My husband and I have known David for over 25 years as he was my mother-in-law’s financial planner until she passed away in 2017. He was also our financial planner for a few years until we were reassigned to Wayne Johnson at Syverson Strege. During the entire time we have known him, we have been impressed with his knowledge, humility, and compassion for others.
I had the privilege of conducting an in-depth interview with David and learned so much about him. Enjoy getting to know David Strege, cofounder of Syverson Strege, in this up close and personal interview!
As a kid, what were you like?
I was pretty straight-laced, always a good student, and very active in school activities, especially athletics. I moved 21 times by the age of 21. Athletics, whether organized or backyard sports with neighbors, was the main way I met new people. I was never distressed by moving, and liked most every place we lived. I was an only child and compliant…a good combination to reduce conflict.
What has been the most rewarding moment or time in your history with Syverson Strege?
Early on, the decision to have our company become fee-only reduced conflicts of interest and was a big step forward for Syverson Strege. Most recently, at our annual board meeting, I found it very rewarding to reflect. I can honestly say that right now we have a great company structure, great people, a positive cultural environment, an impressive management team, and we all communicate well. I describe it as “harmonious” and that is very rewarding.
Tell us about your volleyball hobby.
I was always involved in athletics and was especially fascinated with the precision required in basketball. However, the precision could only go far as nobody can make 1,000 free throws in a row. I was in line for a football scholarship, but didn’t get it, plus football was not my passion. I thought about walking on the basketball team at Drake but didn’t. My now wife, Jen, was playing on the women’s volleyball team at Drake and her coach ran a men’s club volleyball team. He asked me to play club volleyball in 1977 and that was the beginning of my volleyball career that still exists today.
During my sophomore year, our team went to nationals, to Hawaii for three weeks, AAU nationals, and the USA volleyball nationals. My eyes were opened to high-caliber volleyball and I was able to rub shoulders with some pretty impressive players. I began to see what was possible. In my senior year, I was picked up by Graceland College and went to Portland, Oregon for nationals.
Volleyball is certainly a precision sport with a moving ball, an open spot in the court to spike, etc. It’s a team sport that I can play for a lifetime with 75 and older divisions now available in tournament play.
As I got older, I played on masters and seniors teams. Key people kept me engaged. My goal was to play on a team to receive a gold medal. I joined one New Jersey team in 2008 and at one tournament, we were not expected to medal. The team noticed my skills as middle hitter and we came out of nowhere to annihilate the best team, win against Brazil, earn a gold medal, and I won MVP of the tournament. What a ride! I played two more times with that team and moved on to some other top teams.
My goal is to have a medal for every year I’ve played (44). As of now, I have earned 40 medals, 24 of which are golds. I have a shot at achieving my goal this year as long as my body holds up!
What is your favorite Bible verse? What is your favorite book of the Bible and why?
My favorite verse is Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (New Living Translation).” It reminds me of the book Praise the Lord Anyway that says to praise the Lord when good things happen and if something bad happens, praise the Lord anyway.
My favorite book of the Bible is Romans. For me, the book of Romans holds some of the most directive chapters in the whole Bible.
What is your favorite movie?
Raiders of the Lost Ark
What is your favorite junk food or snack?
Almond M&M’s. The almonds provide a redemptive component to the snack!
What has been the most challenging thing that has happened in your history with Syverson Strege?
Generally speaking, the hardest thing I’ve had to do is to terminate people. My mind works hard to process all that is involved in a termination.
What motivates you to get up in the morning?
The meaning in life is discovering your gifts and the purpose of life is giving those gifts away. I am motivated when I am able to serve others, help clients (especially when they have an “aha” moment), provide one-on-one counseling, help kids catch fish at Wildwood Hills Ranch, and glorify God.
How many years have you been married to Jen? What has been the key to your lasting marriage?
We will have been married 40 years in May of this year (2022).
The three things I have learned over time to have a lasting marriage are:
1) Have engaging conversations – put everything else aside to concentrate on my conversations with Jen.
2) Admit when you’re wrong – don’t win the argument for winning’s sake. By the way, Jen was surprised early on when I would admit I was wrong!
3) The culture thinks love is an emotion, but love is an action – providing for your spouse, serving your spouse, doing things for your spouse, etc. 1 John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”
What motivated you to get into the financial services business?
