Making Client Connections With Alex Korzhen

Hosts & Guests

Judy Vorndran

Meredith Smith

Alex Korzhen, Tax Manager 


Making Client Connections With Alex Korzhen

Meredith Smith [00:00:04] Welcome to SALTovation the SALTovation Show as a podcast series featuring the leading voices, Insult, where we talk about the issues and strategies to help you make sense of state and local tax. Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the SALTovation podcast. Today is the first episode in our series of Meet the Team, where we will be talking to the individual members of the state tax group. Our goal in doing this is for you, the listener, to learn more about who we are as a people and what we are all about. Mr. Alexander, caution as our first guest, if you will, and are going to for the series. Hi, Alex.

Alex Korzhen [00:00:48] Thank you.

Meredith Smith [00:00:49] And our boss of it all, Judy, Vorndran. Hi, Judy. Hello, everyone. So, yeah, Alex. So you are our resident Minnesotan on our team. And so how did you get there? Because you didn't start there.

Alex Korzhen [00:01:03] I did not I I came from another cold place. I was actually born in Russia and lived in Hungary for most of my youth. And then around 10 years old in the late 80s, we emigrated here to America and we landed in New York, like a lot of Russians at that time did. So we bounced around the East Coast a little bit. And I went to college in Pennsylvania. I went to law school in Connecticut and ended up working in Manhattan for a number of years. And then we, you know, we just needed to start a family. We needed a lifestyle change and. We accidentally, completely, accidentally had no connection to Minnesota, ended up in Minnesota. Judy was hiring at a previous firm and we just took a leap of faith and we do not regret it. It's amazing here.

Meredith Smith [00:01:55] So you've got two kids, Sam and Ellie, and it was Sam born on the East Coast in Connecticut. Or was he born in Minnesota?

Alex Korzhen [00:02:04] No, he was born in Connecticut. And he was born here in Minnesota.

Meredith Smith [00:02:06] Yeah, OK. And then where did Maya fall in on your picture?

Alex Korzhen [00:02:11] I met Maya . I think it was my third year of law school, if I remember correctly. OK, yeah. And then we just got married. Let's see, law school was around twenty six. We got married and I proposed that in two thousand nine, not two thousand eight got married in two thousand nine,

Judy Vorndran [00:02:29] almost the equivalent of the law school education of our dating before you decide to marry.

Meredith Smith [00:02:34] Yeah, well and I was a Maya was a bad ass in her own right, too, because she did some marketing for like a giant company in Manhattan, right?

Alex Korzhen [00:02:44] She was. Yeah, she worked four times. Yeah. And she was actually in the production department. So she was wrangling, you know, the copy folks and the design folks and the account folks. And she I guess it's the you know, the, the magazine version of a project manager, but she left that all behind for being a stay at home mom for now. Yeah.

Meredith Smith [00:03:12] So then law school, but kind of took a tax accounting path because you have your undergrad in accounting. Right.

Alex Korzhen [00:03:21] I do

Meredith Smith [00:03:21] find answered

Alex Korzhen [00:03:23] right now. It was a split major. I was accounting finance. That's the degree I graduated with from Franklin Marshall College in Pennsylvania. And then I went to Deloitte right out of college for four two years to do auditing. I did. I did. I did the audit for two years and sat for the CPA exam. This was the old days when you still had to do all four sections of gas and computers, and it was all just the grueling day of filling out the booklets anyway. So I took the exam twice and I only passed the law section each one of those times. So I said, you know, you know, I'm just going to go to law school. It was a I honestly, it's kind of silly to say now, but I, I think it really was that impulsive and that's really.

Judy Vorndran [00:04:12] Yeah. Ace the law part. I took the bar, I took the law CPA exam because I'm a lawyer too. Right. So I took the CPA exam three times intentionally. I'm like, I'm just going to study for a couple and provision the others and then roll it out because I was working full time when I was studying and I'm like, I don't need to pass this. I don't need it. I already have the law license, but I ended up getting it because I stayed in public accounting. And I really felt like at that time, especially about, what, ten years ahead of you? You know, we hired a bunch of lawyers, but we still wanted to be CPAs. And then we didn't have as much credibility with our peers if we were. And also, I think it was that thing where we don't show our CPA. So we think CPA because what happened with the bank or they hired a bunch of lawyers. Right. But those lawyers didn't have undergraduates in accounting. A lot of them were just four lawyers with the poli sci undergrad or English, which means they didn't understand numbers and they brought them in to do tax returns, which is really not their expertise and knowledge. And so for me, I'm like, I do understand numbers. I can't become a CPA, so I will. So I get credibility with my peer group. Since I stayed in public accounting. It's kind of funny for me that that was like more of a road to acceptance. Absolutely. Yeah.

