gold, look for your ideas of what to wear this Spring over at Fabulous after 40, where the Glam Gals have the latest scoop from Boomer Beauties in Palm Beach.

But, hold on to your money just a little bit longer...The Wastrel Show passes along this info: The recession is taking a bite out of dining out. You may just want to see what's being served before you place your order.

No hints, tips, advice or thought-provoking articles from Contemporary Retirement this week... just a cute and funny video entitled 'Charlie bit me!' that's been doing the rounds in the UK.

And from yours truly, if you haven't considered the concept of "skills-chunking", read this post from earlier this week and see what jobs might fit your chunks!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Where to Start at 50 Plus?

I get quite a few emails -- both from this blog and from my group on Eons -- from readers who are trying to find a direction and don't know where to start.

"I'm 59 years old, have just been down-sized out of my position. I've been in mortgage placement my whole life and with the market the way it is...I don't know where to start..."


"Help please! At 51, I don't know what to do. I've just gotten through a tough divorce and have to work. All I can find are sales positions in retail stores for $9/hour. I can't make ends meet. I can't get a foot in the door for higher paying positions because I don't have a consistent resume. Where do I start?"


"At 62 I still need to work. Even though I held a pretty high-powered executive position, there is no way anyone will hire me at 62. I can't even figure out how to translate my skills into something marketable. Any suggestions?"

These are just a few. But you can get the idea. Everyone feels that they have come to a dead end and are trying to figure out where to start from. And that is the real challenge. Finding a way to change the "dead end" to a "crossroads". Not "starting" again, but continuing, by capitalizing on strengths. A lot of us talk about the challenges about competing against the younger Gen Y'ers. But honestly, we're not competing with them. They are at entry points in their careers. They don't have the experience...the translatable experience behind them.

So, let me look at myself, for example. Background as a general management leader for many years. Experience in film and theatre on the production end. Non-profit experience. And...obviously, web experience. If I have to start again...where WOULD I start? Who would hire me? I've got too much on my plate to even be considered for most positions unless I were looking specifically at high "C", GM or VP positions. But if I was looking to retool myself into a more manageable career, I'd have to take a different approach. I'd have to chunk.

What would those chunks be?

Well, I know how to market via the internet -- both virally and using a field marketing approach to the web. I know how to build and promote websites and products. But I'm a party of one. Am I directly marketable to big business in this chunk? Probably not. But do I create websites and market them for small businesses? Yes. If they are just starting to set up content on a SharePoint system, could I manage that program for them? Yes. Because they need all my expertise, wrapped up in one, less expensive entity. Me.

What could another chunk be? Consulting on setting up and managing a business? Definitely. Motivating and mobilizing a team? Absolutely. But would I be interested in flying all over the world at this stage to consult with companies in China or Japan? Not right now. With an 8 year old to care for. But, can I share these skills with smaller businesses who are overwhelmed with setting up their books or managing a small work force? Yes. That would be great for me.

And on and on. Taking little bits of my vast experience and chunking them out. Does this mean I have to strike out on my own and create a business? No. Certainly not...but it means looking at each skill as a complete skill set and repositioning or retooling my personal brand to get the best representation in my job search. Could I create my own business in this way? Yes, if I had the determination and backup (financial) to build up the business over time. Or, I can rebrand myself for the type of job that fits one or several of my chunks.

So, think about your many skill sets. Break them out. Simplify them. And then, I'd love to hear what YOUR chunks are.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Being a Career Parent

If you are an older parent, like me, then you likely have dealt with managing a career and a household at the same time. In my case, I'm a single mother, with an 8 year old. My own mother lives with me and has helped to redefine our family model. (This is the mom who just launched her book "Cryo Kid: Drawing a New Map")

I've always sought balance -- between career and being a mom -- and have come to realize that there is really no such thing as balance. There is the juggle of being a breadwinner against the responsibilities of parenthood, but balance? Not that I've found. Some days I'm a great manager, leading my teams to success, and not doing so well on the "mom" front. Other days, I'm the best mom in the world, and my work life may suffer. So, my definition of balance is a bit different. It is a finely tuned recipe for the best-of that I can manage. My choice is to sacrifice a bit of personal life so that I can be great in career and great in motherhood.

So, tomorrow, for me, is about to be a great day. Because I'm going to be the field trip mom for my daughter's class. My child is 8, in grade 2, and I've never gone on a field trip with her or her class. The kids may be excited, but I can guarantee...there is NO one more excited than me. I get to eat a sack lunch, take kids to the bathrooms, and be their "official" tour guide. My daughter is besider herself with pride and I am more excited and nervous than I would be before making a major presentation.

