I wanted to interview Tom Ufert by himself as fan mail told me that his first interview with Cliff Roberts was probably the most successful interview I have ever been a part of. The hits were numerous, and many people thought Tom couldn’t beat that. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to take part in a webinar that took Tom to a brand new audience. Huge audience figures show that Tom is here to stay. A hit book, a hit personality, a bona-fide star of the book world.
Tom Ufert has struggled and beaten several disabilities that people believe should have confined him to a mood of misery. He has suffered with addictions, blown away his problems and is now proudly promoting his self-help guide “Adversity Builds Character”.
Q) Tom, I wanted to ask you, how do your disabilities define your daily routine? How do you manage to get so much done?
A) So much done? (Laughs) That’s a laugh! I don’t feel I get enough done. When I was at the height of my college/political/arts career, I was the editor in chief of my college newspaper, chapter president/state province rep for my fraternity, attended fifteen hours of classes, worked about thirty-five hours a week, was chairman of my College Republican chapter, on the alumni boards for my HS and college, was speakers chairman for college student government, was the youngest member of my state GOP central committee, consulted for political campaigns, raised money for the local summer music festival, and had an active social life. This seems dull in comparison to that!
Q) Your disabilities have caused you to slow down? You seem to get more done now than most people who are fully-bodied.
A) My disabilities definitely have forced me to slow downand many times inflict fatigue on my body. I guess having a pretty set routine has made getting anything done a practical reality. 6-8 hours of sleep is a must, and I have to remind myself to eat. Having a supportive partner, relatively strong upper body strength allowing for independent transfers, a determined will to do as much for myself as possible, and a state-funded home health aide to assist with daily household chores are all God sends.
Q) I’m sure they are! Okay, let me jump in with something I wanted to ask you. You were heavily involved in the ’80s “mad men” era of politics, Reagan and super economics. What is the difference between being involved in the politics game and just watching the politics game?
A) It’s the difference between being inside politics and watching from the side-lines. That’s a huge difference. I have actually run state-wide political youth campaigns for major Senatorial and Gubernatorial candidates where being able to juggle whole legions of volunteers in several locals, going door-to-door soliciting voter support, organizing rallies and candidate appearances, attending major conventions, maintaining huge letter writing efforts and dealing personally with media coverage was a daily routine and had no set time schedule. You could be called on at any time of the day or night!
Q) Do you keep yourself involved in current events through TV? Personal contacts?
A) I have to settle with keeping myself abreast of current events via the media. I can no longer pick up the phone or leap into a car to deal with the immediate crisis of the day. Many times, I no longer feel the “informed expert” of local, national, or international political events. Sure, my gift of reasonable intelligence and past insider experience provide me with a credible understanding of the political process and its veiled realities. However, like any profession, inactivity results in a loss of connections and relevant facts that are often privy only to a select few.
Q) So, for a million dollars, how have your experiences in the political world helped your writing career?
A) My education provided me with a rather extensive knowledge of reading and writing.
My political experience definitely has made me very much at ease with public speaking, interviews, and the all-important skill of the personal touch that is so valuable in building rapport. This was also the case in approaching my self-publisher, IUniverse, and Barnes and Noble. I’m not intimidated by executive corporate titles or low level functionaries/bureaucrats whose primary responsibility is to protect the corporate structure from relatively unknown entities such as myself. I have no problems looking up the phone number for a corporate HQ, calling in, and working my way thru the bureaucracy until I find the individual empowered to solve my problem. Then, I introduce myself, make my pitch, gain their trust/respect, and ingratiate myself with them to the point where they feel the unquenchable urge to join my cause as a dedicated supporter.
Q) You are quite the troubleshooter…
A) Well, I coined the phrase, “Who you know gets you in the door. What you know keeps you there!” My past experiences in dealing with notable personalities, corporate CEOs, the press, managing large reams of information, and being able to multitask or compartmentalize my activities has greatly aided me in understanding how to market and promote my book.
Q) Your genie pops out of the bottle and asks what you desire as a writer. What do you choose, Tom Ufert?
A) I want to inspire others coping with adversity to the point where they no longer feel helpless. Like me, they too can overcome, rise like a phoenix from the ashes, and become true icons of the human spirit. I want people to scream with all their might that they are never surrendering! In turn, their achievements can be focused outward to help others; and perhaps, over time, an unstoppable movement of noble humanity can reverse the present trends of caustic selfishness and global destruction. I know it sounds naive, but I can’t help striving to march ever onward in my short lifetime down the “road less taken” towards a better world!
Q) You quoted Robert Frost there… What is inspiration to you, Tom?
A) That’s a tough one. I think for everyone inspiration is comes in different forms and appearances. However, regardless of the form it takes or the mode of delivery (music, literature, spoken word, visual art, shared life experiences, etc…), I think inspiration is anything that drives us to be better than what we are and give more than we ever thought we could. Inspiration is that which lifts us to a higher plane of accomplishment. It doesn’t have to be stupendous or even spectacular. It just has to bring us in touch with who we dare to become!
Q) You have a quote book coming out soon. You obviously want to inspire people to do what they can to live their lives. Who inspired you?
A) There are many people who inspire me. Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Popes John Paul II & Francis I, and Jesus Christ are just a few historical figures that inspire me. But the boy who gets up after being bullied and walks away with his head held high and smiling inspires me most of all.
Q) Thank you for your time, Tom.
A) Anytime, Nick. You can count on me—just remember—I don’t stand for handicap jokes.
You can grab your copy of ‘Adversity Builds Character’ HERE