Tiger Woods

I'd always admired golfing great Tiger Woods for three reasons: (1) his brilliance on the golf course, (2) his impeccable elegance, and (3) his tightly controlled and shadowy personal life about which I was delighted to know nothing beyond the fact that he lived in Florida and owned a megayacht.

Initial reports out of Florida on Friday, Nov. 27, by the usually reliable Associated Press described Woods as being seriously injured in a car accident. As so often happens, the pathetic, aggressive media—more anxious to get it out than get it right—got it dead wrong. He had minor facial lacerations and was released from the hospital later that day.

"Media is the plural of mediocre," said Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jimmy Breslin.

When I read that the Woods’ Escalade sped out of the driveway in the wee hours of the a.m., hit a fire hydrant and ended up hugging a tree with Woods unhurt, I assumed it was some kind of domestic spat and thought no more about it. This was none of my business.

But quickly the story began to grow legs and snowball. The world watched transfixed as a reputation, a marriage and a billion-dollar enterprise imploded.

Being a businessperson, my thoughts were (and are) continually with Woods’ sponsors—Nike, Gatorade, Accenture, Gillette and the others—who were paying $105 million a year for pure excellence and got themselves a serial adulterer.

How should the Woods organization have dealt with them?

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.

When I was a kid, I tried golf—once. I found my eyesight was so lousy—even with glasses—that every ball was a lost ball, even those that went straight down the fairway (which was almost never). I have not picked up a golf club since. In my Friday Philadelphia Inquirer, I received a massive lead-generation piece—a 16-page, 91⁄4˝ x 11˝ (one spread opened up to 361⁄2˝ across) color brochure flogging membership in The Cliffs golfing communities of South Carolina, and especially the new Tiger Woods-designed golf course at High Carolina. This piece—which must have cost 50 cents with printing and insertion—came through my door mail slot in

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