Alex Korzhen [00:05:22] Well, you know, and I think so I was I was doing while I was working full time at Deloitte, I was also getting my MBA at the same time, part time nights and studying for the for the SATs at the same time, I guess what in my early twenties. So I was trying to be a little bit to the five. So it was I kind of I was hoping that the MBA would offset that or create that level of credibility, because I think that that does give you that leg, that practical link where the law school gives you the legal aspect. Right.

Judy Vorndran [00:05:59] Right, right. Well, then you obviously have an accounting finance undergrad. I have a finance undergrad. So I did accounting. I should have majored in accounting. I thought accounting was too boring. It's kind of funny, ironically, that I became a certified public accountant, but I actually think it's very interesting. It's not boring at all. In fact, it balances, which is what I kind of like about it. I like the balance and the imbalance. Right, right. So interesting. But you have that mindset, which is how you've been successful in this field?

Alex Korzhen [00:06:23] I think. I think so.

Meredith Smith [00:06:25] Right. So then why are taxes falling?

Judy Vorndran [00:06:29] I write

Alex Korzhen [00:06:32] quite honestly. I think early in my career everything was just a series of accidents. I took a tax class. We are. Quinnipiac University offered a concentration. I took one text class, really enjoyed the professor, really enjoyed the content of the text class and another after that. And it just ended up where most of my electives were, where were text classes. And I ended up learning that concentration when I graduated, when I was doing campus interviews of the big four accounting firms. And I was meeting with somebody from TWC and we just had really great chemistry. It was just we just connected, which I think is kind of the story of my career or maybe yours as well. It's really not what you're doing. But with if you have a connection to your peers and your clients as well, if you have a connection, if you have a rapport, things just kind of seem to fall into place

Judy Vorndran [00:07:36] and then you kind of want to problem solve for them. I mean, like this is what you bring to the table is your expertise, problem solving, you know, and and enjoy doing that with people. I mean, yes, you were on that call with a software provider, and it was so amazing how you guys were kind of figuring out how to problem solve for this client. We have like how do we make this all work with what they have now? And just going through that was really powerful. I thought, well,

Meredith Smith [00:08:04] and it's funny, Alex, that you talk about like the connection, because I was thinking about like as we're starting the series of, like the media team, I was like, all right, so what do you know, what do I think about Alex? And I was just like, you know, it was that immediate connection that we had, like, it seemed like, you know. Because it's like Judy came in right when I went on maternity leave with Caitlyn over five years ago, I came back. I think you might have helped her out some. And then like a year later, Judy and I kind of liked working together. And then you were kind of like really the second member or like the third member. First member. However, you want to look at the first official. Hi, Owen. But it was just like right away it seemed like. All right. We just worked, and then whenever you're in town, it's like we're going to go grab a beer, we're going to have a drink, we're going to chat and like all this crap, it's late now. You got to go wherever we got to be. And it's really funny that you talk about that connection, because that's, you know, and this is kind of what I like.

Alex Korzhen [00:09:05] Old friends.

Meredith Smith [00:09:05] Yeah. For sure.

Judy Vorndran [00:09:07] Going it was really a blessing that you guys got along, Meredith, because I had heritage and we had to build our connection together. We didn't really have it. We built it over the years. Certainly we're neighbors. That doesn't hurt. But it's nice that you have this nice of like you're just I just love working with Alex. I mean, I was like, well, you know, I mean, that's what any owner or any owner, leader, whatever wants from their people is to feel like they enjoy working with their peers and and they want to help each other succeed because that's how we're successful with our clients, I think. And then in general, it's just Problem-Solving like we have to do. So that's really cool. And it is fun that you guys have that connection. It's nice to acknowledge that honesty is sort of taking it for granted. It's nice to be reminded of it, because that really was. I remember Meredith saying that I really love working with Alex. I thought, you don't have to say that, but you did.

