Zack Friedman on Having Lunch with Warren Buffett and the Lemonade Life

Show Notes

Harvard, Wharton, Colombia, and Johns Hopkins graduate, Zack Friedman shares about his new book, The Lemonade Life: How To Fuel Success, Create Happiness, and Conquer Anything. The book weaves in real-life illustrations and lessons throughout, from icons such as Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Sam Walton, Ray Kroc, Sylvester Stallone, Tyler Perry, and many others

Book – The Lemonade Life: How to Fuel Success, Create Happiness, and Conquer Anything

“I am a big fan, I am a listener, and it is an honor to be on the podcast!” – Zack Friedman

    1. Yes, yes, yes and yes! Thrivetime Nation on today’s show we are Zack Friedman, Zach. Welcome onto the show, how are you, sir?!
    2. Zack Friedman, I know that you’ve had a ton of success at this point in your career, but I would love to start off at the bottom and the very beginning of your career. Michael, what was your life like growing up and where did you grow up?
    3. Zack Friedman, you hold degrees from Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins…my friend, how many years did you go to school?
      1. I’ve spent more time working in the world than I have in school.
    4. Previously, you were the chief financial officer of an international energy company, a hedge fund investor, and worked at Blackstone, Morgan Stanley, and the White House…what was it like working at the White House and what did you do there?
      1. I work for the chief of staff for the president.
      2. I worked with day to day communications and policy.
    5. I would love for you to share with our listeners what Blackstone is what your role was when working at Blackstone?
      1. Blackstone is a global investment firm.
      2. I got to work with great fortune 500 companies.
    6. Zach, what first inspired you to first write the book, “The Lemonade Life: How To Fuel Success, Create Happiness, and Conquer Anything”
  • I wrote this book after having lunch with Warren Buffet.
  • A lot of us are stuck in the rat race.
  • I would wake up, go to work, come home and do it over tomorrow.
  • When I went to lunch with Warren Buffet, I found that he was the most humble person who loves what he does.
  • What makes him successful? What drives success? This book is the 5 drivers of success and happiness.
  • How can we live a better life and how can you get there? This book really breaks that down.
  • Everything in the book is practical and is a playbook for greatness.


  1. Zack Friedman in your book in chosen to weave in real-life illustrations and lessons throughout, from icons such as Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Sam Walton, Ray Kroc, Sylvester Stallone, Tyler Perry, and many others. I would love for you to share with us about a Steve Jobs story that readers will find in your book?
    1. Sylvester started with no money, had a baby on the way, and couldn’t get into acting. His life changed when he saw a fight involving Muhammed Ali.
    2. He wrote a screenplay in three days that later became Rocky.
    3. If you see something that inspires you to take action, it can really change your life for the better.
  2. What is one of the five drivers that leads to success?
    1. It all starts with perspective. If you orient it to purpose and possibility.
      1. The purpose is your why. It is why you get up.
      2. The possibility is an infinite opportunity.
      3. Action is the bridge between the two.
      4. Positivity is the perspective you need to have.
  3. What is your morning routine?
    1. I start with gratitude. I start thinking about what I have in life.
      1. My family
      2. My business
      3. The opportunity to write this book
      4. This really sets my day on the right track
      5. I write down 3 things that I am grateful for
    2. I don’t say yes to everything.
      1. Time is one of your most valuable assets.
      2. If you are constantly saying yes, it takes you away from the things you are trying to achieve.
    3. I wake up at 6:00 AM
      1. Counting your blessings right when you wake up leads to power.
      2. So many people are chasing things they don’t have and it always leads to negativity and disappointment even if they are truly successful.
      3. You need to focus more on what you have and not what you don’t have. It strengthens your mind.
  4. What was the process for you to write this book?
    1. I wrote this while traveling throughout my days.
    2. Every day, you have either a lemon life or a lemonade life.
      1. Lemon Life – Where you settle
      2. Lemonade Life – Where you take control of your life based on purpose and possibilities.
    3. I want to write things that inspire impact and things that I want to read.
  5. How did you meet Warren Buffet?
    1. Warren takes out time to meet with the business school.
    2. He let us spend an entire day with him in Omaha
    3. He showed us how he got his start and then took us out to lunch.
  6. Zack Friedman, we fight that most successful entrepreneurs tend to have idiosyncrasies that are actually their superpowers…what idiosyncrasy do you have?
    1. I focus on living my life with purpose.
Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

