Tom Leu Interview on The Inside Pitch Radio Show
Tom is interviewed for The Inside Pitch Radio Show by Marvin Lowe in April 2013. The Inside Pitch is broadcast on WHBU Talk Radio AM 1240 from Anderson, IN. Tom talks about his speaking business, photography, and philosophies for personal and professional development.
Announcer: The Inside Pitch: A Postive Look Inside Positive People from the Sports, Entertainment, and Business World. Now here’s Marvin Lowe.
Marvin: Hello and welcome to another edition of the inside pitch. I’m your host, Marvin Lowe. Our program guest is professional speaker, photographer, author, and coach Tom Leu, a gentleman I had the privilege of meeting and hearing in Fort Wayne earlier this year. Hey Tom, it’s great to hear your voice and, you know, we’re going to have a lot of fun. It’s a pleasure to have you as our guest this morning. And let’s start out with a brief bio on yourself, then I’d like to hear more about something I read on your website: It’s about your goal of sharing a philosophy and methodology that can help a person bridge the gap between what they want and what they have. Take it away, Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Marvin. It’s a pleasure to be talking with you again as well. You know, you bring up an interesting point there. There’s so many things that that concept touches on, but my background is in education and particularly in the fields of psychology and sociology. I do a lot of talks and presentations that are on subject matter that relate to that, emotional intelligence, communication skills, and the like. I just feel that that stuff, if you will, is just so important and it really affects everyone, no matter what we do, personally or professionaly. And then when we’re talking about bridging gaps, so many of us have great intentions, you know?
Marvin: Yes, I do.
Tom: A great quote that I always like to say is that great intentions don’t pay the bills. We have to actually apply what we intend. We have to apply what we know and we actually have to do things because the world judges us based on our actions, not so much our words. And so when I go out and present and talk and do my speaking engagements, I try to help bridge that gap with the information I give, and some of the strategies that I offer up. So I’m really passionate about that and the other things that I do, so I’m glad you mentioned that right at the top of the show here.
Marvin: Oh, yeah. Because I’ve gone to your website, and in fact, we’ve got it pulled up here now, and by the way… beautiful photography and some of those pictures of the cars, those are really interesting! That picture of the Chevy Nova that you have on there is just beautiful.
Tom: Oh, thanks a lot. I appreciate that. Yeah, that’s one of the other things I do. I’m also a photographer. And some people say, “Well geez, you’re a professional speaker and a photographer? Those seem like polar opposites,” but actually they’re not. I use them both interchangably and my photos are a key element and a main foundation of all of my talks and presentations. I use all my own photography as visual aids to make the points that I’m trying to make. A lot of speakers use images and things, but often they’re getting them at iStock photo, places like that. For me, fortunately, I get to use many of my own images, and classic cars as you guys mentioned is actually one of my passions. I love taking those and I try to get some really unique angles and perspectives on not only the cars, but the other things that I shoot as well. That also ties into my speaking, and so they are related for sure.
Marvin: You’re right, we did notice the angles of not just the cars but of other things that you took and they are very, very interesting. And you know maybe there’s an analogy here. When you look at life, maybe what you really need to get is the proper angle for looking at life. Just a thought.
Tom: It is really about that. I talk a lot in my presentations about the differences between perception and perspective.
Marvin: Right. Oh yes.
Tom: A couple of words that sound very similar, but definitely mean different things. Perception is about what we see literally, and perspective is coming from the standpoint of what we see in a figurative sense. And so like I said, my photography sort of leads into that as I go around the country and do various presentations.
Marvin: It’s interesting you mention that, too, because Tom, there are couple words and one in particular that you never see. It’s in the dictionary, and that’s the word apposition. It sounds like opposition, but it means just exactly the opposite. I don’t think I’ve every heard the word apposition used. And it means side by side, where as opposition means against.
Tom: That’s great. Hadn’t been aware of that word before.
Marvin: Talking about bio, you’re from Rockford, Illinois. Did you grow up in that area?
Tom: Yes, I did. I’ve lived in Rockford most of my life, northern Illinois. I’m a good mid-westerner. So I get to see all four seasons. I had a couple of stints where I lived in other states, but I’m primarily in Rockford, about an hour and half west of Chicago.
Marvin: Well I know I certainly enjoyed working with you, and hearing you present in Fort Wayne, and then the next day as well in Indianapolis. Folks, I’d like to tell you about his website: Just go to www.tomleu.com – it’s an interesting website with a lot of content there.
Tom: Thanks, Marvin. I do have quite a bit of of stuff there. I write blog posts and things like that. I also have a lot of videos you can sample. When someone’s considering bringing a speaker in for any type of an event whether it’s a keynote, a breakout session, workshop, or seminar, seeing is believing… So I have a lot of videos on there so people can get an idea of what they’re getting with me, and I talk about different topics that I speak on and things along those lines, so I appreciate it.
Marvin: Well, you are most welcome. Now Tom, I’ve written down some discussion points that I’m going to come back to in just a moment, but there’s something more important to have you comment on right now, and it’s this: Your philosophy tagline, and I quote, “Seeing things literally through lenses figuratively despite filters,” end quote. Your comment?
