The Less Traveled Road to Success

Let me tell you about my friend and former student Kelly McCoy. He was abandoned as a young boy and reared by his destitute grandmother.

Although he was not a good high school student, unlike anyone else in his family, he graduated from high school. After an injury truncated his Army enlistment, he meandered aimlessly for 5 years – nearly losing an arm after someone used him for target practice.

But somewhere along the way Kelly got the bug to become an accountant. There were two problems though – poor grades and little money.

But Kelly had enough money for community college – at which high school grades were no impediment.

He did quite well and then went on to earn a bachelors degree. In the mean time Kelly was able to land a good entry level accounting job.

But then he ran into a brick wall called the CPA exam. Five times he earnestly studied for but miserably failed. He was exhausted and depressed. But he had already accomplished so much. He was not about to let the exam beat him.

But he needed a break. So instead of studying for the exam he was accepted into a highly regarded MBA program. During his MBA, Kelly’s abilities to digest and analyze information improved.

After graduation Kelly decided to attack the CPA exam one more time and passed all four parts.

Shortly thereafter Kelly got a new job as a CFO with another closely held company and within 12 months was earning six figures!

What’s more Kelly is one of the most ethical CPA’s I know. He simply refuses to do anything that could reflect poorly on him and the profession or in any way put at risk the professional license he worked so hard to attain.

Does this sound like a fairy tale? Maybe a little. But it is all true (although I did change the name and some of the facts to mask Kelly’s true identity).

Kelly’s story stands for the proposition that not everyone follows the conventional model for success. Sometimes people succeed quite unconventionally. It matters not from where one starts. What matters is where one finishes.

Written by Steven A. Martin JD, MBA, (CPA inactive), a shareholder in the law firm Blaugrund, Herbert & Martin (, Associate Professor at Capital University, Adjunct Professor at The Ohio State University, and co-founder of the MDS CPA Review Course (

You may like these other stories...

Majority of House of Representatives urges leadership to preserve cash method of accounting for tax purposesA bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives – 233 members – has signed a letter urging House...
Tax friendly trusts swell under new rulesUS companies are latching onto an obscure real estate provision to avoid corporate taxes, widely adopting a financial maneuver that has been expanded under the Obama administration,...
The average annual salary for US finance and accounting professionals who have the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential has gone up slightly over the past year, according to the results of a new study from the...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.
Sep 30
This webcast will include discussions of important issues in SSARS No. 19 and the current status of proposed changes by the Accounting and Review Services Committee in these statements.
Oct 23
Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.
Oct 30
Many Excel users have a love-hate relationship with workbook links. For the uninitiated, workbook links allow you to connect one Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to other spreadsheets, Word documents, databases, and even web pages.