Zack Friedman Thrivetime Show Slides Version 3

Paul Hood. On today’s show, we have an incredible guest by the name of Zack Friedman, my friend. This guy is Paul. Think about this. He has a degree from Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, and John Hopkins

University. I mean, Paul, if you get a degree from Harvard in that, pretty impressive. That is a sounds like a slacker to me. He could have gotten at least two more degrees. Yeah. God, Wharton. That’s impressive. That’s huge. Columbia. That’s huge. That is at John Hopkins. What in the world and on today’s show he’s going to share with us about the success stories of Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Sam Walton, Ray Kroc, Sylvester Stallone, Tyler Perry, and more, all of which are included in his new book, the lemonade life. How to fuel success, create happiness and conquer anything. Paul, I think my head, mind my head just makes float. I know I’m a, I’m doing a dance right now. I can’t sit still and wait. Dog. I feel a little bit better, but I feel like I’m selling flame still.

Some shows don’t need a celebrity in a writer to introduce the show. This show down to may eight kids co created by two different women, 13 moat time, million dollar businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome

to the thrive time show.

[inaudible] started when the [inaudible]

yes, yes, yes and yes. Thrive nation. On today’s show, we have an incredible guest.

This gentleman holds degrees from Harvard, Horton, Columbia, and John Johns Hopkins and he’s on this show. Zack Friedman, welcome onto the thrive time show. How are you sir?

Clay? I am fantastic. Thank you so much for having me.

Hey, I gotta I gotta ask you this. You have degrees from Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins. How long did you go to school?

About 30 days. Solid 30 days. Nice. W W it wasn’t too long. It wasn’t too long. I combined a number of the degrees and uh, did ’em in a compressed time frame. So I, so I have not spent too much time. I’ve spent more, more time working in the world and doing great things then I have in school.

Will you, that is very impressive. I think a lot of people would say they’ve achieved a lot to have a degree from one of those schools. So, uh, you certainly are, are, are qualified to, uh, to be an author and to, to be a leadership expert. And I want to ask you just a little bit about your career before we get into your new book here. Yeah. You’ve worked at Blackstone, Morgan Stanley, and at the White House. What was it like working at the White House and what did you do for those guys?

Phenomenal experience. I worked for the chief of staff to the president, so I was in the west wing and had an opportunity to interact with all the great folks who make the country run inside the White House are everything from, you know, day to day communications to strategy, some policy as well. So phenomenal experience working with some very smart people.

And what was your role

at Blackstone? I think a lot of people know the name Blackstone, but maybe aren’t familiar with what Blackstone does or what you did there. So Blackstone is a financial services firm, global private equity firm that also works in investment banking, mergers, acquisitions, capital raising, things like that. So had the opportunity to work with a number of great fortune 500 companies and thinking about investments, strategic acquisitions, mergers and the like. And so really thinking about companies and how they operate, uh, and helping them grow and, and working with some great operators as well.

Well, with the resume, like what you have and experience you have, you could be doing a lot of things, but apparently, uh, you felt inspired to write your new book here. Uh, you’re the new book, the eliminate life, how to fuel success, create happiness and conquer anything. What, what, what first inspired you to write that book?

That’s a great question. You know, I wrote the lemonade life after actually having lunch with Warren Buffet. Really sounds. Absolutely. And it was the, it was the thing that inspired me to write this book. And I, I start the book off actually having my lunch with Warren Buffet, which was a phenomenal opportunity. AndW , you know, a lot of us are kind of stuck in this rat race, right? I mean, I think we’re all guilty of it. I certainly was working on Wall Street and kind of doing what a lot of other folks do. Waking Up, going to work, coming home and doing the same thing over and over again. Trying, you know, to get on this path to greatness, which you know, for very many people is elusive. And so when I, when I went to that, that lunch with Warren Buffett and had a chance to see him write one of the most successful people in the world, one of the greatest investors, right?

