By JEFF STRICKLER, Star Tribune
“Connecting peace, purpose and prosperity”
Authors often say that they wrote their books for their children, but in Rob Severson’s case, it’s no stretch. He really did write “Connecting Peace, Purpose & Prosperity” for his daughters and grandchildren, sometimes even starting anecdotes by saying, “I’m sure you remember the time. … ”
A former bank president who runs a financial consulting business in Deephaven, he had envisioned the book as a guide to budgeting and money management. Instead, it became a guide to life.
“I started out writing about money, because that was my area of expertise,” he said. “But I soon realized that money decisions should be goal-based, and then I turned my attention to what those goals might be.”
He defined what he sees as the three fundamentals of a successful life: acknowledging God’s presence, embracing a strong work ethic and finding a mission in life.
Severson, 62, hired an editor to help him prepare the book for what was going to be a family-only press run. She talked him into offering it on a wider basis. It’s available for $12.95 from www.robseverson.com and amazon.com. (The first website is for his business, which has a link to the information about the book.)
One nice thing about going public, he said, is that kids think that everyone else’s parents are smarter than their own, so even if his kids don’t heed his message, others might.
“My ultimate dream would be to help others with what I have learned and to have guys my vintage say: ‘That’s what I’d like to tell my kids, but they don’t want my advice; maybe they’d listen to this guy,’” he said.
By Liz Barrett
Can you make a living? Do you treat people right? Do you have friends? Have you figured it out?
These are just some of the questions that Rob Severson asked at the Falcon Scholar Club Awards Ceremony, held last Wednesday morning, Nov. 18.
He explained that if you can answer yes to these questions, you are on your way to finding happiness and success.
A Harmony native, graduating from Harmony High in 1965, Severson is now a financial coach based out of the Twin Cities. He specializes in “finding the perfect financing solution for you and your business.”
Severson is also the author of “Connecting Peace, Purpose, and Prosperity: A Survival Guide and Memoir.” In this book, he shares his experiences and wisdom on overcoming many different obstacles to becoming successful in both his personal and business life.
While speaking to the students, Severson commended the students who have achieved the honor of being in the scholar club and the ones who were trying their hardest.
Then he spoke directly to those he considered “underachievers”… those who just didn’t care if they achieved anything or did great things – those who were content “just getting by.” Severson explained that he could recognize those students because he was one of them!
After graduating high school, he went on to study accounting at Luther College in Decorah. He decided to “turn a new leaf in college,” which wasn’t as easy as he thought it might be.
Decorah seemed like a big town to him after growing up in Harmony, and although some of his friends from bigger cities thought it was quite boring to live there, Severson found plenty to do – he admits it was mainly ping pong, pool, cards, and beer – none of which helped him to turn things around. He lovingly shares that the best thing he got out of college was his wife, Judy.
The “real world” wasn’t so kind to Severson with his 1.95 GPA of his senior year at college. No one wanted to hire him. He finally interviewed at a firm in Des Moines, Iowa, where the boss said he would hire him, but he wasn’t sure he’d pass the CPA exam. Being the stubborn man that he is, Severson told him that wouldn’t be a problem – telling him he couldn’t do it only made him want to do it more. Despite his drive, Severson felt like he didn’t know what he was doing, and the firm must have felt that way too. He was fired after a year, with a baby girl and a wife to support.
With some reluctance, Severson took a job as a bank auditor in the Twin Cities. Although this time he was “close but no dice,” he failed the CPA exam again. He decided to take a refresher course, and now he paid attention, took notes and worked hard. He finally passed the exam! People would think he was smart, and he “wasn’t going to tell them he wasn’t.”
Severson explains that the lesson to take from all of this is, “Keep pluggin’. I didn’t give up. I made up my mind. I was going to do something, and I accomplished it!”
He went on to say that learning how to solve problems is what helped him to succeed. His parents taught him how to work, and he learned how to have fun doing it.
He equated life to a story problem and shared his belief that if you can distinguish yourself as a problem solver – you’ll always have a job, friends, help others, and be on your way to “figuring it all out.” Among other things, finding his problem solving ability helped him to develop a program to help with computer conversion that saved banks a lot of time and money.
Bringing it closer to home for the high school kids, Severson talked about the importance of the different subjects in school. Math teaches you story problems and equations for solving them – key components in developing problem solving skills.
He told the students how he wished he would have studied history more in school – history can help you to solve the problems of today by looking back at how they tried to solve the problems of the past.
Music gives you a skill to keep for all of your life. At 62, Severson still plays the trumpet, and loves it! Music also teaches you order and timing and how to work with others.
All of school life teaches you how to put other people first and build relationships. If you can learn to show interest in others and encourage them, those relationships will flourish. If you can learn to forgive and ask for forgiveness, you will do better everywhere you go.
Severson also touched on his battle with being a functional alcoholic and then his sobriety, which led to his work as a volunteer at the New Hope Treatment Center in Minneapolis. He then urged the students and spectators to be curious about life – have fun, ask questions – but not about drugs, alcohol or other destructive interests, as those things can destroy lives and relationships.
Before ending his speech, Severson left the students with one last concept to ponder; if we can find a way to increase commerce here, using our creativity, imagination and problem solving skills – the Harmony-Preston area can continue to be a great place to settle down and live in. He closed with, “God bless America and Fillmore Central Schools!”
To read more about Rob Severson, the services he offers, or his book, please go to www.robseverson.com.
Falcon Scholar Club recognizes academic excellence in students maintaining a 3.5 or better grade point average, and receiving no grade lower than a “C” in any subject. The students are in 10th through 12th grade, as it is based on the previous year’s records. Names and photos of the Scholar Club members are found inside this issue.