Tom: Yes, the idea of “seeing things,” we touched on it earlier… I put those two words in quotation marks and obviously I’m talking about first seeing things literally through the lenses of a camera. We talked about the photography that I do and use in my talks. I purposely seek some different angles to get a different perception on things, things that might be commonplace that we all walk by or see on a daily basis but when we look at things in a different way, perhaps from a different angle, we get a different perspective. We get a different meaning. We get different information. So when I talk about seeing things figuratively despite filters, what I’m saying there is that we all have filters. We all have these glasses on if you will, that color how we see the world. These filters are the result of our experiences and the things that we’ve gone through, as well as our backgrounds and where we live and where we’re from. All of these things affect who we are to this day, and it’s important to note these filters and to recognize them and be aware of them because they influence everything we do. They influence what we say and don’t say, and how we say what we say and how we interact with others. So my photography at www.16 Imaging.com is all about seeing things this way, and then when I present, I try to bring some of this perspective to things and perhaps offer folks the opportunity to gain a new awareness. To see is to gain awareness and to perhaps understand at a higher level, to seek new insight, clarity, and comprehension if you will. So it’s first becoming about really aware of yourself, others, and your surroundings. That’s our perception based on our observation skills. Then secondly, seeing things is really more importantly about understanding and comprehending this raised awareness for our personal and professional achievement and benefit. And that, that’s perspective, and that’s the higher goal, I’m convinced. So that’s kind of the philosophy of everything that I do. It runs through all of my work.
Marvin: Yes. Yeah, that’s great. Well, you’re a very positive and a very energetic gentlemen who is doing what you love to do. I’m going to read a few discussion points that I took from your website and from our earlier conversations. We don’t have time, of course, to talk about all of them but what I’d like for you to do is pick any point you wish to comment on, or comment on whatever you might have on your mind this morning. So here we go, there’s some great thoughts here on your website at www.tomleu.com and that’s l-e-u, so tomleu.com:
“The intersection where communications and psychology, music and motivation meet.”
“Encouraging people to be the best at what they do best.” I like that.
“The keys that separate those from excel from those who just make excuses.”
And then, “Getting LIT,” and I like this: Lifestyle Initiative Training™, LIT.
“The quality of your communication equals the quality of your stories equals the quality of your life.”
Did I forget something there?
Tom: No, you covered a lot there Marvin (laughing).
Marvin: Right, right. Okay, take it away.
Tom: You grabbed a bunch of key things from my site. You mentioned earlier I have a lot of content, and I really do because I love what I do! You mentioned being positive. I just feel that it’s so crucial, especially in this day and age, that being positive and optimistic is something that maybe we don’t see enough of. It might sound cliché, but the glass is half full where I come from. For those who think stuff like is only cliché, those are the kind of folks I like to work with because perhaps we can look into that a little bit deeper. Being optimistic isn’t the same as being unrealistic and I talk about that a lot. We certainly do need to see the world through realistic lenses, but at the same time, we can choose where we’re going to go from there. When you talked about the intersections of communications and psychology, that’s the core field, if you will, that I come from. I invented a term based on this: I call it “Communichology™.” I speak from the intersection of where communication, how you and I communicate as human beings, and the psychology that runs through all of us. I speak from the vantage point considering the way we think and how we behave, and how those two fields work together. I talk quite a bit about that and I use a lot of music and motivation, but it’s way more than just motivational and rah-rah stuff. When people come to my talks, they get practical application strategies, things to do, so I just try to encourage people to be the best at what they do the best. What I mean by that is we’re all good at something. We’re all great at one, maybe two things, certainly not everything. I try to help people zero in on those one or two things that really shine for them so that they can put some legs on that to go out and do something with it, and contribute in a way that they feel is best for them. Contribute in a way that brings them joy and meaning because, again, life’s short. So that’s really that the other term that you talked about, getting LIT, and I’m glad you like that. It’s purposefully kind of a racy title, and it’s deliberate. L.I.T. stands for Lifestyle Initiative Training, and that’s what I’m saying. I’m saying our lifestyles, the things that we do, don’t do, the way we interact each day… initiative is required. As I mentioned earlier, we have to get out and actually do things. We actually have to produce evidence of what we know. I hear a lot of people talking about, well this is “common sense” and that is “common sense” and all these kinds of comments. I’ve coined a phrase called the “common sense defense.” I run into many who say: “Oh, it’s all common sense,” but then you don’t’ see evidence of that sense in their day-to-day behavior. So I would argue then, that common sense not applied is knowledge that’s worth less. It’s not worthless knowledge. Information and knowledge is good, but if we’re not applying what we know, how common is it? How good is it? It’s actually non-sense…
Tom: And so I really try to force things out, that may get glossed over or minimized, and really challenge people. Those are some of the core elements of my talks and again, they’re designed to be positive and inspirational. But many times, challenge points, tough times, and well-placed negative energy are required to move people into effective action, and to take steps to move forward.
