G. Gordon Liddy

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 dennyhatch.com.

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.

MacRae Ross was a client many years ago and a great guy. He taught me a lot. Everybody that knew him loved him. Mac was smart, bubbling with energy, a devout rugby player, great conversationalist and party animal. I heard that he married a lady named Marji and became a father. But he was in the Washington, D.C., area while my wife, Peggy, and I were living in Connecticut, so we lost touch. Last year, I was deeply saddened to hear Mac had died of pancreatic cancer in 2006. He was so very young. In the July 16, 1998, issue of Fast Company, Lisa

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