CWT-7: Rocking Recovery

Q&A on the Communichology™ of Pop Culture

What is CONVERSATIONS WITH TOM? Read THIS for an overview…

Ricky Midway: Despite all you’ve written and produced over the years, there was still something missing right?

Tom Leu: Yes there was.

It’s what this new endeavor of yours is about right?

Yes… though it’s not really new, it’s just something I had been avoiding for some time.

Why?

Lots of reasons: too personal, too taboo, too defining, too confining, too controversial… take your pick.

OK, so spill it, it must be time.

I finally decided to go public with my writings and story about recovery and recovery-related topics. I’m now sharing my experiences and insights about my own recovery journey within my writings, radio show, podcast, and webcasts, etc. My primary purpose is to inspire and help others where possible.

Why have you been reluctant to do this for so long?

Like I said above… it’s always just seemed too personal to broadcast. I was concerned about any professional implications, And plus, I really didn’t think people would care that much, so why go into it you know?

So why now?

I think it’s that little voice in my head that has never gone away. It’s just gotten louder and louder as the years have gone by. According to the cool book, The Flinch by Julien Smith, a person is supposed to listen to those things, and act on them when they don’t seem to disappear.

So what exactly is this new endeavor?

It’s called Recovery Collective, and this is where I bring together and connect a ‘collective’ of creatives, experts, advocates, movers and shiFters who DARE to get up, stand up, and get down to the business at hand… which is to lend a helping hand to those still struggling (with self-defeating behaviors of many varieties). It’s part investigative journalism, part motivational speaking, part inspirational writing, and part entertainment.

How can “recovery” be entertaining?

Ever been to an AA or 12 Step meeting of any kind?

Nope. Can’t say that I have.

It can be very entertaining at times, trust me.

Who is the target audience for this information?

Generally speaking… for anyone involved in, or interested in recovery-related topics. More specifically however, this site will be slanted and geared for people who are pretty skeptical about the whole recovery thing. This is for those who may not be completely convinced they need any help (yet). This is for the person who wants help, but may be afraid to reach out for it. This is an anonymous way to get some good information that may help someone begin the journey toward recovery, if in fact, they’re starting to think they need it. Basically, this is for someone like me, back when I first started thinking… I was in trouble… with the drinking, but didn’t know where to go or what to do.

Details?

A web presence, radio show and podcast to start that includes:

Interviews with people in recovery… some who are succeeding; some who may be struggling.

Articles and posts on recovery.

Inspirational photos/audios/videos.

Eventually… events and get togethers.

Is this an endorsement for Alcoholics Anonymous or 12 Step groups in general?

Not necessarily. This is not an endorsement of any one specific type of recovery movement or ideology, but rather a resource for anyone to potentially find what they’re looking for… whatever that is.

Are you from the “God as you understand Him” school as they they say in AA?

Sure. If “god” is something that is important to a person (with respect to recovery or just life in general), then I say, whatever works for you to improve your life.

So how do YOU interpret… “God as you understand him?”

For me, “god” = some kind of Higher Power.

THE higher power is the realizaition that there are many conceptions of a “higher power.”

THE higher power is one’s CHOICE to have a higher power… or not.

THE higher power is the REJECTION of a higher power all together… or not.

THE higher power is the release of guilt over which higher power, if any, is the right one, once-and-for-all.

THE higher power is being OK with any or all of the above.

So are you an AA alumni?

Yes and no. I attended AA for a solid decade. But haven’t now for many years. It worked for me then. Things are still working for me without it. But I know it’s not for everyone and that’s OK. But I am not an alumni. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that you graduate or are “cured.”

But to be clear… you endorse AA, yes?

I do because as I’ve said, it’s worked for me. Again, I understand it’s not for everyone. But recovery can be, regardless of the path one takes to get there. A person has to first seek it for themselves in order to eventually find a way that works for them. The basic premise of AA… one alcoholic talking to another alcoholic is where the magic often happens, and is effective for many.

I have to ask… Who are you to be leading an effort like this? Why are YOU qualified to do this?

Why not me? Why not you, or anyone who desires to give something back? But, since you asked: Currently I have over 15 years of continuous sobriety, one day at a time. I have a Masters degree in Psychology. And I am an avid writer, professional speaker, and photographer. The combination of these areas, I believe, qualify me to undertake an endeavor such as this.

Well, I applaud the endeavor.

