For Libby, what began as a life-changing diagnosis of malignant hypertension in her early 20s, turned into a life-long mission to inspire a new generation of happy, healthy, empowered and of course, active women. This former trainer from Channel TEN’s “The Biggest Loser: Transformed” believes she was put on this planet to help people be happier, feel good about themselves and live life to the full by creating a healthy life culture they live and breathe.
This passion led her to found multiple businesses in health and wellness including Chief Nutrition, a healthy snack bar company with brands Chief Bar and Beauty Food; BUF Girls, her Bondi ‘to the beat’ fitness studio, and; Nurture Group, a wellness and business event company for entrepreneurs and senior leaders.
This is our chat with Libby.
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
Yes, when I was in my early 20’s I got chronic hypertension and my blood pressure was more than double safe levels. Doctors had no idea what caused it but told me I’d be on medication for the rest of my life which would harm my liver and make it next to impossible to have kids. It also gave me terrible skin and destroyed my confidence. That wasn’t good enough for me so I started researching how I might be able to improve things through the right kind of fitness and nutrition.
Within a few years of working closely with a number of specialists, to the complete surprise of all my doctors, I got off the blood pressure pills completely. This set me on a course into starting my own businesses in health and fitness because the more I learned, the more passionate I became about sharing that knowledge. I’m also happy to say I’m now mum to my beautiful daughter Izzy!
Initially, what difficulties did you face in business?
Honestly, I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t have any money behind me and literally had to work my way up from the very bottom of the industry.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Worry less. Trust that it’s all going to work out in the end, and even if it doesn’t work out it’s not the end of the world. Failure is learning, and you can’t succeed without failing along the way, it just doesn’t work like that.
What do you think was the biggest mistake you made in business?
In the early days, trying to do it all myself. More recently, taking on too much at once and chasing shiny new things. Now I’ve had my daughter Izzy it’s forced me to focus so I’ve just sold off one of my businesses AGOGA and simplified the others dramatically.
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
Outsource or delegate the things I’m not good at and/or don’t like doing. Surrounding myself with smart people.
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
It’s going to take much longer and be much harder than you think so you’ll spend a lot of time wondering if you’ve done the right thing and worrying about money. Just know that you’re not alone, everyone I speak to goes through this and the successful ones are the ones who just kept going (that doesn’t mean they didn’t pivot, but they didn’t give up). Oh and the money worries never go away, they just get bigger – learn to dance with the fear!
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
Zac and Sip de Silva, my business partners in Nurture Group. Zac is an internationally acclaimed business coach and Sip has won awards for her past businesses so it’s been so inspiring watching and learning from the best.
Also, Amelia Phillips who co-founded 12WBT. She’s a lovely, down to earth and inspiring lady who’s always been so kind and helpful to me.
How have you personally measured your success?
I feel successful when I feel good about what I’m doing. When my team is happy and passionate, when customers are loving what we’re doing and it’s impacting them in a positive way.
How do you make the most of your day?
I start the day training people at BUF Girls which gives me a huge boost because I lead the session and we workout to the beat which really energises me physically. I also try to plan each day with what I call “the quadrant” – an A4 page split into 4 sections. Top left = has to happen today. Top right = important things that need to get done but don’t have to happen today. Bottom left = everything else. Bottom right = personal things I need to get done. The secret is getting it out of your head so you can put down the mental load of trying to remember it all.
Do you have any tips for those struggling to gain a successful work life balance?
This is something I’m particularly passionate about. I like to talk about building the right “Life Culture”. When we talk about ‘culture’ in a work sense, we all get what it means. A great team culture creates great behaviours which creates great companies.
It’s the same with your life. If you’ve developed a culture of balance and health, then you’ll behave that way and you can’t help but become a balanced and healthy person.
To create your life culture, it’s the same as your company culture, you need to start with your vision for your life. A good way to frame this question is to start with WHY which is short for how is the World Helped by You. The world could be your immediate world – your family, friends – or it could be broader than that.
A good example is from my time on The Biggest Loser. One of my team, Nikki, thought she wanted to look great in a bikini and feel confident at the beach. But this was just a want, it wasn’t a compelling vision so of course she’d really struggled with creating lasting change in her life. What we discovered together was her biggest WHY was her daughter who she didn’t want sitting around watching TV all weekend because mum was too embarrassed to go out. She wanted her daughter to live a full and adventurous life. This became her vision and then it became easy for her to get fit and eat well. She’s now a personal trainer herself.
So, if you’re struggling to get work life balance, start with your vision for your life and find your compelling WHY.
How has your family impacted your business venture?
Hugely. I’ve been married to my husband Justin for close to 10 years and while he’s had his own businesses we’ve been involved in each other’s businesses that whole time, helping each other behind the scenes. Over the past 2 years we’ve started working much more closely together with Chief Bar and Beauty Food and we love it. It’s not all sunshine and roses, but it’s great working together towards a common goal and vision.
Having my daughter Izzy, who’s recently turned one, also had a huge impact. It really forced me to focus on what was truly important in my life and be ruthless about removing things that weren’t a core part of my vision.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
I’m up at 4:30am most days to go and train my girls at BUF Girls. I have Izzy in daycare 2 days per week so on those days it’s full-on until around 6:30pm. On the other days I’m doing my best to fit life in and around the 3 businesses I’m involved in!
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The big one for me is freedom. It’s funny because being an entrepreneur is much more restrictive than having a job – it’s like having a child; they need your attention 24/7, you can’t take your eye off them for a second or something will go wrong, and they cost a lot of money! But when it’s your own you feel free. Free to do things the way you want to do things. Free to make creative decisions. That’s what I love most.