It’s this self-deprecating humour that endears you to Michael Coombs, the Northern Beaches high school drop-out, turned self-made real estate juggernaut and Entrepreneur – now ranked among the very best in Australia.
These days, the opulent Mosman mansions Coombs sells, are a world away from where he grew up: a rented, two-bedroom flat in Dee Why, with mother Debbie and three sisters. Born at Manly Hospital in 1978, he tells me there was never much money, “but always a lot of love.”
“My mum had two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Coombs says, “she left home at three o’clock every morning to help out at the local bakery, and then at nine o’clock started her job as a receptionist.”
But any suggestion of his family living on ‘struggle street’ is quickly dismissed, with Coombs instead describing a carefree childhood, filled to the brim with “good times and great memories”.
This sunny disposition, Debbie Coombs says, is something her son was born with: “A rare attribute that has paved the way for Michael’s professional success,” she tells me, “and he can turn any negative situation into a positive one, both in life and business.”
The close bond shared with his mother, forged over years of financial hardship, has clearly shaped Coombs into the man he is today.
With boundless optimism and natural curiosity, it seems Michael Coombs has always made a habit of diving in at the deep end, even while delivering newspapers as a child.