Eighty-Four (84)

There’s a lot of talk out there. A lot of noise. A lot of non-sensical bullshit being spewed by pseudo-intellects (or worse) attempting to disguise their opinions as facts. If that’s you, knock that shit off.

Don’t confuse your strong feelings or personal certainty about some things as facts. Have the balls to admit that YOUR opinions (of course) aren’t everyone else’s facts. What’s worse is many-a-slanted diatribe are often offered up with little style, and full of equally little substance.

Having a compelling point-of-view, combined with quality writing AND speaking, is seemingly a lost art in our text/technology and self-centered/social media-driven world. You must have substantive reasons for people to pay attention to you other than just getting your attention in the first place. You must offer value. Value in the eye of the beholder. We all must.

So, have your opinions, state them often, but understand the difference between what you want to be true, what you wish to be true, with what IS truly fucking true. Not everyone will love you, and that’s actually a good thing. But instead of just being a tool for sport, offer up your valid and valuable idea-toolbox for others to pick and choose, and choose to use positively in their lives.

Stay tuned-in…

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Fifty-Four (54)

I love history. I love knowing what went on prior, how things happened, and how things came to be. I love understanding, and more importantly, somehow and to some extent feeling the journey of those who came before me.

Recording history requires the capture of time in various forms. In written form. In image form. In audio form. I enjoy all three because they all have the ability to foster feelings and experiences in others. Writing, photography, and music are about stolen time. Stealing moments inconspicuously and cleverly many times. Like a good book, a moving song, or a compelling image, these moments in time can be re-visited time and time again.

The best writers, composers, and photographers endeavor to be invisible. Nonchalant observers documenting what they see for others to “see” later. They’re hardly noticeable by those they’re noticing and capturing. They’re master observers of others, while simultaneously observing themselves. They intuitively understand that great learning takes place both ways…

Stay tuned-in…

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CWT-3: Lust Kills


Q&A on the Communichology™ of Pop Culture

Ricky Midway: Catchy title.

Tom Leu: Glad you like it.

So are you going to be preaching about sexual indiscretion or something now?

Nah… I don’t preach; I prefer to teach, and coach. There’s a big difference.

Some think preaching and teaching are the same, but they’re practically opposites… they can actually be contradictions of each other. Preaching is rarely teaching anything.

Exactly. And that’s exactly what I want to talk about here… this concept of paradox.

Paradox? Sounds uninteresting. Lust sounds much more intriguing.

Well it may be, but maybe not.

Define paradox.

According to the dictionary, a paradox is something that is self-contradicting; any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature. An example of a paradox would be saying something like “I always lie,” because if that fact is true then the statement must be false. Get it?

Sure… A working title of one of your other writings is called “The Beautiful Secrets.” That’s an example of paradox or an oxymoron, yes?

Yes. That’s the idea. Why would something that is beautiful have to be a secret?

It’s a mystery.

It is. Which leads me to my thoughts about people who appear paradoxical.

People are paradoxical?

Sure; and often contradictory and oxymoronic and on and on. Although they’re not as mysterious as they’d have you believe.

Give me an example.

I have one intriguing, yet sometimes frustrating old “friend” who comes to mind.

So tell me about this old “friend” (in quotes) of yours.

She’s a person who markets herself to be so FOR things, but is really AGAINST more than she’s for.


This chick has always been a cool customer; a rock star you know? But her whole gig is presenting this thing I call an “Attitude of Against” or A-of-A. This is when someone or some group comes across more strongly “against” things that “for” anything. It’s an energy-depleting position, and the opposite proposition of everything I promote.

So she’s kind of a pessimist or a cynic?

No, I wouldn’t say that. Actually, she’s very smart and seems to know exactly what she wants and appears very driven to achieve those things. But in her quest to achieve these goals, she comes off with an antagonism and an aura of belittlement aimed at that which differs from her, and her preferences. And with her world-class sarcastic wit, and above-average intelligence, she makes it seem bigger than just preference differences. She has this uncanny ability to make things appear bigger; to really make things appear to be about what is truly right and wrong. That’s both the irritating and intriguing part.

This chick sounds complicated!

Yeah, that’s what she wants you to think. She wants you to think that she’s this very deep, complex, tortured, misunderstood, dark and brooding artist type. She sometimes comes off as the “I’m too-cool-for-you,” punk-apostle type… if you know what I mean. But she’s not really what she presents. She’s just a person. An insecure girl who’s very clever at marketing herself. A paradox…

But can’t we all be that way at times?

Oh absolutely… of course. But not everyone goes out of their way to wave this “Attitude of Against” flag by admonishing all things “mainstream” while admiring anything anti-establishment.

You sound a bit threatened by this person.

Sometimes I do feel that way truthfully. She’s a smart cookie. Taking a closer look at this, there’s really a lot going on with this.

So what’s going on?

It’s the classic rebel-with-a-cause complex. People like this thrive on attitudes of angst, anti-establishment, and arrogance. They always seem pissed off; seem against all forms of authority, and think that they’re better than everyone else. But they’re not really that pissed off. They conform to authority like the rest of us. They truly aren’t any better than anyone else. And they often suffer from high levels of low self-esteem like so many others. They are a paradox; a contradiction in and of themselves. And in a way, they actually represent all that they rail against.

Amazing how you turned that whole thing around a full 360°… so what’s the take-away here?

Literally pointing out what you don’t like can actually make you more like it, (or like it more)… figuratively speaking. Those who run around strongly preaching against those things which they despise are usually the ones most attracted to those very same things. For example, “lust kills” is most often preached by the most lustful.

You’re surely not saying that being outspoken and passionate is a bad thing?

No, definitely not. I’m saying that it’s all about the underlying content of your message. It’s about what you’re putting into the world. It’s easy to be negative and to be against things. It’s everywhere, all the time. But tell me what you’re for, not just what you’re against. Injecting positive into the world is a much more challenging and worthwhile effort in my opinion.

So “Nice Wins” as you often say. Is that right?

In the end, I believe nice does win. Be yourself. Be transparent. Be for shit. But be nice for fuck’s sake! An overbearing and overindulgent “A-of-A” is actually negativity cleverly promoted as something positive. But to the discerning eye, the surface bravado really only reveals a covert cowardice.

Very observant.

Beware. Be aware.

**More Conversations with Tom archives.

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CWT-2: Buffet(t)


Q&A on the Communichology™ of Pop Culture

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

Tom Leu: 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 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?


**More Conversations with Tom archives.

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CwT-1: Once Written


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?



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.


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.


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.

Stay tuned-in…

Click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

Get my articles and exclusive content with science-based insights to shiFt your communication from adequate to ass-kicking!