Job Hunters Over 40: Time to get past the long, cold winter of discontent

Job Hunters: How to Spring Forward, Make Rain Happen!

men joggingAs we hope and wait to get outside and enjoy warm weather, many over-40 executives in transition between jobs, or those who are employed but job-hunting, have been feeling more overwhelmed, discouraged and listless than ever over the past two months. The postponements or outright cancellations of networking meetings, job interviews, valuable education seminars and the like, have made even the most tenacious procrastinators hope for some kind of deadline, deliverable, or other indicator that they need to be somewhere, produce something, anything, that will want them to get out of their caves (in some cases, out of their pajamas) without having to suit up as if they’re drilling for oil in Alaska!

So here are just a few suggestions to fire up your motivation for a renewed job hunt or career rejuvenation – with the hopes that you become your own “rainmaker” and refresh your networking and selling skills along the way.  

  1. business cardThis could be a great time for new business cards, especially if you’re re-starting your networking after a few months indoors. I’m astounded at the number of job hunters who, because they’ve left a company’s employ, or are on LinkedIn, don’t carry their own business cards! It doesn’t matter who you were at your former company and what you did, if you don’t have a card that tells prospects who you are now, your expertise and what you’re seeking in your next position, you’re communicating that you are in a “holding pattern” with no contact information for the people you meet who actually want to keep your info handy. Always have business cards with you that demonstrate what you’re looking for next in your career.
  2. Where there’s rain, get covered – a cover letter! Many job hunters over 40 fail to realize that cover letters regarding the specific company’s market position, financial profile or other personalized insights can land them in an “A” pile that makes the resume a secondary priority. State your career objectives in cover letters, comment on specifics, detail clearly why you’re interested in the organization, and then customize your resume accordingly.
  3. The only three questions every resume needs to answer. Does your resume sell your strengths, fit and motivation to the organization you’re pitching? Not customizing your resume to serve the type of opportunity you’re seeking is like writing the same ad copy to sell food, wine or electronics. Customize your resume to the company you’re pitching.
  4. It’s show-time, do you know where your mentors and sponsors are? Make sure you know the answer to that question by listing all the people you already know that could help you in your job hunt or career moves. Are they connectors, mentors or sponsors? Connectors can help you access information or introductions. Mentors guide and advise. Sponsors – the most valuable resources – are like your personal agents. Sponsors can be advocates and ambassadors for your candidacy. Identify, research and cultivate at least five sponsors. Work that list, contact them for informational interviews by phone or Skype, and persuade them to introduce you to potential hiring managers or clients.
  5. Do it full time, lose the fool time. If you’re really serious about the hunt, you should be working on it at least 9-to-5 every day, and not by surfing job sites, emailing people who don’t know you and, worse, who don’t care. Instead, use your evening and weekend hours to do research on your priority companies and hiring managers, customize your resume, or draft intro letters to those you want to meet. Your weekdays should be spending in meetings (online or IRL) with connectors, influencers and hiring managers, plugging in to the strategic networking events these important resources also attend, and getting involved in organizations (including nonprofits) that can help you fill resume gaps.

umbrellaSo, although it seems we’ve had the worst half-year on record, and the universe has all but swallowed up our action plans, it’s time to plant new seeds, get the right gear in place, get out there and do more than pray for rain.

Spring forward, Make rain happen!

 

 

 

 

Plant Seeds of Renewal in Your Brain this Spring!

plant-164500_640This year, it seems like there is no spring season in sight… for so many reasons.   

It could be the best opportunity to plant seeds of renewal in our brains. Here are 7 SEEDS of ideas to get you growing and sowing. After all, Mother Nature herself needed seven days to get the earth in BLOOM, and even SHE rested!

