Lessons From My Success by Panos Papadopoulos

By Guest Contributor Panos Papadopoulos, Author of PANOS: My Life, My Odyssey 

Life is made up of countless small moments that define who you are and set you on the right path. I was blessed to have the parents I did, because their principles and values always kept me on the straight and narrow. They worked hard, but we never felt deprived or unloved. They shared their love and affection with my siblings and me. 

There was no privilege afforded to me at the start of my life, other than parents who loved me and nurtured me, regardless of how busy they were. Both had their schooling interrupted by tough circumstances, and my mother was illiterate. Yet, they set an example of such dignity and self-respect that it informed my every move in life, for the better.

I may have had an inkling that my swimwear label, Panos Emporio, would become a multi-million-dollar enterprise, but I knew the key to growing it was still hard work. When you don’t have money, there is no substitute for making it. It’s not about ‘manifesting,’ or some vague hope, but tapping into that drive inside you. And then, being brave enough to tell the world about it, not the other way round. This is where so many seem to have got it wrong: those who brag without having done the work, with some vain hope that reality will suddenly happen around them. 

But, it paid off. In another two decades, I would be on a plane heading to Mexico with the King and Queen of Sweden, embarking on a state visit with them. A day later I would sit at a lavish dinner table with the President of Mexico and them, surrounded by fabulously wealthy business leaders.

During that time I learned plenty of lessons. Here are just a handful.

1. Don’t wait for someone else to solve your problems: your life is in your hands. You have to go out there and get things for yourself: no one is going to hand things to you.

2. If you can find someone with whom you have symbiosis, that’s a win–win. This has been at the cornerstone of my working life, and I realized this ever since I was a child. Look for those relationships where both parties win — you’ll both be motivated to do your best.

3. Listen to your inner self and let your best values guide you. The human mind is capable of absorbing and processing a lot of information. It’s what contributes to that ‘gut feeling’. You often know exactly what the right path is and what you want to do in life, deep down.

4. Research your competitors and your environment. Panos Emporio grew because I had no room for failure. I researched what women wanted in their swimwear and delivered. My products had to be the best because I didn’t have a big marketing budget. My customers had to be my marketers so I had to look after them really well. That’s the real viral marketing.

5. Tell a story about your business: this combines the narratives of who you are and what your brand stands for. A genuine story, one founded on decent, true values, touch consumers — and that’s why mine followed me for all those decades as I ran my label. I touched them in their hearts. All I was selling was swimwear, but they were following me and my values. That’s what really resonated.

They are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. Everything I’ve done has centred around passion, respect and love. Even if you don’t remember every one of my tips — and there are plenty of them in my book — remember those three things. They guided me well.


Panos Papadopoulos spent the past 35 years starting and developing Panos Emporio, one of the world’s leading brands in luxury swimwear, which today generates annual revenues of $20 million. Born in Greece, he is now based in Sweden.



Suggested Reading

This is a rags-to-riches story about a man who came from a Greek village, born to a father with three years’ schooling and an illiterate mother, whose down-to-earth Greek values formed the foundation of an entrepreneur who went on to build a multi-million-dollar fashion empire.   

Today, Panos Emporio is one of the most established luxury swimwear brands in the world, being the choice of celebrities and royal families amongst others. 

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