Episode 434

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You’ve probably heard of IQ, EQ, or even SQ (spiritual intelligence), but have you heard of NQ? For those new to the term, it’s natural intelligence, or our ability to tap into our inner wisdom to guide us in our decision-making in the most high-stakes situations.

In life and leadership alike, we tend to let our ego get in the way of our decision-making. It’s normal, but it’s not often helpful for reaching our goals or leading our teams effectively. Instead, we should be listening to our natural intelligence to guide our leadership decisions.

This is how animals survive in the wild. They don’t have the ability to overthink or hide away from a challenge like humans can. Instead, they innately know how to act in order to stay alive or lead their pack to victory.

If we approach leadership in a similar manner, we can access a side of our leadership abilities we might not have known we had. To access it, all we have to do is learn to observe nature and understand our own gut reactions to survival moments. Join us to learn more about finding our personal natural intelligence and how to apply it to agency leadership.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

natural intelligence

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What is NQ?
  • How to apply natural intelligence to your business leadership
  • The obstacles to us tapping into NQ
  • To tap into natural intelligence, you must know yourself
  • Gaining self-insight and peer insight as a leader
  • What horses can teach us about rotational leadership
  • Coaching NQ abilities out of your leadership teams
  • Trusting your gut and getting over the fear of judgment from peers
  • The different benefits of prey, predator, freeze, and flock mode in business
  • Why having the ability to access different modes can be beneficial in agency leadership

“It's very easy to work on people's failure or look at what you're doing wrong. My view was that we should be celebrating strength within an organization.” - Rosie Tomkins Share on X
“The natural intelligence that I see is a positive use of your instinct, insights, and perception, where you can make a decision at speed from a place of deep knowing.” - Rosie Tomkins Share on X
“Not everyone is going to agree with your decision-making process. You need to come from this place of real inner belief and internal validation.” - Rosie Tomkins Share on X
“When running a business, we're so focused on the bottom line and how we increase in everything that we forget about ourselves. If we’re not balanced, it shows.” - Rosie Tomkins Share on X
“We talk all the time about communication being 90% nonverbal, and yet we concentrate all the time on that 10% verbal.” - Rosie Tomkins Share on X

Ways to contact Rosie:


Hey, everybody. Drew here. You know, we are always looking for more ways to be helpful and meet you wherever you’re at to help you grow your agency. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve produced this podcast for so long, and I’m super grateful that you listen as often as you do. However, there are some topics that are better suited for quick hyper-focused answers in under 10 minutes. That’s where our YouTube channel really comes in. For quick doses of inspiration, best practices, tips and tricks, head over to youtube.com/the at sign Agency Management institute. Again, that’s youtube.com/the at sign or symbol.

And then Agency Management Institute, all one word. Subscribe and search the existing video database for all sorts of actionable topics that you can implement in your shop today. Alright, let’s get to the show.

Welcome to the Agency Management Institute community, where you’ll learn how to grow and scale your business, attract and retain the best talent, make more money, and keep more of the money you make. The Build a Better Agency Podcast, presented by a White Label IQ is packed with insights on how small to mid-size agencies are getting things done, bringing his 25 years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant. Please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Hey everybody. Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build a Better Agency. Super excited to be with you today. Have a great guest that I think is gonna get you thinking in a whole new direction. But before I tell you about our guest, let me just remind you that in a blink of an eye, I know it feels like spring is far away for many of us as we’re enduring winter. But in the blink of an eye, it’s gonna be time for the Build A Better Agency Summit here in Denver, May 21st and 22nd. And if you are a member, of course there’s Family Day or Member Day on May 20th. But one of the speakers at the summit is a guy that I think you’re gonna find fascinating.

His name is Casey Mehan. And Casey owned his own agency, a content driven agency for 10 or 15 years, was doing very well, was super successful, had niched down, was really crushing it, and started noticing as people started talking more about AI and machine learning, started thinking about how that was gonna impact his business. And so he ended up pivoting, and now he consults with agencies to figure out how to leverage AI and machine learning inside their business. So both for client facing things, but also for internal things. So he’s gonna be one of the speakers talking about how he’s helping agencies.

He’s gonna give you very specific tool sets and cheat sheets and guidelines for how you can start leveraging the power of AI in your agency. He’s just one of the speakers. We have an amazing lineup. So if you know you wanna join us and you want to buy your ticket before they get more expensive, ’cause you know how conferences are closer, you get to the conference, the more it costs. So grab your ticket now. Give this to yourself as a 20 happy 2020 fourth gift. Head over to the agency management institute.com website, right in the upper left corner, it says BABA summit. You can click on that and go to the registration page and grab your ticket. Again, if you’re a member, you absolutely wanna join us for member day.

