farm girl leadership for today's woman

Camilla’s “Happiness Interview” with International Association of Women

Picture of Camilla Gray-Nelson

Camilla Gray-Nelson

Three young women sitting and laughing together in a park setting
I made the book about happiness because the number one predictor of human happiness is the quality and the number of positive human relationships that one has.

Listen to the Audio Interview Below:

Moderator: Happy Friday. I’m so excited to be here today for this live chat. We recently launched this channel where we talk to authors and have really interactive conversations about their books and what they’ve been doing And we learned so much through them. We have a very special guest joining us today She’s written a very cool book just recently this year. And we’re going to line that conversation up now. So joining me today we have Camilla Gray Nelson. Welcome! I would love if you could share a little introduction with us. Tell us more about yourself.

Well let’s see, I am first and foremost a farm girl, not dressed in my farm girl clothes today but I am a farm girl which is really the background for everything I do, everything I write, everything I talk about, because I take life and I break it down to the little simple components that come from nature and animals because human beings are, after all, just members of the animal world we may walk on two legs and wear fancy clothes but at our core we’re just the same as our horses, our dogs, our goats, our pigs…..with a lot of evolved capacity on top of that. But at the core of us, we share the same instincts and the same basic nature and that is key to everything I talk about And by about right now, my brick and mortar business is a dog training business but it’s really a leadership business for women. I because I observed growing up on the farm, how female animals got what they wanted without trying to be male…

I understand the power. And how it can work in different ways. More than anyone else I’ve ever met. And so this dog training service that I provide is really about posture, energy, follow-through …quiet control. Things that are not normally taught. And then I branched out recently to take the secrets of leadership and feminine power to the greater feminine community whether or not you own an animal or a dog. Because that inner animal is the same…in your child, your spouse or significant other, in your boss and your coworkers…..and in your subordinates at work. And learning about that and how to influence through instinct instead of confrontation.

Moderator: Perfect, I love it. I love it. So we have we have some time up here today to have a really fun conversation. I already see a few people in the chat on Linkedin. So if you’re here with us, let us know in the chat. Say hello and let us know where you’re joining from.

And if you have any questions as we’re chatting…..I have my questions already lined up….. but I’m always happy to to bring yours into the mix as well. So with that, your the book you launched just recently this year …It’s called Harvest Your Happy. Tell us what Harvest Your Happy is about and for those of you watching, the link to the book is in the description of this episode on LinkedIn. So you can go Click right on Amazon and check it out as well. Perfect.

The full title gives you a better idea of what it’s about It’s Harvest Your Happy; A farm girl’s guide to leading, succeeding, and living your best life.

“Until I was probably in my thirties, I struggled. I had unsuccessful relationships including two horrible divorces. I did not have a clear career path”

Now, the reason I wrote this book and really started my business to coach women leaders, and mothers, and partners ……….and whomever else wants more out of their life and more success……. is because, until I was probably in my thirties, I struggled. I had unsuccessful relationships including two horrible divorces. I did not have a clear career path; bounced around, didn’t get along with my boss, my coworkers. It was really a mess of a life. Deep down …maybe even on the surface, I hid it, as we all do. And I had my own epiphany. As I looked at the animals on the farm, because I still live on a farm, they were happy together. There’s lots of different personalities just like in human life. There were leaders and followers and…subordinates and peers. But they all managed to get along. And I really delved into analyzing exactly why that was…. and I came up with some pretty interesting observations that I applied to my own life. And I am telling you, it changed my life. I have been married for 31 years, happily. To my wonderful husband.

I have a very successful business that is well-known across Northern California. And all I can say is it changed my life and it will change how you look at relationships forever because the quality of your relationship, whether you realize it or not, is linked to your success. It’s linked to getting what you want. It’s linked to your leadership. You have to understand the human animal and what motivates them to cooperate with you.

Moderator: Right, Right … I love the concept. I love the concept. And I love your your application of it and the success you’ve had. I think it’s fascinating.

So in most of the chapters the inner animal takes center stage. Talk to me about this inner animal that you referenced throughout…

It’s…Inside of us, you know? You hear these cliches like “first impressions count” or “I just don’t like her, I don’t know why, but I just don’t like her” or…”Who does she think she is?” You know that those kinds of thoughts are all coming from your inner animal. Our animal understands hierarchy. They understand fear. They have a desire to take easy over difficult. But they also enjoy competition. It’s all in the survival instinct.

