Greta’s story of persistence

Greta Weisser family

Greta Weisser (second from left) stands (on her tiptoes, she says) with her siblings in June.

Greta Johnson in the 1979 Annual Report

Greta Weisser, from Basin Electric’s 1979 Annual Report.

It was 1975. Greta (Johnson) Weisser, a single parent and former schoolteacher, was waiting tables at what is now 40 Steak + Seafood in Bismarck, North Dakota. Looking north, Basin Electric’s Headquarters stood out along the city skyline.

Read an introduction to Weisser and her story: Instagram post provides a peek into history

Basin Electric, incorporated in 1961, was a growing cooperative and known community supporter, and Weisser thought she might like a job there. So, with no particular position in mind, she decided to get one.

“I think I spent a couple weeks sitting in the lobby begging people to hire me,” Weisser says. “I was very persistent.”

It turns out the cooperative had openings in the accounting department. They were introductory positions, and Weisser was warned she might not like the work. Her first job was Xeroxing invoice copies to send to member cooperatives, and she couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

“They said I was going to be bored, and I was not bored. I absolutely loved doing it,” Weisser says. “I loved the people, I loved the zen of the Xerox machine, and it was so easy to be a hero. I was so happy to have a job, and a job where I was working with nice people. It was something I thoroughly enjoyed.”

A couple years into her employment, she was approached by Arnold Ketterling, longtime Basin Electric employee and then-manager of finance. He asked if she was interested in managing the investment of funds for the Antelope Valley Station construction project.

“The offer was thoroughly intriguing, and I went back and forth five or six times. I ultimately ended up taking the position and it was absolutely fascinating,” Weisser says.

Weisser rose to the position of senior financial analyst and was tasked with timing investments in order to have funds available to pay the project’s contractors. Her business travels took her from coast to coast, from Oregon to New York.

She was a quick learner and a hard worker. Case in point: In a time before personal computers, Weisser would buy freezer paper from the nearby meat shop and line her kitchen walls, in order to hand-design specifications for programs that could be used to plan investments of the construction funds.

She left Basin Electric in 1980. Now, age 71, she lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota, and works as a business analyst with DJO Global. She can’t imagine not working. “That’s what keeps you vital,” she says.

Thinking back to the start of her career at Basin Electric, she thinks her persistent nature might’ve been instilled in her since birth.

“I don’t know, I’ve always been like that. I don’t take no for an answer,” Weisser says. “If I had gotten a firm no, I probably would’ve left (Basin Electric’s lobby), but it was sort of a wishy-washy no.”

Weisser’s advice to someone trying to kick-start their professional career? “Be realistic, but be persistent. And you need to stretch yourself. You’ll never know if you’ll be able to do it, but you need to try. If you fail, think about what you learned from it, pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and go on.”

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