Pee-Wee Herman

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.

Last week, I picked up the July 28 issue of The New Yorker and was fascinated to see a story titled: “All the Answers: The quiz-show scandals—and the aftermath,” by Charles Van Doren. For 50 years, Charles Van Doren has been consigned to living hell. He’s one of the few notable Americans (along with Bill Clinton) who knows that he screwed up so badly that the first paragraph of his obituary will deal with a major scandal rather than his accomplishments. Three examples of unfortunate first paragraphs: Richard M. Nixon, the 37th president of the United States—a polarizing figure who won a record landslide

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