Alex Korzhen [00:10:01] Yeah, no, thank you.

Judy Vorndran [00:10:04] You're all right.

Meredith Smith [00:10:07] Well, and then so kind of like gearing on this connection piece, like, how do you find that you kind of connect to the clients and like because you and I also love being part of calls that you're on and that you're leading, because I do find that, like, you have an incredible skill set of one. Explaining things to clients, but also really connecting with them, like how has that kind of just like obviously you and I, we've been doing this for a long time. Right. So, like, it's not something it's learned over time and just like being around different people who have different skill sets. But like, how do you find that you build that connection with our clients?

Alex Korzhen [00:10:46] That's a good question. I think I think a good chunk of it has to do with just experience and serving a lot of clients over a period of time. I agree with that. I don't know if I. I don't know if I had a naturally maybe some folks do. I don't know if I did. I think I try to approach everything with an open mind. I keep in mind that we're talking to people and it's, you know, it's a human being on the other line. It's not that you don't think of them as a CFO or a CEO or whatever, you know, or director attacks. You think of them as an individual who needs help solving the problem. No different than talking to your spouse and helping them deal with a problem or talking to a friend and helping them with something that they're dealing with. You try to give good advice going back to the education and the experience. You know, I think we have the legal element of it that gives us the set of rules that we operate within. Right. It's the legal framework within which the states work, having the experience and the team and the education, you know, like the MBA, the CPA, all those things give us the practical aspect, which allows us to give helpful advice as opposed to just the rules. Right. I think early in my career, I was so focused on just what are the rules, you know, what do we legally have to do? What do you legally have to do? That was the approach that I took with my clients. While the law says, well, that only gets you halfway there, right? I think that the practical aspect is where the real value comes in.

Judy Vorndran [00:12:29] And I think it's also a sign that I'm just going to say it's really important. Like we want our clients to trust us. Right? We want them to know where people go, you know, and we're not just doing this for a paycheck, only we're doing it because we really want to help them. We have a skill to help them. We like to help them. If they have a problem, they're really stressed. Sometimes I feel like some of this job is therapy because they're really anxious and they're trying to do things and they're maybe caught off guard. And it can be incredibly costly and that's very stressful for a business owner. And so we want to help them get through that. And then they're just angry, right? They're angry that they have to do all this stuff. Why? Why, why? It's like they blame us because we're the messenger. And so we're trying to get through that, you know? So I think it's just trying to pull off those relationships, those connections of trust and continue to have them allow us to help them and continue to build that trust. We have a lot of clients we have worked with for years now because they're continuing to just pass on money, but because we know how to solve the problem.

Alex Korzhen [00:13:32] Absolutely. And I think it depends on the kind of company you're working with. There are some companies who have internal expertise where the people in there are large enough, they're experienced enough. They absolutely know how to get done, what needs to be done. Maybe they're hiring out to a third party just because there's a lack of resources that could just be as simple as that. Right. And there's nothing wrong with that work. It's good work. It's just in my experience, that's just slightly less fulfilling. Right. Because there's not that. It's just a project. Right. I think the projects that I've enjoyed more are where the company doesn't necessarily have the subject matter, expertise of the internal SMEs where we can become that trusted advisor and that human element enters into it. I guess for lack of a better term, it's gratitude maybe.

Meredith Smith [00:14:31] Yeah, yeah, well, and there's kind of you know, we work with companies kind of all over the world. Right. And just that like a sigh of relief, that kind of we can bring them back down and just be like, hey, we're here, we're listening. We can help you fix it, you know, being that calm, kind of rational kind of voice, because this isn't that area of expertise. Right. And then, you know, oftentimes we're dealing with, you know, these can be, you know, fifty million dollar revenue companies that have one person doing the work. And like, we just get on the phone and we just listen to them vent and they just feel better because they're like, no one can listen to me. No one understands what I'm going through and you guys know what I'm going through. And I just need to just like Blair, get it out. Right. And it's like, yeah, we're here to listen. And then here's how we can solve your problem.

