Updated: Jun 18, 2020
From the day the seed was planted for designing his own accounting firm, John Michael knew in his heart and mind what he wanted to create for the Asheville community. So, he did. Meet John Michael Kledis, husband, father, son, brother, podcaster, dreamer and now, a doer. After working for an established accounting firm for fifteen years, it became abundantly clear to John Michael what he thought was missing and how he could be a better accountant. He desired a more feel-good firm, one that was more hands-on and supportive of its clients. An accounting firm that is modern, innovative, increasingly approachable and more personable than the firms of the olden days.
Fast-forward to 2020, he is living his dream and is ready to take Peridot Consulting to the next level. John Michael knows he can do it, especially with the team he is honored to work with every day. John Michael is everything taxes, tax prep, tax legality, tax lingo, tax deductions, tax code, tax for corporate, tax for an individual, tax for this and tax for that. If you need a shining tax guru in your life, John Michael is your man.
In continuing with our “Meet the Consultants” blog series introducing and diving deeper with each consultant at Peridot, this week we’re taking a stab at the founder, owner and one of the creators of the Peridot organization, John Michael Kledis, aka, Enrolled Agent, Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified Valuation Analyst.
What exactly are you helping clients with right now?
Mainly taxes. Just as everyone is aware, July 15th, 2020 is the new tax deadline for both state and federal tax filings, therefore, that is what takes up the majority of John Michael’s time. During the week, he also spends much of the day connecting with clients on the phone, listening to their questions and concerns then, when he is not involved with that, his head is down, buried in the tax work that MUST get done.
Because John Michael is also a well-established Certified Fraud Examiner, he has also been requested to appear and become involved in a recent fraud case. He and Barney Holtzman have been asked to help assist with investigating and examining a fairly large legal case which is something very complicated to the average joe but, John Michael is highly experienced and educated for this type of casework.
What challenges are you facing in doing this for each client?
John Michael honestly wants to be available all the time for all his clients. It's a self-inflicted goal but one he feels strongly about upholding. His clients will tell you, his #1 priority is them and they appreciate his attentiveness.
What’s the most important part of your daily routine?
Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Then water. Then, in true American spirit, a beer at the end of a long work week. The other very important aspect of his weekly and daily schedule is staying on top of emails and voicemails. He does this by setting a calendar, allowing the time each day to not be disturbed, so he can focus on messages, inquiries and emails.
Another very necessary part of his routine is carving out time to walk the neighborhood with his wife, Melissa, and their beloved dog. This is the daily self-care John Michael needs in order to refuel his everyday routine for numbers, problem-solving and calculating.
What is the most common question you are asked by clients?
Usually, almost always tax-related. Then, a lot of time it’s about advice regarding things such as refinancing, case-specific details and, again, tax-related issues.
How do you balance life and work? Working remotely. Is it a challenge?
Fortunately working from home has been one of John Michael's biggest strengths for surviving the ‘Stay at Home’ orders these past few months. Peridot Consulting was designed for the team to work from home if they so desire.
"I see working from home as an opportunity for more efficiency vs wasting time driving to a business building, walking through the halls, greeting the entire building as you walk the halls towards your office. I'd rather be getting things done, efficiently."
What do you love most about your work?
Connecting with clients. John Michael strives for client relationships built on trust, mutual respect and integrity that results in client friendships. He sees himself as your “Accountant Friend’ rather than this distant figure who calculates your taxes. He is more than that and works towards lasting relationships with all of his clients and beyond.
John Michael also understands how deeply emotional finances can be for people, therefore, he is determined to break the mold of stale accounting firms and works towards having a more organic client connection.
How did you first decide to become an accountant, business leader/developer, financial expert?
As a young man, John Michael had his sights set on a Marketing career, which due to family circumstances, switched and changed during his time at East Tennessee State University where he earned a Bachelors’s degree, double majoring in Marketing and Accounting. As a child, he toyed around with the idea of becoming either a Naval Fighter pilot or a Veterinarian. Neither panned out but, that goes to show you the range of his creative, intellectual mind.
Being a second-generation accountant, John Michael was raised with numbers and figures but, in his late teens and early college career, he dreamed of becoming an ad man similar to the big city Mad Men era of marketing professionalism. At one point, after graduating from college, he considered joining the ranks of becoming a Naval officer but, was persuaded to come back to Asheville to follow in his father’s footsteps of holding an accounting firm together. Which is exactly what he does.
Do you see that you are making a difference in the world?
"Not really, no, but I hope I am."
John Michael has an interest in establishing a Peridot Consulting giveback program somewhere down the line in the future. "Building a Peridot Consulting foundation would mean the world to me." -- John Michael
What advice would you give to anyone struggling with their finances?
“Nothing is as bad as you think it is.”
Just ask for help and know that we are all in the same boat. It’s difficult for all of us so the biggest advice John Michael has for someone who needs help is to reach out and ask.
Pick another Peridot consultant and compliment something that they do for peridot and what they bring to the team.
Clearly, as we all know by now, it is next to impossible for John Michael to single out just one of the Peridot Consultants. His response was more thought driven and from the heart. These people mean the world to him.
First, there’s Melissa Doran. Melissa and John Michael have worked together for years. They fully rely on and trust one another 100%. John Michael adores Melissa in that she is an incredible business partner, a superb friend and he can confidently trust her completely and appreciates her dearly.
To John Michael, Bill Kelley is a great friend, an incredible asset to the Peridot team and Bill has been the mentor of a lifetime.
John Michael describes Camille Stimach as eager, willing, trustworthy and most of all brilliant when it comes to filling the role of a budgeting coach. Oh, and she is a superpower when it comes to being a mom and a professional.
Barney Holtzman has quickly earned John Michael’s admiration. John Michael has noticed how much positivity Barney brings to the team, loves that he is willing to roll up his sleeves and dive in, and appreciates how he has filled the much-needed role of CFO.
How do you spend your free time?
For John Michael, it’s allotting time with his wife and his (almost grown) children. Evening walks with Melissa Kledis and their beloved family dog.
Reading books has also been important to John Michael - that he spare some time for words and not just numbers.
Then, on special occasions, every so often it’s movie night with his kids. For example, the ‘Harry Potter’ book series or ‘Lord of the Rings’ book series. It has been a thing for their family to read each story then screen the movie together in celebration of finishing the book.
Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you.
One thing many folks do not know about John Michael is how athletic he has been in past years. Not so much currently due to focus on Peridot work but - in the past, John Michael has finished an Ironman Triathlon, 5-6 Ultra marathons, and would ride 100+ miles on his road bike.
Once upon a time, it was a thing for John Michael to hop on his road bike at the NC Arboretum then, almost effortlessly, ride to the top of Mt. Mitchell then went back to the Arboretum. I mean, WHOA! That is amazing.
Oh, and he appreciates sarcasm and is fond of his dry humor although, most of the time, people miss the delivery on that. Oh well, you can win them all!
For anyone, business owner or not, wanting expert advice and an accounting friend you can trust completely, John Michael Kledis is who you want. To consult with John Michael about your accounting/bookkeeping concerns - email or call him today! Here’s how to reach him:
John Michael Kledis