Economists are my least favorite people. They spend their lives staring at numbers, charts and graphs. No flesh. No blood. No laughs. No emotion. Just numbers, charts and graphs. Then they make pronouncements. Whereupon the lamestream media (Sarah Palin's brilliant definition) editors and reporters—under deadlines and forced to cover subjects above their pay grade—seize on economists' findings like robots.
The broad targeting of soccer moms and NASCAR dads was all in the past. Now it was about using “proclivity models” and other analytical tools to mobilize and persuade and make voter contact more efficient. Whether a voter was an 85 on the support scale or a six on the persuasion scale was more important than if she was a young African-American woman in Pittsburgh or he was an old Jewish man in Cleveland or vice versa. Some tech staffers had dismissed email as old-fashioned and uncool, without understanding how indispensable it would be in saving the campaign.
The last few years, we’ve seen a divide in politics—bigger than we’ve seen in generations. In the U.S. … The most loyal of the Democrats and Republicans are each digging in deeper. Around the world, we are seeing the same divide … If your entire brand is about healthcare, I get that you should have a position on anything to do with healthcare. … But if you are selling organic groceries, fried chicken, washing machines or laptops, you’d be really stupid as a brand to pick a side and speak out. I love politics, but I love making money even
Over the past couple of years, an entirely new kind of executive has begun to appear in the upper echelons of US corporations: the social media strategist. Some 200 major US businesses now employ such a person.
If the 2008 election was about hope and change, the 2010 mid-term campaign, judging by its direct mail, was mostly focused on anger. That's the most obvious takeaway based on a review of the fundraising appeals and campaign fliers that we've seen during the year. Whether directed at President Obama, or at Congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, this emotional touchpoint dominated political mail like it hasn't since the days of Bill Clinton.
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:
- 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.
- All of these people—luminaries and nobodies—get fees from $1,000 to $1 million, plus expenses.
- I used to make a lot of speeches, and all I ever got was expenses and a plaque with my name engraved on it.
- 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.
- 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.
- The worst that can happen is that no money in the budget exists for fees or expenses. If you refuse, someone will replace you.