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Five questions with a gay power couple

June 19th, 2013 | by Will Dean | Comments
Jim Burba (left) and Bob Hayes. Submitted photo

Jim Burba (left) and Bob Hayes. Submitted photo

When you hear the term “power couple,” larger-than-life celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Elton John and David Furnish, or Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka frequently come to mind. However, two names you won’t find on TMZ were recognized this year as a power couple for their philanthropy and business know-how. Jim Burba and Bob Hayes, who own the Burba Hotel Network based in Orange County, were listed in May among Out magazine’s 15 power couples.

The life and business partners have donated more than $10 million for humanitarian aid, scholarships and other efforts to help those in need. As part-time Palm Springs residents, they also support Coachella Valley organizations such as Desert AIDS Project and the Human Rights Campaign. They sponsored Desert AIDS Project’s 2013 Arts & Activism Award for singer Lorna Luft.

Burba and Hayes plan to complete this summer a book they’ve been writing for two years. It traces how they became successful in business and decided to give back to the community. The couple recently chatted with Desert Outlook about the benefits and challenges of working together, and its new title.

How did the Out magazine recognition come about?
We met with the editors of Advocate magazine last year about writing a series of business articles for Advocate.com. We contribute stories on a regular basis now. This led to a meeting with the editors of Out (a sister publication of Advocate) on one of our trips to New York City. The Out team had just moved into new offices in Brooklyn right around the time of Hurricane Sandy, so we were the first visitors to be able to make it to the office. We got to know them, they got to know us and a little about our business and our efforts to support the LGBT community. We also explained how our little company has made a very big impact.
We proudly announced this past month that our company and its events have surpassed the $10 million level of giving to educational and research programs and for humanitarian causes around the world.
Our inclusion on the Out list of “15 Power Couples You Should Know” was a complete surprise. A really great one.

What’s the best thing about working together as a couple?
After being together more than 23 years, we pretty much know what the other is thinking all the time. Sometimes we joke that we communicate by telepathy half the time. Knowing someone so well is such a great advantage in business. We each know when to step in to help, when to step back, what the priority is at a given moment. We really are on the same page almost all the time, which is critical for successful business partners, as well as life partnerships.

What’s most challenging?
Knowing when to turn it off. We need down time from the business, so we have to gauge when enough is enough. We do have our “7/7” rule, which means no business talk before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. When 7/7 is invoked, business talk stops. Period.

What has been the reaction of friends and family to your recognition by Out?
We received a lot of congratulatory messages, which was very nice. A couple of times we’ve been introduced to new acquaintances as “the power couple,” which was a little embarrassing. Some friends have asked us to introduce them to the other people on the Out list, such as Neil Patrick Harris, Elton John, Tom Ford, Ellen DeGeneres, and their partners. We tell them we’ll see what we can do.

If you could have any super power as a power couple, what would it be?
Create more time in the day to do all the things we love to do. We cherish the down time we have, and it would be nice to create a little bit more of it.

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