Now that I have co-authored a book and written 250 syndicated small business columns, I have to admit that my writing skills were not always an “A”. As a matter of fact, my writing career began at my alma matter, Binghamton University in NY with a “D” in Professor Eugene Vasilew’s writing class (1970). Every time I handed in a paper, there was more red ink than black when Vasilew finished grading it. Professor Vasilew asked me to come up to his office a half a dozen times and worked with me. On the last visit, he informed me that I was getting a D. When I left his office, I whispered SOB under my breath which as we all know stands for Sweet Ole Boy.

A few years back, I received a journalist of the year award from the US Small Business Administration. At that time I was in touch with the Binghamton UniversityAlumni Director, Rose Frierman, about an article. I told her the story of Professor Vasilew and she informed me that he was Professor Emeritus living in SC. I asked for his email and sent Prof Vasilew a note indicating that he deserved some credit. A very warm gentleman with great humility was very flattered and told me the success was all mine, he accepts no credit and all he did was give me a few tips and pointers. I respectfully maintain that he was more of an influence than he may think.

About a year after the award for my column and discussion with the BU alumni director,
my book, Birthing the Elephant is published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. A press release is distributed.

I receive an email from Prof. Vasilew saying: Dear Bruce: Congratulations on your new book. Had you given this to me during the manuscript stage, I would have been happy to do some free editing. I wrote him back and said—-Gene, Free editing, I was not going to chance a D on my first book. We’ve become good friends.

The moral of the story —-Perseverance. In my opinion, you only fail when you stop trying.