  1. To PLANT your SEEDS of accomplishment for this year, first decide what you want to reap. Do you want to learn valuable new skills, gear up for a brand new, exciting and fulfilling career? Develop new connections, friendships and relationships? Maybe you have an even loftier goal, such as starting a business. Decide what you want your full-blown PLANTS to look like, and get to making it happen. 
  2. Once you determine how you want your flourishing GARDEN to look, you need a plan to make it happen. If you want to learn a new skill, why not sign up now for a finance class, a computer class, a graphic design or writing class, or music lessons? Why not learn a new language?
  3. If your goal is finding a new career, it’s never a bad time to set up informational interviews or networking sessions where you talk with people about their jobs and figure out whether their career might be a perfect career for you. People you want to know are ready to come out of retreat for a quick lunch or espresso – online or IRL. 
  4. If you have to literally crack open your copy of What Color is Your Parachute, then don’t wait for evidence of moth larvae infestation between the pages before you buy yourself the new edition. No one writes about career reinvention, midlife crises or having a “Plan B” the way that Richard Nelson Bolles does.
  5. If you haven’t taken a career assessment test since you wore miniskirts the first decade they were in style (which would also be the decade that Cher could scowl and smirk with the lips, eyes and forehead that Mother Nature gave her), then sign up to take a Myers-Briggs personality test (www.mbticomplete.com). Even though Myers-Briggs experts say that your personality traits stay the same as you move through your life, taking the test again will reaffirm for you who you are today, and what type of job would be a good fit for your personality now. At the very least, it’s a way to PLANT new SEEDS in your own head, and then in others’ heads.
  6. Speaking of heads, two (or more) heads are sometimes better than one. If you want to develop new networks of friends or relationships, make sure you have a profile on a business social network like LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com), or update your professional profile, and make plans with people whom you haven’t seen in years. Or, how about hosting a dinner party for six friends that you think would have fun together brainstorming the next move in their lives – even if you have to order in? Or, go to a panel sponsored by your alma mater or the local YMCA, so you can be exposed to new ideas while meeting new people.
  7. Finally, this might not sound like an activity for a “day of rest” but if your daydreaming time tends to veer toward visions of having your own business, maybe this is the perfect time to PLANT the SEEDS for that. Decide what type of business you want to start that fits in with the rest of your goals in life. In entrepreneurial finance, the term “lifestyle business” is used to define a business that will also allow you to have a normal life. And, we’re all for that! Start researching the industry you’re thinking about entering, and the companies that might be your competition. Then think about what you would need to do to put together a kick-butt business plan. 

    SEED that need and get yourself in full BLOOM!

 

Over 40 and considering a master’s degree? Consider this…

salute to edAre you an mature professional who is considering a return to school for a master’s degree? Going back to school for any level of higher education is a fast-growing trend; recent stats from the U.S. Department of Education confirm that adult students are now the fastest growing demographic in the educational arena.

In my business consulting work and the workshops I produce for executives in transition, the most-asked question I hear is “Should I go back to school and if so, should I pursue an MBA?” The MBA is certainly a hotly discussed degree. Many seasoned professionals leave the corporate world (by choice or not) to start new businesses, and think they have what it takes to do their own thing. Maybe, maybe not. However, it is possible that the training involved in achieving an MBA could be their best defense against some of the most common mistakes new entrepreneurs make.

By the same token, an M.S.in Education or in Psychology and Human Services may empower you to reach for better, more interesting, and higher paying jobs than those available to someone with a bachelor’s degree.

Here is a brief overview of three possible master’s degrees you may be considering:

Master of Business Administration

The MBA is the most popular advanced degree in America and is one of the most reliable paths to a successful career in business – whether your goal is to rise in a corporation, run your own business, or lead a nonprofit. An MBA program provides you with the essential general management portfolio of strategy, operations, finance and marketing, with a strong emphasis on organizational development and personal leadership training. You will upgrade your technical business decision-making skills and increase your overall organizational effectiveness and value through improved self-management – skills that will benefit other areas of your lives

A good MBA program provides you with the invaluable opportunity to learn from professors with extensive experience as well as expertise in their respective fields of strategy, operations, marketing, finance and organizational development.  Look for programs where faculty members have extensive experience in, and a passion for, mentoring, training and educating diverse professionals and helping them build fulfilling careers.

Master of Science in Psychology (or other Human Services)

Senior managers recognize that they get a better worker when you go back to school for additional training, which can lead to promotions and pay raises. If you have established yourself in a specific type of counseling career for a few years and decide you want to try something different in the field, a graduate degree will prepare you to do so.

Master of Education

A master’s degree in education gives you the latest essential skills for educators and can provide you with an advantage in the job market over candidates with a bachelor’s degree. Whether you are interested in teaching in a public school, or simply wish to expand your understanding of the education process, but do not plan to teach in a classroom setting, an M.S. in Education can increase your options.

