Seven tips for surviving the entrepreneurial jungle

What happens when you take 45 of Australia’s most innovative thinkers and drop them into the middle of the Amazon? It sounds like the plot of another awful reality TV show but it really happened – and proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

" In order to survive in the jungle, you need to first be able to clearly communicate to others the journey you intend to go on. In business, it’s the same."
Tessa Roulston, Workplace change manager & social media ambassador, ANZ

Earlier this year I embarked on a journey to the Amazon rainforest alongside some of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders as part of a movement called the ‘Unstoppables’.

Free from the distractions of everyday life, we held daily workshops led by top facilitators designed to foster collaboration. Each of these sessions was followed by activities deep in the jungle - from swimming in the Amazon River, learning survival techniques and fishing for piranhas.

Each activity was designed to get us to face our fears and push beyond our comfort zone.

A bit crazy? Yes, but here are the top survival tips I learned from the incredible entrepreneurs, industry leaders and guides during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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To achieve real success you need to always follow your inner compass and sense of purpose. Every successful entrepreneur shared the same view - go with your gut.

When jumping in the Amazon River we had to believe it was safe to dive in with caimans, anacondas and piranhas lurking below. It’s the same in business, where rewards are often only available if you are willing to take a risk.

I learned when making big decisions there are really only two questions that you need to ask yourself: is this my best work? And what impact will it have if I am successful?


In order to survive in the jungle, you need to first be able to clearly communicate to others the journey you intend to go on. In business, it’s the same when getting others to see your ideas, the role of your pitch is to inspire.

Some of our Unstoppables group had the opportunity to pitch to Naomi Simson, who listens to over 200 pitches a season on Shark Tank Australia. Through every round of pitching we upped our game to be better communicators and over the 10 days many amazing ideas received investment.

The ‘Unstoppables’ is a group aimed at raising the financial intelligence of Australia and igniting its entrepreneurial spirit founded by self-made millionaire Julio De Laffitte.

The group’s vision is “to get to the future first by bringing passionate and purpose filled entrepreneurs together in an innovative and creative environment to experience the power of collaboration”

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Photo credit: Sean Tully


When in survival mode, optimism goes a long way. In the jungle I learned your own success is a reflection of the people you spend the most time with.

If you surround yourself with ‘naysayers ‘and those who would block your path to greatness you will limit your ability to survive.

Instead, you should surround yourself with people who will turn every challenge into an opportunity, who won’t waste time finding reasons why something is impossible but instead see only possibilities.

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Photo credit: Sean Tully


Don’t underestimate what you have available to you in your survival kit. When things go south, these are your most valuable assets.

In the jungle, when some of us made the mistake of not lathering on mosquito repellent, our guides showed us how to rub ants into our skin as a natural repellent. The smallest creature in the jungle became our greatest asset.

All of the incredibly successful people on this trip shared one thing in common they chose their most valuable assets carefully. In business, this asset is people, who can always help you to achieve greatness.

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Photo credit: Sean Tully


Both in business and the jungle, I needed to learn how to build your network of ‘people to ‘lean to’. You can be good on your own, maybe even great, but if you want to be extraordinary it will be because of the collaborative effort of many.

I saw firsthand how positive change is accelerated when we collectively leverage our networks and connections.

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Photo credit: Sean Tully


The first person through the jungle marks a path for others to follow. During our last few days in the Amazon we heard from several incredible social entrepreneurs doing amazing philanthropic work in the most impoverished countries in the world.

Dean Landy from the One Heart Foundation, which is building sustainable communities in Kenya, challenged us to think about the path we want to leave for others to follow.

What is your legacy? When you deeply care about something, you are more likely to succeed because the calling will keep driving and propelling you forward.


The theme of the 10 days was not just to survive but to be impossible to stop. In the words of Simson, “what makes successful people unstoppable is that they feel the fear and do it anyway”.

So get out there and be unstoppable.

Tessa Roulston is a workplace change manager and social media ambassador at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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