by Quinn Kobrin
In the second rendition of the SHSU Stories of Success series (also known as Kat Talks), students and faulty were presented with the wisdom and humor of Warner Endowed Professor Peter Roussel. Introduced by SHSU’s Dr. Wally Barnes, Professor Roussel began his talk, entitled “Here Comes the Future,” with a brief review of his background, including his work for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. From his position working for – and eventually as – the press secretary, he learned a great deal, and he shared with us some of his favorite stories.
He told us about President Bush’s tendency to tell the same joke everywhere he went, and how he would ask the President to stop telling it, because he’d heard it so many times. But President Bush said that even if Roussel had heard the joke, there were still others who hadn’t. And even though the joke annoyed him, Professor Roussel found the President was right; people always enjoyed the joke, and he shared this as evidence of his main piece of advice: Have conviction.
Conviction, Professor Roussel told us, is a quality essential to success. You must believe in yourself if you want others to believe in you and support you.
Speaking from the experience of searching for his first job, Professor Roussel demonstrated how conviction can lead to success. When he finally got a job interview with a marketing firm, Professor Roussel’s father advised him to “interview the interviewer” to communicate his passion and desire to work there. Professor Roussel would go on to ask two questions, listen for nearly half an hour, then walk out the door, forgetting he was the one being interviewed. Because he appeared to be confident in himself, his interviewer called him back immediately and offered him the job.
He then shared some stories about his first encounter with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Such stories included being invited into her house upon first meeting her for eggs and coffee, advising her on the best way to deal with the press when the announcement of her nomination was made, and having to hear the announcement on the radio in the car instead of live because he was late for the official announcement.
He then ended his talk by answering a few questions. The last question asked was, “What advice do you have for students who are graduating?” He answered this by telling us that most good advice cannot be spoken, but rather comes from watching successful people in action.
I enjoyed getting to hear Professor Roussel speak, and meeting him for the first time. I am sure his wisdom will stick with us, and I thank him and the SHSU Academic Success Center for the opportunity to hear his inspirational stories of success.