Robert Redford

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.

The campaign, announced by Mark Zuckerberg on ABC's "Good Morning America," had an immediate impact. By late Tuesday, Donate Life California, the group where California Facebook users were sent to register as donors, was reporting a more than 1,300 percent jump in online registrations from the day before, and Facebook said it was on track to have more than 100,000 users declare they are registered donors on their profile page. With far too few organs available to meet the transplant need in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world, Facebook plans to expand its donation registration efforts …

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.

I damn near did not get today’s column done. I started reading Jack Valenti’s memoir, “This Time, This Place: My Life in War, the White House and Hollywood” and it grabbed me by the throat and would not let go. Valenti, a World War II bomber pilot who flew 51 missions over Italy, died at age 85 on April 26, just six weeks before publication. In the following half-century after his discharge from the Army Air Corps, Jack Valenti bestrode the mighty worlds of Washington and Hollywood like a colossus, quite a feat for someone a mere five foot five inches tall.

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