Thanks, but it’s those who willingly and diligently undertake active and ongoing recovery from that which ails them that deserve the applause. It’s the most courageous thing one can do IMO…

We’ll stay tuned-in…

**More Conversations with Tom archives.


 

CWT-2: Buffet(t)

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Q&A on the Communichology™ of Pop Culture

Ricky Midway: So are we pronouncing this one buff-AY or buff-ETT?

Tom Leu: Both.

Both?

Yes, because I have a love/hate relationship with both.

You mean… “buffets” as in the “Old Country”-style large food conglomerations that are often over-populated particularly on Sunday mornings and on other assorted holidays?

Apropo description… Yes, that’s one of them.

And the other “buffet” you’re referring to is…?

Jimmy.

Jimmy Buffett? The singer/songwriter, “Margaritaville” dude?

The one and only.

So let me get this straight… this is about your love/hate relationship with food buffets (one T), and Jimmy Buffett (with two T’s) the musician?

Yes. And it’s hopefully going be “inspirational” in the process. Because I believe there’s a great lesson that exists within that which we like and dislike at the same time.

Okay. I’ll play along. So let’s start with buffet-style food. What’s the deal there?

It’s not so much the food as it is the way people act – around the food. I, like a lot of other people, love buffets for all the choices available. A plethora of seemingly unlimited food selections is one of my last surviving guilty pleasures in life. The whole “all-you-can-eat” concept is arguably a very unhealthy, yet alluring option. I hate buffets though because in my experience, most people’s manners go out the window at these places. With little regard for others who paid the same amount of money to be there; a lot of apparently very hungry individuals (and their impatient families) cut in line, crowd you, shoot you dirty looks, and otherwise operate as if they are more entitled to be there than you are.

Yeah… what the hell is that all about?

I think that as soon as some people enter a buffet-style-situation, a scarcity mentality kicks in and rears its ugly head. Despite the obvious abundance of food, these people seem to somehow, someway, begin to fear that the food is going to run out. That the well is going to dry up and they are literally going to starve to death right then and there in front of the turkey carving station… It’s really amazing to watch. The lesson here is that every time I witness this sort of behavior, it makes me (literally) step back and re-evaluate my own social etiquette and commit to improving myself because I don’t want to be that way, or worse, come off that way without realizing it…

And so you’re saying, (with your typical bit of exaggeration), that this scarcity mentality serves as a justification then for some people to be rude, inconsiderate, and intolerant?

Exactly; though I don’t think most even realize it whatsoever. This is why I rarely frequent buffets and actually hate them more than I love them.

Okay, but what does this have to do with Jimmy Buffett, the musician/marketing guru? I thought everyone liked Jimmy Buffett music? Scores of “parrotheads” flock to his annual summer concerts every year. You’re gonna piss off all the “Cheeseburger in Paradise” apologists by bashing him.

I love the idea of Jimmy Buffett’s music; not the actual music itself. Jimmy “sings” about sun, sand, beaches, vacations, margaritas, cheeseburgers, and the hyperbolic “paradise” of course. I love the feeling I get from the images he paints, and the stories he tells in his songs lyrically. That’s what makes him great. But his music is technically not great. And it’s grossly overplayed by every “classic pop/rock” radio station and bar band from coast-to-coast; which makes me hate it. Musically, the songs aren’t necessarily well-written, sang, or played. But therein lies Buffett’s genius. He knows this. Jimmy Buffett, the marketer, knows it’s the idea of his music, not the actuality that sells it. It’s not the actual chords, melodies or lyrics, but the emotion his music evokes in people that is its most redeeming quality and valuable contribution. These are the reasons why I actually love Jimmy Buffett’s music more than I hate it.

So you’re essentially saying that Jimmy Buffett banks on the notion that “Come Monday” the fantasy is often better than the reality?

Nicely put. And that’s exactly what I’m saying. That’s the lesson. Gene Simmons of KISS has said that he’s not in the music business; he’s in the emotion business. That’s never left me. It’s brilliant!

So how do you tie together lessons from the buffet (one T) with lessons from Buffett (two T’s)?

Whether at the buffet counter or the Buffett concert… even if the negatives are glaring; even if the nuances are elusive, take an extra second to look for the hidden positives to apply. There’s always more to “see” and that readily meets the eye. There’s always more to learn; more lessons to apply. They’re right there; just underneath the obvious for those paying attention.

