Janine Avila is a dynamic grandmother and businesswoman who just launched her second network marketing business after spending almost two decades as a corporate vice president and trainer for different network marketing companies.
Janine built her first organization in the eighties as a single mother raising seven children and became a top earner in a billion-dollar direct sales company founded in 1946.
Born in Hickman, California, Janine grew up as a farm girl with grandparents who had emigrated from Portugal.
"Even though we didn't have much money," she says, "my parents drilled in us core values and a strong work ethic. We woke up before school and did our daily chores. If you didn't assume your responsibilities, livestock died and crops were lost." As a reward, her father would take the kids swimming in the canals and lake, teaching his family how to balance work with fun. Still, as Janine was irrigating fields and harvesting walnuts by hand, she would think, "I don't want to work this hard my whole life."
Janine credits her unshakable confidence and stellar business success to her rigorous upbringing, tempered by her parents' unconditional love and support. She learned some hard lessons over the course of her career, and today has created a life of balance and happiness for herself, her family, and her growing team.
On panel at Real Savvy Success event in Newport Beach, CA.
With her seven children, Niko, Bryan, Amy, Tina, Andrea, Brian, and Dan.
Reading Networking Times to her Dad, Joe Dias in the hospital.
With daughters Swarna and Smita.
Enjoying a soccer game with daughters-in-law Sandra Lilly and Melissa Lilly, and granddaughter Bella.
With her sons Dan and Bryan.
With friend Andy Doyle at networking event in Long Beach, CA.
With Richard Brooke in Pebble Beach, CA.
Growing up in a lower-middle-class household, Janine had started taking part-time jobs from an early age to pay for her personal expenses. When she was a junior in high school, she wanted to be a cheerleader, and her parents said she could do it if she found a way to pay for the uniforms and the fees herself.
"I didn't know how I was going to manage that," says Janine. "I was waitressing in the evenings, but now I would need to go to cheerleader practice after school. My cousin, who was involved in a network marketing company, suggested I sell vitamins to my friends' parents. He gave me buttons that said I like XYZ vitamins and some catalogs, and I started my first business. My friends' parents respected that I was trying to earn my way and did not hesitate to buy from me."
Janine didn't realize she was doing network marketing; she just wanted to sell product to pay for her cheerleading expenses.
Fast forward two decades to 1983. Janine was now a single mom with five children between the ages of two and eleven, no alimony, and no child support. In order to make money while being home with her children, she started a daycare service.
"The problem was that you could only get a license for six children the first year," she says, "and I already had five of my own. I made it work by finding other kids to watch during the time my own kids were in school. My second year I could get a license for twelve, so that's when I started to make money."
As Janine was struggling to make ends meet, a friend had been trying to recruit her into his network marketing business. He had told her that with her personality she would do very well. Janine didn't understand what he meant, so he sat her down and drew circles.
"Are you serious?" Janine asked. "I can make as much money as I want working from home?" She felt she could absolutely do this.
Actively involved in her children's lives, Janine was president of the school PTA and had lots of connections, so she immediately wanted to invite everyone over. She imagined she'd have a house full of people, but her friend told her she couldn't tell anybody she was going to do a business presentation. "If you do, you'll have a full pot of coffee and nobody will come," he said.
Janine was flabbergasted.
"The only way I'll do this is if I can tell people what it is," she answered, and they ended up in an argument.
"I didn't want to compromise my integrity," says Janine. "I knew I could fill the room, but he wanted me to do it his way, so I said, ‘I'm not doing it.'"
Janine was disappointed because she had hoped to make extra income. She thought maybe she would find another way to do the business. That same week, she attended a home party for a product line she was already using in her daycare service. During the person's presentation, Janine shared her love for the products and how she was using them. At the end of the night, the presenter pointed out to her that the guests had purchased exactly the products Janine had endorsed. She told Janine, "You could make a lot of money doing exactly what you did tonight."
