What makes some people succeed  and others fail ? Some people, we are told are, destined for great things. Not however John Lazarou.  His

high school teacher told him he was a lost cause and encouraged him to leave school at the earliest opportunity. John happily obliged.

He is now the co owner of The Coffee Club.


 “My grade ten high school teacher told me I  was a lost cause and should leave school. So I did”

The first time  I met John we were in Mackay and I was trying to cut in front of him to steal his taxi. Behaviour which, in retrospect, I am not proud of.

I had a plane to catch and John looked like a nice man who did not need the taxi as much as I did. Sorry John.

He did a certain presence about him which I noticed . He was wearing a Coffee Club shirt, but he didn’t really seem like a barista.  These were all details I was ignoring as I tried to power walk

past him and inconspicuously  sneak to the front of the taxi rank sign. As fate would have it, the taxi driver asked if we wanted to share a taxi. I didn’t; John did. John tends to get his way.

Serendipity it appears had an agenda and we have remained friends since.

I’ve learnt many things from John,  most of which are not appropriate for publishing. As chance would have it, John had gone to the same high school – Brisbane State High School. The finest

school, in my opinion, in all off Queensland. He left BSHS  a few years before  I started.

“I was not really the academic type”, John Announced. He did not strike me as the academic type. He left school at age 15 to begin his hairdressing empire. For over a decade he plied his trade

as a hairdresser. “I worked seven days a week, seventy hours a week,no holidays or breaks”.   He did not strike me as the hairdressing type either. He finally took a holiday to his native Greece.

Soon after this he had an epiphany  “I was broke. By the time I came back  my  hairdressing business had collapsed”. I asked him how he ended up working in the coffee club.”I like coffee”.

        “I worked seven days a week, seventy hours a week,no holidays or breaks”

“I needed a change from hairdressing”, he added. “Emmanuel Kokoris and Emmanuel Drivas had started the Coffee club. I came on board in

1989. The company has grown ever since”. He wasn’t’ bragging, but just stating facts. Coffee Club has expanded internationally and is still

growing exponentially. Our  cab pulled into the airport to drop me off, I could not help asking my usual question. “What’s the secret of your

success”. John smiled. He smiles alot. “Coffee, I like coffee”. Fair enough. Who am I to judge.