Guy, cannot be more humble, more genuine, more authentic. And he’s someone who actually loves what he does. And so when you get to that pinnacle of success, I started thinking, you know, how does someone like Warren Buffet, who’s met everyone in the world, every president, every billionaire, he’s built one of the most successful investment companies in history. You know, what makes him successful? And so I started thinking about that and over future experiences started thinking about what really drives success. And I kind of said, you know, how can I, when it down to about five behavioral characteristics, you’ll five drivers of success and happiness in life, um, in, in your personal life and your work life and what really drives people to be successful. They’re really happy today, but they can drive success tomorrow. And so that became the, the real core of the lemonade life is like, how can we live this better life and, and how do you get there?

It’s not just about luck or talent or skills or you know, where you were born or you know, who, you know, it’s really what five simple changes can you make in your life to be on this path to greatness. And that was the initial inspiration. And so I, you know, I wrote the book to be able to share those lessons that I’ve learned in my career and from studying this and in positive psychology and behavioral psychology and in my business career and in the short with people in their everyday life. And they can make five simple changes to live the life they want, become the people they want to be.

What I like about your book, one is the covers phenomenal, but I like that you break down these real life illustrations. You know, you’re not talking in a complete a, it’s not, it’s not theoretical, which I think a lot of people, um, and I’m not ripping Columbia graduates or Harvard graduates for, you know, there’s a certain stereotype that you’ve been at a certain level of education. It is possible to write books that are maybe more theoretical than practical, but your book is super practical and you share the stories of Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs and Ray Kroc. Uh, could you maybe share with us one of the real life illustrations found within your book just so we have kind of a sneak peak of what else we could find in that book?

Yeah, that’s a really good point. [inaudible] you know, I, I’m not someone who wants to talk theoretical. Everything in the book is very practical and it’s really a playbook for greatness. So I do have, you know, very real examples and great inspirational stories. And there’s people, as you mentioned, you know, Warren Buffet, uh, Jack Ma who founded Alibaba, Steve Jobs of apple, Ray Kroc at McDonald’s, Sam Walton of Walmart, you know, even discussing, you know, celebrities of where they came from, like Sylvester Stallone, uh, Tyler Perry, um, the semester Stallone story in particular. Uh, it is a great one. You know, we think of semesters don’t loan, we know them all from rocky and Rambo, but the story of actually how the semester Stallone created rocky is pretty phenomenal. I mean, he didn’t just act in the movie. He actually wrote it, uh, as well. And it obviously won the Oscar, um, several Oscars actually in that year.

And you know, special Stallone started with no money. I mean, he was literally broke. You had $106 in his wallet, a baby on the way. A wife was living in a barely in an apartment, couldn’t pay his car, couldn’t pay his rent, and he basically hadn’t made it as an actor and his life changed inside a movie theater. But not for the reason you would think. It wasn’t acting related. He actually saw a fight and it was between Muhammad Ali at the world champion and Chuck Wepner, who, uh, was, uh, uh, heavyweight champ heavyweight fighter. But he wasn’t a champion by any means. Right. And, uh, for folks who have seen that fight and know their boxing history, you know, chuck Wepner went toe to toe with Muhammad Ali and actually knocked him down for the third time in his career. And you know, that that spoke to Stallone in the theater.

And he said, you know, is it possible that you know, a guy who really out of nowhere can have a shot to fight the heavyweight champion, actually knock him down. And that actually inspired him to kind of create this screenplay, which he wrote in three days on a yellow pad with a bic pen. And that became the basis for his screenplay, which led to rocky. And I go into the story a lot more in the book, but you know, our lives really can change on a dime. And you know, when you get that inspiration where you get that hook, um, and you see something inspires you to take action, um, your life can really change for the better. And semester’s Dylan is a great example of that. There’s many more stories in the book, but that’s one that stands out to me and it’s, it’s a really inspiring one. Anyone who loves rock and all the movies that have come after it and sequels, um, this one will inspire you as well.

Now you talked about these five drivers and the five drivers in your book and I certainly don’t, I expect you just for a second time to get an all five of the drivers. But could you maybe give us an example of one of the drivers that, that in the book that you believe or you have researched and proven to be one of the drivers that leads to somebody’s ultimate success?