I always liked math and business so I majored in Actuarial Science at Drake University. My dad worked for the Aid Association for Lutherans which is now Thrivent. While at Drake, I ran the Business Aid Society of Polk County. This organization provided credit counseling and tax preparation for low-income individuals and small business accounting. I kept wondering … If people without money don’t know how to get the answers, where do people with money go for answers? This led to exploring a career in financial planning and working with the dean of the business college to develop a curriculum for finance majors with a concentration in personal financial planning.
What is your favorite meal that Jen makes for you?
Her special meatloaf recipe.
What is your most memorable vacation?
For Jen and me, our most memorable trip was to Bali in 2019.
For our family, we made the best memories when we went to Disney World in Orlando in February of 2020. Our son, daughter, and their significant others were all there.
What would you like as an epitaph on your tombstone?
Well done good and faithful servant.
Tell me about your family.
I have been married to Jen for 40 years this May. We have two adult children who live in the area. Adrienne is a logistics specialist with Milestone Technologies and Erik is a union ironworker.
What is your favorite restaurant?
What scares you the most?
I’m not afraid of death, but I’m afraid of the dying process. However, I don’t have many fears because of God’s promise in Philippians 4:6-7 that says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
What is your least favorite chore?
Cleaning the toilet
What is the last book you read? What do you read for fun?
With an hour commute to work, I listen to a lot of audible books. Right now, I’m reading
The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. This is especially interesting since JFK was assassinated on my 5th birthday. For fun, I read a lot of fantasy adventures.
Describe a professional accomplishment.
I have a passion to help make boards more effective. When I was appointed chairman and served on two national boards, CFP Board, and NEFE (National Endowment for Financial Education), it felt rewarding to be helping each organization. I got back way more than I put in as is usually the case when you serve.
What has been your most rewarding area of service or volunteering?
Wildwood Hills Ranch. There’s nothing more fulfilling when your gifts are being utilized and when you are hands-on serving. At Wildwood, I teach older kids about finance, help with the worm farm, and take Wednesday afternoons off in the summer to teach twenty 8-12-year-olds how to fish. I love fishing and teaching fishing! For me, it’s thrilling to feel the tug of the fish at the end of the line knowing that “something” just took the bait. It’s this experience I love sharing with the kids. I teach them how to set the hook (although many of them do not touch the worm), reel in the fish, and feel the satisfaction of catching a fish, some of them for the first time. Jen and I work on the worm farm together and she also works with the draft horse team. It just puts a bounce in our steps to help at Wildwood!
Do you currently have a pet?
We have many “pets.” On our acreage and in our home outside of Winterset, Iowa, we have two cows, two goats, nine chickens, three guineas, three ducks, two dogs, too many outdoor cats (over 20 at the last count), and one indoor cat, Scarlett. As a newborn kitten, Scarlett was rejected by her mother so I bottle fed her and took care of her while I was home during Covid.
What is the first thing you eat or drink in the morning?
A super greens powder with water.
What is your fondest memory as a young boy?
My best memories are when I’d stay outside until dark playing football, baseball, basketball, and other games with the neighborhood kids.
Where is the farthest geographical location you have ever been and why were you there?
The farthest I have been is Auckland, New Zealand. I was there once in 2008 with the CFP Board and once in 2017 for a volleyball tournament. I had the privilege of speaking at Christ Church in Auckland.
Share a time when you faced an unexpected challenge.
I had a minor stroke in 2014. It never affected my mobility, but I was numb on my right side. My rehab was mostly to address balance issues. I felt like God was tapping me on my head and trying to get my attention. I stepped up my game with biblical devotions and charitable giving, all improving my purpose driven life. Within three months after the stroke, I was competing in the senior world games against Russia.
What makes you smile?
Jen’s laugh. Then you know you’re not in trouble.
What is a favorite family tradition?
At Christmas, our family gets together but no gifts are exchanged. Instead, we concentrate on quality family time playing games, including an escape room game that Jen created!
Anything else you want to say?
I try to stay aware of Psalms 32:8 which says, “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’” If I’m in communion with God, He has promised to keep me on His path and guide me along it. It is certain there will be obstacles on this path. God wants me to use the gifts He has given me to get over these obstacles in order to help make other people’s lives better so they are open to hearing the message of His saving grace in Jesus Christ. That is LOVE!!