Look for colleges that can tailor programs to meet your specific career goals, needs and interests. Learning the latest classroom trends enhances your resume and expands your employment options. Look also for programs that are affordable and accessible to over-40 individuals already working in the field.

You, the over-40 professional, know you will be living longer, and you demand more from your life. In returning to school for a master’s degree, you are DARE-ing to pursue new career ideas, create new businesses, and fulfill your lifelong dreams.

 

adult ed pic two 9 4 2013

Education and Professional Development Options: Several Courses of Action to Consider!

In my business consulting work and the workshops I produce for executives in transition, the most-asked question I hear is should I go back to school and if so, should I pursue an MBA. While I have no regrets about my MBA, especially since I had the opportunity to choose the dual concentration of Finance and Leadership, I know it may not be the ideal investment for most professionals, especially those over 50. Take into consideration your own specific financial situation and current knowledge, strengths and aptitudes, of course, but here’s what I’ve observed are, in fact, good investments for professionals over 40, and the reasons why:

MEDIA BISTRO1) Digital Media Marketing – There are so many course offerings, at every type of institution or training facility, from community colleges to major universities, to companies like Media Bistro. Here’s why:

a) Learning digital media is very attractive to almost any professionals over 40 who are worried that their counterparts in their twenties and thirties are far more nimble, facile and advanced in digital media.

b)Younger professionals who are born into the “digital river” are earning promotions much faster, while older professionals are being passed over or worse – downsized.

c) In almost any industry, in any sector, being skilled in social media and its applications to business at large, especially those undergoing structural chaos, such as media, and to marketing in particular is an important differentiating advantage.

2) successBusiness Administration refresher courses or earning a Bachelor’s in Business – Many professionals over 40 leave the corporate world (by choice or not) to start their own businesses, and think they have what it takes to do their own thing. Maybe, maybe not. Here’s why:

a) Courses in business administration, whether a certificate or Bachelor’s, could be their best defense against some of the most common mistakes and disillusions that plague even the hippest hoodie-clad start-up CEO. Launching a business seems easy; running one day to day is far from easy.

b) A well-rounded education in business administration gives the budding entrepreneur (at any age) grounding in operations (one of the most tedious aspects of the business that a lot of so-called visionaries can’t manage), accounting (try writing a business plan without that!), and the more right-brain and crucial courses of strategy, marketing, brand management and leadership.

c) If the time comes to sell, be merged/acquired or seek investors, then you had better know something about corporate finance or you won’t be able to even read a deal memo, let alone write or negotiate one that won’t leave you disappointed and feeling as if you wasted the sweat equity you built up in your business.

3) gold capCareer Management and Talent Development – This field has almost no barriers to entry, which is good for seasoned business professionals but also makes it very attractive to all sorts of nefarious imposters. Here’s what to look for and why:

a) Forgive my snobbery, but when I was considering a different career path, I consulted a Master’s-level counselor, not a so-called coach whose sole credentials were a 4-week teleseminar certificate!

b) Smart professionals who seek career coaching likewise want someone who’s well trained and exudes trust, not someone who’s following a commercial enterprise’s notion of “counseling.” Opt to put in the time, do the good work and earn a recognized Master’s degree in a discipline that has a reputable body of knowledge. Whether your Master’s is in psychology, social work, organizational development, counseling or any other mental health profession, the degree distinguishes you (to some extent) from those reading from a telemarketing pro’s psychobabble-ridden bromides.

c) In the same vein, anyone who takes advice from a business coach that can’t demonstrate his/her extensive experience and expertise in having actually run a business, or at least having earned an MBA, is gambling with their money. Again, if business coaching is your area of interest and you can afford the time and money for training, then earning an MBA can give you a leg up on business coaches that do not have an MBA.

4)  Online courses in almost every topic imaginable – arts, science, math, and so on.  My new favorite is Udemy.com, but Coursera, University of Phoenix and Southern New Hampshire University (www.snhu.edu) are just a few of the online schools to check out.

Job-Hunting as a Mature Professional? FLEX YOUR SPECS! There are more ways IN than you think!

northeaster us mapOver the past ten years I have been privileged to lead a rewarding series of workshops for executives in transition, who very much want to land their next full-time job.