In the animal every one of those instincts in one way or another is linked to survival. The reason we like easy over difficult is because that’s how we conserve energy. The reason we we hoard resources …and for us it’s money or things or whatever… is because an animal, just ask a squirrel before winter. You know, they hoard those nuts so they can get through the winter when they can’t find them. And because they’re linked to survival they are undeniable. You cannot change them, but you can recognize them. And once you recognize them. Suddenly. The behaviors and the others…don’t become so maddening. It’s not because those people are stupid or mean, or…anything like that It’s because…”Oh that’s why they’re doing that…I understand”. Once you understand you can strategize how to work around and through and with those incidents

Moderator: Right, right. So I want to I want to hone in on the title for a minute because you call it the “farm girl’s guide”. But. From what I’ve read and what I’ve understood It’s not just for farm girls Right So tell us what urban professional women can get from the book.

Oh, It’s the farm girl’s guide to anyone who wants to. You don’t have to live on a farm. You know it’s not your address It’s your attitude. Okay, so everyone can benefit from this. It’s just simply understanding human behavior. From my farm girl’s perspective That’s really what it’s about…

Moderator: I love that! It caught my attention because I’m not a farm girl… I didn’t grow up in a farm. I live in the suburbs, but ….yeah, it caught my attention. Okay, so my next question: the promise of the book is finding happiness, but most of your chapters deal with relationships and getting what you need from others through willing cooperation. So you mentioned influence through instinct.

Can you can you tell us a little bit more about that. Why it’s so important because it’s very intriguing, this idea of influence through instinct. And I think we’ll talk a little bit about negotiation, too. But I’d like you to kind of hone in there first…

I made the book about happiness because the number one predictor of human happiness is the quality and the number of positive human relationships that one has…which is why relationships form the foundation for everything including happiness. Now there are chapters at the end of the book which take us beyond just the animal instinct and understanding and influencing through them. Things like … you know … attitude.

And I list all the farm girl attitudes that have helped me through life; gratitude…practicing gratitude every day. And finding your purpose. We do deal with those, but without a foundation of solid, successful, wonderful relationships, that’s not going to happen. That’s why I present my happiness pyramid. And the bottom of the pyramid is “trust”…… all the way to the top, which is “ultimate happiness”.

But “influence through instinct”. Let’s see if I can think of an example. Okay Let’s say your boss doesn’t give you that promotion. Right. Does he just not like you? Is he just, you know, a rat? Does he just not understand how qualified you are and that you actually deserve this?

You know in nature, and our inner animal, every resource belongs to the alpha. There is no sharing. In nature, let’s take dogs, for example….. an alpha dog has a plethora of bones ’cause he’s collected all of them from everyone…. you know how that works. If a subordinate wants one of his bones, they can’t just walk up and say “I want that bone… let me take it from you. Don’t you know who I am?”

They play the “nice” card…

The smart subordinates, if they want a raise, they work like the Dickens to be the most productive, the most co-operative…the most available for extra jobs. Make yourself indispensable. Make yourself most importantly, likable. Yep. In the end…jobs are given (unless there’s other requirements in the HR) Jobs are granted. And if there’s two people equal in qualifications, they’re going to give the job to the person that they like the most. That’s just the way it is. Yep.

It sounds over-simplified. But that’s how life works. And you do things for people that you like. And that’s how it works for dogs. The dog that plays nice and doesn’t pose a threat….a dog that can be trusted…that they’re being honest and not just looking for a way to steal something…they’re the ones the Alpha dog goes, “oh, here have one of my bones. Enjoy. I really like you and I trust you.” Because the first tier of my happiness and success pyramid is trust. Yeah we’ve all heard the adage “Like me, Trust me, Pay me.” That’s exactly how it works. Right. If they don’t trust you, they won’t pay you or give you what you want or what you’re asking for.

Moderator: Right. You mentioned a couple of things that really resonated from what we talk about with personal branding… especially on the career side and you might not like somebody at work or might not have the best working relationship with somebody, but it’s in your best interest to manage that relationship, to manage coming out being the person who’s trying and who’s achieving and it can be really really challenging…… but also you want to be the person in the office who’s smiling and who’s answering the telephone and who’s being….. you don’t have to go over and above, but…..Yes. If you’re the person who constantly walks in and sits here and is complaining and was always late….and that leaves such a reflection on other people of what they think about you. And that’s really really important.

