Al Unser

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

When I saw that the 2008 rate for a speech by Larry Summers was $45,000 to $135,000, I got to thinking.

Out of curiosity, I started prowling the various Web sites of speakers' bureaus and came to six conclusions:

  1. It seems everybody in the world is available for speeches. Included are political and show business stars, second and third bananas, and hundreds upon hundreds of people I never heard of.
  2. All of these people—luminaries and nobodies—get fees from $1,000 to $1 million, plus expenses.
  3. I used to make a lot of speeches, and all I ever got was expenses and a plaque with my name engraved on it.
  4. I was a damned fool. I was as much a nobody as anybody else and could've picked up some dough if I'd just asked.
  5. If someone invites you to make a speech, think about asking for an honorarium at the very least, if not a fat fee, plus expenses. For Colin Powell, expenses include a private jet along with his $100,000 fee.
  6. The worst that can happen is that no money in the budget exists for fees or expenses. If you refuse, someone will replace you.

By Denny Hatch The best nonfiction book I've ever read is Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit." For a brief period of my life, I spent every Saturday with The Daily Racing Form the way some people do crossword puzzles. I loved studying the past performances, and once in a while a horse would pop out of the numbers as a sure winner, and I would bet a couple of bucks. But mostly it was mental exercise. Several years ago a Midwest circulation group invited me to do a talk on direct marketing, and the meeting was held at Arlington racetrack outside Chicago. I decided my talk

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