It was such a pleasure to meet and work with talented, educated, highly skilled professionals, most of them in transition not of their own volition, and all too many of them in a serious state of shock, denial, anger.  On top of all that there’s the engulfing sense of shame and fear about their future job prospects, as well as the financial burdens.   Here are some of their challenges, how to deal with the most pressing roadblocks, and a few good books that will help.

The Challenges:

1)    Shock and Denial:  Many executives are determined to land a full-time position in a “reasonable amount of time” that is the same as or very similar to the position they left.  This time frame usually coincides with that of their severance package.  But if the reason their jobs are gone is that they were combined with or absorbed by talent that is often younger, less expensive and more flexible, this determination to “replace” the lost job and its perks often leads to even greater disappointment.

2)    Reluctance to network: This stems from lethargy or confidence challenges regarding its benefits.  The workshops prove that support from peers in a similar situation is invaluable!  Peers or mentors can become avid sponsors – I’ve seen it happen many times over the past few months with women I know who landed great jobs because they got outside of their own cocoon.  Sometimes this was due to someone much younger who was in a position of influence and wanted to help.  That’s hard for a lot of mid-career executives to accept. But it’s the reality.

3)    Shame: Many of these execs have been breadwinners, and are now suffering from shame.  Shame definitely becomes a firewall for some women and men who can’t see the value in joining professional organizations.  However, joining – and becoming active and visible in – networking groups, professional associations or a cause they care about would help them see there are other accomplished people out there who have risen past any notion of shame. They proudly announce they’re “in transition” and explain what they’re looking for as their “Big Next.”  Joining helps them to see there are myriad ways to contribute and expand their experience and expertise, and to meet mentors, sponsors and hiring managers.

4)    Inflexibility to pursue what could be valuable options outside their current experience and expertise – i.e., franchising, consulting/freelancing, starting their own business, etc.  The research that led to my book unearthed all sorts of women and men whose names (or the organizations they started) are now so well-known that few recognize their drive and subsequent success came after a huge adversity punch to their souls in mid-career.

5)    Fear: This is a big one; many attendees of my workshops report being “paralyzed with fear.”  Fear of networking, fear of failure, fear of making the wrong next move.  The reluctance and/or apathy I so often see with regard to their willingness to take advantage of tools for personal evaluation could be more about fear.  Professionals in transition sometimes fear these tests since they point out more deficits or deficiencies than they want to acknowledge.  Instead I encourage them to see the assays as an opportunity to benefit from a fresh look at their strengths and how to optimize them.

DEALING with these challenges:

For visionary, intelligent and motivated executives to combat these challenges, here are the three main areas of focus:

1)    linked in buttonMaximize LinkedIn:  there are more articles on the web regarding the benefits of using LinkedIn than I can possibly cite here, but the most critical reason to be there with a good profile to attract the work you really want to do and are good at (I rewrite mine once a year or more) is that almost every corporate hiring manager checks LinkedIn for profiles before looking anywhere else.   On top of that, if a hiring manager receives your resume and you’re not on LinkedIn, with a strong network and good skills profile that matches their needs, they often put your resume aside.

2)    Personal branding: I’ve written on this quite a bit, and there are dozens on books on it.  Pick the two or three that resonate with your strengths, motivation and where you want to land, and work the exercises.  There’s no substitute for the intrapersonal work you need to do before you can do the interpersonal connecting.  If not now, then when?

3)    Networking in generalto paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the most inspirational women of all time, who also happened to be one of the great networkers well before the word became the 21st century catchphrase for connecting every possible interest, “You must do that thing you think you cannot do.”  Join and become very active in your industry’s professional organizations.  Comment selectively on business blogs and your industry organizations’ websites.  Participate in local philanthropic events where hiring managers in your industry also contribute.  You don’t have to have a lot of money to do this, but you do have to spend your time wisely.  Know how and when to cultivate contacts – and remember, you have to give to get.  It sure beats sitting in front of your laptop all day sending mass emails to black holes scanned by computer software that doesn’t care a bit about you and your potential.

A FEW GOOD BOOKS:

1)    Career Distinction, William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson, Wiley, 2007. This is an invaluable “how to” manual instruction manual and branding bible for building a satisfying and successful career.

