What can Survivor teach entrepreneurs?

With the hit TV show Survivor returning to our screens, millions will be tuning in to watch contestants push themselves, overcome obstacles and eventually – for the winner – walk away with prize money.

Long the topic of many water-cooler chats, Survivor is a brilliant insight into the way humans think, behave and approach challenges. While these skills are important for the contestants as they face challenges thrown at them by their environment, the skills and characteristics exhibited by the contestants are equally applicable in the more familiar world of business.

So, what makes a survivor contestant truly successful and what can entrepreneurs learn from those traits?


Designed to push people beyond their limits, Survivor shows just how much of an asset adaptability can be.

In the 2021 series set in Australia, a variety of challenges were created to test the strength and intelligence of contestants, and to see who could adapt best. The Brains vs Brawn series was won by Hayley Leake who used her intelligence and adaptability in the face of some of the toughest challenges seen on the show yet.

The key lesson is that, during the finale, Hayley remained calm no matter the circumstances she found herself in. She held herself still for more than five hours, despite other contestants crying in pain much sooner. Her experience as a pain researcher and her vast knowledge base was a huge advantage and she embraced the endurance challenges in her path.

Applying knowledge to situations, staying calm and adapting readily to changing circumstances are key skills for any entrepreneur.


We all know that only one person can win Survivor, but throughout the show, contestants must work together, forge alliances and overcome challenges as a team.

From as early as season one, teamwork has been key to contestant success. A good example is the rescue mission episode, where the tribe needed to race and find and assist a team member hanging from a parachute.

Even 72-year-old former Navy SEAL Rudy showed his teamwork and dedication, despite everyone’s doubts, racing through the jungle to rescue his teammate. Being able to recognise the various strengths in a group and how to use those an advantage is a lesson as applicable to business as it is to the TV show.

Teamwork is a huge part of the show, and those who manage to work together often end up surviving and thriving on the show. There’s a lesson here.


One of the key takeaways from Survivor is just how tough it can be to remain resilient in the face of adversity.

When John Cochran won the show in 2013, with no votes against him at the Tribal Council, many of us were stunned by his resilience and massive turnaround from being the shy guy he’d been when the show began.

From being picked on by other contestants in his first season to winning a million dollars, his increase in confidence shows just how much attitude can determine success. Entrepreneurs need to learn that despite failure, trying again, and trying with confidence can pay off more than we ever dreamed it would.

Surviving and thriving as an entrepreneur

Though not every business day looks like a Survivor challenge, we can take the values of adaptability, teamwork and resilience and apply them to all aspects of entrepreneurship. Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a chance and try something out of your comfort zone, you never know what you could learn.