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Deephaven author hoping to inspire young people by sharing the stories of ordinary people who have done extraordinary things


Fri, Jun 20th, 2014
Posted in Harmony Arts & Culture

By Rachel M. Anderson

What is the one thing most successful people have in common? Doctors, lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs and others who are doing well for themselves are all in the business of helping others.

Kevin Wilt, who made a name for himself at General Mills for being a problem solver, lives his life in retirement as he did throughout his career—as a role model, mentor and advisor. Percy Greenberg, who built one of the top architectural manufacturing companies in the country from the ground up, gets enjoyment from helping other people with their companies via investing and mentoring. And Donna Erickson is an independent consultant who has built a successful business by setting out to learn what problems small businesses have and then providing services for the solutions.

Wilt, Greenberg and Erickson are just three of the successful individuals whose stories Harmony native Rob Severson has featured in his latest book, Achievers: Ordinary People Who Do Extraordinary Things. “I decided to write this book as a way to inspire young people and hopefully change attitudes,” said Severson, who has become frustrated by the attitude of Millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995), who make up the majority of today’s workforce.

“People from this generation tend to be more focused on what’s good for them than what’s good for the company or good for the customer. I don’t think that’s the right attitude to have,” said Severson. He rose through the ranks at a finance subsidiary for Norwest Bank in Minnesota, which was eventually bought out by Wells Fargo, by developing innovations that helped improve the company’s bottom line, while at the same time focusing on the needs of the bank’s customers.

Now retired and living in the Twin Cities, Severson is an author, speaker and financing coach who regularly speaks on the importance of keeping what’s important in life a top priority. For him that is helping others.

Like Severson, Lowell Vogen, who has worked in the information technology industry for decades, likes to help people. He has a lot of contacts and has earned a reputation for being the go-to-guy when someone loses a job, gets laid off or is unhappy or unchallenged in a job and seeking a new opportunity. “I have developed into a good networker because I like to help people,” he said. “It’s second nature for me to do what I can to help others.”

His advice to the young people Severson is hoping to reach with his book: “Become a good networker yourself. Keep the contacts you have from college and leverage them into your career. You don’t leave college and start all over and have to make new friends and meet new people to help you along the way. You have these people. Some of your friends are going to have jobs. Some will not. You can help each other,” he said.

Vogen says he admires Severson’s effort to help today’s young people “figure out” what it takes to be successful, because it’s information they aren’t necessarily going to get in school. “Sure there are job fairs where students are supposed to go and meet people, but I feel that they are a waste of time,” he said. “I think reading a book like Rob’s and learning how others have ‘made it’ is going to make a world of difference for a lot of people.”

Books are available for purchase on author Rob Severson’s website, www.robseverson.com. So is his first book, Connecting Peace, Purpose and Prosperity, a memoir about his journey from being a classic under achiever to a successful and well-respected businessman

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