Not long ago, I received an urgent voice mail message from the personal assistant for Texas Rangers’ owner Tom Hicks.

As I listened to the message, which without explanation asked me to call Mr. Hicks’ office as soon as possible, my heart started thumping. Why did Mr. Hicks want to talk with me?

Did he need guidance about the new arena? Did he need my sage advice about an upcoming billion-dollar investment? Was it simply a courtesy call from one major Dallas corporate executive to another?

I raced to a phone, quickly identifying myself to a pleasant, efficient woman. She went right to the point.

“Do you happen to have last week’s copy of U.S. News & World Report magazine?” she asked.

I was stunned. After all, the Advocate isn’t widely known for stocking major national magazines. I started stammering: “Why do you need one?” “Because they wrote an article about Mr. Hicks, and I need several copies,” she said, adding that the bookstores were sold out.

“But why call me and the Advocate?” I asked, still clinging to illusions of grandeur.

“Because you’re the first listing under magazines in the Yellow Pages,” she replied.

As I dealt with the pain from this verbal blow to the stomach, I offered a simple solution unlikely to elevate my status among our City’s corporate leaders: “Why don’t you try calling their main office in New York?”

And here I thought my ship had finally drifted in, and Mr. Hicks was ready to load me up and set sail. (And this call came months before I found out that Mr. Hicks offers $250,000 per year jobs and corporate stock options to people he likes and trusts.)

That’s the impact a simple, misdirected telephone call can have on the celebrity-challenged.

And I guess that’s why it’s so much fun each year when the Advocate gets together with a local newsmaker for an hour or so with a tape recorder and enough time for an unedited, in-depth conversation unlike those you’ll find in newspapers or on TV.

Mayor Ron Kirk and former Mayor Steve Bartlett have been among our subjects, as have RISD superintendents Vernon Johnson and Carolyn Bukhair and City Councilperson Alan Walne.

This year’s interview with neighborhood native and pro golfer Justin Leonard is no exception.

I find myself meeting each of these successful people and asking myself the same question: What makes this person so different from me, and what is it about them that makes them so successful?

I hope you’ll make time this month to read our interview, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think about the story, which is made possible through generous support from Sara Lee Meat Companies, owners of brands such as Bryan and State Fair Corny Dogs.’

And, Mr. Hicks, as for those stock options and high-paying job: Maybe next time?