Yeah, there’s so many. And Click, you’re such a successful entrepreneur. You’ve built, you know, several multimillion dollar businesses and I know that entrepreneurs out there, um, whether you start your own business or you’ve worked for an entrepreneur or you work at a large company and really thinking about, you know, how to lead the lemonade life, there are these five switches, these five, you know, internal switches. When I say that, I mean almost like a light switch inside. They do that. When you flip on these five switches, it’s really the secret to lead the lemonade life. Yup. And so there, there are five of them, but I’ll just, just to give one I think is really powerful. Um, I think it all starts with perspective. You know, I really believe that if you change your perspective and you’ve oriented towards purpose and possibility, that that’s the transformation. I think all of us need to lead, eliminate life.

You know, purpose is your underlying reason why. It’s the reason you get up in the morning. It’s the reason you do what you do. And if we have an underlying purpose in our life, that’s really a driving force to move forward. Possibility is infinite opportunity and infinite opportunity means that you don’t create boundaries or roadblocks in your life. And when you combine purpose and possibility and then you connect it with action, that’s really the nexus between the two. You clear your pathway to create greatness. And so I truly believe that having that perspective, having the power of intention, it’s not just positive thinking, right? And positive thinking is you can still be at live a bad life, but you know, you think a positive thought here and there, that’s not what it is. It’s really rewiring your brain and reorient, entering it towards success. And when you have that positive perspective, it sets the tone and it shapes what’s possible in your life.

And when you do, when you do that, you’ll see opportunities more clearly. And that’s why changing your perspective can change your possibilities. I think that, um, what you said is, is 100% correct and I want to bore down into those details because, um, there are things that you do on a daily basis, uh, Zack, that, that most people don’t do on a daily basis that might not seem to you to be like huge, wow, this is my huge thing that I do every day. This is a huge idea, but can you break us, you break down some of the, the daily success habits, some of your daily habits that you believe have allowed you to achieve success on a day by day basis. Yeah, well, the first, the first thing I do in the morning and you know, I know not everyone has a morning routine and I didn’t have one for many, many years, but I, you know, even before writing this book, I instituted a morning routine, which I would recommend to, to all of your listeners.

Yeah. Um, and so when I wake up, the first thing I do in the morning, um, is I start my day with gratitude. And what I mean by that is I really don’t think about my day ahead or the emails or all the work I have to do or the meetings. I really start thinking about what I have, what I have in my life. So my family, my business, uh, the opportunity to write this great book, um, the people in my life who make it stronger. Um, and, and when I start my day kind of from that position of being thankful for what I have, not for what I don’t have, it really sets the mood for my day and really my life philosophy. And I think when you start your day with gratitude, it’s, it’s really a life changing experience. It was for me personally.

And so I spend time writing down actually every morning for about 10 minutes, you know, three things for which I’m grateful. I’m counting your blessings. It could be a personal thing, it could be a work thing, something in your family and experience you had. And I spent some time reflecting on those things. And it’s almost like a meditative state, so to speak. Um, and I think that is really helped ground me for my day. Um, so that’s one of the first things I do to start my day. Um, other things throughout the day, which I think are really helpful, um, is not to say yes to everything. Um, I know you’ve had a Seth Godin on your show. It’s one of my favorite episodes of your show in San Francisco. She’s endorsed my book. Oh Wow. Which I’m very, very grateful for. Um, and you know, Seth is a big believer in saying no and not saying yes to everything.

I think, you know, obviously that the more you climb up the ladder, people want to talk to you more. They want, they want your time. And I think time is as many have said, like Tim Ferriss is one of your most valuable assets. And I think the ability to say no, um, creates a better organizational structure in your life. Uh, and it allows you to kind of focus on the things that you want to focus on to create impact. And if you’re, if you’re constantly saying yes, you know, it may be the thing that seems most polite, but it really takes you away from the things that you’re trying to achieve. It doesn’t mean you can’t be generous, doesn’t mean you can’t be kind with your time. But I think really having a focus on what you want to achieve. And sometimes you have to say no. So you can say yes to the right projects or the right things or to the right people. So those are two things that I like to incorporate. There are many more, but those are two things I think that helped focus me on my day.

What time do you, do you wake up and where are you doing this morning? Meditative state planning thing that you do?