And you’ll sabotage your own career. Sabotage your career if that’s you.

Yeah it’s all about positivity, looking forward, hope, courage, innovation. it’s all about those things and the animals that have that are the ones that succeed. And so are the human animals.

Moderator: So one of the things you write about; the negotiation elevator going up or down …never sideways. What do you mean by that?

Isn’t that fascinating?

And it can be quite controversial… but don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just here to communicate. How nature works and how your inner animal works. You don’t have to like it. But it’s the truth.

So in nature going back to those instincts, one of those instincts is that the knowledge at the core of the animal mind is that the hierarchy, which makes the group function efficiently (That’s what hierarchy is about….very efficient functioning) everybody has a job. Every does their job….everybody’s happy…

In a hierarchy, there is one occupant to every rung on that hierarchy ladder. One occupant. There is no sharing of status or position, which means “Equal ness.”

Sameness does not exist in your inner animal ……does not exist!

In the animal world the only reason, you know, the only reason there’s a fight…ever….is because two animals want the same power. That’s the only reason. And so when we are negotiating, we’re either negotiating up from a lower status level, which is one particular strategy. I talked about the “friendship card”. Or you’re negotiating down where you have a clearly higher level of power and status…. like you’re the boss. And you’re communicating with your staff…

There are no peers to your inner animal. Negotiating across is a fallacy. That’s an intellectual exercise that we might participate in as human beings. But the inner animal recognizes that there’s always some slight difference between the two of us.

And, so my advice in the book, just in a nutshell for those situations; Unless you are clearly in charge of someone else’s critical resources; their pay ….their kids….the roof over their head….. the food that they eat…..whatever is a critical resource to them…… If you control it, you can legitimately negotiate down with a whole other strategy……..A “Leader Strategy”. If you are not, you must assume the lower strategy and you must negotiate up. That’s it. Yeah, otherwise there’s conflict.

Moderator: Yup, Yup Makes sense. So you have in the book you have seven steps to happy in your pyramid…right? And it’s, I guess a bit reminiscent of Maslow, I would think. So it takes your readers up the six sequential steps to productive relationships, but then the seventh step you say, “strictly human” and addresses lessons’ instinctive, more cognitive aspects of attitude, gratitude and purpose. Can you tell us more about this?

Well the six sequential steps resemble Maslow only in that there’s the sequential; the activities, the thought process. It must be sequential. You can’t just jump into the middle. Yeah. And you come all the way up to the top. Through all the instincts and getting better relationships with each other being happy with yourself…

But animals. Here’s where the “human animal” and the lower animals diverged. One of the many ways…. we have the ability to think outside of the moment. Outside of ourselves. We have the ability to change our attitudes. Animals are slaves to their instincts. We as human animals can recognize instincts and with effort and knowledge, we can skirt them or use them to our advantage. We can be very clever, but attitude is so critical. We talked a little bit earlier about bad attitudes sabotage your entire career and your relationships.

So attitude is huge. Having that attitude. Facing certain situations in life (and they happen every day) …and trying think of the positive way you can look at. I don’t mean to be a Pollyanna, but I mean don’t find the trap of the “woe is me” raising your hands and feeling sorry for yourself. In the animal world there’s no victim. They don’t live in victim-hood or entitlement. They just deal with life. And in that way we should be similar in attitude…

So the right attitude. Practicing gratitude every day, I am telling you, that is a life changer. Now, how will you do it and when you do it it’s sort of up to you. For me, it’s every morning before I’m really ready to hit the deck. I’m awake. But I’m sort of in that dream state and I’m thinking about my day. And I’m looking for guidance on how to deal with getting my plans together. That’s when I just start thinking about all things that I have. That I’m still grateful for. So grateful. Beyond grateful. And when you live in a state of gratitude ……your attitude does change.

Moderator: This has played out… last year I started a gratitude practice. Yes…

It truly is. It protects you, I think. Yeah, I’m all the things that come at you during the day and during the week, whether it’s at home or at work.

Moderator: I sn’t it Like armor?

I was going through some really challenging things and I just was getting it. It was like every day I was showing up in this place of frustration and struggle and. So but I’m the opposite I do mine in the evening So it’s part of my wind down. Like the phone goes away the journal comes out and…the end of my day practice.