We have member only content for the last half of the day, and then we’re all gonna go out to dinner together. So we’d love to have you either join us for all three days or the two days, but grab your ticket now. All right, enough of that. So our guest today is a woman named Rosie Tompkins, and Rosie is a serial entrepreneur. She’s owned and sold several businesses and has been in the, in the business for over 30 years. And she recently wrote a brand new book called Let Nature Be Your Compass. And, and Rosie talks about this idea of natural intelligence. So we’ve, we all know about intelligence, we know about emotional intelligence, so we know about IQ, we know about EQ, but Rosie’s gonna talk to us today about NQ.

So this idea of how we can draw insight and intelligence from ourselves is baked inside of us, but a lot of times we don’t listen to it or we may not even notice that we’re hearing it or getting a sense of it. So it’s gonna, it’s a, it is a wild ranging conversation. We’re gonna talk about grizzly bears, we’re gonna talk about horses, but mostly we’re gonna talk about how to be better leaders. And so I think you’re gonna really enjoy the conversation. So I am excited to introduce you to Rosie and the idea of natural intelligence. All right, let’s do it. Rosie, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us.

My pleasure. Lovely to be here.

So tell the listeners a little bit about your background and your expertise and the whole notion you have around leadership.

So my background is very entrepreneurial. I’ve had four different companies I’ve taken from, literally from my kitchen table and then grown them. And I was very lucky to be able to sell my company to a PLC, a public limited company. And basically I landed myself in a boardroom at quite a young age and had to survive the way that the corporate environment is. IE the tur, the politics, the all the stress areas, you’re in corporate life. And the learning was very, very fast for me, from running my own business to then being inside a corporate organization.

And one of the things I really learned was that it, it’s very easy to work on people’s failure. So the 360 degree feedback forms, or we look at what you’re doing wrong. And my view was that really we should be celebrating strength within an organization. And if I was to ever go into training, I would turn the idea of looking at what we are not doing well to what we’re actually doing really, really well, and then kind of celebrating that. So that’s really where my idea started. I’d say four companies later, I happened to come across some training with courses. I realized that there’s an awful lot of learning out there for us in the world around us in nature, and I could see how I could apply that into the boardroom.

And the learnings would be very interesting for everybody and give people hope and a sense of real knowing. So what I looked at was how we, we organized business, we look at our IQ, everyone knows that IQ is necessary to run a business. You need the skills and expertise. Many of you’ll know about EQ emotional intelligence. Yeah, you need that. We run teams. Some of you will know about IQ, sorry, SQ, which is spiritual intelligence. But not many of you will have heard the term NQ. For me, that’s called natural intelligence. And the natural intelligence that I see is like a, a positive use of your instinct, insights, and perfection that where you can make a decision at speed from a place of knowing.

And as an owner of a business, you’re going to need that

For sure. So that all, that all then translated into the book, right?

Yes. So the book is, the latest book is called Let Nature Be Your Compass. I tried to write a business book from my heart rather than a technical book. So it explores some case studies, some ideas, and really to challenge the status quo and to really make you think in a different way about leadership and how leadership works in nature.

So talk, give, give us an example of how NQ works. Like give us, give us a sense of sort of what that would look like in a practical application.

Yes. I’m sure most of your listeners will have heard of the Hudson River Landing, right? Amazing Captain who, as you know, put the, put the plane down on the Hudson River. But before he did that, he was in a situation where he had to make a decision at speed. He told by LaGuardia to turn the plane round and land back at the airport, but with his wisdom and say the IQ, his EQ, his SQ. And for me, he kind of made a decision based on his experience and his gut feel that the right thing to do was to land the plane on the Hudson River. And he made that decision at speed with, from this place of deep knowing and saved 240 lives, I think, in the process.

So it’s not saying that you don’t need intelligence, that you need all of them, but whereas, you know, we tend to always think about IQ and EQ and SQ. The, the third, fourth one for me is that actual knowing from a deep place, which we all have, it’s within all of us. And when you are leading a business or an organization, sometimes you just have to make that decision at speed from that place of deep knowing. So my job really is with the book and the work I do, is to give confidence to people to actually act on that.

So if it’s something we all have, do we dismiss it? Do we not know how to recognize it? How, why is it that today we aren’t using it at the level we could or should? Is it we don’t hear it, we ignore it, we don’t trust it. What, what gets in the way of us using it?

