Holy SHIT! “Focus” letter has strange and magical effect 32 years later: I am focused AGAIN!


Late last night, in the midst of packing and preparing to go to New York City for a radio/internet seminar that I attend every year, I was busy posting this photo and excited about finally sharing it with you. And then, a strange thing happened.

I spent the night tossing and turning, hardly sleeping. Thinking, thinking.

I literally didn’t get to sleep until 6:30 this morning. (PS: I feel like shit today.)

When I woke up, I realized that something had happened.

That “focus” letter.

Staring at it, taking a photo of it, posting it, and writing about it late last night was having a profound impact.

The simple message it quietly offered in all lower case letters was getting inside my head. Again. First in 1981. And then…now.  All of these things were going through my mind:

  • I have a ton of paperwork to do for The New Normal LLC, including booking revenue and paying bills.
  • New advertisers are pouring in. Five new ones last week alone.
  • We have all this momentum and now I would be taking three days away from the show, right in between our Memorial Day holiday and our 4th of July break.
  • We just passed 6 1/2 million tune-ins since Triton Digital began keeping our accredited metrics in September.
  • I am enjoying my work so much and the thought of a redeye tonight, a 5:45 AM arrival in New York (2:45 AM LA time) coupled with not being able to check into my hotel until 3 PM was killing my enjoyment of going and seeing everyone.

You would think that the letter had already done its job. I worked on radio stations for 28 amazing years following that letter and I made millions of dollars.  How in the world would I draw inspiration from it once again?

Here’s how: I woke up this morning at about 10:30 and canceled my trip to New York. Cost me about $1,200. Best $1,200 I’ve spent this year.

I am following my heart. As I did when I was 25. I am focusing on the thing that is important. I am tuning out the noise.

What is important is continuing to see this project through. To not ease up. To keep the momentum going.

I was going to announce on a panel at this forum that, on June 30th, six months into 2013, we will have brought in as much revenue as we did in all of 2013. And, combined with a sharp reduction in costs, we are likely on a path to breaking even or better for the first time.

How ironic it would be to fly 3,000 miles at a cost of about $3,000, leaving things here at home for almost five days and dampening our momentum, to make this announcement. Besides, I just made it!

Instead of going out drinking with my radio and TV friends in New York, I am staying home and doing what is really important. I will be here in Burbank doing paperwork. Booking revenue. Doing every show live the remainder of the week

My sincerest apologies to all who I have inconvenienced, especially including radio legend Michael Harrison of the fabulous Talkers 2013 seminar.

The focus letter has kicked my ass. It has taken over my soul. Again.

I hope this message inspires you to do what it takes. Today.

Remember, it is more important to do than to think about doing.




16 Responses to Holy SHIT! “Focus” letter has strange and magical effect 32 years later: I am focused AGAIN!

  1. Superman June 4, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    You made the right decision.

    When building a business, it’s critical to be able to recognize the key inflection points where your full attention and focus is required. Those are usually the times you can take everything up to the next level. Once you are on that next level, then you can lift your head and look around.

    In fact, I believe that it is also just as important to know when to distract yourself and look around. The challenge is simply knowing when.

    Trust your instincts.

  2. Migs June 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    Wow, this blog post along with the focus letter, really inspired me to keep motivated on a project that I’ve been losing steam on. I know what i have to do to keep on track and continue to see my project through and not be distracted by BS.


  3. Omar June 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Thank you for posting about this. I am a new entrepreneur, thanks to you and your show starting back up again last year. I decided to start my own business, as well as continue to work my “9-5”, because I truly believe in my passions. I am slowly but surely getting off the ground and I know that FOCUS is the key. Thank you.

  4. Phil June 4, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    You made the right call, Tom. Fuck New York!

  5. pierre June 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    wow this is some heavy, and fantastic developments
    same here tom with my business. when you have a goal and have heart to accomplish it, the world begins to work for you in achieving it.

  6. Sam June 4, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Hail Tom!

    Well done Professor! I am an professional artist and I work on the computer to create my artwork. Years ago I had to focus priorities when it comes to my work ethic. Any moment wasted on the computer keeps me away from creating art that would otherwise never have been brought into the world. Computers, as you know, are good for 3 things; creating art, playing games and porn. So I have refocused and I don’t play games anymore.

    In your name; the Father, the Professor and the atheist asshole,


  7. DJ Particle June 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm #


    ..that’s all that needs saying, really 🙂

  8. John in San Diego June 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Strike while the iron is hot! Love it! If there’s anything is P1s can do, let us know. Oddly enough, I was up until 6:30 this morning too. Was watching Moneyball and finishing some work. Maintain your focus.

  9. Tami June 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Good for you Tom! You have that shit-or-get-off-the-pot mentality that I love. You’re an inspiration to others and I’m glad you’ve given us a glimpse into life of the REAL Tom Leykis. Thanks for putting things into perspective!

  10. Juliet Parrott-Merrell June 4, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Cool Tom. Thanks for sharing that picture. It will be burned on my brain forever! 🙂 Thank you too for all that you and the boys are doing to keep us entertained and help make our lives better every day. I hope that, even though you’re working you’re ass off, you’re doing at least some small things to take care of and rejuvenate yourself daily. Glad you’re having so much fun. Yay for Pancakes! 🙂

  11. Joshua W Steenmeyer (@VegasJosh) June 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    I needed to see this. Thank you Tom.

  12. Scott Jaco June 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm #


    I appreciate your sentiment but I do think you made a mistake this one time. You threw away $1,200. That is a bad business decision. You merely used the “focus” letter as an excuse for very bad planning.

    You work hard and you have invested a lot in your business and you deserve some down time once in a while. It doesn’t make you lazy, apathetic or irresponsible as long as you tie up all loose ends before you leave. Unfortunately, this is clearly something you did not do.

    Most people pay their bills, cover payroll and set up meetings with new potential advertisers BEFORE they leave. Even if it means paying bills (god forbid) before the actual due date. Just to get it out of the way so you can enjoy yourself and not worry.

    In addition, you gave up the opportunity to promote your business and influence people in your industry. The panel would have been a great forum to demonstrate the success of live internet radio programming. You also gave up the opportunity to network with former colleagues who could have taken part and contributed to your future success. That opportunity is now lost.

    Please plan more wisely in the future and hire a personal assistant/office manager to run the day to day operations, so that you can “focus” on what is really important, your brand.

    Take care.


  13. Mike Jones June 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    Talking the talk and Walking the walk…great job Tom!

  14. MrPlow June 4, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    “Why shoot the breeze about it, when you can be about it.” – Nasir “Nas” Jones at age 22 from the song “Take It In Blood” off of his second album It Was Written

  15. KEL June 5, 2013 at 6:41 am #


    I love this story and never get tired hearing about it…seriously!

    Now you can take the time you require to deal with the present growth issues, put out the fires, and return to the seminar next year with an even greater story to tell…and my hunch is that you will be 10 times more successful at that time with all the related New Normal entities.

    I’m very curious about who sent the letter and if you have ever had the opportunity to express your gratitude to him/her or to have had the opportunity to speak with or meet this person (in person). Is there any possibility of you sharing more of the back story with us?

    Thank you again for inspiring me on a daily basis!

    PS: You and the entire crew are doing an excellent job…thanks for the great entertainment!


  16. Dan June 5, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    Great post Tom! Your words & experience are a huge inspiration for all of us Entrepreneurs. I can’t stress how right Tom is for saying, “less talking, more doing!”

    Speaking of a great article that stays on topic,
    this is also motivating for business folks.

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