Entertainer, conversationalist, advocate
Doyle Ranstrom uses his wit to get people to talk to each other
One night when he was a kid, Doyle Ranstrom’s mom came home from a contentious school board meeting with a phrase that stuck with Ranstrom for the rest of his life.
“Thoughtful and intelligent people can disagree without being disagreeable,” she pontificated.
Still today, Ranstrom thinks that is true, but that people do not really like to subscribe to it. Rather, we like to band together and yell at others with different perspectives, “And it’s not working,” Ranstrom said.
“In today’s world, if you’re not with someone you’re against them, and I just find that really obnoxious,” he said.
Ranstrom is a certified financial planner (CFP ®) and owned a wealth management firm until he sold it in 2016. With 40 plus years of experience and a master’s in financial planning, he has spent the last couple of years offering hourly planning, something he identified as a real need. While doing this, Ranstrom writes a story for his blog once a week and submits columns to the Lone Peak Lookout. Some, he says, are not always LPL appropriate.
“I had to be kind of careful about what I said,” Ranstrom said, remembering writing while still working at the firm. “And now, I don’t care any longer.” He is not good at chitchat or cocktail hours. He just wants to dive into real conversation.
The themes he writes about vary across the hot button topic board—climate change, gun violence, Covid, Black Lives Matter, the economy, you name it. But he also likes to write about road biking, something he is passionate about, or the importance of community newspapers.
“I’m trying to challenge people to think a little bit, but I’m trying to do it in a positive manner,” Ranstrom said.
Ranstrom uses his articles to make a point, as any writer does, really, but strives to do so without making a reader angry. He adds humor—evident by a local eye doctor describing him as ‘the funny one’ in the paper— to make these big topics more approachable, and hopefully, more conversable.
Thoughtful and intelligent people, after all, can disagree without being disagreeable, and the way Ranstrom writes about topics is a nod at proving his mother’s revelation true.
His big piece of advice for money is to marry into it.
He had a column recently about memory in which he explained that the reason we forget so many things is that we just really do not pay attention to our surroundings. Ranstrom said his mom used to get frustrated with him for zoning out during conversations—conversations he would not remember a thing about if he tried to recall later.
The Ranstrom family hails from northwestern Minnesota, and as Ranstrom described, grew up pretty poor. They had no running water, outhouses for bathrooms and he went to a country school for two years. After his dad died when he was small, his mother, at age 40 with six kids, went back to get a teaching degree to better support her family.
His line right now, with this in mind and as his son’s wife is about to have him another grandchild, is that women are by far much stronger than men.
A little community paper, the Grant County Herold, out of Minnesota was in part a gossip column. It had the quaint entries about two Mrs-last-names-oftheir-husbands having coffee on a Tuesday or a wedding happening next Sunday. As a high school athlete, Ranstrom made it into the Herold a few times.
He got into writing for the Lookout because he was friends with the former editor, Jolene Palmer, and her husband. Last summer, he wrote an article specifically about how important community newspapers are to small towns. They walk a fine line, he described, trying to report well but at the same time needing readership to keep the presses rolling. You do not always have to agree with a community journalist, or any journalist, but if there is a trust factor, that speaks volumes and lets thoughtful and intelligent people disagree without being disagreeable.
“Locally owned newspapers are really one of the foundations and if we lose them, it would be really unfortunately,” Ranstrom said.
Right now, Ranstrom’s grandchildren take center stage. “They’re too young to be their own advocates,” he said, and by being informed and well-read and written, he hopes to be that for them. In his opinion, his generation, the Baby Boomers, have messed up the economy so much for young adults today, he feels like he always must apologize to someone in their mid-twenties for it.
“I just think, especially my age group, we have to do better. If I had one purpose in my life at this moment, it’s to be an advocate for my grandchildren,” he said.
When his first granddaughter was born, he moved to Portland for a month to be with the expecting family. He spent a whole month working in the city and spent morning till evening with his brand-new granddaughter.
Describing himself as an ‘obnoxious grandparent,’ his reasoning behind this was that if anything happened to him prematurely, he would want his kids to be able to tell this grandchild that grandpa spent a whole month with her when she just entered the world.
Wit and occasional fly-overyour-head sense of humor and being bad at cocktail hours aside, that mini glimpse into Ranstrom’s heart shows that above all, he just wants the world to know he cares. And that he is going to keep trying to make a difference in the world for his grandkids, others’ grandkids and just about anyone he ends up having a conversation with.
Check out Ranstrom’s column in the Lookout this week titled Herd Immunity, Herd Mentality, Seriously? Find his blog at doylearanstrom.com.