Slider on Success: “Always keep swinging”

Release Date: 4/12/2010

Clarksville, Ark. --- The lectures sponsored by Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) share certain common elements – they bring together a diverse network of university students, academic professionals, and industry leaders around the shared mission of creating a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business.

These lectures, with their tips and advice for getting ahead in the business world, are invaluable for PBL's young and forward-looking members.

However, in his presentation earlier this semester, David Slider – President of Fidelity National Information Services’ Automotive Finance Division and father of Ozarks’ own senior Mike Slider – was far more insightful than the usual, and vastly more entertaining, in his advice to those going out into the world of work and business.

“I’ve come here today to cover four topics,” Mr. Slider began. “My thoughts on finding your first job, my thoughts on interviewing, things I’ve learned, and why the Houston Astros will win the World Series.”

Mr. David Slider, guest speaker for SIFE's Distinguished Speaker Series.

Mr. David Slider, President of Fidelity National Information Services' Automotive Finance Divisions, was the guest speaker for PBL's Business Ideas Exchange Program.

He went on to say he had only interviewed for three jobs in his life. “I’ve been doing the job I’m doing for the past 25 years,” he said. “But I’ve been on the opposite side of the desk interviewing potential employees hundreds of times, and that’s what I’m here to talk to you about today.”

His presentation was peppered with details of his own life – he campaigned for George McGovern in 1972, was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention for Jimmy Carter in 1976, studied political science at UT Austin, and taught middle school history in inner city Houston before the job running the computers in the basement of a bank led to his current role as President of the Automotive Finance Division of the world’s top-ranked technology provider to the banking industry.

Mr. Slider emphasized a handful of keys to success. The first was the power of persistence. “To quote Hank Aaron, my motto is to always keep swinging,” Slider said. “It doesn’t matter how smart you are. Smart people who give up too soon don’t make it. Sticking to their goals is the number one quality every successful person has.”

He encouraged those who wish to be successful to visualize their goals. “Make it tangible, not vague. Cut out a picture of it and put it on your bathroom mirror.”

In the face of the dour economic climate, Mr. Slider said, “This too shall pass. When things were bad in the 1980s, people thought they’d stay bad forever. But they were wrong, and I’ll tell you why: Innovation. I can’t tell you how, but we will innovate our way out of this current mess.”

His next big piece of advice? “Get paid.” In other words, even if you don’t get your dream job right away, get some job. Get paid. “I can’t tell you the number of times somebody has told me I couldn’t do something, and then I did it,” he said. “To quote Henry Ford, ‘If you think you can do a thing or not, you’re right.’”

Mr. Slider encouraged job seekers to think outside the box when looking for job. “Look everywhere,” he said. “The economies of Canada and Australia are booming compared to ours. Because of the internet, you aren’t restricted to looking close by. Consider working in government. I used to think the government paid less than the private sector. Not so. Unless you’re a magazine editor or a jet pilot, the government pays better on local, state, and federal levels.”

He continued with a list of invaluable, often commonsensical advice:

  • Think about what you’d do if money were no object; really successful people almost universally love what they do.
  • If you have two job offers, all else being equal, pick the best company.
  • Spend a lot of time on your resume.
  • Be prepared. “The sum total of human knowledge is available online for free,” he said. “Research your company. You have no excuse for not knowing. None.”
  • Clean up your Facebook page. “But go one step further. They have Facebook pages too. Check theirs out as well.”
  • Interviewers are good at reading people, so remember your manners. Pretend you’re going to talk to your grandmother.
  • People will remember at most three things about you. Don’t leave it up to chance. Be deliberate. Pick the three things you want them to remember, and reinforce those three things.

At the end, Mr. Slider even dealt with whether or not the Houston Astros will win the World Series. “Of course they won’t,” he said. “But I’ve been a fan of theirs for years, and as I always say, ‘Optimism is the only rational choice for the truly intelligent.’”

One audience member asked what he thought about the rumor that Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane could be on the verge of selling the team.

“If I had enough money,” he replied, “I’d buy them myself.”