Community Spotlight with
Mark Smith, CPA
Steve: Hello and welcome to another Community Spotlight segment, I’m your host, Steve with Burnett Painting here today with CPA Mark Smith. Hello Mark.
Mark: Thanks for having me.
Steve: You’re welcome, thank you. Mark Smith… where did you come from? Where are you from originally?
Mark: I was actually born and raised inVenice.
Steve: (laughing) Nobody’s from Florida anymore.
Mark: Believe it or not, there’s actually a hand full of us out there, a lot from my family. We have generations here in Sarasota County. I graduated fromVeniceHigh Schooland have lived here all my life.
Mark: Yep. Lived in Orlando for six years while I went to college but I’m a native Floridian, love it down here and can’t imagine any other place to live. I like to vacation other places but….
Steve: I agree… that’s why I came down state.
Mark: Every day is a vacation. We can go to the beach, go to the lakes, go wherever we want and have a good time.
Steve: You mentioned Orlando, where did you go to school?
Mark: I went to the University of Central Florida. When I went there, there was maybe 25,000-30,000 students. Right now, they have over 50,000 students and that’s in a little over a 12 year period. The school has completely changed, which I helped pay for.
Steve: When was the first time you thought about being an accountant? When did you think about getting into the business? When did the calculator really grab hold of you?
Mark: In my childhood, there were two things that I wanted to be. I wanted to be either a baseball player and play for the Atlanta Braves because that was the only team we were able to watch down here. That was the only team we could watch, so I’m a big Braves fan. Or, an accountant. I didn’t think my baseball was going any place, so I wanted to be an accountant, always wanted to be a CPA . I was around my grandpa a lot, he was a serial entrepreneur and an accountant, owned his own business. He wasn’t a CPA, but with all the experience that he had, he was an accountant for a lot of businesses. So, I was hanging around with him and learned a lot about what he does at a really young age, I was probably 10. So, helping him do some accounting stuff. I had a great time.
Steve: Cool, so grandpa was the inspiration. Is he still around?
Mark: No, he passed quite a few years ago. I don’t have any of his clients, I’m sure they’ve all passed too.
Steve: Regarding your service, what can you say is absolutely unique to Mark Smith?
Mark: Well, you get me is what it is, you don’t get somebody else. You hire me as your provider, your CPA. I am who you have. You don’t call my office and get somebody else, somebody else may answer the phone, but the answer to your question and your support is going to comes from me. So, in my practice, I concentrate on providing personal service that accompanies me. I’m not just going to let you go off with somebody that’s like, hey… I’m good with this person here, they’ll be alright for you. I’m going to be the best for you.
Steve: So, one-on-one service.
Mark: It’s one-on-one. I get to know you on a personal level; you get to know me on a personal level. It’s still a business relationship but we know each other personally. I try to develop that.
Steve: That makes sense because I think you are a great guy and you’re absolutely a people person, there’s no doubt about that. I’m really curious, as an accountant, what is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you in this business or strangest requests?
Mark: On the strangest request side, what I like is when people come to me and say “hey, my buddies doing this, my buddies doing that and why can’t I do that”. Well, I usually tell them “because I don’t want you to go to jail.” If your buddy is saying something that seems too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.
On the business side, the first job I had in accounting was 15 years ago; I can’t believe it has already been 15 years. I started out in this large law firm in Orlando to be an accountant.
The first day, I come in and they are having an accounting meeting and it’s the CFO, the controller and a couple other accounting people and me. They have bagels, so I reach in the bag pull out a bagel and I think it is going to be blueberry. I put my cream cheese on it, take a bite and it is rye. I can’t stand rye bread, I can’t stand it.
So, there I am on my first day as an accountant, in my very first business suit I ever owned and I’m sitting there, with this terrible face, going “oh no”. Do I spit it out in the meeting?
Steve: Did you eat it?
Mark: No, I didn’t finish the bagel; I said I was just going to eat it at my desk. I had to take a couple of bites; I didn’t want to be the only one not eating. That was an eye-opening experience… before you reach into the bag… know what you are reaching for.
Steve: Watch the rye…
Mark: I’m sorry, I just cannot stand rye. I still think about it every day, laugh about it. I’m still friends with the controller, we still talk.
Steve: Did you go back and tell him the story?
Mark: Yeah, we still talk about it. I don’t think they paid attention that much back then… I was the new guy, trying to impress them.
Steve: That’s funny. Next up is our bonus question. I’ve got a couple of questions on these cards here, I’m going to mix them up so go ahead and and point to one.
Mark: Hold on, is it like Let’s Make A Deal, are you going to give me an option?
Steve: Yes, you can choose not to go with this one, if you answer both of the other two.
Mark: Well I will go with that one.
Steve: This is quite fitting for you… How would you explain a database in three sentences to your eight year old nephew?
Mark: Database? Three sentences to my eight year old nephew? It’s a computer program… that’s one sentence. That tracks data. That will spit out what you want.
Steve: That’s good.
Mark: That’s all I could tell them. I have three kids around that age and that is the way I would tell them.
Steve: It’s all data.
Mark: Yes, it just spits out data, that’s all it does. Just like me, I just spew it all day long.
And I’m your host, Steve with Burnett Painting. This has been another Community Spotlight, reminding you to make it a great day. Thank you.