Monday, March 11, 2013

Interview with James Berman, author of Lessons from the Lemonade Stand


Written for aspiring investors of all ages, Lessons from the Lemonade Stand explains everything you need to know in the context of that most classic of all American businesses: the corner lemonade stand. Rooted in the fundamental truth that “common sense is the best investment tool,” the book slices important concepts into simple sections, sweetening them with folksy, easy-to-read language. The trials and tribulations of lemonade stand owner Lucinda highlight every concept from interest rates to retirement accounts to leverage. Learn investment basics as you follow Lucinda Lemonade Inc. along its sweet (and sometimes sour) journey as a start-up, from the squeeze of the first lemon to its initial private equity deal and its eventual foray into tech, all in the tidy town of Lemonville. Entertaining and fun, Lessons from the Lemonade Stand supplies readers with the ingredients they need to become savvy investors. Purchase Link:



The Interview

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? “Those who don’t depend on luck have less bad luck.” Old Yiddish saying This quote says a lot about destiny and human choice.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I was always reading everything from the age of 5, both fiction and non-fiction. It was the best escape. Still is! Soon after I could read, I wanted to write. It was arrogant. In elementary school, I was writing small books. My readers then were my parents. Fortunately, they still are around to be readers.

What inspires you to write and why? To have my side of the story heard. There’s nothing like being able to talk without someone being able to talk back to you! In all seriousness, I really like being able to lay out my point of view on various topics, and hopefully teach something along the way.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began? Warren Buffett. I admire his investment strategy and his life strategy. There will never be another like him. Interestingly, he has never written a full book, though he’s a great writer and his shareholder letters are works of art.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years? When I was in high school, I read a collection of essays by E.B. White and was amazed by his tight, pithy style. It showed me that good writing was lean writing. Up until then, I had thought the more ornate, the better. But E.B. White and my teacher at the time, Harry Bauld, taught me that less is more. As an example of what a good teacher Mr. Bauld was, on the first day of class he said, “My name is an oxymoron; figure out what an oxymoron is.”

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? Writing Lessons from the Lemonade stand taught me a lot about seeing things from my readers’ perspective; my goal, and I hope to have achieved it, was to speak to readers simply but with dignity. It’s always a challenge to parse complex topics-- particularly those that one may take for granted-- into clear nuggets that honor the intelligence of the audience.

Do you intend to make writing a career? I don’t intend to make writing my career, as I’m very happy with my work as an investment advisor, but writing will always be an integral part of what I do both at my firm and in my work as a professor. I am fortunate to be able to have my monthly stock letter, The Berman Value Folio, published by and Forbes.

Have you developed a specific writing style? Yes: to the point. I strive for economy, in my writing style and everything else.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? Hopefully, I have some. You never really know for sure. I have been told by a reader of Lessons from the Lemonade Stand that I distill perplexing concepts into more easily understood ideas. That’s my goal. I’m a teacher first, a writer second.  


James Berman is the president and founder of LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm specializing in asset management for high-net-worth individuals and trusts. With over 16 years of experience managing client portfolios, Mr. Berman is a specialist in value investing and asset allocation. As the president of JBGlobal LLC, the general partner of the JBGlobal Fund LP, Mr. Berman manages a global equities fund that invests in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Mr. Berman is a faculty member in the Finance Department of NYU (SCPS Division), where he teaches corporate finance. He also serves as subadvisor to Eitan Ventures LLC, a venture capital fund based in New York. Mr. Berman has appeared on CNBC, the Fox News Channel, the Cavuto Show, and the Fox Business Channel and is frequently published and quoted in a variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Barrons, Fortune, Bloomberg, and CNN Money. As a regular blogger for the Huffington Post, he covers financial topics ranging from hedge funds to the economy. He writes a monthly interactive investment letter, the Berman Value Folio, a Forbes/Trefis publication. Mr. Berman received a BA (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Harvard University and a JD from Harvard Law School.


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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Interview with Catherine Leggitt, author of Payne and Misery



Christine Sterling has developed a reputation for jumping to wild conclusions. With such an imagination, who is likely to take her seriously when she discovers a bruised and neglected neighbor named Lila Payne? Try as she might, she cannot interest anyone in Lila’s dire need for immediate rescue. Something about crying wolf once too often. But then Lila and Christine’s beloved dog Molly both disappear the same night. If no one will help her, she must find Lila and Molly herself. Heedless of possible consequences, Christine dives headfirst into a dark pool swirling with muddy secrets and misery. Her best friend throws her a lifesaver of prayer and soon she begins to sense God at work. But even with God’s help, can Lila and Molly be saved before it’s too late? Purchase Link:



