My fascinating conversation with Alan Olsen took place in November 2021. In addition to serving some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, Alan is a tax expert with 25 years of experience.
In his early days, Alan was an IRS agent and a CPA, but he was destined for something more meaningful and profound. His dedicated work, determination, and community involvement led to early success and the realization that relationships matter.
Despite caring for seven children and relying on his faith, Alan had an epiphany when his kids were headed to college. By funding a low-cost college tuition program for disadvantaged students, he virtually bankrupted himself. Even with the uncertainties, he would achieve success beyond his biggest dreams
In addition to his role as Managing Partner at GROCO, Alan hosts a podcast called The American Dreams Show. His genius lies in connecting the right people together and telling their stories.
A few things we talked about include what makes us humans, why problem-solving is really a way to build wealth (and not just financially), and how to build a successful business even in tough times. But, most importantly, the importance of relationships and how collaboration can be your ticket to freedom.
Don’t overlook the big reminders that matter
“I had a strong career,” Alan says. “But I was putting in 75 hours a week.” Then an earthquake hit the Bay Area while he was at work. As a result of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, all the Bay Area infrastructure was knocked out. Meanwhile, Alan was down in San Jose, not knowing the safety of his family.
Alan said, “I don’t ever want to put myself in a situation again where I don’t know. I came back and decided I was going to revamp my career.”
Ever since he made that decision, he has focused on doing everything within a few miles of home. In fact, his solid family foundation led to all of Alan’s professional decisions.
What’s his secret to balancing work and family life? His solution was to solve problems at work and in the community. You will develop a stronger spirit as you strive to meet a significant need. When you don’t just think about yourself, you will succeed personally.
We live in a world increasingly divided by social media
There is no denying that we live in a world that is deeply polarized, no matter what it is. It’s certainly not helped by social media.
“What social media has provided is this polarization between belief systems,” says Alan. “Is it government, is it restrictions, or is it free markets and capital?” he asks. “And that polarization has been enhanced by the fact that social media allows us to collaborate with the communities that we agree with. The middle ground is disappearing.”
To counter this, Alan believes we should all look at what we have in common with each other.
He once attended a UN delegation with 87 countries, for instance. There was one thing he recognized about people from so many different backgrounds: they all valued home and family. Ultimately, he says, we need to reach back to this sense of belonging if we are to overcome polarization in society. Everyone can be included, and strong relationships can be built if we work together.
In short, when it comes down to it, people and connections are the important things in your life — not who you voted for or what your favorite TV show is.
A business’s most promising hope in challenging circumstances is collaboration
The old way to succeed in business was to find any advantage you could and outdo your rival. As Alan points out, that’s not the case anymore. “The key is to collaborate,” he says. “It’s finding the right ‘who.’ Who is needed to pull me through into the next level? ”
We will need to rely on others (like-minded people) as we face more global trials, such as the pandemic. After all, human relationships cannot be replaced by technology.
“We talk about AI, we talk about technology, but ultimately, it’s us having a vision and a foundation and the faith to move forward in the face of this adversity,” Alan states. “I remember when the pandemic first came out, it was kind of like deer-in-the-headlights. Some of my employees were stuck: We don’t know what to do.”
What did Alan tell his team to inspire and connect with them? “We keep marching up the hill because no one’s going to do it for you.”
Sharing is the mark of true wealth
In the words of motivational speaker Jim Rohn, every individual is shaped by the five people with whom they spend the most time. It’s related to the law of averages, which says the average of all outcomes will happen in any given situation.
“I’ll have people say, How do I become wealthy? I say, Hang out with wealthy people,” Alan adds.
However, wealth means different things to different people. The life of someone who has truly been blessed financially is usually viewed as more of a service. That means helping others by volunteering and giving money away.
Another way to meet wealthy people? Like Alan, start a club where you can meet successful people.
How does investing in multifamily properties lead to freedom?
In case you’re not familiar, there are multifamily offices where families can contribute assets to be handled by a team. In a single-family office, you might be a wealthy family that has a whole team devoted to the investment arm of the estate because they are financially set up that way.
What is the freedom granted by a multifamily setup?
“When I talk about freedom, I’m talking about the only thing that we have finite in life: our time,” explains Alan. “Say a person has $100 million cash and says, I’m going to put it in the real estate market.”
However, it takes time to evaluate what’s going on. Clients often say, “I don’t want to put that much time in. I want somebody to do that and return a report for me.” And that’s exactly what a multi-family office does. “It’s a well-experienced team helping families to preserve time.”
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!