We, we tend to, it’s a politically correct environment at the moment. So we tend to, for everyone to make a judgment for all of us to be on the same page. And that’s what I call collaborative leadership, which has its place, obviously, but at certain times you just have to act. And if you are in business, then the competition is hot on your heels. Not everyone is going to agree with your decision making process, but you need to come from this place of real inner belief and what I call internal validation, which says this is the right way to go and I’m going to do it.

So how do I tune in or turn up the volume if, if I have not been a leader that sort of pays attention to that or gives credence to that sense of knowing, like, how, how do I recognize that’s what I’m feeling or thinking or ’cause it feels like it’s, it sounds to me like it’s, it, it’s not quite so cerebral. It’s more sort of almost guttural, right? It comes from within. So how do I, how do I recognize it?

So I think one of the hidden agenda, I call it a hidden agenda for most people in business, is that sometimes you secretly feel like you, you haven’t got the ability to lead, you’ve lost your confidence in your own ability to lead. And of course you can’t share that with anybody. So we all have it at times and we all have to, you know, find a way through. And my view is that you’ve got to do a huge amount of work on yourself. You’ve got to know yourself before you in, you know, inflict yourself on other people, I call it, right? What are your tendencies? What are your, the way you are under pressure, you need to know how you’re going to show up and you, and by doing that, you can then understand yourself better.

And very more importantly than anything is, you know, need to know how other people see you. And that is rare because what other, most of the courses we go on, you know, and the books we read, you can never actually see how people show up. And that’s why working with nature is such a brilliant idea because when you work with animals, and especially horses, they take you as you are and you show up and you can’t, you can’t in any way try to fake it in any way, right? They know you are being congruent. And from that position, you can then start to add confidence.

And my way of adding confidence, as you’ll see in the book, is to look to what happens in nature in difficult situations, because they have to show up in a different way. They can’t voice it, they’ve got to use energy behavior. The way that I’m sure you, you’re, you’re familiar with body posture and all of that kind of thing, right?


That’s really important as well.

So how do I gain insight in how both, how I, how do I gain insight about myself in terms of how I, as you said, how I show up, how I act under pressure, and how do I gain insight from the others, my team, my peers? So I have that, I have that perspective as well.

Yeah. So I mean, obviously you have to start working on self, right? And that the most important place is to read a book. As I say, my book would be great, but obviously lots of books on self-development. And I know that in the US you have lots of places where you can go and work with horses, for example, or in the outdoors doing out kind of bound just to get to know who you really are. Because when we’re in running a business, we’re so focused on the bottom line and how we can move it to speed and how we increase in everything that we forget about ourselves. And if we’re not balanced, it shows Yeah. Con over, you know, you, you just can’t see how others are seeing you and that stress levels will impact on the whole team.

Yeah, it’s interesting to me that, that horses are your sort of go-to, so I grew up, my dad and I had horses, and I grew up training horses and, and riding horses. And I think one of the things you learn when you are a rider is that you are not actually in control of the gate or the movement that you actually have to move with the horse, right? And, and the horse, you, you get to, you get to set the direction of where we’re going with the bridal and all of that, but the way the horse’s body moves, you have to sort of, sort of meld into that. And then the ride is smooth and easy. But when you try and control the gate or the cadence of the ride, you know that that’s a miserable experience, I’m sure for the horse, but it certainly is a miserable experience for you and your body.

So, so I can see how that experience would, I never thought about it in terms of leadership or team leading or whatever, but now that you’re saying it, I can see how that idea of sort of surrendering yourself to sort of the natural gate of the horse and figuring out how to use that to your advantage to get where you want to go. Makes perfect sense.

Okay. So, you know, not, so, so there are lots of kind of different leadership styles that I, I, I look at round the horse, for example. But one of the things that’s really, really important is to know what energy you bring to a situation. So when you work with horses on the ground, not so much riding, I mean, I get your point on that completely. The, the energy when you are on the ground is really important. And again, energy in a boardroom is really, really important.

Yes. Right?

We talk about all the time about communication being 90% nonverbal, and yet we concentrate all the time on that 10% verbal. So the whole learning experience of being around horses is, you know, how they see us, how they react to us, what kind of energy we are bringing. And my job is to give the leader a new set of tools that they can dig into when they need to. So when it’s appropriate. So one of those tools, for example, is knowing yourself and what kind of leadership you have, what’s your innate leadership style? However, is the business in that place to use that style, or do you need another style? So I call it rotational leadership.

