The Meaning of 'Having It All'

How Modus Advisors Kari Haanstad Landed Her Dream Job While Prioritizing Her Family.

As 2022 graduates enter the workforce, they are heading into the world on the heels of what some call “the great resignation”. Americans are reexamining their jobs and what type of employer, employment, and work/life balance they want going forward. What can we learn from those who have achieved the desired high career and life satisfaction?

Kari Haanstad of Modus Advisors was one of those kids who always knew the direction they were headed. “I knew I wanted to be in finance, investing. I was very drawn to that world, pretty focused on it at a young age.”  Like many Minnesota kids, she wanted to leave and experience something different. She was drawn to a bigger city with big opportunities. This led Kari to pursue her undergraduate at Northwestern University.

“I had no intention of having children, ever. I was going to be this Wall Street… icon,” Kari says with self-deprecating laughter.  She landed a job at JP Morgan. She worked for six months in different areas and got a job in an up-and-coming department at the time: Hedge Funds. JP Morgan offered Kari opportunities to grow her career and supported her in furthering her education as she completed her MBA.

Her husband, Geoff, worked for a biotech start up at the time. The young couple was busy to say the least. Traveling the world for work and pleasure was incredible but when Kari got to her mid-30s she wondered, is this it?

Kari and Geoff decided they wanted a family and wanted to live in a place to put down roots. Also like many Minnesota kids, she ended up back in Minnesota. In Minnesota they had family, great schools, and everything they were looking for in terms of their ideal environment for raising a child.

I ask Kari how it was giving up the glittering big city life to come back to Minnesota.

“It was wonderful. Before that I was on a plane four times a week. To just ‘be’ was wonderful.”

In 2011, their son Gavin was born. Kari made the choice to leave JP Morgan and stay home with Gavin until he started Kindergarten. It was a major shift to be a stay-at-home parent after a decade in a fast-paced industry and a jet setting lifestyle.

Parents everywhere can relate when Kari says, “I worked harder in those days (at home) than any of my days at JP Morgan. It was full and fun in a different way. There was always so much going on.”  When Gavin started school, she felt the pull to get back to corporate life. Her alma mater, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, was launching a program for women looking to relaunch into the business world.

“It really helped me reframe what I wanted and what was important to me now and not what was important to me ten years ago.”

Modus Advisors in Excelsior happened to be looking to fill a junior investment position. Kari knew she was qualified but Modus decided to create a position just for her that would be more suitable for her skill set and experience. The stars aligned. Kari has now been the Chief Investment Officer of Modus Advisors for six years.

“One of my priorities was not having a long commute. I didn’t want to miss out on class parties and school events. Flexibility was priority one. I can walk to Modus from my house.”

It’s not just the delightful commute, it’s also the culture at Modus that contributes to Kari’s high-degree of career and life satisfaction.

“We fit on so many different levels. It’s been a good fit for Modus and for me. I work with incredible people and it brings me joy every day. Our client base is amazing; they’re down to earth, normal people. Working with normal people is underrated and underappreciated,” Kari smiles. “I have the pleasure of helping couples, families with important aspects like their retirement, planning for education, a dream of owning a cabin. In my old world there was a lot of ego, the people didn’t bring me joy.  It was just about the hustle. And now it’s the people.”

So does Kari dispel the myth that you “can’t have it all?” It seems to be so.

“It’s a different ‘all’,” she shares. “The ‘all’ will change and morph as priorities and circumstances change. I’m an owner. I’ll be here for the long-term. I can have the career I want, and be the mom I want to be.” 

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