What Janine Allis learnt from Survivor, and how’s she approaching the COVID-19 crisis

janine allis

"Without mistakes you're not trying hard enough": Janine Allis.

Boost Juice co-founder, author and television personality Janine Allis believes there are three factors that set great leaders apart from average ones: their ability to be themselves, their focus on key goals and their ability to treat people honestly and fairly.

Allis – who co-founded Boost Juice Bars (a juice franchise that now has more than 500 stores in 14 countries) – is one of the country’s most successful leaders in retail franchising. Her business, Retail Zoo, has expanded through other brands, such as Salsas Fresh Mex Grill, CIBO Espresso, Betty’s Burgers and Concrete Co.

She’s won a swag of high profile business awards, run a business for decades, written a book and become a television personality, but Allis says it was going on season four of the reality television program Survivor that taught her some of her most valuable lessons about human nature.

“I think the experience of Survivor really taught me about people. You get to know people very quickly at a different level than how you would in the normally. What would normally take years, takes just weeks,” she told Women’s Agenda.


Janine Allis on Survivor. Source: Women’s Agenda.

“As a leader I am very inclusive … and I was the same on the show. But what it did do was shine a light on what you might be doing wrong in your life. It gives you more appreciation and gratefulness for your partner and family. Appreciation for what you do have,” Allis says.

Allis has many strings to her bow: she’s a businesswoman, author, panelist on television program Shark Tank and a former contestant on Survivor. While there is “no such thing as an average day”, having an excellent team, including a strong and supportive chief executive officer and chief financial officer, is a crucial element of managing her hectic life.

Reflecting on her favourite points of her career, Allis says the “most uncomfortable times” have tended to create the most rewarding outcomes. At those times, she has achieved the most extraordinary things, she says.

“You work extremely hard through something that is really quite difficult at the time, until you come through it. When you do the things you think you would never be able to do – and you do it, that is a great sense of accomplishment.”

Business in the time of COVID-19

Women’s Agenda spoke to Allis prior to full government restrictions being announced to cope with COVID-19, which has impacted many retail outlets significantly. At that time, Allis conceded there are a lot of factors she can’t control when it comes to dealing with the pandemic.

“If the government shuts down shopping centres, we have no control of that. We will be okay, but we don’t know how long that will be … it’s unknown.”

Since then Allis has shared with TEN 13 a little more on being a leader during this period.

“I’m experienced in business, but I don’t think anyone’s got the answers to what’s going on,” she said.

“I think the key thing though is… there’s so much we can’t do, but what can we do? Does your business have the ability to go online? What can you do, to start planning now for your relaunch? How can you keep in contact with your teams at all times so when you’re trading again, you have these great staff that you’ve developed over the years?

“No one’s pointing fingers and blaming at the moment. People are just in solution mode.”

Having a supportive partner and family at home has been crucial to getting through difficult times since starting her business, Allis told Women’s Agenda. Also “never, ever giving up”.

Allis, who has four children aged between 28 and 11, says if she was asked a question about work-life balance between the ages of 30 and 40, she would have said she had “no balance whatsoever”. However, over time she says her view has changed. She no longer sees work and life in different categories, it is “just all life”.

“I love work as part of my life. Because I love it, I see it a bit differently.”

Allis has recently made some changes to her book, The Accidental Entrepreneur, to include some life changes and chapters about her time on Survivor. “Life changes and sometimes you change how you think. We [Retail Zoo] also nearly went to an IPO last year, so I wanted to include that.” The latest edition has just been published.

When it comes to leadership styles, Allis says she is collaborative and goal-driven with a focus on “treating people the way I would want to be treated”. But she also has some clear objectives in mind when leading people and isn’t afraid to keep reminding them of the end goal.

“The worst leaders are those who are not natural to their own personality … who are trying to be something they are not,” she says.

Asked what’s next, Allis says retirement is not an option for her: “retiring to me is dead”. She says she will always remain involved in business in some capacity in order to keep her mind and body active.

When it comes to going on Survivor again, she has surprised herself by leaving her options open.

“When I was on the island I thought to myself: ‘you are never going to do this again!’” Allis says.

“Now though, I have an almost 22-year-old who is obsessed with the show, so I might consider doing a Blood vs Water one [in the US there is a version of the program where former contestants can compete with family members], just for him to have the experience.”

The latest edition of Janine’s book is published by Wiley. 

This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.

NOW READ: Boost Juice founder Janine Allis tells: Four things I learnt from David Bowie

NOW READ: Boost Juice founder Janine Allis on why new business owners need to ‘put their wallets away’


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