On The Lecture Circuit

    Here's what I know about the lecture circuit from being a part of it back in 82. I was a salaried employee, which in that world meant I was a step above the people who got paid an hourly wage, in a mid level national computer company. When my team got sent out to Indianapolis or Colorado Springs we were on an expense account. We didn't stay at Trump Towers quality hotels but we sure didn't get put up at a Motel 6. We didn't eat at diners. The company paid for fancy restaurants. I still remember the coconut breaded shrimp, the lobster, the filet mignon. I'm not talking about Red Lobster or Olive Gardens. We went to quality restaurants that I haven't been able to afford since.

    It wasn't Goldman Sachs level but yes there were these parties or conventions for us up and coming masters of the computer world. Open bar, buffet table, and some mid level famous person to give a speech. We weren't Goldman Sachs so no ex-presidents for us. It was both a perk and a requirement for advancement. Don't show up and someone would notice. The higher level bosses would be there so you better show up. You'd get a chance to introduce yourself, shake his hand, maybe make a good enough impression in your five minute face time that he'd remember you.

    The speaker is just entertainment. Someone to listen to so people don't spend too much time at the bar, get drunk, and embarrass themselves. It doesn't matter what they did they just had to be famous. The more famous the more they got paid and the more cachet you had when you bragged about meeting them. Ex-presidents, ex-secretaries of state like Colin Powell, Condelezza Rice, Hillary were in the upper echelon on the lecture circuit. Al Franken spent some years on the lecture circuit and wrote a funny chapter in one of his books about it. He was just a moderately well known comedian so his pay for a 60 minute speech was likely only in the ten to tens of thousand range. Someone has to give a speech at the small to mid level corporate gatherings and they can't afford an ex-president.

    All the corporations, small and large, have these get togethers. The money is there and someone will be hired. Fame is the standard for admission to a paying gig. Obama was going to get hundreds of thousands of dollar speaking gigs no matter what he did as president. He is gong to get that money because he was president and having him at your shindig is a coup. Think of the bragging rights the master of the universe at Goldman Sachs gets when he tells his master of the  universe friend or competitor at Morgan Stanley that he just met Obama.

    Here's the thing. Goldman Sachs regularly gives away hundreds of millions of dollars a year just for good publicity. The person hired to decide who to give it to is paid 2 million dollars a year. 400 thousand dollars is pocket change for a corporation this wealthy. If Sanders was elected president and he did every thing he said he would after he left office Goldman Sachs would offer him 400 thousand dollars to give a speech. Just because he's an ex-president and if you're Goldman Sachs you have to have someone really famous at your shindig. Sanders would go too because really, who's gonna turn down that much money. If he went there and told the hedge fund billionaires they were greedy bastards destroying America they'd likely say --oh that Bernie, what a card-- laughing so hard the caviar didn't just nearly choke them the 50 year old scotch, that the company is paying $10,000 a bottle for the open bar, would likely be coming out their nose.

    Comments

    This was a fun read. You computer guys were obviously treated like royalty back in those days because: no rubber chicken! Especially back in the early 80's, I would think it was quite unusual not to serve rubber chicken at banquets.


    I was treated well for the nearly two years I worked the job but from everything I've read about google and other global high tech companies they'd think the company was mingy. If you're asking a profession to leave home for a couple of weeks several times a year and work long hours with no overtime pay (salaried employees usually don't get overtime pay) you can't expect them to live in a dingy hotel with a crappy tv. You give them a nice room with a nice bed and good sheets and blankets. A good tv and a complimentary breakfast buffet. You can't expect them to eat slop. You give them good food.  Most of the hotels I stayed in had an indoor pool in the basement. Which I never had a chance to use even though at the time when home I swam laps most days at the gym. Too busy on these jobs. It was a good life and I could have gone far if I stuck with it. I was right there when the tech revolution started to take off. But I couldn't fit in with the culture. Too introverted with inadequate social skills. Some years later that nerdish personality became more acceptable in the tech world I guess. 


    Not everyone was peak IP boom either - there were winners and losers and the mass also-rans. Some were very good with the hype, most just got by. I remember the toughest thing for me was figuring out what *other* people could do as so many were middlin' or full of bloat & shit, or just lacking any energy or knowledge. There wasn't much time to *fire* them, but many didn't get far past the 1st rung. Though some played the game or had a sponsor to carry them along. If you read Wired or some such shit, you'd think everyone was a success.


    Completely accurate. 

    I ran a company and, same thing. Usually I spoke .Snore. Then the headliner. Famous for something. It didn't matter what. 

    One was a former prisoner in Vietnam.  OJ was I think a regular on the  circuit but never came to  us although I med him when he was covering a Hurley match in Dublin for the Wide World of Sports. ( He said that his reaction when he got the offer was to go to the Buffalo Library to learn about the  social significance of  Hurley). At the other extreme Diane Nyad. Maybe ,mis spelled. 

    Her very professionally delivered story:

    As a record- setting swimmer her way of supporting herself in retirement was covering  aquatic  events for one of the  networks. The first was a surfing competition. Honolulu. Despite her background she wasn't equipped for the length of time she had to hold her breath  under such waves and swimming before the competition a she  had to hold her breath so long that when she was finally cast up on the beach she was without her bikini.

    But there she lay until someone-presumably from her crew-brought her some sort of cover,

    When she got  back to New York and was being introduced one of her new colleagues remarked

    "Ah, Diane. We got to see a lot of you in Hawaii."

    Don't know whether Barack is a swimmer!

     


    I never fully understood why companies had these gatherings. I suppose most people liked them and saw it as a reward for good work. Or CEO's saw them as team building. Being in a large social gathering was hard enough for me and being there with co-workers when I had to carefully consider every word I spoke made them seem like a devious form of torture to me.


    high stress for sure, hence the perks, only the natural schmoozer office politiker types doing like this and they are not just rare but can't last long when skills performance is part of the program...


    A 100k speech, even from an ex-Prez, wouldn't be worth listening to, a 400k one, yeah oh yeah, for sure.

    However, I'm not convinced your testimony would be sufficient exculpatory evidence to save the Democratic Party (and it's generously compensated speech givers) from liquidation as a counter-revolutionary criminal organization according to our sites 'corrupt duopoly' zealots.


    I certainly wouldn't go see Obama if he was only getting paid 100k for the speech. What would be the point? At that price he'd slack off and wouldn't do his best work.


    Having not voted for a Republican since I made the mistake of marking my absentee ballot for Ike I can't attest from my remembered personal reaction but my strong suspicion is the most right wing attendees would have been also the most enthusiastic. "As I told Barack ,where you are completely wrong............."

    As we used to say "nearest to church, furthest from God"  which might not have been  exactly true but....

    I think I'm being honest in saying that as the hour got later  the higher the percentage became of executives who sounded they'd be home here.  Not true of board members whose sense of outrage was focussed on the inequity

    of infants being allowed into first class.

    No , I can't leave that . I recall the dinner which my  college age daughter attended. The director next to her pushed her to defend her support for nuclear disarmament.Which she did, ably  until the very end when  he said

    "Well , I'm on the board of the    blank     theological seminary and  we agree with you. I just wanted to see how  far you would go in defending yourself."

    Hey, Hal, you never know. 

     


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