Janine said she didn't have time, but the presenter said, "If you sign up as a distributor, you can get a product discount." She also told Janine she was trying to earn a car. "Can you please help me out?" she asked. "All you have to do is hold six parties and if you don't like it, you can quit and keep all the products."
That's when Janine decided, "What the heck, I'll just do six parties and then quit."
Launching a Business
Janine invited fifteen people to her first party. Her sponsor called her right beforehand and said, "Be sure to book parties with every one of them."
The next day Janine sheepishly told her sponsor that only ten people showed up, and that she had only been able to book nine parties, having no idea what an excellent result this was. Her sponsor was impressed. Janine had joined the business mainly to get free product, but as she did more parties, she saw how this could be a lucrative enterprise.
"The first three parties I made $50 each night," she says. "This was what I used to make watching someone's child all day. I quickly figured out that maybe I should be doing this instead of my daycare service."
When Janine called her company's office to ask some questions, she was told this was a party-plan business and "not really network marketing." Her level of interest immediately went down because she didn't see how she could make residual income. She decided she'd quit when she ran out of people who wanted to host parties.
Because of Janine's short-term commitment, her sponsor didn't integrate her into her team of new recruits. But people loved Janine's presentations, so she kept booking parties, and soon her sponsor's upline noticed Janine's potential.
"I was only doing what I was told to do," says Janine, "but I was hungry. I really wanted to make those fifty bucks each night."
When Janine's upline shared with her how she could earn a car, Janine became excited.
"I drove an old van that would sometimes
refuse to go in reverse," she says. "Seeing the possibilities for change was very motivating. I started winning prizes and getting recognition. I had never experienced anything like this before." She also had never done any kind of personal development before, and she says it really opened her mind.
A year later Janine hired someone to run her daycare service. She had planned to remodel her garage into a daycare room, but instead turned it into an office and a rally room for her team.
"I quickly became number one in the nation in new dealer development," she says, "and I was promoting more people to the title of manager than anybody else in the company. The company had a VIP program that gave you an extra bonus if you promoted three people within one year. I was working with three recruits at a time—and I promoted nine in a year."
The president of her company sent Janine a letter asking, "How are you doing this?" She told him that what was driving her was the people, not the product.
Janine developed a passion for helping moms build confidence in their ability to generate income. She quickly discovered most people didn't know how to run a business from home, so she developed her own trainings and systems.
1. Who is RITA? Recruiting Is The Answer or Janine's alter ego.
When Janine's oldest son was in eighth grade, he had a friend who was constantly coming over to their house. A concerned mom, Janine asked, "Where are this kid's parents? Why doesn't anyone call to see where he is? He's sleeping over and no one is ever calling to check on him."
Janine's son said his friend, whose name was Bryan, was living in a foster home. "I don't care," said Janine, "they should still check on him."
She soon found out that Bryan didn't get along with his foster parents, who had taken him in just for the money it paid them.
Bryan was thirteen and had a fifteen-year-old brother, Dan, and both had been taken away from their abusive parents. Dan was living in a group home because there was no foster home available for him. Janine was so moved by their situation that she decided to step in.
"I didn't want to be their foster parent," she says. "I wanted them to have a home with our family and feel loved. Thanks to my income and success in the business, I was able as a single mom to convince the county of Santa Cruz to allow me to adopt the two boys."
Today Janine's seven children are grown and she has seventeen grandchildren.
"No one can tell my two adopted sons are not my biological children," she says. "They fell into our family, they blessed us, and we blessed them. It was a match created in heaven. I'm convinced that the training, the skills, and the income I earned through network marketing are what made this possible, because the county doesn't easily hand over kids to people—especially not to single mothers."
Janine's company had published her success story in its monthly newsletter, and she was able to point to that and show the county that she was someone with credibility who could manage her life. After the adoption, the company featured another article entitled "Five Plus Two Equals Seven." It was powerful testimony that no matter how many children you have, anyone can do this business, even single moms.