Judy Vorndran [00:15:28] Right. Right. Right. And work collaboratively with you to get it done. No, it's really funny you say that. It's because every time we talk to a client, we always get more work. Right. Because, you know, they're like, oh, you know, this has been sitting out there. I haven't gotten into it. Clearly, I'm not going to get to it. I don't really know how to get to it. I'm supposed to get to it, but I really don't have a skill set to get to it. And so we can provide a lot of value to problem solving. And we obviously always save the money. Always. Yeah, I don't think we've ever not paid for ourselves exponentially more than we cost, even though people don't say,

Meredith Smith [00:15:58] oh, I tried to knock on wood, another door, another dog's upset. So now we're on edge. All right. And it's funny because like at the end of the day, we're kind of accountants. Lawyers, right. And we're. Oh, at a party. What do you do? Oh, I'm an accountant. And they're like, oh, hey, I see my friend over there. Right. But you know what's outside of just the aspect of helping people, right? Is there anything else that kind of gets you excited about work?

Alex Korzhen [00:16:28] Oh, yeah, I'm outside of the human element, you know, I'm. I'm an introvert by nature, so I really like to kind of retreat and and. Take a moment and thoughtfully, methodically go through a project then, and I can only do that if it's an interesting puzzle. So that's what I find in this area of tax. I think Sulpice is well suited to two people who like solving puzzles. There's yeah, there's a lot of variety. There is a lot of gray area and there's a lot of room for interpretation. So it just lends itself really well to those kinds of individuals and then I happen to be one of them. So if I really like the variety of my day where I get to talk to some clients on the phone, do that therapy session and offer some advice, get like the extroverted piece out and then retreat for a couple hours and just dove into a project and just get it done and solve it.

Judy Vorndran [00:17:40] That's the law on the bar. Did you do well as well? On a logical note, is that the logical game was the bar? I can remember the logic of game S.. I aced that. I mean, I did. That's what I knew. Like, I didn't miss one. Like, I didn't do well on every other piece. Right the same. But I couldn't believe my brain thinks that when I don't know if I share this with you, I probably have. But people think it is a puzzle. Maybe like cryptograms, maybe like Rubik's Cube spatial. Right. I am good at whatever these logical games are like. You give me a rule. I can logically think why it should have been put in place. And then I'm like how to apply my client's facts to that law, to figuring out the way for them to comply or not comply with it because it's not set out to be for them. So I really really like that. I mean, I think it's also kind of stressful because you never get an answer. That's a CPA side, like wanting a block of life. But then you get used to legal education. But then you do learn to deal with uncertainty. How do you deal with uncertainty and then come to a conclusion regardless? Right. So you learn that obviously, given that you change your going from an undergrad in finance and accounting, which is a little more room space to a legal education, which is a little bit more like esoteric, I think

Alex Korzhen [00:18:53] I absolutely just be comfortable with imperfect information as it's the name of the game, I think.

Judy Vorndran [00:19:00] And it's all like I mean, obviously you could have chosen a lot of paths and in accounting right intact, you could have been a federal tax person, an international tax person, a transfer tax person. There's a lot of areas you could have gone into. So how is it that you ended up living in Salt Lake?

Alex Korzhen [00:19:17] I was saying I think I think that that initial interview went really well. I was convinced that salt was a great place for four attorneys to land. Oh, and I took. I agree with that, and I took a leap of faith and it's just worked out ever since that was, you know, 15 years ago or so.

Judy Vorndran [00:19:40] So you've got recruited into salt. So it's funny because, see, when I started, we didn't have salt and I went into salt and it was a very beginning field at the Big Eight, whatever we were at the time, I think five before. And I remember being in recruiting to get people in our team because we had a hard time. Everybody went into federal and maybe people will come and assault's we tried really hard to explain to people, the right people with the mindset that enjoyed it, that this is a really interesting career path. But you have to have something that makes you OK with it, because so many people criticize it. Right. It's overwhelming. It's stressful. There's so many states, 50 states. Right. And then all the locals and people just go right. And you're like, I don't go. I go, wow. Right. And so looking for those people. But it's funny. So you got recruited. I don't know, Merideth, if you did,

Meredith Smith [00:20:28] but I did too. I went directly into it.

