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Personal accounts: Well connected

profile-1Lynda Stenseng takes a break with two 55 Connection club members

It’s not every day a girl gets a marriage proposal. But when Lynda Stenseng, director of 55 Connection at First National Bank Bemidji in Bemidji, Minnesota, met two men in Thessaloniki, Greece — well, one of them was obviously smitten.

“I think it was as much my iPod as it was my charm,” said Stenseng with a chuckle. “They were sitting on a park bench, and it was obvious they spoke little English. I gestured that I wanted to take their picture, and after I showed it to them, they were so amazed. They invited me to sit with them, and a local bystander heard their conversation. ‘The man in the purple coat just asked you to marry him,’ he exclaimed.

“It’s the people who make travel extraordinary, and this is just another story for my travel adventures.”

Management support equals success

Stenseng was already employed at the bank when the 55 Connection director position became available 20 years ago. The retiring director didn’t have to twist Stenseng’s arm when she suggested Stenseng would be a perfect fit.

“I had always loved to travel,” she said. “And I relished the idea of giving others that opportunity and receive such personal satisfaction beyond the doors and walls of the bank. How wonderful to see others’ wonderment.”

Stenseng offers that wonderment to 3,100 club members on about 15 trips a year, including three extended visits to international destinations. Members must be 55 years of age with four options for qualifying accounts that require deposits ranging from $1,500 to $10,000.

“We had 1,200 members when I began the club. With $204 million in club member deposits, 55 Connection represents 44 percent of our bank’s deposits,” she said. “We have a very successful club, and our management sees 55 Connection as a large part of our bank’s success.

“I am thankful for my opportunities as director, but I could not do this without management support. The president tells me, ‘I may not know what you do, but keep it up.’”