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Tom Tonkin


Conversation 55: A conative brain discussion with Dr. Tom Tonkin


Marc Marling


September 1, 2021


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“I’ve always been very outcome based. In my life, I always ask myself the question, what needs to be true for something to happen?” – Tom Tonkin

“We are wound up in knowing what to do, but I land on the how to do it.” – Tom Tonkin

“I think learning is part of solving problems.” – Tom Tonkin

“Once you understand how you learn, the “what” becomes either contextual or irrelevant at some point.” – Tom Tonkin

“Fast forward to my early corporate life — I quickly came to the realization that it didn’t matter about intellect or skill as much as it mattered about understanding other people and behavior.” – Tom Tonkin

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A conative brain discussion with Dr. Tom Tonkin 

Tom Tonkin has spent the majority of his illustrious career helping sales teams increase their revenue. In this podcast, he talks with host Marc Marling about the psychology of productivity and how he achieves personal and professional success. The conversation weaves together academic concepts with actionable tips for learning and applying new information. Then, through lighthearted analogies and personal anecdotes, Tom explores how we can all live up to our full productivity potential. 


In this episode, you will learn

  • How and why people learn information
  • How lagging and leading indicators work
  • Ways to increase both individual and team productivity


Marc: Do we need to be reminded that we’re on the right path? Or if we have silence along the path? Is that good enough?

Tom: There has to be usually some kind of deep predisposition to wanting to learn something because I’m trying to solve a problem. I am not going to go to YouTube and watch how to fix a lawn mower, for fun. I’m going to watch that YouTube because my lawnmower was broken.


Marc: Your email boxes, are you, what do they call that…inbox zero?

Tom: I am. And I’ll tell you why. Let me ask you this: Do you go to your mailbox, look at the mailbox, and then stuff everything back in your mailbox? Well, that’s what we all do with our inbox, don’t we?


Additional topics discussed 

  • How Tom’s experience as a musician influenced his career
  • Tom’s daily routine
  • Digital vs. analog tools for productivity 


As an attorney with more than 20 years of experience, Marc Marling handled some of the most significant transactions in the shipping industry. As a businessman, he was named one of the 40 under Forty by the Savannah Business Journal and has appeared on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and in countless newspapers and magazines. In addition, Marc sits down with thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and business mavens on his Corporate Thought podcast to discuss their successes and failures and what makes them do what they do.


Tom Tonkin is the CEO and Founder of The Conservatory Group. This organization provides high-touch services to business executives that want to improve themselves, their team, and their environment. Tom spent a significant part of his career at Oracle Corporation, 19 years to be exact. He was the Senior Director of the Sales Performance Group in Oracle’s Global Sales Academy. He has also served in various leadership roles at Oracle in both Sales and Consulting, across midsize and enterprise customers, in North America and globally. Tom is also an award-winning researcher and author.


Resources and links mentioned in the show:

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