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

My photo
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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best wishes for the New Year!

Shana Tova to those of you who celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year. Wishing you all a sweet, healthy and loving year ahead.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's Carnival! Check out BBC 87.

A great week for us boomer bloggers...especially in the US. Midlife Crisis Queen is this week's host. Enjoy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Less than $5?

Wisebread recently asked for submissions on what a person could do in their city for under $5 a person, so given the crunch on ALL our finances and with the turn to autumn, I gave it a thought and decided I'd post a few things that I love to do for under $5 in my city. Feel free to add your own. This will get linked to the post on Wisebread.

Encino, CA (Los Angeles)

I happen to live in a lovely part of Los Angeles -- ungodly hot in the summer, but fantastic weather the rest of the year. That means I can pretty much count on decent weather for an outdoor excursion on the weekends.

Right around the corner from me is the stunning Balboa Park. From my house, I can hop on my bike, get onto a bike path and cycle for about 10 miles through and around the park and Balboa Lake. To spend my $5, I stop, with my daughter, at the ice cream trucks dotted around the park and for $1 we can each enjoy a Superfudge and a SnoCone. If we're starving, we can find a hotdog vendor, which will top us up to our $5!

Another great local place is "The Stand". Every Monday night, hotdogs are free (or $1), and every Thursday night is free jazz in their outdoor patio. For $4 or $5 we can have a hotdog or mac'n'cheese and listen to some jazz in the great outdoors.

Last one -- throughout the summer, the Skirball Center has free jazz concerts in their outdoor hall. You can bring your dinner with you and eat out while listening to the sweet sounds of the multinational talent that comes in to tantalize the audience with their music.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Preserving America's Economy

"How did our economy reach this point?" That was the question President Bush asked for us tonight in his address to the nation.

Who remembers seeing the cookie jar up on the counter and, as a young child, not being able to reach it? Eventually, I figured out how to get a chair, climb up it, reach the cookie jar and reap the reward of chocolate chips melting in my mouth. My mom didn't put the cookie jar on the floor for me to crawl over and just stick my hand in the jar.

I've always been in awe at the number of credit card offers I received in the space of a week. This year, my 8 year old started receiving credit card offers, too. Wow. Free money. Pay no interest for 6 months, 12 months, 24 months. Refinance, spend, speculate. Fortunately, my dad always taught me to treat credit cards with a lot of trepidation. If I didn't have the money in the bank, I was not to put anything on the card. I still live by that rule. No money, no purchase. Do I have obligations? Yes. On a house. On a car. And in the past few years, the cookie jar was often and enticingly laid on the floor for me -- I could have refinanced my home 10 times over and redesigned my kitchen, my lawn, re-roofed, repainted, remodeled and even...re-chiminied. But I didn't. Taking on additional debt scared me after a lifetime of conservative spending. But I watched my friends buy into homes at no interest and inflated rates. And even with little debt, my cash flow is tight, as it is with many of us across the country. So I looked at all the junk in my garage, worth a whole lot at one time, and now, potential cash flow. Fall, back to school over...cooler weather coming...good time for a garage sale. And the influx of the $600 - $1000 I'll make on the items in my garage (which, when new, probably cost me $10,000), will help pay for my food, my gas, my electric bill and a magazine subscription from my daughter's school's magazine drive.

So now the US is having fantastic garage sale, too. $700 billion to buy all those overinflated mortgages at 10 cents on the dollar, but it will give some liquidity to the market. When the President says that we are experiencing a "serious economic crisis", it means we have no money. And the infusion of money into the market through purchase of unsaleable mortgages (and more) is really a massive garage sale. Depression era in the 21st century. Very bad. The money culture is over? I don't know...somehow the rich, rich seem to hang on.

Anyhoo....my garage sale is next Saturday, 8 a.m. Cash accepted. See you there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blogging Boomers Carnival #86 is up!

A lively carnival this week -- stop by host blogger, This Marriage Thing, and see how the financial market, Sarah Palin, and political punditry are faring in blogger circles.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Silent Rave

Today I learned something new. I learned about the Silent Rave. Most of us know what a Rave is -- it is a big old warehouse party -- often all night and in the past 20 - 30 years very often associated with drug use (remember Ecstasy?) Raves blossomed from smaller warehouse venues to full scale events hosting thousands of party-goers. Lights, sound, action, techno-pop, drugs, technology. Also known as "mobile clubbing" and not uncommon in Europe and Canada, it is now taking hold in the US.

As I listened to the story on NPR about yesterday's Silent Rave in New York's Union Square, I was captivated by the concept of all these people, coming together, at a planned party with a synchronized start time, but listening to their music of choice on their mobile players. I was imagining them dancing and laughing, but with the music only in their heads. And I wondered...what would happen if we had a silent presidential campaign. Would that be possible? Everyone gaining a good understanding of the issues and party positions and then coming together, as a group, and not saying anything. Just being there, in their own silent rave, listening to whatever they wanted to that expressed their political hopes and beliefs. Red, Blue, Democrat, Republican, Independants...all together and no talking. It would sound like this:

Would it mean that the candidates would really be able to talk, one-on-one, and heart to heart with Americans? On the ground, at silent campaigns, with hand-written signs asking "what are your concerns today?" Would we elect a president, then, based on what WE felt and thought and not what we were being FED to think?

