By Jeff Jacobson
It’s my job to place newsmakers, whether it’s athletes, authors, ex-politicians, TV personalities etc. at conferences around the country. And because of my professional goals, I may read news stories a bit differently than you. Every article may contain a new topic of interest or a new personality who might be compelling on the circuit. Rather than elaborate too much theory on this concept, let’s just cite an example I’ve pulled from the headlines this week.
He spoke with bravery about the secret he has been keeping for his whole life. For many Americans, he put a beautifully human face on the transgender concept and is to be commended for doing so. 17 milion people tuned in to see him reveal his new life as a woman to Dianne Sawyer. The whole interview was an act of human courage and bravery.
And he’s going to be handsomely paid for being so courageous and brave.
There is an 8-part docuseries on his ‘transition’ premiering on the E! Network on July 26. His memorabilia and merchandise including everything from fitness products to old Wheaties boxes are selling like gangbusters. However, the primary source of Bruce’s income over the last several years has been on the speaking and convention circuit.
Brought in mostly to discuss his Olympic heroism at the 1976 Games in Montreal, Bruce has keynoted hundreds of conferences reflecting on a journey that culminated almost fourty years ago.
Without going into specifics, I can tell you that his fees have now doubled, and not because there has been a sudden surge of interest in the decathlon. His topics have been freshened, as he can discuss a different kind of heroism rather than athletic. And the door has been opened to a whole new sector of audiences who will want him: LGBT groups, charity fundraisers, and yes, women’s conferences.
I’m not trying to be cynical or take away from what Bruce Jenner did last week; I was incredibly moved by it. Hopefully he will live a happier, healthier life going forward. It will certainly be a richer one.