When three brothers conspire to reach a goal, it almost never involves writing books to help their contemporaries.
But Syosset’s Lafazan brothers—Josh, 22, Justin, 19 and Aaron, 15—are not prototypical young men. Highly motivated and wise beyond their years, the Lafazans have each staked a claim to three distinct niches—each writing a book specifically aimed at spreading knowledge and helping their respective generations grow beyond the trappings of youth.
The idea for each brother to write a book germinated at one of the Lafazan’s weekly dinners. Justin was set to fly to Las Vegas the following morning to give a speech. At 19, Justin is an acclaimed entrepreneur, speaker and consultant. He wanted to write a book about how young people can design the lives they want to live.
“I noticed this palpable pressure to follow the status quo—get a regular job, follow the regular path and it really didn’t make any sense to me,” said Justin, author of What Wakes You Up: Designing Kick-Ass Lives Through Entrepreneurship. “Eighty-one percent of Americans wake up each morning unexcited about their day, feeling negatively towards their career. But why can’t things be different, be better?
Justin surrounded himself with people who shared his belief—the founders of UGG boots, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the inventor of the credit card magnetic strip and more—and realized quickly that there was an alternative, through entrepreneurship. Justin’s talk of writing piqued the interest of his brother Josh, who had recently become New York State’s youngest elected official in 2012.
Elected to the Syosset School Board of Education, Josh believed he could educate and inspire other young people to get more involved in politics.
“While I loved helping young candidates make a difference in their communities, I wanted to inspire more millennials to seek elected office,” said Josh, author of Political Gladiators: How Millenials Can Navigate the 21st Century Political Minefield and Win! “Through the telling of my story, intertwined with the stories of 20 young elected officials, all under 35 when elected, I believe my book does just that—call on young people to step up, serve and shape the America that will be our reality for decades to come.”
A few weeks after that fateful family dinner, Aaron, who at 15 has always been years ahead of his time, wanted in on the book-writing action.
“I found that I had enough firsthand knowledge going through the middle school system that I could base a book on it,” said Aaron, author of What Middle School Didn’t Teach Me. “I’m a student myself; currently, I am a sophomore at Syosset High School. And when I realized that both the people around me and I were failing at so many different small subjects, that were so crucial, that easily could’ve been implemented in middle school. I knew that I needed to make a change so that others could come out of middle school educated.”
With the brothers committed to their monumental vision of publishing books intended for their millennial cohorts, the Lafazans left that family dinner and approached Next Gen Publishing—and with the support of their parents, got to work writing their tomes. The impact their parents had on their efforts cannot be overstated, according to the brothers.
“They taught us the importance of having integrity in everything you say and do,” said Justin. “They taught us the importance of family and to lead by example in how to be there for your kids. And they taught us that nothing is ever handed to you—you must earn everything in life.”
But even with the sage advice of their parents, the Lafazans faced daunting challenges during the onerous writing process. For Aaron, the biggest problem he faced—and one that he still faces—his being taken seriously at 15-years-old.
“I was emailing CEOs of educational reform-based companies asking for interviews. For every 200 emails I sent in hopes of interviewing an expert, I had one person think that I had enough to say that was important enough,” he said.
As for Justin and Josh, their major obstacles involved time management. Justin attends the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, while Josh is in his last semester at Cornell University. Justin lamented that he “doesn’t sleep much,” while Josh pledges that, “you have to budget your time and make sacrifices.”
One aspect the brothers did not sacrifice was their shared love and appreciation for their Syosset roots—the schools, the community at large and eateries like Butera’s, Bagel Master and the On Parade diner.
“The Syosset School system has taught me countless life lessons throughout my 13 years as a student, but most importantly, Syosset taught me that anything in this world is within your reach if you willing to work hard enough for it,” said Josh. “This is something that is a defining pillar of my character to this day.”
The brothers’ books are all available on www.amazon.com and at their websites www.justinlafazan.com, www.joshlafazan.com and www.aaronlafazan.com. Using their books, websites and lives in general as platforms for change, the Lafazan brothers are headed to a bright future—and they want to take the rest of their generation along for the ride.
“You have to take a leap of faith if you want anything other than mediocrity,” said Justin. “My biggest piece of advice is to reverse-engineer your goals. Find people who have done what you want to do, figure out how they did it and add your own twist.”