New Adventures

Sunrise on 30A over Gulf of Mexico
Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico. Jeff Cornwall

Well, my retirement has looked nothing like I imagined.

During the first six months, I filled my time with as many projects as possible. I went from working full-time for the University to working full-time on various interesting projects. I enjoyed everything I was doing, but it looked nothing like retirement.

Then, in early 2023, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Chemotherapy was not on my bucket list for retirement, but it is what dominated much of last year.  The good news is that my treatment was successful, and I was told I was cancer-free after my last round of chemo.  I am so grateful for all the prayers and support we received from friends and family.

Our New Adventure

Toward the end of treatment, I was sitting on our back porch feeling miserable. I wondered why we needed our big house. As Ann always said, we lived in only a small part of it. When Ann got home from pickleball that day, I asked her if she was really serious about downsizing. She assured me that she was.

So, we sold our house, got rid of eighty percent of the “stuff” we owned, and moved into a small apartment a few miles from our house. We then began the process of exploring what our next adventure would be. We knew we were ready for a warmer climate and ready to live in a community with people at our stage in life. We have always enjoyed Hilton Head, but it can get almost as cold there in the winter as it does in Nashville. So, we settled on Florida.

Specifically, we decided to move to the panhandle of Florida, along the area known as 30A.  It offers a nice climate and is easy to get to from Nashville, where our kids and grandkids all live. We bought a lot and have begun the process of building our new home in Latitude Margaritaville Watersound.

Entrepreneurial Voices

Since I retired from the University, I have been working on my new book, Entrepreneurial Voices. My progress was slowed a bit during treatment, but I have been plugging away at it for the past eighteen months.

I’ve been talking about writing this book for decades.  It is inspired by the book Working by Studs Terkel, in which he interviews more than a hundred and fifty people from all walks of life about their work.  Most of his book contains direct quotes as people talk about “what they do all day and how they feel about what they do.”  My wife and I have always believed it would be compelling to develop the same type of book about entrepreneurs and small business owners.  When I retired, Ann said, “You now have the time to write this book!”

So, I spent much of the first year identifying dozens of interesting business owners and conducting long-form interviews about their journeys as entrepreneurs. Like Terkel, I wanted to capture not only what they have done as an entrepreneur but also the affective side of owning a business. The book presents the lessons and challenges of entrepreneurship from the business owners’ own voices.  The world is full of books in which authors give their views about entrepreneurship, including several written by me. This book offers lessons and insights from the words of entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial Voices will be published sometime in 2024.

My next several blog posts will offer my reflections on the lessons from various stories in the book. Although the chapters in the book are in their voices, my upcoming posts will offer my reflections on these interviews. Conducting, transcribing, and editing these interviews not only inspired me but also taught me many important lessons about not only the process of entrepreneurship but on being an entrepreneur.