I wonder. Silently.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm going to have to earn money til I'm 95...

I just had an epiphany as a result of today's Wall Street meltdown. I may have to change my focus. I've been spending years writing about Boomers and 50 Plussers to help express our voice and to creatively find ways for us to continue to secure meaningful employment as we hit the "50" benchmark for downsizing.

But, today, as Lehman Brothers went under and Merrill Lynch found new parents, and as 21st century, now under AIG and soon to be someone new, flounders....and as I'm just sitting here watching my portfolio plummet and wondering how many years until the rebound, I have to ask myself some obvious questions. How long will I really have to work until? My 70's? My 80's? My 90's?

I'm thinking (and let me know if you think I'm really wrong here), as I sit and watch 70-somethings working to make a few additional dollars, that I'll be working, whether I like it or not, into my late 70's, early 80's and possibly longer if anyone will have me.

So, I'm looking for a way to extend my writing career and may have to change the name of my blog to go along with it. How about "Gen Plus Plus -- Finding Work at 80 Plus". Has a nice ring to it, I think. And it ensures I'll have something to keep writing about for the next 30 years or so...wonder what Tina Fey would say?

Blogging Boomers Carnival #85

Ahhh...what is Monday without another week's installment of Blogging Boomers Carnival. This week, our host is Ann Harrison over at Contemporary Retirement. Grab your java and join our Koffee Klatch for awhile. (If you are younger than a Boomer, I'll be impressed if you know what a Koffee Klatch is.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tina Fey Returns to SNL as Sarah Palin

If you didn't get to see the skit last night, here it is. I think Fey does Palin, better than Palin does Palin!

Sarah Palin, Tina Fey and a great Sunday morning!

Oh my! Such a great Sunday morning. Between the Saturday Night Live (Tina Fey vamps as Palin with Amy Poehler as Clinton) intro last night and an article on Sarah Palin by Michael Seitzman, I am just laughing!!! I'll also point you to a great article by Cynthia Samuels on what we should be looking at with regards to our candidates.

Ayay. Alienating 50 plus?

I support Barack Obama's candidacy and I'm not a huge McCain/Palin fan, but as an advocate for 50 plussers, I have to make a comment about the new Obama ad. Bad move. In the ad, Obama's camp attacks McCain for his inability to use a computer or send email.

First of all, McCain can't. Type. Raise his arms to a comfortable position. Comb his hair. Tie his shoes. That is due to war injuries. Regardless, if he had NO injuries and had trouble with computers, that still makes no comment on his ability to run the country. And I think that Obama will have to make up for some lost ground with the 50 plus demographic. Take a look at today's LA Times article and more importantly, scroll through the comments. A lot of 50 plussers are a tad insulted.

I still do not support the McCain/Palin ticket. But alienating 50 plussers who aren't computer savvy is not the way for Obama to go. There's a lot of power in the 50 plus market and we are expecting our concerns to be a priority of the Democratic party -- especially in terms of healthcare and employment.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tragedy in Chatsworth, California

Today's post was going to be about employment. However, last night, as Ike was devastating Texas, we heard the San Fernando Valley fill with the sound of sirens as we experienced our own devastation in Chatworth, California -- a tragic commuter/freight train collision in Los Angeles, about 5 miles from my home. Please join me for a moment to extend thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims, the injured and the rescuers. At this time, there are 23 reported dead and 135 injured on a train of 220 commuters. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-traincrash14-2008sep14,0,3660884.story

Friday, September 12, 2008

Natalie Cole...Definitely Still Unforgettable.

What could be better on a Friday night than slipping off my shoes, sipping a glass of rich red wine, munching on bits of cheese and chocolate and...listening to the newly released "Still Unforgettable", a just lovely album by Natalie Cole. The eight-time Grammy winner, who has recently revealed her battles with Hepatitis C, has come up with a wonderful showcase album for her timeless voice and incredible phrasing. This exploration of American Pop Standards includes a heartwarming interpretation of "Walking My Baby Back Home", once again, in a duet with her late father, Nat King Cole.

And to get your next few Fridays off to a great start, Rhino Records has sent me a give-away copy that I'm going to randomly select a winner from my subscriber list. If you want to be in the draw and you are not yet a subscriber, just add your email to the subscribe me box. If you don't want to subscribe to the email feed, then just shoot me an email and I'll add your name into the mix, too! I'll draw names and announce the winner next Friday for inclusion in the following week's Blogging Boomers Carnival.

For a preview, click on any of the Listening Party Links:

Quick Time
Windows Media Audio
Real Player

You can also purchase I-Tunes.

Official Site http://www.nataliecole.com/
Official MySpace – www.myspace.com/nataliecole

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008

On September 11, 2001, my daughter was 18 months old. I lived 35 miles from my place of work, which in Los Angeles translated to a 1 - 1 1/2 hour commute each way, each day. I had to pass Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) each day on the way to and from the office and I was sandwiched between LAX and the Port of Los Angeles.

