In the early stages of his run for the White House in 2016, Donald Trump came to the UK to give a paid speech for a financial services company. The head of the firm, a very self-confident man, asked him why he was standing: “You don’t really think you can win, do you?” “Of course not,” Trump replied, “but all the noise will be great for my speaking fees!”
As we wait for President Trump to pack his bags, I can’t help wondering if he’s contemplating a return to the speaking circuit. Former Presidents and Prime Ministers command vast fees, normally outside their own country. Thus it was that Thatcher, Clinton and Blair amassed their personal fortunes, along with lucrative book deals.
But can Trump follow suit? What sort of organisation would be proud to print his name on their invitations? Are business people in Europe and Asia so fascinated by the Reality TV star turned rabble-rousing politician that they’ll clamour to attend conferences and dinners where he is Guest of Honour?
Of course there are other hurdles, not least the possibility of prosecutions and yet to be revealed scandals that could compromise his hosts’ reputation.
As the New Year begins the picture will become clearer. JLA is the leading speaker bureau on this side of the water, so we’ll get early sight of whether or not the corporate world has any appetite for former President Trump.
I suspect Trump will be disappointed by the reaction. As companies big and small are realising (JLA included), part of ‘building back better’ is to ensure that our values are embedded in every corner of the organisation. It would be strange, to say the least, for a brand to associate itself with a speaker whose values are glaringly at odds with their own.
Trump’s answer to the British business leader might well prove to be a misjudgement. His speaking fees could take a very big tumble.