To me, vacation time means being active. Hiking, biking, and kayaking — far from the sedentary pursuits one might associate with, well, mature middle-age — lift my energy and my spirit. The prospect of sitting on a tour bus or lounging by the pool does nothing to motivate me.

I'm not alone. The phrase “50 is the new 30” has become a cliché, but that doesn't make it less true. Many of your top producers in their 50s “are younger by attitude,” as Dan Young, director, event planning and field recognition at Thrivent Financial, notes in our cover story.

Producers are getting younger, too. How much younger, and by what percent, varies with the field force — but our cover story research suggests the start of a seismic shift in the profile of your incentive conference attendee. At Thrivent, qualifiers are 52 percent baby boomers, 34 percent Gen X, 9 percent Gen Y, and 5 percent older than the boomers, says Young. Some financial services companies are seeing an even more radical change. At TD Ameritrade, the average age of a producer in the company's 600-person field force is only 29, says Ken Juel, manager, sales incentives and recognition programs. Juel joined the online broker in early 2006 after 21 years with Mutual of Omaha, where he planned incentive programs for a much older and more traditional generation of insurance producers. “I've had to rethink everything,” he says.

Indeed, to varying degrees, many of you are reinventing the formulaic incentive program with fresh ideas that motivate the Millennials while also keeping the Boomers producing. Your Boomers may be forever young and adventuresome, but that doesn't mean they'll respond to a text message. To learn how your peers bridge the generation gap, read our cover story beginning on page 22.

Speaking of rethinking, you'll also discover a redesigned Financial & Insurance Meetings this issue. With guidance from Group Design Director John Herr, Editorial Director Betsy Bair, and my editorial colleagues Barbara Scofidio and Sue Hatch at Corporate Meetings & Incentives magazine, we reinvented FIM from the front cover to the back page, with write-ups that quickly and graphically communicate in the same kind of bold, fun style you'll find in your favorite consumer magazines. We know that you read FIM on the go, and you need to find the articles that interest you quickly and easily. Those who want to learn more about a particular topic featured in print will find related links on our Web site,

Our redesign required everyone who contributed to this issue to open their minds, change their patterns, and think in a new way — not an easy task. It would not have been possible without the dedication, creativity, and hard work of our art director, Sharon Carlson, and our managing editor, Barbara Brewer. A big thank-you also goes to Contributing Writer (and headline maven) Alison Hall and Senior Writer Michael Bassett, whose story on how rules and regs are affecting incentive programs begins on page 31.

Enjoy the issue, and e-mail me your feedback at