So… pay attention to your attention?

Perfect.

**More Conversations with Tom archives.


 

CwT-1: Once Written

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Q&A on the Communichology™ of Pop Culture

Ricky Midway: What’s this?

Tom Leu: An ongoing column or essay in the format of a Q&A. I’m calling it Conversations with Tom.

Who’s asking the questions?

Ricky Midway (that’s you); the interviewer and my alter-ego. He/you represents all the voices in my head asking the tough questions.

Okay… and you (Tom Leu), are answering these questions that I am asking?

That’s right. With brutal honesty, humility, and (hopefully) humor at times.

Don’t you think this sounds kinda pretentious and weird?

To some it will. Absolutely.

But you’re doing it anyway?

Absolutely.

Why?

Because some will think it sounds kinda pretentious and weird, and therefore get their attention, and doing so will piss them off. And because some will find it clever and compelling, and doing so will intrigue and inspire them.

Has taking this approach to writing and content creation taught you anything about yourself?

Yes, unexpectedly for me, this format really frees me up to say/(write) things that I may not say or write within the context of some of my other writings. And that’s very attractive and fun for me.

So do you think you’re a good enough writer to pull this off?

I think so. I consider myself a decent writer; though I’ve never actually written anything “noteworthy” yet. So I don’t know if that qualifies me as good or not.

Define “noteworthy.”

Unless one’s writing has been legitimately published by a reputable (and often sizeable) book or periodical publisher, it doesn’t really count, nor matter (they say)… therefore not noteworthy.

So who are “they” that get to determine what is “good’ and what is deemed “worthy?” And how does one go about getting that job?

That’s a good question… I guess it’s those people in any industry who decide what gets mass produced and what doesn’t. I’ll call them the “Keepers of the Content Contingency” or the KCC.

So only something legitimately published qualifies it as noteworthy? Don’t think I agree with that.

It seems that way, though I know a lot of exceptions exist. But not only does a writer’s work have to be legitimately published for it to really count; this published work also has to be consumed (i.e. purchased) by some pre-determined (large) number of people to validate the writing’s relative worth by financially justifying its existence. Then and only then can one be truly considered “a writer.”

Sounds stringent.

It is.

So who made up these requisite rules of writing? Members of the KCC?

(laughing) Most likely. But ironically, I’m fairly certain that whoever it was probably isn’t a “real” writer themselves.

Now that’s funny! And likely true.

It’s actually kind of sad if you think about it.

These supposed “experts” in any field are certainly not the final authority are they?

No, of course they’re not. But they are the gatekeepers to a certain extent. This is why we (the writers, artists, content creators) have to understand the relationship between creativity, contribution, and commerce. You see, only YOU (the creator) can truly decide what is “good” regarding creativity. And only OTHERS (the consumer) can truly validate what is “good” regarding contribution. And then for commerce to truly exist requires an “agreement” between YOU and OTHERS.

Interesting…

Thank you.

So is that what this column is about? Communication? Creativity? Contribution? And the Psychology underlying it all?

Yes, that’s a pretty good overview summary. It’s an ongoing conversation and commentary where I talk shiFt about life and the Lifestyle Initiative Training that results from embracing the many principles of personal development that exist within the Communichology™ of Pop Culture. It’s a process.

Wait, so what is Communichology™?

Very simply, it’s an approach to studying human behavior from the vantage point where communications skills and human psychology collide.

Interesting…

You already said that.

I did, didn’t I?

I’ll take that as a compliment.

You should. Your whole approach here sounds rather insightful, exciting and fresh.

Well, that sounds like a good ending note to this initial conversation.

It does. Guess I’ll “talk” to you soon…

**More Conversations with Tom archives.


 

talk shiFt™ with Tom Leu Interview

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Q&A on the Communichology™ of Pop Culture

“Conversations with Tom” is an interview series with Ricky Midway on the Communichology™ of Pop Culture

Ricky Midway: So tell us what talk shiFt™ with Tom Leu is all about succintly, yet fully.

Tom Leu: As usual, you’re always a bit rough around the edges Mr. Midway.

RM: By now, I figured you’d expect nothing different.

TL: I don’t, so here it is: talk shift™ is Communichology™ with a Kick… (in the ass)

You know you’re gonna have to expand on that right?

