Mark Bouris

Mark Bouris may be one of the most successful businessmen in Australia, but to say that the Bouris family came from humble beginnings would be an understatement.

Speaking on the latest episode of the Ouzo Talk Podcast, Bouris recalled a recent trip to Greece that saw him uncover the reality of just how poor his father was growing up in a village in the Peloponnese during WWII.

The moment served as all-important perspective for Bouris, who has founded and headed up some of Australia’s most important companies including Wizard Home Loans – where he partnered with the late Kerry Packer – and Yellow Brick Road.A chance encounter with his father’s ‘god-brother’ at the village bakery would help illustrate the point in poignant fashion.“This real old fella says to me, ‘what’s your name’?” recalls Mark, with the man continuing to probe until he was able to establish a connection to Mark’s family.

“I know your father from when he was a boy. Can we talk? Ring your father.

“They’re talking for about eight, ten minutes, and I could see this old guy laughing – my father never makes jokes, he’s a quiet guy.”

After hanging up, Bouris asked the man what he and his father had spoken about. What followed was a recollection of a childhood memory that occurred over eight decades ago, involving Bouris’ father and his Godfather – the man’s father.

“I reminded your father of a time, when your father was about six or seven years of age, when the gypsies – Bulgarians or Romanians – would come to the village once a year and put a show on,” recalls Bouris.

“Your father was walking around outside the church in the square, kicking sand, crying. The Godfather then went up to Dad and asked, ‘what’s the matter?’ My father said, ‘I can’t go to the show – I don’t have the money’. This is in a war – the war was on so my father’s house had been occupied by the German Officers. No food, no money.”

After his Godfather asked how much he needed, he produced the fare for him, allowing Mark’s father to go to the show.

Upon returning to Australia, Bouris visited his father – now living in the affluent Sydney suburb of Mosman – and asked him if he recalled what the fare to attend the show was.

“I can’t really remember,” came the reply. “It was either an egg or a potato.”

“He didn’t even have that,” says Bouris.

“He sat back, living in this house in Mosman, and I could see Dad think; ‘I’ve done okay’. We can’t fathom that sitting here now – it puts everything into perspective.

“It’s a good way to remember our parents – they came to Australia and that’s what they left behind and that’s why they did so well here. Not just because of hard work (but) because it was easy to work hard.

“I never forget that story – it always stays with me. It’s perspective on how well we’re doing. For me, it’s all cream.”

That perspective serves as even more motivation for Bouris to give back through a number of his own initiatives, including his podcast, The Mentor, where he not only inspires people with his perspective, but also asks people the important questions that need to be asked in order for them to succeed.

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