Boomers Disappoint Next Generation

A while back, a lovely young lady (very young…college aged) wrote to our local newspaper begging for real leadership from the adults running her world.  Here is my response…

Dear Ms. Scofield:

Since it is we Boomers who are the leaders right now, it is us who owe you the kind of thoughtful, quality leadership you so dearly want, and who have so disappointed you.

And ironically, you have asked of us the kind of leadership we asked of our leaders in our day.   It is our generation that began the environmental movement – “sitting-in” and demonstrating our little hearts out against “the man” and the status quo he represented (corporate greed, pollution, segregation, few rights for women – sound familiar?) when we were your age!

Yea us!

Except that once we became  “the man” we happily backtracked on all that we believed as youth: we have been the main polluters with our gas guzzling cars and 3 homes; we are the CEO’s of the companies that ran the economy into the earth’s core and made decisions based on fattening our wallets vs. caring for our customers/planet; we abandoned the equal rights bill  so women still make significantly less than men for the same job; we are many of the legislators unproductively growling dogma along strict party lines or to ensure our re-election rather than doing what’s best for the state/country and our legacy.  We are doing exactly what our leaders were doing that we so abhorred.

I am so very proud of you.  And I am so very disappointed by the failings of my generation after such a slam-bang start.

So you and your peers keep up the pressure – and add to it that no one knows better than Boomers what is needed to take care of our state and the world.  Remind us of that for which we once fought.  And don’t stop until we blush and capitulate.

It’s the least we can do after all these decades of betrayal to our roots.

A sign of the Times

You know, when I was younger I would curse the bevy of advertisements throughout our newspaper… “Annoying…!” I would mutter to myself. “Look at this, a full page just for an advertisement…disgraceful!” I would exclaim aloud.

Now, I thank every ad-salesperson on my paper’s staff, and every savvy business buying it.  They keep that paper coming to my door every morning, and I am extremely grateful.

Because how happy would we be if our newspapers go away…victim of younger generations’ apathy for the written word held in one’s hand?  With the prospect looming for giants like the Chicago Tribune and LA Times, this is not as far-fetched as we wish it to be.

I teach businesses how to reach the Boomer buyer, as many companies still cling to the last century trend of marketing to the 18-45 crowd (begun, by the way, in the ‘70’s to reach, you guessed it, Boomers…) and then wonder why they’re struggling.  Boomers have the highest levels of disposable income with the greatest willingness to use it, we represent almost 45% of the consumer market, larger than all the other individual market cohorts combined, and we spend a whopping $2.3 trillion annually on goods & services…that’s $400 billion more than any other age cohort.

And it is we Boomers who are the primary subscribers to newspapers/ magazines; the last generation to get our buying information from traditional media (papers, radio, and TV). 

So to you smart companies advertising in the newspaper, you’re doing exactly what it takes to reach us.  Keep it up.  And to my fellow Boomer readers, I ask you to join me in doing the smart thing and spend with these businesses.  We can simply complain that our newspapers are either disappearing or becoming a shell of themselves, or we can help bring them back. 

As a generation we brought the nation civil rights and the world human rights, to name just a few of the society-altering fixes for which we fought and won – we can handle this one easily.

Hang in there, print news…with we Boomers behind you, you’ll be just fine!

What We Can Do to Keep This Great Obama Feeling Going

…and the beauty of my idea is its simplicity – note I didn’t say its ease… but it is quite simple.

Don’t be shrill.

You were McCain/Palin: it’s unfortunate your pick didn’t win; now get behind who did.

You were Obama (few really care about Biden….): that’s lovely but don’t gloat.

We want Obama to “not overreach,” the Democrats to “not let their increased majority go to their heads and and as result forward ideology rather than pragmatic solutions” and our national leadership to stop back-stabbing and start healing the body politick. 

None of this is possible with a shrill electorate.  Whether you believe it or not, your elected officials do, more often than not, follow your lead.  If you scream, they scream.  If you stay calm, determined and focused, they will, too.

Catch yourself overreacting, taking the election results as some sort of reflection on you personally (either “winner” or “loser”), fearmongering.

We have a huge role to play if this “new feeling of hope” we’ve clearly given the planet is to take hold and stay longer than a few months. 

Mr. Obama has led us to the well.  We decide whether we drink, or continue to thirst.