Of course… This is about making the perception of improving communication skills more interesting and desirable to individuals and organizations. I say “perception” because communication often gets a bad rap because it’s a subject that few readily admit they need help with, yet most of us do. Often.. Communichology™ examines this all-important subject from the vantage point where communication skills and human psychology collide. This is a unique, and hasn’t ever been approached quite like this.

So another “improve your communication skills” training series?

No, not really. It’s much more than that. It’s deeper, wider-reaching, and more impactful.

But of course, it’s Tom Leu we’re talking to here… why would we expect anything less? Please explain.

Most communication skills trainings only focus on the what we do, and how to improve as communicators. I add in the why we do what we do in the first place by examining what I call communications transactional analysis. That’s a mouthful, but it’s really quite simple. When we know why we’re doing what we’re doing, the what to improve and how to make adjustments for better outcomes becomes more apparent and plausible. TA is form of psychological therapy. I utilize foundations of this approach to examine and improve our transactions as communicators. Our ongoing giving and taking of information in-person, online, and everywhere we are. We’re all continually engaged in communications transactions daily, both intrapersonally and interpersonally. By doing so, longer lasting, positive improvements result. It’s first about raising awareness, then about adujsting our approach for improved outcomes both personally and professionally. And who doesn’t want that?

Sounds like some rather intellectual-type shit… Explain what your concept of Communichology™ is as it relates to talk shiFt™ and your bigger-picture goals with this work.

The lofty goal of the talk shiFt™ brand and business, along with my underlying Communichology™ insights, strategies and resources is simply to improve the world’s relationships one interaction at a time. Communichology™ is a new discipline I’ve developed and term I’ve coined that studies the dynamics and outcomes from the intersection where communication skills and human psychology collide.

>> Read my Manifesto HERE.

That’s a typcial Tom Leu-style lofty-as-hell-goal.

I’m proposing this can be done by first raising awareness by creatively calling out careless and complacent communication and bad behavior in the most honest and edgy way possible. My belief is that “nice wins,” but not before I have your attention in the first place. We can’t get to “nice” sometimes without going through a bit of “not nice” first. Know what I mean?

Hell yes! Absolutely. Finally somebody taking this shit on in a new, and refreshing way.

This is different because I’m encouraging and demanding that people demonstrate improved human communication skills by first possessing a better-than-basic understanding of human psychology; both theirs and others’. It’s proved to be an effective methodolgy, and one that offers practitioners valuable social strategy advantages.

This sounds rather “collegiate” and intellectual… so why all the cussing then throughout much of your writings?

First of all, it’s not intended to be “collegiate” or intellectual necessarily, but it does comes from those places foundationally because I am a social psychologist at the core. And I’ll encourage anyone to click off and/or fuck off if they don’t like it. No offense. I call it “communo-humor” sometimes.

You’ve got no shortage of catchy catch phrases and sound bytes…

Again, it’s who I am, and how I am. I encourage people to take what you like; leave the rest.

I’ll give you credit for having the balls to put it all out there the way you do.

This is not just a vehicle for superfluous, and pointless profanity; but rather an outlet for well-placed and purposeful “language” and vocabulary that adds intended emphasis and meaning where necessary. It’s not to offend, but to commend those with the balls to call shit out and take action to improve. I speak honestly from where I come from, my experiences and education, and how I live and have lived. Read more HERE on my philosophy and purpose of the “potty mouth.”

Your ability to be an effective teacher and trainer, by bridging real issues with a real-world delivery style is refreshing. 

I appreciate that. I’ve spent years developing this work and approach… talk shiFt™ = to Challenge. Change, Grow. Evolve. Move. Modify. Adjust. Alter. I’m offering commentary, insights, and interviews that shiFt the conversation away from politically correct niceties, to productively cogent necessities.

Sounds like a cool concept, but one that is abundantly necessary as well, today more than ever. So sum it all up here in with a few pithy, final phrases.

The goal is to talk shiFt™ ongoing: To raise awareness, adjust our approaches as communicators, and insist on changing things for the better. To shift the conversation, and to shift our perspective to “see” the world differently. Because if we don’t seek different vantage points to view the world through different lenses, we’ll never be able to recognize the opportunities we all have, every day to make a positive difference. Opportunities to shift our thinking, to ultimately shift our behaviors, in the moment, for better outcomes. Change yourself; change the world… in that order.

Why wouldn’t you…? 

Exactly. Agree or disagree; just no apathy.

Stay tuned-in…

**More Conversations with Tom archives.