Tim Berners Lee

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.

In 1983, polling firm Louis Harris & Associates asked U.S. adults if they had a personal computer at home ... Personal computer owners were then asked, “Would your being able to send and receive messages from other people ... on your own home computer be very useful to you personally?” Some 23 percent of the computer owners said it would be very useful, 31 percent said it would be somewhat useful, and 45 percent of those early computer users said it would not be very useful

1) November 1936: The U.S. government starts issuing Social Security numbers. 2) June 8, 1949: George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" is first published. 3) Some time in 1971 (the specific date is lost to history): IBM engineer George Laurer creates the Universal Product Code (UPC). 4) Jan. 23, 1973: Inventor Mario Cardullo is issued a patent for a memory-equipped passive radio transponder device—a precursor of RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology that will allow for everything from E-ZPass tags for electronic toll collection, supply-chain management at retailers like Walmart, and the "Internet of Things," an interconnected world of billions of radio-tagged consumer products.

In general, I look on our company’s website with pride. Every now and then, however, I wake up and feel that something is out of place or outdated—not unlike the feeling I sometimes have gazing around my living room, in fact. In the case of our home page, the plaid couch is nothing short of the central phrase describing what we do: “Internet marketing.” We fall back on “online marketing.” Many years ago, in one of the first iterations of our website, I recall the heated debate about how to describe what we do, and how, finally, appeal …

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.

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