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Episode 134: Sarah Spencer Regenpreneur Story - Learning to Think Like a Tree

organizational management personal development regenpreneur startup story Sep 02, 2023

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In Episode 134 of the Seeds of Tao Podcast, we embark on an enchanting journey with Sarah Spencer, where she unveils the incredible potential of thinking like a tree. Sarah's passion for finding nature-inspired solutions to the world's challenges shines through as she shares her transformation from a human rights lawyer to a social permaculture advocate. Discover how nature's patterns can enrich our personal lives and businesses, fostering resilience, long-term vision, and a deeper connection with the natural world. Sarah's insights offer a refreshing perspective on reimagining success through the lens of the forest. Tune in, get inspired, and explore the secrets of nature with Sarah Spencer. 🌱🌳


Show Notes:

    1. 2:35 What got you up this morning? Tell us a bit about your day
      1. Woke up a little latter as my dogs usually get me up but they had a bit of a lie in
      2. That was lovely because I’m in the middle of reading a book called, “The Wild Silence” and picked that up before the dogs got up.
      3. Have had a day of tech nightmares
    2. 3:16 What gets you excited to do the work that you are doing
      1. Always passionate about looking at challenges of the world and seeing how nature can be resolution to those problems
      2. Love being the facilitator between nature and the solutions we can find within it
    3. 8:18 What types of people and businesses can learn from nature?
      1. We can learn from nature and all businesses can gain insights from the patterns of nature
      2. There are many patterns in nature that can be observed then applied to our lives and business
      3. Nature allows us to cope and communicate with each other more effective.
    4. 22:10 How did you get involved in this work and tell the story of how Think Like a Tree came to be?
      1. Started off as a human rights lawyer
      2. There was already a lot of understanding that their was becoming more and more climate refugees
      3. Discovered permaculture while gardening at home and with my family
      4. Helped regeneratively design the Whistle Wood Commons
      5. 2015 had a giant health crash
        1. Made me totally rethink what I was doing
        2. I was involved in a lot of physical activities, but was unable for a time because of those health issues
        3. During this time I was really drawn to social permaculture and applying the physical design principles of permaculture to our daily lives and organizations
      6. When I started getting back out in the world after solving health and personal challenges in my life through social permaculture practices I was asked to write a book about my discoveries which became, “Think Like a Tree”
      7. We built personal programming around those principles and even got into helping organizations with our Think Like a Forest program.
    5. 32:20 Share with us some of the personal and organization transformations that happen when nature is used as a teacher.
      1. A common thread and challenge in our modern times is overwhelm and burnout
        1. A transformation we have in our personal lives can be when we learn from nature on how to rest and flow through times and seasons in our lives.
        2. That alone can help us to step back from our work and understand how to manage overwhelm and burnout
      2. In our businesses I’ve recognized the mindset shift many organizations have when they embrace the longer time frames in which nature works.
        1. Our organizations transform from being very short-sighted to having very long-term visions and approaches in our work
        2. We begin to see through our scarcity mindset with that longer view and more opportunities come into that view.
    6. 45:55 What would you hope other entrepreneurs who are listening to this episode would get from the story you’ve shared today?
      1. Get out into nature
        1. Switch off your business brain for a moment and just be in nature
        2. Look out and see the patterns of creation in nature
      2. Get curious about what the secrets of success are in the forest
      3. Apply what you learn from that curious observation to your life and the organizations you lead
      4. Challenge your assumptions and see where those assumptions come from
        1. Are they based in natural and inherent systems?
        2. If not, why is that, where is coming from, and how can you make shifts towards more nature-based solutions?
        3. If they are, how can you see more that in your life
    7. 1:00:14 How can we get in touch, get involved, and follow your work?
        1. Mindset quiz
      2. LinkedIn
      3. Email
      4. Books

Guest Bio:

Sarah Spencer - LinkedIn 

I help visionary leaders and team-members grow their purpose-led enterprises (of all size and type) in a way that is healthy, resilient, creative and abundant, inspired by living-systems success.

In our complex and uncertain world, leaders and their organisations are facing multiple issues:

Funding and finance worries
Employee dissatisfaction, lack of productivity
Work-life balance issues
Worries around sustainability
Adapting and innovating in volatile markets...

Through working with us, visionary (but sometimes overwhelmed) leaders can discover how to unleash the potential that is within their team, their organisation and their networks, to create regenerative organisations fit for 21st century challenges. 

We know that nature is a perfect role model for success, resilience, adaptability and health, and because our organisations are dynamic living systems (not machines as outdated paradigms would have us believe), when visionary leaders transition their teams to new, regenerative ways of working, they create positive flows for themselves, their teams, their stakeholders and the world.

Our key programmes are:
Think like a Forest Regenerative Organisation FUNDAMENTALS – for leaders and changemakers in purpose-led businesses and organisations – a 3 month online course -a deep-drive into growing an making an impact with your regenerative organisation. 

Think like a Forest Regenerative Organisation ADVENTURE – for whole teams or whole organisations. A whole-team adventure over 6 months.

Think like a Forest Regenerative Organisation EXPERIENCE – a one day introduction to regenerative business, in-person, in nature.

You can read more about everything we offer, including the bios of myself and other trainers, at

We are also looking for nature-inspired visionaries to join our network of Think like a Tree facilitators. Get in touch if you would like to add Think like a Tree facilitation to your existing skills.

My background:
My experience in business, organisations, charities, social enterprises as an entrepreneur spans decades. The common thread is the purpose-led nature of my work, for people and planet. My career began as a legal representative and team leader for the UK’s largest refugee charity. I later trained extensively in a range of regenerative practices, including regenerative leadership, permaculture (land and social), forest school and regenerative design. I founded Think like a Tree in 2017 and published Think like a Tree: the natural principles guide to life in 2019.


Host Bio:

Joshua Prieto - LinkedIn Profile

Josh is the Co-Founder and Director of the Seeds of Tao learning platform for regenerative entrepreneurs. He has over 10 years of experience creating, building, and operating startup solutions alongside entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes. That experience has shown him that entrepreneurs have the biggest role to play in the Anthropocene as we either create the solutions for, or become the root problem of, our people, planet, and future. Josh now co-creates educational programs that disrupt the current way our entrepreneurs learn. His holistically designed educational programs empower entrepreneurs to stop chasing “silver-bullet” solutions and start designing solutions that use regenerative systems.