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President George H.W. Bush

This photo was taken during an interview with former President George W. Bush at the Bush Center “Baseball: America’s Presidents, America’s Pastime” exhibit. I first met President Bush when he was the newly elected Governor of Texas and father of two elementary school girls. He was decorating the family Christmas tree at their Dallas home and ever since we’ve shared a joke that he’s “the light man”.

I learned about humility and grace from former President Bush. He is a man of faith who quietly made the transition from the most powerful position in the world in the Oval Office to a quiet yet fulfilling life outside the public eye.

I prepared for this interview by reading everything I could about the former President and about his father, former President George H.W. Bush, who shared his passion for baseball. It gave me an interview that wove together America’s favorite pastime and the lives of two men who helped guide the paths of America for more than a quarter century.

Mark Cuban

Mark showed up in a T shirt for this interview and no one was surprised. He is the most relaxed billionaire I have ever spent time with!
Mark usually says something entirely unexpected in an interview and he is a great example of the power of authenticity. Mark is the type person who is always doing something new and newsworthy so I prepared for this interview by making sure I researched not only standard sources but also googling all the latest news about Mark because someone like him could be making news right before you sit down with him.

Troy Aikman

Troy had gone on to a successful NFL broadcasting career when he signed this football for me, following an interview about his new life. Troy lives in Dallas and we have mutual friends who had tipped me off to his upcoming engagement to his soon to be wife, Capa.

I’ve interviewed Troy several times over the years and always been careful to respect the boundaries between the public and personal lives of celebrities like Troy. While it can seem enticing to a young journalist to spring an unexpected and controversial question on a celebrity, years of experience have taught me showing regard is usually a smart choice. For instance, in this interview I asked Troy before the interview if it was okay with him to talk about his upcoming engagement and as a result we had a really fun time with it on TV.

By the way, Troy first signed a football for my son following the 1996 Super Bowl in Tempe Arizona. Michael, who was under 3 years old at the time, spent the game covering the hotel bathroom mirrors with shaving cream. I was preparing for the post game TV show where Dallas would celebrate a Troy Aikman led victory.

Maria Shriver

We snapped this photo quickly between a luncheon Maria was keynoting and the interview I did with her directly following. That says a lot about who Maria is, one of the most dedicated women I’ve had the privilege of knowing.

Maria epitomizes a value that’s important to me: her lifelong commitment to using her talents to help others. She has been instrumental in bringing public awareness to the battles the families of Alzheimer’s patients face, and she is at the forefront of education on why Alzheimer’s affects women disproportionately.

When I’m interviewing someone like Maria, I always ask before the interview about questions regarding family. While she is happy to be in the spotlight, her children may not necessarily be. By respecting her boundaries, I’ve watched Maria’s eyes light up in answering questions about her children that she is open to and prepared for.

Erykah Badu

Simply one of the most interesting people I have ever met. I’m grateful to have shared enough time with her that I can call her a friend. From a journalism standpoint, I learned the value of persistence with Erykah. She doesn’t do many interviews and it took me a full three years of phone calls and networking to get her to sit down for this one. Having the honor of getting to know someone like Erykah is one of the reasons being a journalist is more fun than any other profession I can think of. She touched on everything from her controversial nude appearance in “Window Seat” to her passion for working as a doula and helping bring new life into the world.

Dan Rather

Legendary newsman Dan Rather had just written “What Unites Us”, his new book about the free press and democracy, when we sat down to do this interview.

Mr. Rather is a real life example of the value journalism brings to society and the importance of the profession. From his reporting on Watergate to the Vietnam War, Mr. Rather played a critical role in Americans getting the information they needed in order to make informed decisions. In his late 80s, Mr. Rather is still at it; his new book covers everything from voting rights to immigration and the arts. On a personal note, I find Mr. Rather’s zest for life inspirational. His Facebook page has almost 3 million likes and he’s a favorite of millennials! I prepared for this interview by reading, anything and everything.

Reese Witherspoon

One of the things I love most about Reese Witherspoon is her range as a woman, from putting her life on a new track in the movie “Wild” to opening “Draper James” her own line of southern inspired clothing and homes style stores. I met up with her at the Dallas location for this interview.

I think that people we see on the “big screen” are always bigger than life, and in person Reese is surprisingly petite. But she’s as blonde and bubbly off camera as on. She was laughing and joking with the staff the entire time I was there.

Several reporters were scheduled to do interviews with Reese that day and the takeaway for anyone who wants to work in journalism is that if you want a great interview it’s important to put the time in preparing, especially for a well known figure. You’ll want to ask a question or two that no one else has thought of and sometimes you have to think long and hard to come up with those with someone like Reese Witherspoon.

Ice Cube

Ice Cube may be one of my favorite musicians but I have even more respect for what he has achieved in his personal and business life. This interview took place just before his “Big 3” basketball tournament in Dallas. One of the privileges of being a journalist is that you get to sit down with people who are so amazing they make news. Ice Cube is that. From his South Central Los Angeles roots to hip hop royalty, Ice Cube has achieved way more than the American dream through dedication and hard work.

One of the important journalism takeaways from this interview is that being a good reporter or interviewer requires having intellectual curiosity about a broad range of subjects. One day you may be interviewing Ice Cube and need to know “It Was A Good Day” was his number one selling song and the next day you could be talking to Reese Witherspoon about southern living and style.

Cookie Johnson

What do you ask someone like Cookie Johnson, wife of basketball great Magic Johnson? It’s sometimes hard to get someone so well known to do an interview and they key can be doing an interview that helps promote a charity or cause the person is interested in. I knew from mutual friends about Cookie Johnson’s faith and how important witnessing about her beliefs is. So when I requested the interview I told her staff that I would like to do a piece with her focusing on her faith.

The interview turned out to be one of my favorite pieces I have done. Cookie was talking about something that is central to her life and appreciated the opportunity so he was delightful. Plus she was appreciative of the opportunity and happily added some fun personal notes about her life with Magic, including that their first date was a basketball game.

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