Janine Allis is a straight shooter. As we meet over zoom (she’s sitting on her balcony as the Sydney winter sun rises steadily in the background), we can’t help but think of all that she’s achieved.
She founded her first company, Boost Juice, just over 20 years ago and turned it into the global success it is today (580 stores across 13 countries) with little-to-no business experience – her words, not ours. She’s now a sought-after keynote speaker, a bestselling author, an investor on Shark Tank, not to mention Lord Sugar’s trusted advisor on Celebrity Apprentice and a worthy opponent on Australian Survivor in 2019. Janine’s (non-exhaustive) list of achievements is certainly impressive, it’s no wonder she’s one of Australia’s leading businesswomen.
What is a wonder as we fire up our conversation over the airwaves, is just how down-to-earth Allis is. Sure, we’ve all seen her gently prod and tease information out of the quivering entrepreneurs as they pitch their wares on Shark Tank. And we watched in awe as her strength and strategic abilities carried her through an impressive 44 days on Survivor (she came in sixth place). But this is yet another side to the Boost Juice founder. One that is open, warm and incredibly humble – she often refers to herself as “flawed” – and also so generous with her time and her advice. Advice like the following.
Here are just some nuggets of wisdom and life lessons that Janine shared with The Suite.
KNOW THERE ARE NO LIMITS: “I didn’t have any ‘career’ aspirations as a little girl – it simply wasn’t a consideration or a thought that I had. If you’re raised to believe that what you’re supposed to do is grow up, get married, have children and support your husband, you don’t really have another thought process. But it became very evident as I got older that I wanted to travel and see the world. I knew that there was more out there – even though I didn’t know what ‘more’ looked like.
So, in the late 80s, I put on a backpack and went travelling around the world, because I wanted more from life. And then as you travel, you learn that you’re only limited by what you think. Hopefully I can teach my kids that there are no limits to what they can achieve. The mind is so powerful it can create anything.”
KNOW WHEN TO RETREAT: “When I started Boost, I was 32 years old and I really didn’t know what I was doing – I was just learning on the run. I also had three little kids at home – five, two and seven months. I was trying to do absolutely everything and I was doing it all badly. I was also constantly living in fear – fear of what might go wrong, fear that I might lose the house, or that the business was not going to work. Constantly in fear. I’d push myself to the very limit and then I’d go to a health retreat for five days, fill up my bucket and go back to work and empty it again.
But there was a moment at The Golden Door when this woman said to me; ‘You need to read this book, Conversations With God’. I’m not a religious person at all, so I was reluctant, but I picked it up and really enjoyed it. I discovered the power of attraction and that you can actually change any thought process you have. I took on that theory and thought, ‘Every time I have a negative thought, I’m going to change it’. It’s not easy, but it’s like any sort of muscle, and the more I did it, the more I became a positive-thinking person. Now I’m really focused on ‘I am’ instead of ‘I want’. I believe the power of how you think really dictates your happiness.”
“I’m really focused on ‘I am’ INSTEAD of ‘I want’. I believe the POWER of how you think really dictates your HAPPINESS.”
BEING CAREFUL ISN’T ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE: “If I knew 20 years ago what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have done everything that I did. It would have been too big a job. I think one of the things that got Boost to where it is today, and for it to grow as quickly as it did, was my pure naïveté. Now that I know so much, I’m probably more careful than I ever would have been. I think when you’re developing a business, you need to be less careful.”
DON’T BE A VERB: “I put people into one of two categories – there are the ‘verbs’ and there are people who choose to ‘soar’. The verbs are victims, entitled, they look to be rescued, and they blame the world for their woes. They’re the people who go nowhere in life because they can’t; because they’re paralysed by their own mind and their own thoughts on life. The other people who choose to soar are solutions-driven, they take ownership for everything they do, they’re accountable, and responsible for the outcome.”
BE A MULTIFACETED LEADER: “To lead effectively, you need to be able to hire the right people, have the courage to move them on when they’re not right, and above all, listen to them. I think a good leader is also an incredible communicator – it’s all very well having great ideas, but if you can’t articulate them and get people on the same journey as you, then you’ll go nowhere.”
MAKE A CHOICE: “So you’ve got a problem and you’re whinging about it – you need to stop and say, ‘What am I going to do about it?’. You’ve got two choices. If there’s nothing you can do about it, stop whinging. If there’s something you can do about it, fix it. It’s actually not that complicated.”
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KEEP SURPRISING: “For the most part, I think I’m fairly transparent with who I am, but one thing that surprises people is they think I’m overtly healthy and that I do everything right. I really don’t. For one, I cannot meditate because it drives me mad. I normally sit there and go, ‘Okay, let’s move on’ – it’s why I like yoga. Also, people are always surprised at just how flawed I am (laughs).”
KNOW THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP: “The one person who’s made a tremendous impact on me is my husband, Jeff. He’s just so supportive and he had more faith in me in those early days than I had in myself. I love that we are two people married but we also have our own lives – I’ll go off and do my thing and he’ll go and do this thing. It’s a true partnership.”
KNOW WHAT’S IMPORTANT: “I’m 55 now and I’m sure when I was 30 and starting Boost Juice bars, I measured success by how many stores we had, how much profit we made, how much we’d grown. I now measure success by the fact that my kids want to stay in with me and play cards (laughs). I measure it by how healthy I am, and by how well my husband and I get along. I think as you get older, your measures of success really change.”
THREE’S NOT A CROWD: “My top three tips for building a successful business? First, surround yourself with good people; that’s the absolute number one. Second, be healthy, because if you want to be the most mentally fit you can be, you need to be physically healthy. And third, make sure you understand your numbers.”
STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES: “I used to be very bad at celebrating success because instead of looking at what was going right, I was so focussed on what was going wrong. If people can take one piece of advice away from this article, it’s this: stop, smell the roses and celebrate those milestones. There will always be enough times that things go wrong, so you need to celebrate it when it goes right.”
JANINE’S WORKING WISDOM
Describe the view from your office window?
My view is above the clouds, looking at the mountains with a beautiful blue sky and the sun coming through my window.
What’s your secret weapon to get you through life?
Yoga. I try and do it at least five days a week.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I think it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open because inspiration can come from anyone, any day, any time. If you have a curious mind and you’re always open to it, inspiration comes from everything.
What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
To marry my husband.
What’s the worst decision you’ve ever made?
Sometimes, it’s to marry my husband (laughs). No, there are no ‘worst decisions’. The reason I say that is because, have some of the decisions I’ve made been incorrect? Absolutely. Do I make wrong decisions? All the time. But all the choices I’ve made, right or wrong, have taught me something. There are bad things that have happened to me, and great things that have happened to me, but all of those things have made me who I am today.
Probably Einstein who said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” I think that in business, you are guaranteed problems and you can either give up or just stick with them until you solve them.
Can you describe yourself in three words?
Happy, energetic and flawed.
Most valuable business advice?
Hire slow, fire fast; create a proper culture; and keep an eye on your sales and expenses – know your numbers.
Which women inspire you?
So many for so many different reasons. Christine Holgate is one. She’s a remarkable woman who has grace and dignity and showed incredible tenacity in a situation that was abhorrent. And then all the great women I know in business, from Naomi Simson to Lorna Jane Clarkson. I’m very lucky to have so many inspirational women around me.
What are you most grateful for?
So many things. I’m grateful for my family, my parents and my health. I’m grateful that I happen to be born in Australia. I’m grateful for every day that I wake up and I’m living this life.
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