David Slackman, President
David Slackman has led Commerce Bank into Queens.
What one factor is most important to success?
I would have to say positive energy. I think positive energy is an empowering way of looking at the world. It allows you to look at challenges, at problems. I think it encourages you to look at what’s possible, not what’s likely.
What do you look for in an employee?
We hire for attitude. We train for technical skills. When I say attitude, what I mean is a very positive approach to life in general, a strong desire to serve people. We like to see people who are happy and smiling in the interview process. That positive approach to life is the first thing you need if you are going to provide a client with a great experience. The quality of the experience is what it’s all about. If someone is happy after doing business with you, they are likely to do more to more business with you.
What’s the best way to save money?
Buy quality. If you buy quality you only have to spend once.
What’s the best way to spend money?
Sort of the same thing. I think one of the issues in society today on the consumer side is people like to just spend. They sort of graze – graze through the mal, graze through the Web. If you’re going to spend money on a consumable, I think the most important thing is to assess your needs and then to purchase the very best you can afford. You’ll end up with an acquisition you’ll be proud to have that will be long lasting and will have value.
What’s your greatest pleasure?
My family – and more specifically my two grandchildren. I am very fortunate that they live close by. Living very close to my family is paramount to me.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
After I check that everything is working I like to check my schedule for the day. I take the approach that I look forward to every opportunity that I am faced with each day.
I really look at my schedule and try to look at each interaction as an opportunity to advance myself.
How do you deal with stress?
Stress is a part of everyday life. There’s no avoiding stress today, whether it’s related to business or just dealing with the frustration of everyday life. I try not to take things personally – has taken me 58 years to learn that. I try to look at problems as challenges and the solutions as opportunities whenever I can. No doubt, there are times when stress wins. When that happens the best thing is to go to the gym or take a vacation.
What one lesson do you hope to pass on to your children?
I think having integrity, being recognized for being a person of your word and behaving in the right way. You treat people the way you want to be treated. Be nice to people on the way up because you’ll meet them again on the way down. Return phone calls, answer correspondence and don’t let people wait. And above all else – honesty.
How do you bounce back from adversity?
I have had adversity in my career, in my personal life and in my health. I think my family has been the single most important factor in helping me to realize my own self-esteem. It’s all about self-esteem and having a positive self-image.
What’s your favorite thing about Queens?
I would say the diversity, and more than one kind. Certainly the ethnic diversity is fantastic – but the geographic diversity is terrific as well. Queens has a little bit of the city, has seashore, has mountains – or at least some big hills – marshlands and forests. There is tremendous ethnic, very interesting geographic diversity – and in terms of biz world of Queens – just have to drive from west to east to get a flavor of what I’m talking about. You go from what feels like the city to what feels like suburbia, and you go9 through some old glorious neighborhoods and a tremendous diversity of economy. Started with ethnic diversity. Queens always was a diverse place, even when I grew up 50 years ago. You can eat every type of food in the world in a few short subway stops.
David Slackman is the founding president of Commerce Bank, New York City. A graduate of Queens College and the New School, Slackman has served in executive positions at Atlantic Bank of New York, Dime Savings Bank of New York, Brinks Inc. and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The Flushing native serves on the boards of the Avenue of the American Association, the Queens College Business and Liberal Arts Program, the Queens College Arts Advisory Board, the Forum Children’s Foundation, the Greater NY Council, Boy Scouts of America, is president of the Forum Club and serves on the Gala Committee for WLIW Channel 21 Public Television.
Commerce Bancorp, Inc. is a $32-billion multi-bank holding company headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. with 322 banking offices serving New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and augmented by Commerce Insurance Services, Inc. and Commerce Capital Markets, Inc.