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NOTICE: A better version of this chapter is Chapter 27 – An Unexpected Realization of the book Thumoslang on the Run.


On the last summer day of 2019, Norman D. Baker and his cousin rode their BMX bicycles into the downtown skatepark. That was one day short of a month after Nickantony Quach filmed the YouTube series Thumoslang101, the first systematic demonstration of Thumoslang’s immense power.

At the same time, Nick was looking around at the skate spot to capture content for Ri4CTV. The video [BMX for Life | NDBaker93 | S1E1](v=LiEnOFJ00rM), the debut episode of the YouTube series NDBaker93 Season 1, captured their first encounter.

Ten days later, Norman and Nick unexpectedly met one another the second time. Without letting everyone know ahead of time, their mutual friend Jairson Ascencao independently invited them to his first impromptu music gathering at Kennedy Plaza. The video [Providence Haven — The First Event | NDBaker93 | S1E22](v=V5X35JI4Sas) captured their second encounter. Again, Nick was behind the camera.

A few days later, Norman and Nick met for the third time but by appointment and in a one-on-one setting for the first time. Their meeting unexpectedly lasted six hours, all on camera or microphone. The eventual result is the first 21 episodes of NDBaker93 Season 1. To take a quick look at Norman D. Baker and learn more about him, watch Episode 22.

“What’s your story?” Nick asked Norman in their first one-on-one meeting. Norman formally answers in the video [The Story Begins | NDBaker93 | S1E11](v=8Z7G9dDnZDM). “I want to become a leader,” said Norman at one point in Episode 11 of NDBaker93 Season 1.

When in fifth grade, Nick had one of the most adventurous experiences. He blindly followed several classmates to hop on a freight train for a free ride to the National Scout Jamboree outside Saigon. Looking back, the published philosopher could not believe his younger version would do anything like that in elementary school. Regardless, he participated with free will in a formal organization for the first time: the Vietnamese Scout Association. It introduced him to a brand-new concept in life: leadership.

Nick’s first 14 years were in Vietnam, and his second 14 years were in the United States. While working for IBM in his first career job, he spent seven weeks touring a dozen countries around the Pacific. Along the way, he learned to enjoy his first beer in Australia. A group of college students tricked him into a game of word association. You have to clear your glass of beer after three losses. It took him a while to figure out why he was the only one winning. Everyone else preferred to lose.

Nick’s second extended vacation was seven weeks with his best American friend Erik around Western Europe. He was the first who introduced Nick to the great American outdoors. Along the way, they took a side trip a thousand kilometers away from Europe. They visited Marrakesh, Casablanca, and a dozen other places along the coast of Morocco and its Sub-Saharan Region. They almost died of thirst while walking five kilometers and looking for a way back to the roadside coffee shop, the only building in sight by the sand-filled road. That’s where the bus drops off those who live in the village hidden behind the nothing you can see from the road across the endless field of sand.

Nick then spent seven years in Germany, where his son was born. During the following decades, Nick read countless books and articles from three distinct cultures, three separate continents, and three different languages. Many are about leaders and leadership. Unfortunately, he was never happy with a definition of leadership provided by any author, employer, or other figures he encountered in fiction and real life. Nobody satisfied him with defining what leadership truly is. They circled the wagon and danced around the subject as they always did with the concept of love.

For over 40 years, he felt frustrated with the lack of an objective definition for the concept of leadership. That explained why he could not lead himself effectively. He subconsciously knew and hated the fact.

In the afternoon the same day he first met Norman, Nick took his filming gear to College Hill for potentially more YouTube footage. On the way, he saw a long chain of bicycle riders heading South towards the campus of Brown University. Nick rushed ahead on his bicycle and placed his filming gear on the sidewalk in front of the school’s bookstore to catch the bicycle gang. He expected every rider to pass through in front of his camera. Unfortunately, they didn’t. Instead, Nick saw only a few riding by. Fortunately, an objective definition of leadership played out in an unexpected realization when he saw the few riders pass through twice in front of his camera in a matter of minutes.

  • Authenticity; that means, non-reactive motivation.
  • Authentic; that means, accurate self-representation.

What makes the above story authentic is that Nick did not plan to look for it in the slightest. Instead, the experience played out by chance while watching the BMXers go by from the sidewalk. To capture his thoughts about the event, he produced the Ri4CTV video [What is Leadership? How to Exercise Leadership? | Thumoslang Vocabulary | S2E4](v=UqPpQcHxthU).

“You’re very crisp,” said Norman as he reacted at this point in the video when he watched it during his first one-on-one meeting with Nick, “very, very clean sounding.”

To be a leader, you must not go too far ahead that what you do is not part of what your people do in their history. Here is a Thumoslang thumbnail definition [derived from Nick’s observation].

  • Leadership; that means, ahead of history.

To be a leader, you must be part of the first group writing history for your people. To be a leader, you must be part of the first group that created history for your people. To be a leader of any group, you must spread inspiration and do whatever it takes to be in front and part of its history.

“Is this all your dialog?” Asked Norman right after he saw the video.

“Yes,” Nick nodded his head.

“Did you read any book that inspired you?” Asked Norman.

The video is “part of my story,” replied Nick as he shook his head.

“You have quite a way of defining what a leader is,” said Norman.

“It’s not from any book,” explained Nick.

“It’s from many books,” joked Norman.

“It’s from what I gathered in the past,” said Nick.

“That’s neat,” said Norman. “A leader is someone who is in front of history.”

“But, more importantly, being part of it,” added Nick, “not so far ahead that you’re not part of the group’s history, like those four riders.”

“Right,” said Norman, “more importantly, you’ve got to be part of the history.”

“Those four riders went way too far ahead that the pack went somewhere else, and they were not part of the group’s history,” said Nick. They had to turn around and catch up with the pack’s history. “Being ahead of your time does not make you a leader.”

“No, but it makes you a genius,” interjected Norman.

“Exactly,” agreed Nick. “You got it.”

“Like Nikola Tesla, for example,” said Norman.

“Yes,” agreed Nick. “What did this video do for you?”

“It reconfigured my definition of leadership,” answered Norman. “I also noticed the clarity of it, not just audibly how it sounds, but metaphorically. I have a new idea of what it will take to put myself beyond. It’s going to take a lot more than what I expected and put myself beyond what I already envisioned.”

For the rest of this conversation, watch the video [What is Leadership? How to Lead? | NDBaker93 | S1E12](v=ekIJ8MQdCGw). It shows how Nick used the original video to reconfigure the 25-year-old’s idea of what leadership truly is. Both videos are now part of the Thumoslang teaching resources.

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