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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