Janine considers her adoption story one of her proudest accomplishments and one of the greatest blessings the business has given her.
"I'm so grateful for this profession," she says, "because it gave me the life I wanted. I didn't want anyone else to raise my children while I went to work. I wanted to be a great mom and think about a career later. That was my plan, although it worked out quite differently. I'd never imagined I could have both a successful business and a thriving family."
Janine stayed with her first company until 1988, when a company decision completely took the wind out of her sails.
"Our company changed its car program without notice," says Janine. "I had helped more people earn cars than anybody else had. I had women on my team crying and mad at me because it looked like I had lied to them. I begged the company to at least grandfather them into the new program for three or six months and give them time to catch up with the new requirements. Nobody at the headquarters would return my calls. I finally said, ‘You want your cars back? Here, take mine.'"
Despite being the company's top distributor, Janine quit. In November 1988, she turned in her car, changed her phone number, and went around apologizing to every family she had gotten involved.
Janine says the experience was so painful it almost felt like a divorce, and she promised herself she would never do network marketing again.
A few months later, a company based in Santa Cruz called Janine because they were desperately looking for someone with sales experience. The president knew Janine's extraordinary success story through her son and approached her about joining their corporate team. Janine told him she wasn't interested. "I hate network marketing," she added, "because the distributors get lied to."
"If you came to work for us," the company president replied, "you could help make sure we don't make the kinds of mistakes that hurt people. With your business-building skills, you could make a real difference."
This sounded appealing to Janine, and the following March she became the company's director of field support and training. Eventually promoted to vice president of distributor relations, she stayed on through 1996, when the company was acquired by another network marketing company in Dallas.
Janine went to Dallas for a week to help with the transition and was offered a job in the new company. She initially resisted moving her family, but the owner made her a great offer, so Janine picked up her tribe and relocated from California to Dallas.
When the owner asked her , "What is the number one secret that caused your massive success as a distributor?" she told him about the training systems she developed to teach people how to work from home. The company modeled her example and instituted home-business schools, teaching a blueprint for setting up a home office. Within a year and a half, the company grew from $450,000 to $3 million in annualized sales.
"For the next five years, we just ripped it," says Janine, "and I got trapped in the corporate rat race. I was flying all over the place, neglecting myself, and started gaining weight. I developed high blood pressure, experienced lots of personal stress, including the death of my granddaughter, and worked too many hours without sleep."
Then, in 2002, Janine had a massive stroke and lost her capacity to speak.
At first, she took sick leave, but a few months into it the company laid her off.
"I thought, Are you kidding?!" she says. "I had just given my life to this company!"
She now found herself stuck. She couldn't work, had no income, and had no disability insurance, and because she had no organization herself, she had no residual income, either.
One day she called her daughter, who was working at the company's call center. While on hold Janine listened to the audio playing in the background, which was part of a training program she had recorded called R.I.T.A. (Recruiting Is The Answer). She heard her own voice saying, "It's not what happens to you in life, it's how you respond to it."
When she went to bed that night, she recalls thinking, "I need to take my own advice." With the loss of her ability to speak, she had forgotten the sound of her own voice.
She located a cassette tape with that training on it and loaded it into her Walkman. As she listened to it over and over in the days and months that followed, she began the painful process of retraining herself how to speak.
As Janine slowly regained her speech, she started doing some consulting for small businesses. In 2006, she received a call from Richard Brooke, whom she knew from DSA (Direct Selling Association) events. Richard was about to hire someone who had listed Janine as a reference, but now that he had reconnected with Janine, he decided he wanted her to join his corporate team. Janine said she would do it if she could also be a distributor, because that was her love. Richard agreed and Janine moved to Idaho.
A few years into her job, Janine got sick and had to undergo several surgeries. She was seriously overweight and felt she was going to die. She told Richard she knew she would be happier in the field and that she felt out of integrity teaching people how to create a lifestyle of freedom she didn't have herself.
