Jerrid Sebesta (Taatjes Financial Group)

Jerrid Sebesta is the Director of Business Development at Taatjes Financial Group in Willmar, Minnesota.

Born 40 miles west of Willmar in Montevideo, Sebesta grew up in the now-forgotten era where kids were encouraged to go outside and play with their friends.

Sebesta says in the small town of Montevideo, he and his friends would routinely spend time after school exploring the neighborhood, their curiosity unimpeded by the lingering fears that many parents have since developed over the years.

“It was small town living. I am old, so this was before the internet, but I would ride bikes with friends and play basketball until the sun went down, then I would go home and eat dinner,” he recalls.  

During this time, Sebesta also learned to appreciate science and weather, an interest that was later refined at the University of North Dakota when he decided to major in meteorology.

“I have a B.S. in meteorology, which I think is very ironic,” Sebesta jokes.

Post-college, Sebesta imagined that he would work for the National Weather Service, but after visiting one of their offices, he quickly retracted that belief.

“Those people [at the National Weather Service] were very smart. I knew I wasn’t that smart,” Sebesta claims.  

“I’m not being coy or humble. I’m just not that kind of nerd-smart.”

Sebesta may not have possessed the scientific aptitude to thrive at the National Weather Service, but his talents did extend far beyond the examination of a Doppler radar.

More specifically, Sebesta excels at public speaking and storytelling, and that’s partially how he later “stumbled” into doing meteorology on TV.

“I can talk, and I like to get in front of people and tell stories,” says Sebesta, who after reorienting his career path took an internship one summer at a small TV station in Duluth.

While in northern Minnesota, Sebesta went through what he terms an “awakening experience,” describing how it didn’t take him long to realize that a career in TV meteorology catered to both his ability to speak in front of groups, and showcase his passion for weather.

Even better, Sebesta also learned that being a meteorologist, at least at the TV station in Duluth, wasn’t an overly-taxing position.

“It was the easiest job I had ever seen,” Sebesta says.  

“From there I knew that it was my calling and what I wanted to do.”

To secure a full-time job on TV, Sebesta had to produce a resume tape to pitch to other TV stations.

He says that initial audition tape is stashed somewhere in the confines of his attic, safe from the scrutiny the internet might otherwise impose upon it.

Still, that piece of history played an integral role in Sebesta impressing the execs at a modest TV station in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who after seeing the tape extended Sebesta a contract offer.   

“I signed a three-year contract at $8.50 an hour,” Sebesta says of the agreement.  

“Very humble beginnings. At any given time, there were maybe only 10-15 people watching me.”

His audience was sparse, but Sebesta did cover Tornado Tuesday on June 24, 2003, a date where the state of South Dakota set the record for the most tornadoes in one state in one day.

“I just happened to be on the air that night, and it was terrifying, but it stretched me as a broadcaster and that’s how you ultimately grow,” Sebesta says of that pivotal moment in his TV career.

“Anyone can talk about the weather for three minutes when it’s quiet, but when all heck is breaking loose and you have to keep your cool and communicate, that’s when the rubber meets the road, and you learn what you are made of as a broadcaster.”

Sebesta ultimately spent five whirlwind years in Sioux Falls.

During that time, in conjunction with his professional ascension, he met his wife and the two began a family, but before a long-term foundation could be built, Sebesta accepted another broadcasting position in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Once again, I got thrown to the wolves and was covering things that I had never seen before, things like dust storms and haboobs (term for storms in AZ),” Sebesta notes.

“I even went to Southern California and covered wildfires while sitting next to NBC Nightly News.”

Three adventurous years later, Sebesta and his family were once again on the move after he received an attractive offer from Kare 11, one of the biggest TV stations in Minnesota.

And for the next half-decade, Sebesta cemented himself as a staple in the Twin Cities community, bringing Minnesotans their weather forecast every night.

At that point, Sebesta seemingly had everything a TV meteorologist could desire, but off-camera Sebesta was conflicted about the state of his career.

“TV is a tough business. There is no ideal schedule. It’s either late nights and evenings, or deathly early mornings, which feel a lot like overnights, plus weekends and holidays,” Sebesta explains.

“That always wore on me.”

Even dating back to his stint in Phoenix, Sebesta wasn’t convinced that he would always be in TV.

As mentioned, the schedule of a meteorologist can be daunting, but more importantly, that childlike joy Sebesta once experienced in front of the camera slowly began to fizzle.

“There was always this fight within me internally. I was having fun and enjoyed advancing in my career, but I also felt like it was driving me farther away,” Sebesta says.

Further away from what exactly was unclear at the time, but Sebesta still opted to leave his decorated position at Kare 11 and delve into the uncertainty that would then come, considering he didn’t have another job lined up.

Fortunately, Sebesta and his family had managed their money well, so he could be patient with his next career move.

“At first, we were going to go back to South Dakota where my wife and I met and live happily ever after on the prairie,” Sebesta mentions.

“That’s when I got a call from this guy in Willmar.”

The man on the other end of the phone was named Ben, and he owned Taatjes Financial Group (pronounced tay-jus, as in contagious), a retirement consulting company that specializes in helping individuals prosper financially and emotionally after their careers are over.

Right away, Sebesta was drawn to Ben’s financial philosophies, many of which were predicated on getting people to look at retirement differently than how traditional financial firms do.

“At most financial firms, it’s a bunch of old guys in suits. That’s not my style and to work in an office with a bunch of old white guys didn’t appeal to me,” Sebesta says.

“But at Taatjes, that’s not who we are. We’re about taking people to their fullness. Very little of what we do is actual investments. A lot of it is more centered on life coaching and retirement coaching, walking them into who God created them to be.”

In essence, Sebesta and Taatjes Financial Group aim to reverse much of the conventional thinking centered around retirement by getting people to focus less on their financial statements, and more on developing a purpose that they can carry throughout the course of their golden years.

“We meet people all the time who have more than enough money than they would ever need for the rest of their life, and 90% of their mental real estate is on their money. They’re watching the news and seeing the headlines and it messes with their brain,” Sebesta says.

“We challenge people to take that mental real estate away from their money and apply it toward adding value and living with intentionality, and that strategy gets them thinking about what their retirement could be like.”

As the Director of Business Development, Sebesta wakes up each morning giddy about the potential impact Taatjes Financial Group can have on their clients, but almost none of his excitement revolves around helping people increase their net worth.  

“I’ll be blatantly honest: retirement planning does nothing for me, but helping people become who God created them to be, that does get me excited,” Sebesta says.

But as Sebesta frequently is finding out, achieving that goal does comes with its own set of challenges, namely in trying to get clients to rethink the way they view the later years of their life.

“People are sold the idea that once they retire everything is perfect, but it’s not,” Sebesta says.

“Now they have 40 extra hours every week that they have not replaced with something productive, and society and the financial world have not prepared them for that.”

The antidote to this systemic approach on retirement won’t become accepted overnight, but over time Sebesta and Taatjes Financial Group hope their message will resonate with Americans who would rather expire than retire.

Based off the litany of satisfied clients who have already walked through their doors, their ideology is gaining traction, and that alone is enough to give Sebesta a dose of happiness.

“The people who have been working with us for years, their lives look different, and they tell us that the journey they’re on is much better and a lot more meaningful.” QS

**

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