Yeah, so I usually wake up around six or seven in the morning and um, yeah, I mean it’s literally right in your home. So you know, you don’t have to sit outside or you can do it anywhere. That makes sense, whether it’s in your bed or in your bedroom or in your living room, uh, outside, whatever works for you. Um, if you’re on the road in your hotel room, um, that’s something that just worked for me very, very well. It’s really to count my blessings. Um, and it just, it, it leads to a place of power and a place of, um, at this meditative state. I would say that really shows how, how grateful you are and what you have in your life. Cause so many people are chasing things they don’t have in their life. Right. When they don’t get it, it feels very defeating.

Right. Even if you’re successful, right? I mean, everybody always wants more, right? They want the house or the car or the better job or build their company bigger. And when those things don’t happen and for all of us, they don’t, right? I mean we’re, people are used to failing no matter how high you climb in leadership, you know, it can be a dent not only to your ego, but to your self esteem or to your confidence. And rather than, than doing that, I think it’s much more effective to flip that switch and actually think about it from a different perspective, which is what do I have? You know, a lot of times we don’t take inventory of what we have. We focus on what we don’t. And so if you take inventory of what you do have, it strengthens your position and it allows you to grow from there and prosper. So that’s why I think it’s so important to do this every morning.

What a, a state are in city do you live in now? In New York? Actually in New York City. Okay. So now you’re in New York City. Um, I think a lot of people listening and we have people in, you know, Iowa, Tulsa, California. I hear a lot of people say, clay, I’m overwhelmed. I just don’t have the time to do ABC one, two, three. We help a lot of people, uh, create that time freedom by listening to this show. But I just want to know you and in the busy city of New York with so much going on,

what was your process like for writing this book? That’s a great question. So I wrote this book on planes, trains, automobiles and everything in between. Um, you know, my process for writing this book, I’m not someone who sits down and you know, you know, writes down everything in an outline to a t. You know, I had a great idea for this book and which, which is, you know, everyday you’re, you’re leading one of two lives, the lemon life or the lemonade life, right? And so that concept kind of came out of working in New York, also meeting Warren Buffet and this concept of the, of the lemon life, which is kind of this life where you settle, you never achieve your best self. It’s where most people actually live. And you know, they’re stuck kind of settling. They’re not really happy with their lives. They go through it on a daily basis, but they’re chasing their pretending and it’s something that’s less than their best self.

And on the other side, you have this lemonade life. It’s the other path. Few people actually live it. Um, and so I call it the most exclusive club, but it’s really open to everybody. And in the lemonade life, you take control of your life, you, you control on your own terms and you live that life based on purpose and possibilities I talked about earlier. And so, you know, when you think about the process of how I wrote it, um, you know, I did a ton of research for the book as I was going along. But you know, as you’re writing a book, you know, you, you think you’re going to go one way, you end up going another way. So, you know, I, I wrote the book in, in several months. You know, I’m not someone who took six years to write the book. Um, you know, I, I tend to write a lot.

I have a column at Forbes, um, which I, which I write pretty regularly. And so I’m used to writing and uh, I had written the book in several different months and then you spend a lot of time editing it, probably more than, than you do writing and kind of, you know, throwing out things that don’t work, changing things, adding new studies. I new thoughts, creating new stories that you think inspire. And when I write, you know, my litmus test is, you know, does this move me if something sounds trite or I think I feel like I’ve seen it before, if I don’t really get the chills when I’m writing something inspirational, then I don’t want other people to read it. You know, I want to write things that inspire people, that create impact and it’s something that I would read. I always put myself in the position of the reader.

Um, or you know, just like you’re a business man, you know, you put yourself in, in the, in the shoes of the customer. And so that’s how I think about when I write. And so that was my process for writing this book. No. Does that guy have three final questions here for you? Question number one. Here’s a, as far as meeting Warren Buffet, did you meet Warren Buffet as a result of being a, the most prolific heckler in the history of the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting? Or How did you meet Warren? That’s a great question. No, no, I was not, I was not a heckler by any means. I, when I was in business school, you know, Warren Buffett’s very generous with his time and you talked about time, right? And how, how do you manage time? And here’s someone who’s a billionaire investor who travels the world and Warren Buffet takes out time to meet with, uh, with business school students. So when I was at Wharton Business School, uh, he was very generous to have us visit him in Omaha and, you know, spend about, uh, really, really most of his day with us. Um, answering, you know, it really any question we had about business, about life, about the stock market, um, how he got his start, how he became an entrepreneur, uh, and then, and then took us all to lunch, um, very generously. So that was the, uh, the backstory. I talk about that, uh, experience more in the, in the opening to eliminate life.