As soon as Richard heard these words, although he didn't want Janine to leave her positions, he told her, "Janine, I want nothing more than for you to be healthy, happy, prosperous and free." He added with a smile, "Now get out here, go build your dream and let me know what I can do to support you." At the end of 2010 Janine left her job, and the following January she started building her distributorship on her own.
"I didn't want any help from the company," she says, "because if I couldn't build it from the ground up, I shouldn't be teaching anyone else!"
Janine moved from Idaho to Visalia, California, to be near her aging parents.
"People laughed at me because Visalia is in the middle of nowhere," she says. "My answer was, ‘Hey, we brag about building this business from exotic beaches. Why can't we build it from a tiny farming town where our parents live, if our choice is to be near them?'"
Janine hit the ground running and her enthusiasm was contagious. In just three months she became the top earner in the company.
She says the secret to her success is her obsession with details, which she identifies as a female leadership trait.
"As soon as people join my business, I give them a to-do list and urge them to attend our weekly get-togethers and conference calls. Some guys think my trainings are too nuts-and-boltsy, but I believe that when you know all the details, you're more confident when speaking about your company.
"New people are afraid to recruit, not because their prospect might say no but because the prospect might ask questions they won't know how to answer. For instance, they don't know how to explain the compensation plan and why it's not a pyramid scheme."
Janine calls herself a training machine at the roots level. She uses Skype, email, and fax, and she flies all over the country, building relationships and getting people started. For her trainings about the financial aspect of the business, she coined the term Controlled Predictable Income, or CPI.
"A lot of women I work with are not serious about their income goals," she says. "They are playing with the business as if it were a hobby. If you want to make money, you need to know numbers and facts. Women tend to leave this to the men, which is one reason more men are top income earners. They are more confident because they have studied the compensation plan.
"When I got into this business, I had to pay my mortgage and buy groceries and football uniforms for my kids. I didn't have a husband or any other backup, so I took it seriously while also making it fun. If you don't know how to present the compensation plan, you can make a little bit of money, but you can't support yourself.
"As a leader, I consider it my responsibility to make sure everyone understands how to present the financial aspect of the business."
Lessons and Gifts
When Janine had a corporate job, she often was the only woman on the executive team. She learned that in order to work with men, you don't try to become one of them.
"I didn't suppress my feminine qualities," she says, "but I knew not to chatter. I studied when to use humor and feeling and when to present the money and the facts."
Janine believes one reason she has succeeded in a man's world is that she always did her homework.
"Men respect me because when I go into a meeting, I'm prepared," she says. "For instance, I was never nervous during recruiting appointments because I put in the time to review the compensation plan and study people's backgrounds."
Janine says one significant difference between herself and the men she was working with was that when she got home, she still had all the responsibilities of being a single parent.
"I was taking care of everyone and often did not take care of myself. Even though I was successful in business, I had failed personally because I almost lost my health and could have lost my life.
"Fortunately, I had a second chance. When I started heading down that same path of self-neglect while working for Richard, he gave me advice and would send me home. Over the years he became a real friend who supported me in every way."
Janine also learned the importance of building a strong social network and creating balance.
"I used to isolate myself so I could get more work done," she says. "Now I have a great network of women friends with whom I collaborate and celebrate. I found people who are there for me, instead of trying to do everything for everyone myself."
Looking into the future, Janine has a vision of growing her business throughout the United States and Canada. She strongly believes that network marketing is meant to flourish in a down economy and never misses an opportunity to point this out. On Black Friday she told her team, "All of you who think we're in a bad economy, just go to the mall."
Reflecting on her network marketing journey, Janine says the biggest gift she has received is a lifestyle of freedom. She even has pictures of the Statue of Liberty on the walls of her home office to embody this theme.
"I relish the freedom I have to live the way I want to live, to be there for my parents and enjoy time with my grandchildren. Part of that freedom comes from personal development, which liberates the mind and provides the ultimate gift: the freedom to be happy."