Judy Vorndran [00:20:31] I fell into it and then I'm like, what kind of like this? And then I thought about pivoting out into international because it was sexier and bigger, the 40 percent differential versus tan. Right. So it had more value in the market. But in the end, I'm like, I can't read, you know, things in Singapore. I can't read Chinese, I can't read Italian. I mean, how am I going to be effective? I can read the law in Kansas. Right. I can read English. So I was like this. I'd be coordinating among some other people that are reading and knowing the law. Well, I can read and know the law and actually talk to the human administrative law and get a sense of how to apply it. And I can't do that internationally. So I was like, I have more control over helping people in our field because I can communicate. That is ultimately why. But I don't know what you thought about it.

Alex Korzhen [00:21:18] No, I did, I mean, international. This was a very fleeting idea for me. I thought, you know, we all kind of romanticized some stuff early on before we were getting started. We just want to get started. I had some vision on and I'm wearing an expensive three piece suit traveling around the world. That's right. I mean, obviously, that's, you know, that's all Hollywood. So once you get over that, you become

Meredith Smith [00:21:46] you're like, oh, crap, I got student loans and rent and like insurance like, this isn't fun. This is No. Three piece suit. Not a jet.

Judy Vorndran [00:21:52] Yeah. I saw you're sold out of the gate to Meredith Cliffhanger.

Meredith Smith [00:21:57] We can learn more about my backstory later. But yes, I did go right directly to salt for sure. And you said and then I stayed kind of like my husband kind of fell, kind of fell in with him and then just kind of stayed. There are 15 years later. Well, so, Alex, then you've kind of gotten involved and you're doing a lot of, like webinars and you're involved heavily in the Minnesota Bar Association. And you just helped either co-host or run the Naisbitt conference, virtual conference the last couple of weeks. So tell us some of the kind of non salivation stuff that you're doing.

Alex Korzhen [00:22:37] Yes, I am actually the chair of the tech section of the Minnesota Bar Association this year. So good timing. So that's yeah, I'm heavily involved with that. It's a really great group of of tax practitioners that we have here and a pretty active section. So fortunate to hold that position, the the nice bits. That's the National Association of State Tax for Sections. So we are trying to coordinate the various tax sections across the country and really just information sharing and network with each other. We hold a an annual conference as well. This year was the first for about as many other conferences were. And it's usually a two day CLB program with some re-announced speakers and thought leaders across the country. And I was the program chair this year for that. And and also that the secretary on the executive board, it's it's it's my first full conference so that to plan. So that was that was that was an interesting learning experience as to how much work actually goes into something like that. So kudos to everyone who does that on a regular basis. I had to lift

Judy Vorndran [00:23:55] and I participated in it was really well done. So that was exciting. It was really what I was. It is well done for the like. Is this what's happening? When's it happening? Right. Like that was a little bit of an interesting thing, but it was really well executed. I think it's been really interesting to see how well we've pivoted to online learning, to conferences, to seamless. I just spoke in one yesterday and it just seemed like it went to Spokane. It's who I was. I thought it was very well orchestrated. I hope the participants felt the same way. But, you know, I thought, what the heck? You know, I mean, you sit in a room, you leave to go to the bathroom, you go to get the bagels and whatever, and you go back and sit down. So it's what is the difference, really? It's nice to have those networking connections. Right. But that's all you're really kind of missing in person, I think is the content, if it's delivered well, could be almost more efficient.

Alex Korzhen [00:24:42] It's not a bad plan B. I do miss you know, I was just talking to somebody yesterday on the phone who usually goes to the ABA conference, the one in New Orleans every year. And we were just reminiscing as to how much we miss big, big down in New Orleans in March because, you know, so this individual is from Chicago. I'm from Minnesota, you know, New Orleans. And Marc Rich is really nice.

Judy Vorndran [00:25:06] And the food and the dinner is. Yes, very fun.

Meredith Smith [00:25:09] But it's always asked around your birthday, right?

Alex Korzhen [00:25:12] Yes, that's true. Yeah, that's true.

Meredith Smith [00:25:13] So you got a little like a repreve birthday celebration.

Alex Korzhen [00:25:17] That's nice. But, you know, it's unfortunate. Family can't always be there, so. Yeah, well, yeah.