Boomers + Economy: Doesn't Need to = Panic…

Yes my fellow Boomers…you’re hearing it everywhere; our current state of economic affairs are ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATING for us as we head toward our much anticipated retirement days in the sun.  Here’s an example (contracted) from US News and World Report:

3 Ways the Economic Crisis Is Destroying Baby Boomer Retirement

  1. Stock Market declines: During the past 12 months, retirement accounts have lost $1.6 trillion or 18.3 percent of their value, according to Urban Institute
  2. Falling Home prices: The average home price fell 3.9 percent from January 2007 to May 2008, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight
  3. Decreasing Job markets: Contracting credit markets could weaken the labor market, thus limiting employment opportunities for older adults

And although the writer of this USNWR article does provide ideas for how to offset today’s admittedly troubling economic conditions, many others do not, staying firm on the newspaper-selling, google-search-engine attracting, dire news, all of which can understandably make a Boomer feel…well, panicky.

Don’t.

Here’s why, issue by issue.

Stock Market Declines

Will the recovery from this mess take years?  As Sarah would say, “you betcha!” 

But the operative word is “recovery”.  We do, in fact, have a few years to hold on and wait out this inevitable, years-in-the-making, needed correction to our (and our nation’s) overspending, under-saving, and the massive, voter permitted deregulation of an industry that has proven itself at least 2 other times in the past 30 years of being incapable of controlling itself (but immensely capable of poor decision-making and business practices founded in greed).

Panic, sell off your stocks, and you create precisely the situation you fear; a self-fulfilling prophesy.  My guess is that all of us were smart enough to have generally diverse portolios.  This economic situation is why we have such diversity, so trust it.  Selling your stocks will just make your situation worse (because it will take the market into a greater downspin), and has no upside (because you’re selling at such a huge loss).  Worst case scenario, you will have to work an extra year or two to compensate for the losses your portfolio is experiencing right now.  But your investments will come back.  If you don’t panic and crash the system.

Working

OMG, as our kids would text-speak, there is plenty of work for us right now!  Whether you’re recently laid off (due to the economy…) or seeking your retirement second career a little sooner than you’d originally budgeted for, there are “recession-proof” industries/jobs that will snap up a Boomer with our experience and background, in the proverbial heart-beat!

This from the Miami Examiner’s Baby Boomer Expert (Paul Briand):

Uncle Sam to Baby Boomers: I want you

The last time some Uncle Sam needed some Baby Boomers was during the Vietnam War … as soldiers.

Now, according to a new partnership, there is need anew … as workers.

The Partnership for Public Service has started the FedExperience pilot program with federal agencies, corporate partners, and other stakeholders to match government’s critical hiring needs with the talents of experienced, older workers.

The partnership sees a win-win relationship between the government and older workers.

I’ll add to that a list of other, Boomer friendly and recession-proof jobs available right now:

  • Mechanical and Electical Engineer
  • Sales Executive
  • Technology Executive (for those of you with or able to get quickly get your Computer Science degree)
  • Customer Support/Management
  • Database Administration
  • Product and Project Management
  • Testing/QA
  • Financial staff at every level (from Finance execs, to accountants and bookkeepers)
  • Business Analysis & Development
  • Adminstrative/Executive Assistant
  • Nursing/PA/NP

And yes, you may have to put off for a little while your dreams of business ownership, but there’s no need to throw out that dream.  Just postpone it perhaps for a year or two.  That said, if you do want to go for it now, sign up for my free report Forbes 9 Best Boomer Markets: http://tinyurl.com/3rlrpe

Retiring

Is your house worth less right now?  It is.  But the housing market is already reaching its bottoming-out point and will rebound in less than one year.  So just hang in there a little longer before you take that reverse mortgage or consider moving.

Will you have to revamp your retirement timeline or plans?  Perhaps, but again, our retirement is hardly IN RUINS!!!  It is on hold for a while, or will look differently than we’d hoped for a while.

Ultimately, Boomers, this is not a catastrophe; it is a major but temporary inconvenience.  It is scarey, but not fearsome.  We will not all be living a new millennial version of The Grapes of Wrath; we will be living a little leaner, which isn’t a bad thing anyway, really.

We’re going to be fine.  But not if we panic.