And I think that your point is good. You need to have a plan every day for your gratitude….and it needs to be your routine. Otherwise it doesn’t get done Like….anything else…

You put it on the calendar. Exactly…

Moderator: I’m a big fan of time blocking and using my calendar to manage my life. but you’re right. You have to be intentional about having an actual practice and saying this is my time for gratitude even if it’s five minutes, right? It doesn’t take long. Doesn’t have to be, doesn’t have to be a long thing but make a place for it. “How lucky I really am.” Yeah.

Yeah. And then purpose…

Every business needs its purpose. We all know that I love Simon Sinek. You know… start with why. Love that book and it really can be transformational for a lot of businesses to really ask “why do you exist?” Why did you start? Yeah. It gets lost in the shuffle especially as you grow.

But…having a personal purpose. I think is, again, it strengthens you. And it keeps your mind and your emotions on track. Yeah, what am I all about?

And and if you’re dealing with lots of different things coming at you that pull at your time, maybe you can prioritize based on “Does this serve my personal purpose, or not”, and then you can prioritize them and it just feels good to be organized.

Moderator: It does, yeah, and I find something that I’ve honed in on with purpose is I think, as women, we tend to say “yes” to a lot of things. When you have your purpose you know what your purpose is, it’s easier to say no to the things that don’t serve your purpose. I think saying no is a super power right I think we all have to learn how to, it doesn’t have to be a nasty No…

Protect your space, protect your time. And if it doesn’t truly serve your purpose, then it’s okay to say no.

So when you put it all together, why you really developed these skills is to have good, productive, cooperative relationships in all aspects of your life…. at home, at work and with friends. And then you add, on top of that, the right attitude, being grateful every day and knowing what your purpose is. You can’t help but be happy. And that is it!

Moderator: Yeah, I love it, I’m so excited. I have purchased the book I’ve started reading it. I haven’t finished it, but I’m I’m so excited. I think these things are so easy to apply. And no matter where you are in your business or career you’ll benefit. so we’re going to start wrapping up. I want to make sure people know how to find you. So right In the episode information on LinkedIn the book is linked there. I know you have your farm girls lead website. Right? Any other social media that you prefer to use?

Oh, I have a few. If you look for me at…. or just my name, Camilla Gray-Nelson….you’ll find things from my Dairydell dog training leadership school, my “Farm Girls Lead” social media. There are so many…

I just want to be found because I have a lot of things that can help people and I just, you know…. speaking of purpose…. you know my purpose in life is to help women. That is my purpose. And it’s been that purpose for the last 30 years of my career. And that’s why I have both of my businesses.

Moderator: Oh you’re such a perfect fit for this platform because that aligns with my purpose so much. I didn’t start my career thinking that I would run a women’s organization. I started my career accounting. And I have fallen into this job where it’s like… I show up with passion ’cause I just love helping and seeing other women succeed. It really is amazing. So for everyone listening, We’re here. We’re here to help you. We want to see you succeed.

And you can contact me, you know, through my Farm Girls Lead or my Dairydell Facebook pages and Media and websites. I’ll get your questions and I’ll answer them for you.

Moderator: So as we wrap up one last question….. any final takeaways you have for readers of the book or people who are looking for more inspiration or guidance?

Just start understanding others …from their animal core. I mean truly. And it will truly start changing your life…

Don’t get discouraged if… like for me, in terms of business, you know I had many failed businesses before I found this. So did Einstein (laugh) for God’s sake. Anyway, the answers are out there. And if you have a closed door, don’t beat your head against it trying to go through. There’s another one open right next door and don’t be too proud. All of those things. Yeah.

Moderator: Well I would have would have fun way to wrap up my Friday. It has been a pleasure speaking with you I hope we’ve had some good chat in LinkedIn as well, so “thank you” everyone for tuning in and for sharing in the comments. I encourage you to reach out. Go check out the book (Harvest Your Happy) go check out Camilla’s website ( Connect with her on social media. We will be back here again next week with some “ask the experts” and more author chat. I think I have one every week this month. So stay tuned …..they’re coming up!

Lots of exciting information! I hope you all have a great weekend ….and Camilla, thank you so much for being here.

Thanks Megan! My pleasure.

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Photo of author Camilla Gray-Nelson

Camilla Gray-Nelson

“No, I’m not your average coach or mentor, but that’s exactly why you should follow my unique perspective on life, love and career! I promise I’ll share things you won’t learn anywhere else, helping you become Enlightened, Empowered and Effective by decoding the life-changing secrets of Mother Nature herself.”

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