You know, in your, in your book eliminated life. You talk a lot about these super successful personalities, Ray Crock and, and Steve Jobs and Sylvester Stallone. And obviously we know Sylvester Stallone has a, a unique, uh, a voice that’s kind of idiosyncrasy. No one sounds like Sylvester Stallone. Now, Ray Crock, how is all about duplicating, you know, uh, you have Steve jobs like to wear the same thing every day if possible. Do you have an idiosyncrasy or the do you believe to be, maybe you’re your secret superpower?

I wish. I wish I could fly. Maybe that would be a great, great superpower. Um, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t wear the same thing every day. Uh, my voice is a great one, but it’s, I don’t know if it’s the most recognizable in the world, but, um, no, I, the most important thing for me is to live my life with purpose. That, that’s what I think about on a daily basis. And I, it’s what I, one of the central tenants to the book, you know, there’s a great kind of Japanese theory. Um, it’s a word, uh, icky guy, uh, which is really your purpose and your center in life. And you know, they did this, this great research study, um, with people who kind of have a purpose, kind of the why, you know, why they wake up every morning, why they do what they do. And I think having a purpose filled life is one of the secrets to having a better life. Um, but really for anybody.

Well, right now I’m going up right now, I’m going onto Amazon at Andrew R, a show observer here who takes all the show notes and organizes every a podcast and, and basically makes sure that when we go back and do some editing, they always just basically cut out my voice as much as possible to make this, to make the interview better. And we’re, we’re, you’re on Amazon right now on the verge of buying the book. Um, and it’s listed right now for 27, 99 a, which means that our listeners are going to have to forego a buying two or three things they don’t need this week at a convenience store. You know, big sacrifices here. So I want to ask you, why should everybody pick up a copy of your new book, the lemonade life, how to fuel success, create happiness and conquer anything.

The lemonade life is really a playbook for greatness. And so I think whether you’re an entrepreneur, you work for someone else, you’re highly successful, but you want to be more successful. It’s really a step by step guide to be more disruptive, creative, innovative, transformational in your life. And so I think there’s so many lessons inside of there that will help ground you. It will help make you feel happier in your life and it will help inspire you. Whether you want to create a new business, you’re running a business where you just want more advice on how to be better in your life. You know, success and happiness is a possibility. Um, and I would just say that, you know, no matter where you come from, who you are, how much money you have or what you do for a living, I strongly believe that everyone has a shot at greatness. And this book is about how to get there and how to do it. And there’s some wonderful expiring stories that will help get you on that path to greatness,

thrive nation. If you’re out there today thinking about buying the book, here’s the little deal I have for you. If you purchase a copy of the eliminated life, had a fuel success, create happiness and conquer anything, and you send us a screenshot, your receipt to info at thrive time, you can attend our next in-person workshop for $37 and not $250. So again, if you wanna come to the workshop for a $37 instead of $250 buy a copy of Zack Friedman’s book today, the lemonade life had a fuel success, create happiness and conquer anything and send us a screenshot of that receipt to info at thrive time, we will reach out to you and make sure that you can attend our business conference for just $37 Zach, I appreciate your time. I’m more than more than you know my friend. I really did your, your research that went into this book is epic.

Thank you so much, clay. It’s such an honor to be on your show. I’m a big fan. I’m a listener, so it’s a, it’s an honor to be a on the podcast. I appreciate it so much. Hey, take care. Thanks so much, clay. Paul, we like to end each and every show with a, with, with a boom, my friend. Are you, are you prepared to bring a hood, boom. I am. I’m stretched and I’m ready to go. Alright, here we go. With any further ahead to what flu dog. I feel a little bit better, but I feel like I’m so inflamed still.


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