Meredith Smith [00:25:26] Anyway, like I said, I talk crap about my family. I say that I love them very much.

Alex Korzhen [00:25:36] Eight or nine months in isolation. I think everybody feels the same way.

Meredith Smith [00:25:40] Right. Yeah. Yeah. My husband is like locked in the baby's room because we're still sharing our coffee table. And I was like, all right baby, you know, I'm teaching a class tomorrow and I got a podcast and he's just like, fine, but that's fine. Well, so then we're kind of, I think, running on time. And so I want you to share one thing we don't know about yourself, and then we're going to end with some random rapid response questions that have nothing to do with tax or whatever that I think you may have cheated and given you a little bit of heads up on the. So maybe you're prepared, maybe or not, but so share one thing about yourself that we don't know, you know.

Alex Korzhen [00:26:26] Yeah, you did. I did kind of get a heads up on that on the questions. I still haven't thought of one for this, I guess. All right. So this is OK, we'll do this. We're doing this, guys.

Meredith Smith [00:26:37] I could also input some stuff like your favorite as a skilled tax professional, an attorney. You can fix cars and you can renovate your home by

Alex Korzhen [00:26:50] poorly, but

Meredith Smith [00:26:51] you can do none of those. Right.

Alex Korzhen [00:26:56] Well, I don't know about you. Yes, we are in the middle of a home renovation and we've been in the middle of one for a long time because I've been doing most of the work and stuff. So my wife is getting tired of that. So maybe we might hire out the basement, but I'm determined to finish the kitchen. So I was going to share the thing I was going to share was that I still to this day. Cry when an animal gets hurt. On TV. So people do not eat so much at once. Very much so. So if anybody ever repeats that, I'll find you

Meredith Smith [00:27:35] while you're going on a

Judy Vorndran [00:27:36] podcast. It's going to be out there just how wide

Meredith Smith [00:27:40] that's going to be. That clip that gets pushed through everywhere somehow will open into other people's media. Say something.

Judy Vorndran [00:27:46] But then you can't watch my octopus teacher. He doesn't get her butt or she will die in the end.

Alex Korzhen [00:27:53] I don't. I don't. I don't like those.

Judy Vorndran [00:27:56] I don't like. That's really awesome.

Meredith Smith [00:28:00] Well, I think that's I think that's awesome. I cry at everything, like everything. So I do appreciate how it's possible. I got a little teary when we were talking to Joanie and, you know, so it's possible. You are ready for your random rapid responses. Yeah, let's do it. Won't be that fast, but you know, OK, what are you reading right now?

Alex Korzhen [00:28:23] I'm not reading aside from law. I'm not reading. I'm doing an audio book because I was told. So the movie coming out or another version of it, the remake of the remake. And my buddy and I are really excited for it and we got excited for it. And he said that under no circumstances am I allowed to watch the movie without reading the book first, because I'll have no idea what's going on.

Judy Vorndran [00:28:51] Yeah, no, you will.

Alex Korzhen [00:28:53] So. So I'm doing the audio book.

Judy Vorndran [00:28:55] That's funny. I just read that book within the last couple of years again, and it's really good. I actually didn't enjoy it as much when I was younger. I didn't really understand it, to be frank. And I understood it much better now like the dystopia than whatever. Yeah, and it's a great story, which is obviously why I was made into a movie.

Meredith Smith [00:29:12] All right. That's so rapid, but that's fine. What now? We don't spend as much time in the car, but what do you listen to in the car?

Alex Korzhen [00:29:21] OK, so are the kids with me, a kid?

Meredith Smith [00:29:24] It depends. Yeah, so it's either kids bop or like real adult content, right?

Alex Korzhen [00:29:28] Yeah, yeah, exactly. So yeah it'll be. Well, we don't do kids pop too much because they're usually listening to whatever pop stuff is on the radio. But if I'm alone, it's probably going to be something very loud and maybe from the 90s.

Meredith Smith [00:29:45] Very nice. What is your favorite movie

Alex Korzhen [00:29:49] or impossible to say. I love movies, so

Meredith Smith [00:29:53] just give me one just first movie that comes to your head,

Alex Korzhen [00:29:57] the Bond series.

