The Tom Kaufman Interview
Swing Vote: How did you come up with this idea of an expo to find solutions and resources for divorced or separated individuals?
Kaufman: There are a lot of great resources out there and no one has put together a venue of businesses and professionals for this niche market. The Expo is a really tangible forum for businesses to reach out and touch this economic hub in a very real way. This will be the first live event where small businesses or solo practitioners with modest marketing budgets can deliver their services to this unique market sector; these businesses offering services to newly, or about-to-be divorced, really haven't had a real cohesive venue to showcase their services. It is the first year being presented and I have no doubts it will build each subsequent year and we'll be able to grow this to accommodate our clients. Research shows that people file for divorce after the major holidays, and generally in the spring. Our May 14th "The Next Chapter Expo" should be well timed to coincide with high interest and need. We plan to repeat the Expo in Colorado Springs, with another one May 2012 back in Denver and then expand to other large urban centers. The idea is to have an Expo every six months where the population warrants it and services, professions and businesses will provide optimum value to the Expo attendee.
Swing Vote: The first Expo is scheduled for next May 14, 2011 here in Denver?
Kaufman: Yes, just a one-day event on that Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum over in Lowry. We are looking to have children's activities and possibly daycare for post-divorce single parents so they can attend and bring children. The Museum will also remain open and has excellent exhibits, activities and aircraft, where older children can be kept occupied. Our goal for the Expo is to support positive beliefs; we will not present or promote a dwelling on the negative cycle of life. If bad things happened in the relationship, we aren't here to dwell on those, but fix them, and find solutions to move you forward in a positive direction. It's for people who want to help themselves but don't know where to turn to, and want to talk to a live human being. I think we've gotten too far away from that in our society. It's going back to that small hometown feel -- I can to talk to somebody and say, "Here are my concerns."
Swing Vote: You perceive the Expo to be "with heart" -- people to talk to personally, like before therapists, a good friend, your grandmother, your dog … not running your fingers down the Yellow Pages for a stranger?
Kaufman: Exactly. We even have a couple of pet exhibitors. If you need a new companion, maybe someone who doesn't talk back but is a better listener -- maybe a solution is a pet. But also we know dating is a big aspect to get out there, have support groups and social interaction, be active; there will be exhibitors who can offer ideas on how to do that. It doesn't have to be "dating," but more like "Let's get out, be social, and interact with others." Something that creates a passion or hobby.
Swing Vote: There is an altruistic nature to what you are doing; it's not just business. You have an MBA from Northern Arizona University and you've contributed in the non-profit sector, most notably with Easter Seals. How does that all mesh?
Kaufman: Ah, Easter Seals has been a huge commitment for me. It started with a kick-ball league and at the end of the season they would take us up to the Easter Seals camp. If you want to feel the impact, you go directly to the source. We raised a lot of money, but had a lot of fun in recreational sports. Once you get up to the camp and see what the kids are able to do and actually achieve in the one week they're given to really live -- supported by a full medical staff, they can zip-line, horseback ride, Ultimate Frisbee, all the resources to have these mentally and physically challenged kids feel alive. It gives them a week of freedom and their parents a week to rest from what is often 24-7 care for their child and financial hardships. It touches your heart to see these kids be able to act like normal kids in normal activities, which without Easter Seals would be a very high-cost recreational facility, which most parents would not be able to afford.
Swing Vote: Is there a bit of an analogy between what you bring to the kids through Easter Seals and what you are bringing people of divorce and separation, a glimpse into how to structure their future to their personal benefit?
Kaufman: Well, I have given to Easter Seals in both time and money; this Expo is a business venture. The exhibitors are in business, but I ask all of those who will participate to "have the heart of a teacher" -- in that sense the analogy holds.