So in a herd of horses, you have rotational leadership going on. There are individuals within the herd that know what they’re doing for the alpha male, the alpha female, but most of the time they’re doing it for the good of the whole, right? They’re bringing in order for the whole of the herd to survive. And that’s the kind of metaphor analogy that you can use in business. What can I bring that will help everybody to be the best they can be? And, and for the good of the whole, what do I need to do? Do I need to change my style? Do I need to look at what season we’re in? Do we need to look at a different perspective in the business? But being open to that and being open to rotating, to listen to others and their opinions.

So assuming that some of the listeners are not in a position to go hang out with a herd of horses, how, how does someone, how does someone begin to assess this for themselves and how do they begin to observe it in their team so they can nurture and coach this kind of leadership out of their, their, their leadership team of their employees?

So there’s, there’s lots of examples, and I agree with you totally. Not most, not many people can hang out with a herd of horses.

They should all, they should all get to do that. But if they can’t,

Yeah. But realistically, nature is everywhere. Yeah. You outside window at constancy learning opportunity for us that the constancy of nature, you know, the fact that spring comes around again, it’s gonna be dark and then the sun will start. Yeah. That gives a reassurance that all will be, well, there’s no doubt about that. On top of that, you have to look at tiny little things that around us all the time. Like a spider’s web, for example. You know, we brush a spider’s web away, we think, you know, it’s in the way bush, right? That little, that little spider has to show incredible resilience to come back and repeat that web, right?

And that’s where we need to learn, you know, business isn’t easy. We need to be resilient, we need to have tenacity. Another great story that some of your listeners might really relate to is that I was in a lucky position to go to Colorado myself with my son a few weeks. And I heard this wonderful story about some of the, you will have heard of dude ranches and yes. Particular ranger was a, a female ranger, and she was given a very big horse to ride called tonk. And her job was to take out the guests for a ride in the morning, and there was a string of eights and went out on the horses, and suddenly from nowhere, a deer ran into the side of her horse.

Oh, wow. Which is a very unusual thing for any deer to do, right? And the rider realized why the deer had run into the horse, because behind the door, behind the deer was a grizzly bear. Okay? So the grizzly bear scared the horses, all the horses bolted, the riders were thrown. And there’s one particular little boy who had fallen off, and the grizzly turned his attention to the little boy, the rider on this big horse called tonk, who was still on her horse as a ranger, rode into the kind of prey and basically used the cutting horse to kind of fend off this grizzly bear.

And the tenacity that the rider and the horse showed in this incredibly unusual situation was mind blowing and saved the little boy’s life. So again, you know, to understand that that horse in a natural situation would not have, it would’ve run away, but the tenacity of ride around horse to overcome the difficulty, and of course it became a national treasure. They were airlifted into various news rooms around Colorado and further afield, I think, to celebrate this incredible tenacity. So these are kind of storied metaphors that when we are feeling under pressure, we can relate to everywhere.

So, you know, like a cheetah, a cheetah doesn’t run, run, run, run, run, right? It has to be something in the tank. So we have to learn to really understand energy and capacity in business, otherwise we burn out and that doesn’t help anybody. Right. So, you know, all these amazing metaphors that I, I use in the book and in my work, you know, on my website, all of these things are there, out there for all of us to, to learn from every day.

So why do you think, I mean, it sounds like this is baked into all of us, and, and by the way, I’m not sure the grizzly bear story is gonna encourage anyone to want to hang out with a horse anytime soon, but this is baked inside of us. So why do you think we don’t tap into this natural spring of wisdom more often? What, what, what prompts us to ignore it?

So I would say we need to get out of our heads and into our senses, and we’re in our heads as human beings far too much. We, you know, we talk about fights and flight in all sorts of situations, but actually there’s another, there’s another area which of course freeze, which nature uses to survive. So again, we are so on it all the time. We’re, you know, as we know, relentless, we need to take time out to make it more creative, to really able to listen to what’s really going on and to basically return to basics, just to give ourselves the capacity to just be for a while.

And it’s very difficult yeah. As we make that time, but unless we do, we’re, we’re losing that opportunity for insight and, you know, a deeper learning.

Well, and as you say, we stay in our head and, and so our leadership style and our decisions are very cerebral, but they’re not necessarily, I I I find that many agency owners, they have a gut instinct and they talk themselves out of Trusting it. Yeah. Right? Yeah. And then later they’ll come back and say, oh, I knew I should have done this, or I shouldn’t have done that, or whatever, but I did this or I didn’t do anything or, and so they sort of chastise themselves for not Trusting their gut.

Absolutely. Because we’re a fear of judgment, you know? Right. Look what happened to the, the Captain Berger, you know, he went through Helen High Water after he made that,

Even after he saved everybody. Right. You would think that would be, that would be like, okay, good call. R