2)    The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career, Reid Hoffman, Crown Business, 2012.   A great book to inspire you to entrepreneurial endeavors!

3)    Linchpin: Are You Indispensible?, Seth Godin, Portfolio Trade, 2011. One of my favorite books; here is quintessential advice from a master on marketing, emotional investment in careers and work, on taking the initiative, on being a leader, an artist!

4)    How to Become a Rainmaker, Jeffrey J Fox, Hyperion, 2000. An introduction or refresher course in the power of selling.

5)    What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith, Hyperion, 2007.  Executive Coach Marshall explores why some people succeed in their careers, and others stall. He offers myriad pieces of advice and guidance, bad habits to break, plus gives powerful examples to drive home his points. Great book you will return to again and again.

 ~   ~   ~   ~   ~ 

© The DARE-Force Corporation, 2020. 

Check out Liz Weinmann’s book, Get DARE from Here™! – 12 Principles and Practices for Women Over 40 to Take Stock, Take Action and Take Charge of the Rest of Their Lives, by Liz DiMarco Weinmann, MBA. All rights reserved.  

All of the content on this website and in the other content-driven products and services of The DARE-Force Corporation are based on sound business principles and practices of strategy, operations, leadership and marketing, and on current and emerging trends in those referenced business principles and practices.  None of the content on this website, nor in the other content-driven products and services of The DARE-Force Corporation, are intended to be, nor should they be, perceived as, practiced as, or applied as, counsel, diagnosis, or treatment for any implicit or explicit mental, emotional or physical health challenges.  

 

 

 

You’ve been Meaning to Write a Book: 6 Tips to Get it Done

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book

People ask me daily about writing a book, since my book was published: “Get DARE From Here! – 12 Principles and Practices for Women Over 40 to Take Stock, Take Action and Take Charge of the Rest Of Their Lives.

Everyone, it seems, wants/plans/means to write a book. In today’s new self-publishing world, anyone CAN write a book and get it out there.

Are you one of those people? Do you have something to say and just don’t know how to start?

Many authors will tell you to be prepared that you will do almost nothing else for a year or so while you are writing a book. Yeah, right! Maybe, if they’re already household names! They spew on (disingenuously) about the languid literary lifestyle – writing in your pajamas for eighteen hours straight; subsisting on pizza, potato chips and caffeine; ignoring friends, family and creditors. All the while they’re supposedly developing the concept, writing (and rewriting) the book’s outline, doing the research required, and then writing and editing several drafts before turning out the draft that won’t mortify them when they take their masterpiece down to their local copy center to print out and bind for them to proofread before sending it to their publisher.

Hah! Unlike those languid literary lifers, I spent six months writing and then overseeing the editing, design, distribution and marketing plan for my book – while working in my consulting business full time and teaching at two universities, while also trying to have a life. It wasn’t easy, but neither is working with legacy publishers these days (the ones who are left hanging for dear life), which take a huge chunk of your profits and leave all the marketing to you. The work I put in was worth it.

Many of my friends, colleagues, former professors and students think it’s great that I’ve written a book – they are the best support team ever. So, for all my friends, especially all the mature professionals who also have a story, expertise, valuable life skill, untapped artistic talent, or other aptitude that makes them proud and wanting to get loud, here’s a short tip-sheet, taken from my book, that might help you write your book. The same advice applies to any other artistic endeavor you’re thinking of pursuing for business purposes or other fulfillment.

1. Focus on one thing you do really well and figure out how to write about it, shout about it or grouse about it. Think intensively and extensively about it, and you too might be churning out a few thousand words on of insight, inspiration and motivation.

2. Think hard about your particular interests, passions, concerns, hobbies and other worthwhile endeavors you’re drawn to learn more about in the course of your daily life. What’s your story? Everyone has one. And, if you’re over 40, you probably have dozens of them. If it moves you, it behooves you. And, if you can figure out how to move someone else with your insights and ideas, that’s an excellent motivator to start and – ultimately – finish.

