Richard Levychin is an EO New York member and chairperson of EO OneWorld, a membership platform affiliated with EO’s New York chapter which believes that a diverse EO is a stronger EO. EO OneWorld will add value to EO by attracting more EO members from the Black, Hispanic/Latino(a)(x), Asian and LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurial communities. Richard is also a partner in Galleros Robinson Certified Public Accountants and Advisors, where he heads the firm’s Commercial Audit and Assurance practice. Richard is grateful to the mentors who inspired him to succeed, and wrote a touching tribute to a college professor who had a lasting impact on him. The following article originally appeared in Business Insider and is reprinted here with an addendum, as noted toward the end.
When I received a letter from my alma mater, Baruch College, awarding me with the Baruch College Alumni Association Leadership Award for Business, which was to be presented as part of their annual meeting, I was deeply humbled.
I did a flashback in time to when I was the 18-year-old immigrant kid from Jamaica, living in Springfield Gardens, Queens in New York who, in his sophomore year at Baruch, was enrolled in two back-to-back advanced accounting classes taught by Diane Gold, a 25-year-old Jewish woman with a BA, an MBA, a CPA, and a PhD.
She was close to 300 pounds. So the Black kids in the class, in our infinite smart-ass wisdom, nicknamed her “Slim.” Not much older than us, she was part hard-ass teacher and part smart-ass teacher.
Class was a combination of intense accounting content and jokes flying across the room between her and mostly the Black students. The other students simply didn’t have the courage or the material to participate in the jokes. The thing about Slim was that as long as you did your homework, did the classwork, and got good grades, you could make as many smart-ass comments as you liked.
She took a special interest in me and was unimpressed with my 90-plus test scores, choosing instead to focus on the 10% I got wrong. (“Richard, 90% in college gets you an “A.” 90% at work gets you fired”). She would do a deep dive with me on the 10% I got wrong, usually ending our conversations with “What were you thinking here? Come on. You are smarter than this.”