Alum Alan Olsen’s Life by the Numbers
Now that he thinks about it, Alan Olsen hates accounting.
You wouldn’t expect this from a man with more than thirty-five years of experience in public accounting who serves as one of the managing partners at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, a firm consistently recognized as one of the best and fastest-growing in the country.
“It’s not me,” Olsen says, of running numbers. “When I look at budgets, I go like a deer in the headlights because I see numbers on the page. What I like is solving problems and complexities of making things better.”
Olsen, who earned a BS in accounting from the Marriott School in 1984, moved from one three-letter business to another when he left the IRS to become a CPA in the San Francisco Bay Area. While he prefers to look at accounting from a simplistic point of view, he often experiences a different, more hectic reality.
Olsen and his wife, Susan, have seven children and seven grandchildren. He is active in scouting and has received the Silver Beaver Boy Scout Award, gives countless lectures nationally on foundational business principles, serves on former BYU-Idaho president Kim Clark’s advancement council, and manages a number of different social media channels. He films locally-broadcast commercials on the importance of the family, plays chess, scuba dives, and attends Golden State Warriors games with family (his children have played basketball with two team members, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson).
In addition, Olsen hosts a weekly radio program, The American Dream: Key’s to Life Success, and conducts video interviews with business professionals and expert guests that he posts online. The show boasts more than 400,000 followers who tune in to learn how to make businesses thrive. But they’re not the only ones learning.
“What I find the most rewarding is that on the show it’s all about giving back and helping others to launch their messages, and in the process I learn,” Olsen said. “Not everyone has a success story. There are failures along the way, but everyone has learned in the process.”
Olsen learned one of these lessons while filming a segment on death and taxes in a local cemetery, an attempt at light-hearted humor.
“As we were doing this shoot, a car drives up, and a lady gets out,” Olsen said. “She approaches us and says, ‘You are standing on my husband’s grave.’ I suddenly felt awkward and said, ‘I am so sorry.’ When she learned the video was about death and taxes she said, ‘My husband hated the IRS; go ahead and shoot it!’”
And while death and taxes are said to be the only certainties in life, Olsen believes that another inevitability is life’s tendency to be unexpectedly meaningful.
“I think everyone of us has our own journey and we touch points for the rest, but I think the experiences that we go through in life have been given to us for a reason,” Olsen said. “And it’s not that anyone has a path that is more correct than another, but if we make the most of what is in front of us, I think we have the most fulfillment in life.”