Michael Friedman likes to fly under the radar.
Whether he’s helping the Friendship Circle of Cleveland in Pepper Pike or Aish HaTorah of Cleveland in South Euclid, or delivering food with Meals on Wheels, or providing employment opportunities to those down on their luck, Friedman’s style has been to do it without fanfare.
“I get my buzz by helping people out,” said Friedman, who graduated from The Ohio State University in Columbus with a degree in communications and marketing. “My personality is I’m a giver and when I could help people out and see smiles on people’s faces, to me that’s like the most important thing in the world. Whether it’s hiring somebody at my car dealership that is looking for a career, hasn’t made it yet, is lost and is looking for a career, what I’ll do is hire them. I’ll get them training and I’m able to turn a lot of peoples’ lives around by hiring them and making them successful by teaching them my business. I worked very hard to get where I am today and I like to give back and make people feel good, help the less fortunate. That is how I get my buzz.”
Friedman’s role models are Lee Seidman and Tom Ganley, both auto dealers whom he said taught him not only the business, but to help others. He also praised his late father, Richard Friedman, who “had a real good heart.”
“I saw how it made them feel good and I have that inside of me as well where if I give to somebody and can change somebody’s life, and make somebody feel better, then to me that’s real important. It’s really not something you wake up one day and say ‘Hey, I’m going to do this.’ It’s something that’s inside of you and having a good heart and giving is something inside of you and the results are great because you can see the smiles on people’s faces.”
Friedman has been to Israel three times “and every time I go, I love it even more.
“I’ve been to hundreds of places in the world and to me Israel is the best place I’ve ever been. It’s home for me. I’ve been able to take people to Israel who may not be able to afford to go to Israel and take them on these tours with me. If someone says, ‘I can’t go to Israel, I can’t afford it.’ I’m like, ‘Hey, I understand, but you’re to go and I’ll take care of it.’”
Friedman said he also inherited the traits of a big heart and giving person from his mother, Lois.
And five years ago, his companion, Linda Blumenthal, entered his life.
“She plays a huge part in my life,” Friedman said. “Behind every great man is a great woman and Linda is that great woman. The last five years have been the best five years of my life. That’s because I surround myself with great people and Linda came into my life. She believed in me and helped me get to the next level.”
– Bob Jacob