So, balance, schmalance. My bottom line? Tomorrow...I'm a field trip mom.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's Monday. Check out Blogging Boomers Carnival #60

Yes, indeedy. 60 IS the new 40! For some internet hopping, check out this week's Blogging Boomers Carnival over at Life Two. Fun, thrills, excitement!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Blogging at Boomer and Beyond

When I first started blogging, it was because it was an unknown entity to me. I didn't really understand what a blog was, how one created one, or why one would want to bare all to the world. Now that I've been writing for several years, blogging has become a natural outlet for my thoughts and opinions. With all the talk of new media, can I really call my self new media journalism? No. Not in my opinion. In my opinion, what I offer is often factual, colored by my experience and surrounded by...well...my opinion.

Prior to telephone communication, people wrote. They wrote letters to each other, chronicling, in great detail, all aspects of their lives. They wrote journals, capturing the activities and thoughts of the day down on paper. For a period of time, writing seemed to wither away. But, the blogosphere has provided a different form of communication -- open writing. Whether I chronicle my day, a thought, an opinion, or commentary on facts, I write to a broad audience and whether you, the reader, are from India, China, the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Italy, or anywhere in between, you choose to read or not read. If you are a subscriber, then your decision to read what I write about is a more deliberate decision. Some days you read the post, and some days you'll trash it...depending upon my title, my subject, your mood, your time available, etc.

All this is great, because it just means that writing is back in fashion. And words are very powerful. Reading opinion is back in fashion. Information is freely given (it may not always be correct, but the info is there for the sharing.)

That is what I love the most. Being able to learn something new every day. Whether I'm reading blogging tips (tons of great sites -- http://www.idiotsguidetoblogging.com/ to http://www.doshdosh.com/ to http://www.bloggingbasics101.com), news blogs, travel blogs, or boomer blogs, I learn. This evening I watched "The Miracle Worker" with my 8-year old. I hadn't seen the movie in years. It is the story of Ann Sullivan and Helen Keller and the pivotal moments that unlocked Helen Keller's world...by attaching a word to an object. Giving her a voice by giving her words. For Helen, it was associating the word "water" with the water flowing from a water pump. For many people today, they unlock their voices and their thoughts through chronicling and sharing their voice with the world.

This also translates through to job search at 50 plus. When you started in your career, how did you find a job? You physically walked, drove, entered many businesses, particularly ones you were keen on, and dropped off a resume. You read "What Color is My Parachute" and tried to network with everyone you could. You typed your resume and cover letters. And you followed every interview with a handwritten note.

Today, so many people are reliant upon internet generated search, that they forget that this is just ONE prong of job search. All the old methods still work and at 50 plus, they are necessary. Networking? Check. Targeting specific companies? Check. Following up with a note? Check, check. Having a personal website that chronicles your work history (like www.Linkedin.com or www.Facebook.com.) The written word. Whether on a web page, a piece of notepaper, or via email...never underestimate the power of words.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Things are heating up for 50 Plus in Canada -- Zoomer to Znoomer

A press conference on Friday, in Toronto, heralded in more news about the changes to CARP (Canadian version of AARP), and the launch of Zoomer magazine (which will replace the old CARP magazine.) A very funny article in the Toronto Sun...hope you like Canadian humoUr.

It's Monday...that's means it is Carnival. Blogging Boomers Carnival #59 that is...

Who DOESN'T love John Agno? No one. He is the host of this week's Blogging Boomers Carnival at his blog, So Baby Boomer. Just take one look at his smiling face, read a couple of his posts, and you'll be craving his motivational style for years to come! Head on over and travel with us across the blogosphere this week for some boomer insights that are a treasure to read.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A silly little thing called a Leap Year

Do you remember the disaster that was supposed to befall us in Y2K? The crisis when the millenium change would make mush of all our computer systems? Didn't really happen...but, I'm not convinced that ALL bugs were taken into account. The Leap Year, Feb. 29, 2008, got the best of us. Our database shut down, bugged out, slept in, took the day off on Friday and created havoc for our users. Thanks to those of you who wrote in. Our website, www.genplususa.com is back in business and hopefully all bugs are worked out. If you encounter any problems, please let me know right away or email info@genplususa.com.

There was also a problem with our subscription service (we use Feedblitz, which is an excellent service), but you may have received a few posts titled "403 message" or "403 error". When you click on the link, you'll get to this blog, but hopefully that is now resolved as well. If you are still getting the error message, you may have to log into your Feedblitz account and double-check your subscription.

As you probably know, on Leap Year you are allowed to ask out a fella. I was going to ask out the fella who runs our data server...but...ya know...that was before the whole system shut down. I think I'll wait another 4 years or so. See how we do when we hit 2010 first. Then, maybe I'll give Feb. 29, 2012 a shot.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Perpetual fascination with Gen Y? Watch this...

If you have not yet seen this original video "Daft Hands", then you owe it to yourself to spend the next few minutes in a bit of wonder and awe. This is Gen Y in action. Wait until about the one minute mark and be prepared to be entertained. Viewed by over 15,000,000 You Tubers is just the start of it....