The former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy only left the Elysée Palace this May, yet, according to his office, he has already had about 70 requests to give lectures at an average rate of $115,000 (1). In October, he made his New York debut as a lecturer. He’s not alone. For the ambitious, high public office is no longer the goal; it’s just as a route to future enrichment. Sarkozy must have thought, back in 2008, before he decided to seek a second term: “In 2012, I’ll be 57. I won’t seek re-election. There’s plenty of money out there — just look at the billions Bill Clinton is making. I’ll be president for fiveyears, and then do a Clinton.”
When Clinton left the US presidency in January 2001, he had $11m of debt, yet when he became a writer and lecturer, his annual income, boosted by book advances and the lecture circuit, jumped from $358,000 to $16m within a year. But the most successful conversion from politics to business has been that of the former British prime minister, Tony Blair, whose political career was both high-flying and inconsistent — he began on the left of the Labour Party, yet ended as a cheerleader for the Iraq war (and “Bush’s poodle”). He has not changed, and his new career is a clever mix of good works and astute business practices.
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