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Life Begins at 55 (Part One of Three)

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When I sold my business, at the age of 55, I felt liberated. Now I could do all those things that seemed so interesting, but were denied me by the “ball and chain” of small-business ownership.

Sure, in those twenty years, I had some concurrent professional activities going on. For much of the last fifteen I was a roving adjunct professor, and an occasional consultant. There were even a couple of full-time jobs in there, where frequent phone calls to, and most Saturdays at my business had to be enough to impart my unique brand of management.

So, I am available world! Or at least the greater New Orleans area.

Several months of clearing up my backlog of miscellany were rather pleasant, and then the call came. President of a local economic development agency? That sounds good to me. But I soon found out what a come-down it was from business owner/executive to political whipping-boy. Thanks for the opportunity, but I would just as soon stay home.

After another pleasant interlude of a few months, another call came. Scholar-in-Residence at a local university sounds great! And it was a pleasant two years, including one semester as a visiting scholar in New York. But financial exigency did me in. Last hired becomes first fired. Well, I did mouth-off a little too much about the administration’s shortcomings, but I am pretty sure it was the cash crunch that cost me the job.

It was the summer of my discontent. My backlog was so cleared up that I was killing time with a blunt instrument. The local economy had softened a bit, and there were no jobs to be found that came even close to the level of income and importance to which I had become accustomed.

So, how is this for an idea? Study for an MBA! I was only 60 years old then, so it should be worth the investment. I had been teaching entrepreneurship at several local business schools, so it was time that I should get my first business degree. My 35-year-old Ph.D. in engineering had pretty much expired by then.

At 62, in August 2005, I received the MBA and checked out the job market for a week or so until Katrina arrived. We evacuated in time, spent about three weeks on the road, and settled in Columbus Ohio for about three months.

In Columbus, Ohio State was very welcoming toward Katrina refugees and we were given professor offices, Susan in Political Science, mine in business. Other courtesies were extended to us through the end of the fall quarter.

The temporary nature of the Columbus stay eased the pressure to find gainful employment there. On our return, though, it would be time to peddle my new MBA.

More coming soon.

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About John Vinturella

Retired businessman and professor.