The Interview

Could you please tell us a little about your book? Disillusioned and lacking purpose in early retirement, Christine Sterling is reduced to snooping on neighbors and jumping to her own conclusions where facts may be scant. Given Christine’s unsavory reputation, who is likely to take her seriously when she discovers a bruised and neglected neighbor named Lila Payne living just down the hill? Try as she might, Christine cannot interest anyone in Lila’s urgent need for immediate rescue. Something about crying wolf once too often. Then one night, Lila and Christine’s beloved dog Molly both disappear. If no one will help her, she must find Lila and Molly herself. Heedless of possible personal danger, Christine dives headfirst into a dark pool swirling with muddy secrets and misery. Her best friend throws her a lifesaver of prayer and soon she begins to sense God at work. But even with God’s help, can Lila and Molly be saved before it’s too late? Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book? Okay, I’ll admit it up front. Christine Sterling is my alter ego. My husband retired and moved us to his dream house on the other side of the state--far from my friends and family. I did my best to adjust, as is my nature, but then menopause hit. What can I say? I just wasn’t myself. I began to cry out to God for mercy. His answer came in an unexpected way. One day when I was feeling particularly low, I looked out my upstairs window and saw the little gray house at the bottom of our hill. In over two years of residence in Grass Valley, we had never met the occupants of that house. Never even seen them. I sat down at the computer without even thinking, and a story about why those people never came out poured out my fingers. I never planned to write a book, certainly not that day. But the story insisted to be told. Sometimes I would delete whole chapters because they were too preposterous. The characters would insist that I put them back. (I am aware that does sound a bit crazy. Maybe slight insanity is a requisite for good writing.) Who is your biggest supporter? No contest there. All my family has all been supportive in their way, but my biggest fan is my oldest daughter, Jule. She’s my go-to girl when I want to quit, which is once a month or so. She will not let me quit. She remembers each affirmation I’ve already received and reminds me. She reads everything I write and often adds valuable insight, particularly medical facts. Jule has kept me writing through whatever life throws my way for over ten years. Last fall at the launch party for my third book, Parrish the Thought, I was privileged to present her with an award and publically acknowledge her huge contribution to my writing. Your biggest critic? God gave us family to support us and friends to keep us accountable. I have an incredible online critique group who will not let me get away with anything. They are five wonderful women: Valerie Massey Goree, Loretta Boyett, AJ Hawke, Marcy Dyer, and Marcia Lahti. This is a group that grew out of a larger ACFW critique group. I value their input greatly. They have been responsible for many important changes in my stories, for whole new directions of thought. They teach me and keep me on track. I am very grateful to know each one of these ladies. What are you currently working on? After writing and publishing three Christine Sterling Mysteries—PAYNE & MISERY, THE DUNN DEAL, and PARRISH THE THOUGHT—I completed another novel with different characters. In DYING TO BE NOTICED, a self-reliant journalist lands a career-making assignment to write a homicide article about the sensational murder of a young schoolteacher. But she soon finds that the young schoolteacher never existed. Can the inquisitive policeman who offers assistance be trusted? And why do the details of this murder sound so familiar? Within a seemingly perfect household churns a twisted climate for breeding defiance. Random snapshots unveil the younger son’s descent into rebellion while the rage of the good son develops in secret. Did unchecked anger push two brothers to the point of murder? I am currently searching for a publisher for this book. Meanwhile, I have started a fifth novel. The ideas for each of these last two books came from dreams. Do you have any advice for writers or readers? Just a few really important things: • There is no substitute for keeping the seat in the chair. To be a writer, one must write. Every day. • Don’t expect to be fulfilled by publication. Nothing outside yourself can bring you satisfaction. Be satisfied with each part of the process. Choose to be contented, published or not, bestseller or not, monetary success or not. • Accept all criticism with grace and thanksgiving. You can find something right about whatever anyone has to say. • Keep on learning. It can always be better. You have never arrived at excellence.  


Catherine Leggitt is an author and inspirational speaker. A native Californian born in the Bay Area, she raised two daughters, taught school, and cared for her aging parents in southern California before retiring to the north end of the state. Proud grandmother of six brilliant children, Catherine studies the Bible, reads, serves as a leader in Bible Study Fellowship, and sings in the church choir. Catherine wrote a trilogy called the Christine Sterling Mysteries, which include PAYNE & MISERY, THE DUNN DEAL, and PARRISH THE THOUGHT. The first book won 2nd place at the Orange County Christian Writers Conference in May, 2010. It was published by Ellechor Publishing in 2011. THE DUNN DEAL and PARRISH THE THOUGHT were published in 2012 by Ellechor Publishing. PARRISH THE THOUGHT made the quarterfinals in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. In addition, Catherine has completed a fourth novel with different characters called DYING TO BE NOTICED and coauthored a memoir for Sam Contino called STREET SMARTS. When called upon to share her story, Catherine’s main themes come from Christine’s struggles in her books, which also happen to be some of the things Catherine struggles with. Thus, since PAYNE & MISERY addresses complaining, the first message, titled Always Choose Joy, centers on how to be thankful and choose joy instead of misery. The spiritual theme of THE DUNN DEAL exposes with the nature of truth. Merely having faith is not enough. What we believe matters. Catherine named the second talk, Always Choose Truth. In PARRISH THE THOUGHT, Christine learns to love unlovable people, so Catherine calls the third message, Always Choose Love.  


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