Marvin: Right. You mentioned emotional intelligence earlier, and I’ve gone to a few seminars on emotional intelligence. I absolutely love that. I love that thought of being emotionally intelligent. Now you can have your IQ and it could be 135, 140, 170, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be emotionally intelligent, right? Your thoughts.
Tom: Yes, absolutely. One of the seminars that I do around the country is based on emotional intelligence, and there are different ways that people can be smart. We’re smart in different ways, and one way to be smart is the traditional IQ that you mentioned. Our abilities to read and to write and do arithmetic and things like that, the typical stuff we’re taught in school is what traditional IQ is based on. But psychologists and researchers today are finding more and more that folks have emotional intelligence competencies, meaning they have varying levels of self-awareness and self-management skills. They have awareness socially and skills with relationship management and skills along those lines in addition to the IQ. Those two things in combination (IQ and EQ) really are the ball game today. It’s not enough anymore, research is showing us, to be just “book smart.” We also have to have this ability to, what I like to say: “play nice with the other kids” if you know what I mean.
Tom: When life throws us those curve balls, and things don’t go our way, and when our expectations aren’t met, what do we do? What happens? We don’t like it. We feel it in our body, literally. But then we have choices to make, you and I. And how we behave next, what we say or don’t say, do or don’t do next, that’s the crux of emotional intelligence. And the “smarter” that you and I can get in this area, and it is a trainable skill set that can be developed, the better outcomes personally and professionally we will experience. And this intelligence can be improved over time, unlike IQ, which is relatively stable. Emotional intelligence can be developed and there’s a lot of mythology about what emotional intelligence is, and that’s why I love doing seminars on that subject. I do think it’s a critical component to all of us, so I love doing seminars on it.
Marvin: And something I hear a lot of these days is that the company promotions are being offered to people more and more who are demonstrating their emotional intelligence than their brilliance, if I might say it.
Tom: Yeah that’s absolutely true. Again, these aren’t just opinions that you’re talking about. There’s a lot of research that’s out there. As a social psychologist, I do a lot of reading of the studies that are being done. UCLA actually did a study and they concluded that seven percent of success in the workplace is attributed to intellect, intellect alone, the IQ that we were talking about. The other 93 percent is attributed to things like emotional intelligence competencies such as managing emotions, integrity, presence, communication skills, the so-called “soft skills” that are often so hard to sell, as I like to say.
Marvin: Right on.
Tom: Again, it’s a combination of the two areas, but I’d encourage listeners to look into it more. Emotional intelligence or EQ, is worlthy of more attention, search it on the internet, go to some seminars, come to my seminars, go to others. There’s a lot of great stuff out there on that.
Marvin: I attended a seminar yesterday and one of the comments was about getting your message across effectively. And in getting your message across, they used commercials as examples. Now, you look today on TV or radio or whatever, and the dumber the commercial, the more it comes across and you remember it. And this lady who was giving the seminar, she went way back and she said, “Okay, who remembers this? Plop, plop, fizz fizz,” and the others said…
Tom: “Oh, what a relief it is.”
Marvin: Exactly… And she said so many times that commercial will be remembered. You’ll remember the commercial, you’ll be able to repeat it, but you’ll say, “Wait a minute. Who was that for?” Of course, that was for Alka Seltzer, right?
Tom: Right, yeah.
Marvin: But sometimes you have to say something provocative, or you have to use a term that may mean something else in the real world to get your point across. And I would say I think you’ve done that with your content and on your website. You’ve got some interesting things there Tom, very much so.
Tom: I appreciate that, Marvin. I’ve chosen to be deliberately provocative with some of my material and in certain areas. Again, it’s designed to do exactly what you said: to get attention, to sort of break the patterns and maybe pull some us out of our normal routines to gain some perspective. To see things differently about ourselves first, and about the world around us second. We all get stuck in ruts, and I’m out there to help us break out of those. I’m including myself in that of course, which is one of the reasons why I do what I do, because I needed to be reminded of these things ongoing as well. It’s a journey not a destination.
Marvin: Right-o. Well we’re getting close to that time that I always dislike the most, and that’s when I have to bring the program to an end. But we’ve still got a minute here. How do people get in touch with you? How do they contact you to secure your services?
Tom: Thanks Marvin. You’ve mentioned my website, tomleu.com, that’s T-O-M-L-E-U.com. That’s my main website, and the best place to start. It has videos of my speaking and some of my articles and things along those lines. I also have a photography website located at www.16imaging.com, that’s 1-6-I-M-A-G-I-N-G.com. That’s where my photography galleries are located. I’d love to have everyone stop in there, take a look at my pictures and leave comments if they’d like. And of course, I’m also out on all the usual suspects of social media today like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and of that. So I’m out there on the net quite a bit, and make myself pretty available. Any and all of those ways to contact me are great and I’d love to hear from folks.
Marvin: Okay, and Tom with that, another edition of this program comes to a close and our thanks go to you for being our guest on today’s program. Folks you can learn more about professional speaker, photographer, author, and coach Tom Leu and his expertise by visiting TomLeu.com, that’s T-O-M-L-E-U.com. I’m Marvin Lowe and thinks for listening to The Inside Pitch.