Being greeted with a bear hug by my fellow entrepreneur and friend Janine Allis told me that the experience of being on survivor had enriched her experience of life. 

Now, this might sound odd – but in a nanosecond, I could feel a shift in her. That in the eight weeks since I had seen her, life was somehow slightly altered.

I was at her home for breakfast and I was so eager to discover what the experience of being on survivor was like. And of course, as I listened to her tale I reflected ‘could I do that? – Am I strong enough?’

This is what I know. Janine was away for 50 days, she slept on the ground, ate beans, rice and coconut. She lost six kilos (and there was nothing for her to lose anyway). She would wake up and see the challenge and say to herself ‘perhaps today is the day I am going to die’. She felt fear, separation from her family, and physical discomfort like she had never known before.

Naomi and Janine

She said to me “it is both the best and worst experience of my life, but I truly knew what it is to be alive – it made me grateful for my family and friends in a way I had never been before.”

Life at home and at work has shifted. What is important to her has shifted. She said, “I realised that whilst my kids are at home, and my husband – we are all together but living side by side. We might watch TV together, but we’d sit with our digital device as well and often not speak”.

She said that whilst away the conversations with her fellow contestants (without the distraction of the phone, internet, or any other comfort) were rich and vivid.

“People would tell their story; they would tell a story. Language, storytelling, the conversation was alive and well. In a way I had not experienced for years.”

Janine acknowledged that the production crew were present but would not even look them in the eye. That they had daily medical checks – but apart from that, they were truly on their own. The program is as raw (if not more) than what you see on the screen.

Always a Survivor fan – Janine jumped at the chance to have this extraordinary experience. Yet when I speak to most people they say – “Why on earth would she do that?”

It made me ask the question, “How often in life are we presented with an experience, but we are too busy, too ‘important’ or too broke to take it on?” Every experience enriches – it adds to who we are. We learn something about ourselves – what we like and don’t like. But if we don’t get off our digital devices we will never know

I was sitting in a presentation from the RedBalloon team this week and the brand lead shared with me that 77 per cent of Australians experience more loneliness now in the ‘connected’ world of social media than the previous generation did. 

We are so busy connecting that we have disconnected. It really worries me.

It is why the Big Red Group purpose – to shift the way people experience life keeps driving me. 

We’re time poor

We’re better connected but further apart

We’re career focused but crave balance

We want it all

But we only remember the ‘enriching’.


We fear wasting life

So we seek experiences that break routine

That explore the unknown, shift our focus, change our view,

Experiences that build our stories

That deepen our connections with others.


Whilst Janine urged me to ‘do it’ – “you would love it,” she said – I have chosen a different sort of challenging experience at this point. As I head into the wilderness for 10 days to be with the communities of Arnhem land.


Also published on Medium.

Also published on Medium.

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