I remember being transfixed watching the news, watching the towers fall and then, actually leaving...for work. Against my best instincts that told me to stay home with my child. At the office, I was filled with angst, worried that something would happen in LA in concert with the terror-filled day in New York. I remember leaving the office mid-day along with many other parents, and returning home on eerily empty highways, as many other Los Angelenos had elected to stay home that day, following their instinct and watching the ongoing telecasts.

This morning, my daughter was adding the date to an overlooked piece of homework as she sat in the back of my car on the way to school. I heard her talking to herself, trying to figure out the month and date to put down on the piece of paper. July, 7, August 8, September 9! 9...11...2008. She was too young to remember that day, but hearing her so innocently say 9...11... and it having no real meaning for her...brought tears to my eyes on the long, short drive to her school this morning.

My heart is with those who lost families and friends on September 11th. My heart is with New Yorkers who cannot go through this day without reliving their September 11th.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Blogging Boomers Carnival #84

John Agno (So Baby Boomer) is this week's host of our Blogging Boomers Carnival. With such an exciting political week behind us, take a look at what our diverse group of boomer bloggers had to say!

Friday, September 05, 2008

What is McCain doing? Why, oh why Sarah Palin?

As a 49 year old woman, who climbed the corporate ladder, bumped my head against the glass ceiling many times and ultimately found a happy and successful career managing an operation quite a bit larger than the city of Wasalia, I have a lot to say about McCain's choice of Sarah Palin and a bit about the Republican Party.

I won't say it all, because I can literally go on for hours, and, frankly, I find the whole thing pretty interesting and fun just in terms of entertainment value (see this Huffington Post article from earlier in the week). There are a couple of items I am compelled to point out, even though they have been talked about in other media circles. (Great article by Gloria Steinem that has engendered a big response, btw.)

1) Executive experience. 75% of small business owners have more experience running businesses than many, many of our country's politicians. Who wouldn't want someone with P&L, multi-million dollar budgeting and large staff management and maybe some international business activity to bring that experience to the table. Heck. I have that. 20 years of it. Oh...and I've travelled to many, many countries and experienced diverse cultures so far. I have had a passport since I was a little child. And I speak French, a smattering of Spanish, and horrible Italian. Guess I could run...I've got the portfolio for it. And I'm a woman.
2) Foreign and national policy. The US is the mightiest consumer force in the world (or at least will be until China overtakes us in the near future.) With that might comes a tremendous responsibility to know and understand the nuances of our national stand against foreign issues and to be able to handle the pressure of making decisions that will ultimately affect the entire world. Palin does NOT have that experience. And no common sense, maverick (??) spirit, or spunk can make up for that lack of experience. Joe Biden does. A lot of it. Enough to support Obama through the in's and out's of foreign decision-making.

3) Representative of women. Not of me. That is for sure. I do not support the NRA. I believe in a woman's right to control her decisions and her body. Women fought long and hard to take the steps forward that I see embodied in Hillary Clinton's policies and career choices. There is no question that Palin has followed a fantastic career path, but there are many, many fine women Republicans who would have made much better VP candidates in terms of what they would have brought to the table as a potential president. I would not have faith in Palin's decision-making abilities if she had to take over the Presidency. Up until now, I had believed that I would use my voting right to support a female candidate regardless of party affiliation, because it would further women's advancement through the old boy's network. I could not vote for her because what she believes in overall is counter to my general belief system and that does not promote what I believe are women's rights. That fills me with sadness over a lost opportunity.

4) Representative mix: Did you watch the Republican Convention? Did you see any people of color? I counted. I saw 2 black men and 1 black male security guard, 1 black woman, and one latino male. That's it. It was a very white convention and if I were a black or latino Republican I'd have been a bit worried and a lot insulted.

5) What are the real reasons for choosing Sarah Palin? That is really what everyone is talking about. I'd also like to share another terrific article from Cryo Kid that takes an interesting look at exactly that question. I'll give you a hint. Russia. Alaska.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Company Stability in an Uncertain Job Market

I received an interesting question from All Experts (I answer questions about job challenges on their site) that is a good one to share. Often times the questions are very specific, but this one has come up a few times from different readers.

Subject: changing jobs


Hi Janet,

I am 52 yrs young and I am thinking about changing jobs to get closer to home. I am concerned about the "last hired, first fired" idea. What kinds of questions should I ask a potential employer to make sure they won't be letting people go after I start working or that the business isn't headed toward going out of business?

Thank you,



You are right to be concerned, especially at 52 where ageism starts creeping into the job market. You can't really come right out and ask a potential employer what their hiring/firing practices are as that would raise a flag for them, however, there is nothing wrong with digging a bit into the stability of the company, it's 1 year and 5 year plan, and the general health of the business.

That way, you are asking about the business objectives and strategies and not specifically about your concerns for your own job stability.

Note: Make sure to do your own research on any company you apply to. You can use resources like www.Google.com , www.Yahoo.com , www.linkedin.com, www.indeed.com, www.zoominfo.com and sometimes www.wikipedia.com as a start.