Meredith Smith [00:29:58] OK, three words or phrases that Maya would use to describe you.

Alex Korzhen [00:30:03] I asked her if she took a moment to answer, you know, who didn't take a moment? I am eight year old. I was going to say

Meredith Smith [00:30:10] the kid

Alex Korzhen [00:30:10] I'm going to. Yeah, he didn't hesitate for a second, which was just super impressive to me. So we're sitting around the dinner table and he just he just just I don't know if it's how smart, helpful and strong

Meredith Smith [00:30:25] that I could write. Cute.

Alex Korzhen [00:30:30] So that's what we're going to go with. My wife wasn't very helpful.

Meredith Smith [00:30:35] So what is one thing you've learned during stay at home?

Alex Korzhen [00:30:42] How hard it is to deal with the kids. So a lot of credit to my wife who's been educating them and taking care of them all this time, it's been she's allowed me to work. So it's been amazing.

Meredith Smith [00:30:58] What is your favorite thing to do with each one of your kids?

Alex Korzhen [00:31:01] So there's two and a half years between them. My son is eight, at least four and a half, and she loves doing what her brother does. So Sam has been doing a lot of BMX racing recently. So now she's doing BMX racing and Legos. I wonder what their second favorite activity is. So she's not into Legos and he spent four years going out there on the bikes with them and helping them play with Legos, I think.

Judy Vorndran [00:31:26] Are they like master builders though. Are they built from there?

Alex Korzhen [00:31:30] He is, no.

Judy Vorndran [00:31:31] OK, whatever is creative versus fall. I'm like, give me the book. I'll look at my daughters like I take that off the movie here. Like that.

Meredith Smith [00:31:39] Right. You're the dad from the Lego Movie close together.

Alex Korzhen [00:31:45] So he'll put it together whenever he gets in, he'll put it together. It lasts about 15 minutes. And then there's another version. He'll put the second version together right from the same stuff. And then that lasts about 15 minutes. And then it all comes apart. And now he just starts creating whatever. All right.

Judy Vorndran [00:32:04] Well, just leave it as a museum right there, like. Oh, yeah. Like, that's not really how they play with it, I guess.

Meredith Smith [00:32:13] And then last question, your favorite Sult team member, and I'm totally just kidding, saying as our boss is on there, I would say, Judy, maundering and signing our paychecks.

Alex Korzhen [00:32:23] It's the team.

Meredith Smith [00:32:26] The team as a whole. Yeah. All right, Alex, this has been awesome. Thank you for sharing a little bit about yourself with us. Thank you for being my immediate connection as our first expanded assault team member and our guinea pig for this. So this is great. Find it. This has been another episode of the SALTovation podcast. So next time. This podcast is for educational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be relied upon as legal tax, accounting or investment advice, you should consult with a competent professional to discuss specifics of your situation and the applicability of the information presented.

Questions asked and answered in this Episode:

  • Why did he choose to pursue taxation with his background in accounting finance and law?
  • How does he build connections with his clients?
  • How did he land at SALT?

What You Will Discover:

  • [00:59] How Alexander Korzhen ended in Minnesota
  • [03:11] Why he pursued accounting finance and law
  • [06:26] How he fell into taxation
  • [10:06] How he connects with his clients
  • [16:21] What gets him excited about work
  • [19:01] How he landed at SALT
  • [22:15] What other things he participates in
  • [26:01] One thing we don’t know about him
  • [28:16] Random fact about Alex


  • “It’s really not what you’re doing, but who you’re doing it with.” – Alexander Korzhen [07:22]
  • “If you have a connection, if you have rapport, things kind of seem to fall into place.” – Alexander Korzhen [07:31]
  • “I think early in my career, I was so focused on what are the rules? What do we legally have to do? What do you legally have to do? That was the approach I took with my clients. Well the law says… Well that only gets your halfway there, right? I think infusing with the practical aspect is where the real value comes in.” – Alexander Korzhen [12:06]
  • “I think SALT is well-suited to people who like solving puzzles.” – Alexander Korzhen [16:56]
  • “It’s nice to have those networking connections, right? But that’s all you’re really kind of missing in person, I think, because the content, if it’s delivered well, can be almost more efficient.” – Judy Vorndran [24:32]