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Work Ethic: The Foundation of My Journey from Wisconsin to Financial Planning

The snow was piled up to the windows. It was 20 below zero. Apparently, we fled our central Wisconsin farmhouse just in time that January day of 1977 because the next day, as we drove towards the Sunshine State, the temperature continued to plummet. And such began the transformative watershed event of my early life as a 10-year-old. Fritz and Margo thought, “If we could only get these four kids to Lakeland, FL, maybe they could go to college and not have to milk cows twice a day, seven days a week.” They had heard that Lakeland was inexpensive, warm, and, most importantly, had two colleges. Having no job prospects, no housing, no friends or family, and almost no money, the plan was to immigrate to a new land where opportunity abounded.

Welcome to my first blog!

The marketing people insist I must “Be human, Kurt. Don’t just be a Financial Planning robot!” That being said, I thought I would start out with a quick overview of “Who is Kurt and how did we get to this point?” In future posts, I’ll surely broaden out my topics to include financial planning, travel ideas, sports ponderings, family musings, and such.

The church took us in. We built a family and community out of that. I went to a Christian school with a really tight sense of place. To this day, my friends from that time are my brothers for life. Emerson, Steve, Checo, Steve, Mike, Shane, Tommy, and Greg are still essential parts of my life. The gym was always open. I had nearly unlimited access to a hoop. More later on, a lifetime love affair with the game of basketball.

Forklift operator, truck loader, construction grunt, DJ, and gas pumper were some of the things I did to work my way through Florida Southern College. I lived at home, didn’t join a fraternity, and crossed paths one day with the most amazing human I have ever met.

We started with zero.

However, we had already received the greatest inheritances of all. Work ethic, drive, morals, thriftiness, faith, and optimism were the basis for a life that Kim and I would build together for the next 31 years and counting. It drove me to return to FSC and earn my MBA at night. It inspired me to have the guts to call Ralph Allen one Monday after speaking with him in the church lobby the day before. It motivated me to study at night for a few more years to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™️ practitioner. It led Kim and me to build our family on six foundational pillars: faith, family, fantastic education, fitness, financial freedom, and fun.

Everything changed 23 years ago.

I continually whispered, “I will always take care of you.” Kelsey has since then been a record-setting high School swimmer, graduated from FSC, is volunteering with the United Way, and apparently went shopping for a husband at “The Kurt and Kim Approved Store.” I walk her down the aisle this month and hand her off to another man who will undoubtedly always take care of her. She’s smart in a practical manner, kind, values the legacy of her grandparents, and is headed in the right direction.

“I’d like to be good at basketball” were the words I was hoping to hear but wasn’t pushing for.

Kale heads off a week later to continue playing the sport he loves at Vassar College in New York after graduating this year from Lakeland High School. He’s discerning, self-motivated, has an enviable academic profile, helped the Dreadnaughts to a 24-5 season, and will major in, of course, Economics.

The four of us have rafted, hiked, kayaked, skied, and climbed our way through the most remote and beautiful parts of God’s wondrous Earth. More on my love of adventure travel later.

I love my family, Lakeland, Allen & Company, my church, FSC basketball, adventure travel, my friends, salmon, berries, music, Publix, Bonnet Springs Park, the United Way, hiking, national parks, working out, and my clients. I hope the fact that I attempted to show my true self, as those pesky marketing people demand, will help you, in turn, love my blog.

November 2023

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