Luminary cover subjects are a signature feature of Business Jet Traveler, a bimonthly publication that focuses on the users of business aviation, as opposed to the pilots, maintenance technicians, FBO personnel and others in the industry who are the focus of its sister publication, the monthly Aviation International News. Of course, a lot people read both magazines, which is fine with us.
Business Jet Traveler, for which I am the editorial director, publishes six issues a year. That means just six cover subjects, so we understandably put considerable thought, effort and discussion into our search for and selection of the cover person for each one. People on previous covers include Richard Branson, Suze Orman, Wolfgang Puck, Lang Lang and this month’s David Neeleman. Although the criteria for being on the cover of BJT are somewhat flexible, the one absolute is that the person must use private aviation in some way.
Last year John McCarthy, our publisher at that time, called me with an idea: “How about Mark Cuban for the cover of BJT?” Cuban, if you don’t know much about him, is owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and a highly successful American billionaire and entrepreneur.
I proceeded to call and e-mail everyone I know in an attempt to find a way to contact Cuban directly, but had no luck. Sometime later, however, I was half-heartedly searching the Web and stumbled across what appeared to be Cuban’s personal email address. I immediately sent him an email: “Would you consider appearing on the cover of Business Jet Traveler magazine?”
Literally two minutes later I received a note back: “Sure!”
Now, honestly, I was quite proud of myself for having singe-handedly and in matter of minutes secured an interview with a celebrity the likes of Mark Cuban. Among other things, he bought his first Gulfstream on the Web, which landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records for completing the largest e-commerce transaction ever, $40 million. I don’t think I was so much star-struck as I was awestruck at the idea that my e-mail got through to him and he replied so quickly. I told lots of people this story.
Imagine how I felt months later while I was watching Mark Cuban on Jimmy Kimmel and Mark shouts out his e-mail address to millions of viewers. I had thought I was special and felt sort of betrayed. Of course, all those people who had heard me tell the story started emailing with glee: “Jennifer–Guess you aren’t so special!”
In any case, that interview (conducted entirely via e-mail because Cuban would not do it any other way) and was covered by several mainstream media, including The Wall Street Journal, because of Cuban’s now famous quote. When asked what he would say to business leaders who had stopped flying on business jets because of the negative public perception, he said:
“They have to make their own decisions, but I just hope I compete with them. I get to work while they get to stand in line at the airport.”
While that single quote generated a lot of buzz for Business Jet Traveler, more rewarding to us was the fact that BJT won a silver Folio award for that issue, which also included some terrific articles by our editor Jeff Burger and our contributing editor Matt Thurber (with whom regular readers of Aviation International News are no doubt very familiar).