3. If you really want to learn more about a particular subject to the point of becoming an expert and getting recognized as such, do some initial research and seek out others who have similar interests and skills in your area of focus. Want to be known as an expert? Write a book (or other media) on it. (Where do you think the expression, “She wrote the book on it!” came from?) In fact, a  New York Times article details that newsletters are making a comeback. If you don’t think you can spit out a whole book, start with a newsletter. That’s what I did.

4. If you’re considering writing non-fiction or a memoir or how-to (or all three, which is what I did with Get DARE From Here!) to express yourself, be careful about “telling all.” Be sure to think very carefully about what, how and when you want to tell all by publishing, and what your overall objective is for doing so. Edit, edit, edit. Have someone else close to you read it. Then, be sure to consider the consequences before hitting “send.”

5. As a first time author you might want to bypass so-called legacy publishers, and work instead with a credible self-publishing service.  These days, legacy publishers are dwindling in numbers, and there’s no guarantee of making tons of money from your book,  or owning the marketing rights.  Instead, for an upfront investment less than many New York salons charge for one haircut, you can work with a publisher that will help you take your worthwhile message, articulate prose and proofreading stamina the whole distance. Or check out LinkedIn’s new publishing platform, and pretty much anything that content marketing guru and educator Dorie Clark puts out.  

6. If you really want to express yourself fully and with little or no inhibition, write poetry or fiction instead, perhaps short stories or a novel. If you have the discipline and stamina to write and/or edit for at least an hour every day, and publish your novel or series of short stories with a reputable author-publishing service, you need to gain a following via social that helps you sell at least 5,000 units. Who knows, you just might grab the attention of a publisher who will want to sign you to a contract to publish your next book(s). It’s not as much of a long shot as you might think.

This time around, I chose non-fiction, as it had long been my goal to publish a book about and for mature, intelligent and motivated professionals. I’m thinking that my next book, if there is one, will be fiction. No way I will be hanging around in my pajamas to do it. There are easier, faster ways to get a book done these days than ever before. 

Click here to check out “Get DARE From Here!My book, “Get DARE From Here!” – 12 Principles and Practices for Women Over 40 to Take Stock, Take Action and Take Charge of the Rest Of Their Lives – is available on Amazon.

 

Healthful Food Boom for Boomers = Healthful Boon for Manufacturers, Supermarkets, Retailers, Restaurateurs

Tasty. Healthful. Convenient. Economical.

Think you can’t do all four? Think again.

These are the demands of the Baby Boomer generation, and food marketers are paying attention now more than ever. Although younger consumers who are considered the most attractive target audience for almost any other product category, consumer behavior studies indicated that single-person households, especially those in urban markets such as New York, Chicago, etc., don’t cook for themselves, and are more likely to consume meals away from home, and choosing outlets that don’t offer the most healthful options.

Meanwhile, Boomers are among the most health-conscious target audiences for manufacturers, supermarkets and quick-service restaurants. For example, Panera, whose 58-year-old CEO knows this is a literal sweet spot for him; SaladWorks, which offers almost limitless combinations; and the New York-centric QSR chain, Cosi. Health experts and media gurus alike – from Dr. Mehmet Oz to dietitians to exercise physiologists – are leveling pronouncements against the many myths about healthful foods, i.e., they are too expensive, too time-consuming to prepare, and not tasty enough.

Not true!

From the value and versatility of the humble egg, to other convenience foods for people on-the-go, the food marketing world is full of ideas to capture the attention of the vast crowd of over-50 consumers. And nowhere is that more obvious than in the supermarket industry. In fact, many favorite foods that have been supermarket staples for decades are now available in healthful, economical, convenient and tasty versions that don’t require a culinary degree to enjoy. A few quick examples:

“PB&J”: Adult fans of peanut butter know that there are more healthful options of the spread now than ever before – from reduced-calorie versions to honey-sweetened to 100% organic. There are more flavors, varieties and brands of fruit spreads, jams, jellies and preserves available in most supermarkets than anyone could make at home or buy from a small-batch supplier – and the flavors are superb. Long ago, New York Times columnist Jane Brody cited the peanut butter sandwich as her survival food for airport delays – and this was in the days when plane flights were nowhere near the epic odysseys they’ve become today.

Whole-grain breads: Speaking of PB&J, the variety of sandwich conduits available at a local supermarket is seemingly endless – whether whole-grain sliced, pita, rolls, brioches, Italian, Portuguese, French, on and on, take your pick, because you can! Not to mention the exhaustive array of healthful and exciting condiments, even among the low-sodium varieties.

