When Life Gives You Lemons make Lemonade’ and all its variations is perhaps one of the best known sayings around, but who invented it first? There are two candidates for this honor, the actress Joan Collins (*1933) of ‘Dynasty’ fame and the motivational writer Dale Carnegie (1888-1955), perhaps best known for its book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.
Like always when it comes to the question, who first said something that went viral, a definite decision is difficult to make, but there are a few hints, that point to Mr. Carnegie as the original inventor of the ‘Life Lemon Lemonade’ concept. First, he lived earlier than Joan Collins, second he is more often named as the person who said it first. Unfortunately it is not documented when he first uttered the words, but the original Dale Carnegie quote is said to be: ‘”When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade.’ and has later been adapted to a more modern use of language by a multitude of people. The meaning behind it is easy to understand, if something happens to you that you don’t like, use it to make something out of it that you do like. This is the third reason why Dale Carnegie is the most likely author, as it fits in seamless with the rest of its teaching and philosophy.
And what about Joan Collins? By the time she became famous, the saying had already gone viral and was present in the mind of a lot of people. Her version of ‘If life throws you a lemon – make lemonade.’ became widely known through ‘new’ media such as TV and the internet, which were not available at the time Dale Carnegie lived. In summary, you could say that, whilst Dale Carnegie invented the original quote, Joan Collins made it famous and thousands of people took up the idea behind it and added their own twist to this famous saying.