Maybe Colin Powell Would Rather Be Rich Than...
He's not running for President. And his book just dropped off The New York Times best-seller list after a five-month run. But Colin L. Powell is no old soldier fading away.
Since he took himself out of the Presidential sweepstakes on Nov. 8, Powell's political stock--and bank account--have soared. If he maintains his current pace, BUSINESS WEEK estimates that Powell, who charges $60,000 to $100,000 per appearance, may earn $6 million this year from speech-making alone. And Random House Inc. has put 1.6 million copies of his autobiography, My American Journey, in bookstores. Powell will start to get an estimated 15% of the book's gross if the publisher recovers the general's reported $6.5 million advance--a possibility this year. All told, not a bad supplement to Powell's military pension of $90,000 a year.
Powell's routine is to give about two speeches a week, most often to a corporate audience. He spoke to 100 chief executives, for instance, on Jan. 19 at the BUSINESS WEEK President's Forum in Palm Springs, Calif., 2,300 American Hospital Assn. members in Washington on Jan. 29, and an overflow crowd of 800 on Jan. 30 at the Society of Four Arts in Palm Beach, Fla. He talks without notes for about an hour, generally concluding with a powerful call for U.S. global leadership. "He's the most impressive speaker I've heard in 25 years," says Victor L. Campbell, senior vice-president at Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.
Despite his appeal to business, Powell hasn't signed on as a corporate director. Rather, he serves gratis on the boards of the Boys & Girls Clubs and the New York-based Children's Health Fund. He's also a trustee of Howard University and plans to join the board of the Ellis Island Restoration Commission.
Will Powell yet run for President? The general tells friends what he tells his audiences: He's not a candidate this year, though he might run one of these days. The way he's going, Powell may be able to finance a White House bid in the fashionable new way--with his own money.