Frozen Vegetables:Not only has the produce aisle gotten very sophisticated since the 1980s advent of the formerly exotic and now ubiquitous arugula and cilantro, to name just two, but the frozen aisle is positively space-age. The fact that plain spinach in a frozen block from the supermarket is something boomers’ moms prepared in the 1950s doesn’t make that spinach any less healthful. In fact, it’s just as healthful as, and could be more healthful than, that wonderful green stuff from the organic farmer’s market. Often it is actually fresher, thanks to modern processing techniques that quick-cook and flash-freeze vegetables at the height of their freshness. (Many thanks to Dr. Mehmet Oz for reminding all of us who read his 12/12 article in TIME Magazine of the handiness – and healthfulness – of our mothers’ spinach block).

Those are just three categories where food manufacturers and supermarkets are making it easier, more economic and more convenient to make healthful eating easier and a more flavorful experience. While it might seem obvious that affluent, achiever-Boomers are more interested in health than any other demographic, what has become evident to manufacturers and retailers is that we will spend the money on high-quality, convenient but NOT ridiculously expensive or “exotically sourced” foods.

The economic situation driving many boomers to multi-generational households, taking care of boomerang children, elderly parents and two-career duties, etc., also means boomers have less time than ever in their adult lives. It’s no wonder that every possible variation on healthful and convenient seafood, meats, legumes and dairy foods has also made the supermarket the one-stop community center of choice for so many boomers. In fact, many supermarket chains have on-staff dietitians and trainers to lead special health education events for consumers of all ages, and to help guide consumers through the supermarket’s most healthful product offerings.

A leading supermarket trade study reveals additional interesting statistics about Boomers’ food choices:

  • Portable foods make up one-quarter of our daily caloric intake in the United States. The 50-plus crowd is creating demand for healthful foods that are also fast and convenient.
  • U.S. consumers over 50 are becoming increasingly concerned about heart health, brain and vision health, and the prevention of cancer prevention. We worry about hypertension, diabetes, and bone loss/osteoporosis. Manufacturers are responding with a wide variety of healthful economical foods.
  • 50-plus consumers are more educated than in past generations, and therefore we’re more analytical (and sometimes skeptical) about the health claims we see on products.

Other important trends we’re seeing:

  • Boomers – especially women boomers – are causing physicians and other health professionals to be more accountable. The site of smart women poring over Internet health information sites on their I-Pads while sitting not so patiently in their doctors’ waiting rooms has become commonplace. And boomers are seeking out dietitians, personal trainers, executive coaches and therapists the way we seek out hairdressers, manicurists and shopping bargains: thoughtfully, analytically and with a strategic plan and budget in mind. Gone are the days of “Well, you know best, doctor (…or colorist or therapist).”
  • Boomers are more sophisticated about cooking and food than ever before, and scrutinize restaurants accordingly. All the more reason that we are eating IN more, and patronizing their local supermarkets because the supermarket industry has become much smarter and more sophisticated about cultivating this important target. Prepared foods departments have always been popular, with freshly-stocked salad bars becoming even more popular for meals on the go.
  • There is a real opportunity for food manufacturers who offer foods that are portable and at the same time tasty and healthful! Supermarkets are remodeling so formats are easier to navigate efficiently. Many retailers have visible, detailed and easy to digest (pun intended) information on the taste and health features of multiple varieties of apples, tomatoes and other versatile produce. Many have healthful food “destination aisles” as well as “on-the-go” food aisles.
  • Most major supermarket chains now have sophisticated data about shoppers’ preferences, so as to provide manufacturers with data that helps them serve consumers with more of the choices we prefer. Savvy manufacturers in the cereal, dairy, frozen food and whole grains categories, among others, have created marketing campaigns that are media sites of their own, cultivating consumers with diet information, health tips, quick-prep ideas and the like to generate more sales and preference among over-50 consumers.

Hooray for all the marketers, supermarkets, and to a certain extent, national restaurant chains, that recognize and appreciate Boomers are literally putting our money where our mouths are. The mantra “Attention must be paid” is not lost on smart food marketers and the gurus that influence health-minded consumers.