Sometimes it seems there’s too much of one thing in the Lafazan household in Syosset, jokes dad Jeff, who has three sons, Joshua, 22, Justin, 19, and Aaron, 15.
“A little too much testosterone in this house,” he says. “There’s a little competition.”
And not just the typical sporting rivalries, although there certainly are those. There’s also intellectual competition that’s resulted in all three brothers writing books published on the same day. They’ll talk about them together at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 7, at Book Revue in Huntington.
The battle of the books started with Justin during one of the family’s weekly Friday night dinners. Justin had been accepted as a business major to the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania but was taking a year off, and he announced he was thinking of writing a how-to book about becoming a young entrepreneur.
“It’s funny you mention that,” said Joshua. “I was thinking about writing a book, too.” Joshua happens to be on the Syosset Board of Education — he became the youngest elected official in New York State when he first won his seat while a senior at Syosset High School. He was re-elected in May and is serving while also attending Cornell University in Ithaca, coming home to Long Island three weekends a month. “I want to write a how-to guide to running as a young candidate.”
Soon after, the three brothers went for ice cream. “On our way to get ice cream cones, I thought, ‘If these two characters can write books, I can, too,’ ” says Aaron, now a sophomore at Syosset High School.
BUSINESS, POLITICS, EDUCATION
And so, on Dec. 18, the three Lafazans each published a paperback more than 200 pages long. Justin wrote “What Wakes You Up? Designing Kick-Ass Lives Through Entrepreneurship.” Joshua wrote “Political Gladiators: How Millennials Can Navigate the 21st Century Political Minefield and WIN!” Aaron wrote, “What Middle School Didn’t Teach Me.” Each is $19.99.
At Book Revue, they’ll discuss the principal topics of their books, followed by a Q&A and a signing. Their books were published by Next Gen Publishing, which Justin recently established as a “boutique, independent publisher geared toward millennial authors.” He says he is hoping it will become a forum for young people to tell their stories. Future authors would pay a fee to Next Gen to be published, and then keep any earnings from the sales of their books, Justin says. “Our three were the pilot books,” he says.
‘AGE NOT PREREQUISITE’
Justin is also co-founder of an annual conference for young entrepreneurs, called Next Gen Summit, held for the first time last year in Texas and scheduled for June in New York City. In his book, Justin espouses a theory of reverse engineering, figuring out what you want to do, finding others who have already done it and figuring out what you need to do to get there. He outlines the achievements of young entrepreneurs and presents what he calls a “SPARK” program to get started.
Mike Tumbarello, director of the Garrett College Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in McHenry, Maryland, has already purchased 15 of Justin’s books for his program and invited Justin to speak at his Power of Possibilities Entrepreneurial Summit in April. He says he likes Justin’s message about not settling for a conventional life. “That really resonated with me,” Tumbarello says.
It resonates with Joshua as well. He spent two years at Nassau Community College because he had promised constituents he would stay home if he won the school board seat, and then he transferred to Cornell. His road map for running for office repeatedly reminds young people that “age is NOT a prerequisite to be a leader in your community.”
New York State Assemb. Nicole Malliotakis (RCI-Brooklyn / Staten Island) is in Josh’s book, explaining how she defeated a two-term incumbent at age 29. She says Josh’s book is important because it is specific. “It goes through how to raise money, how to spread your message,” she says.
Aaron says his message is, to some degree, “a rant” about the wasted potential for middle school to teach kids practical life skills such as financial literacy and public speaking. He also interviews experts — “I have learned from Justin how to cold email really well,” Aaron says.
Nikhil Goyal, 20, is a Syosset graduate and friend of Aaron’s brother Joshua. Doubleday just published Goyal’s critique of schools, called “Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice.” He says more young people should speak up about their school experiences.
“They have a lot of legitimate opinions of how schools should be and how they should change,” Goyal says.
The Lafazan boys credit their parents with giving them confidence to achieve. Dad Jeff is a mortgage banker, mom Sandy is a psychotherapist. “I was very conscious that they should hit the ground running at a young age,” Jeff says, “so they don’t have to be playing catch-up in their 30s and 40s.”
WHAT Three Books by Three Brothers
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Monday, March 7, at Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington
COST Free, but books for purchase are $19.99 each; 631-271-1442; bookrevue.com