Barack Obama's next job

3. Chairman of the Board

White House alums have long heeded the siren call of the corporate board to cash in on their prestige. In exchange for attending a few dry meetings and letting CEOs name-check them at parties, high-profile politicians can bank hundreds of thousands of dollars by taking on a “director” title. Gerald Ford was elected to the board of the National Association of Securities Dealers in 1999, while Apple paid Al Gore $1.2 million in 2010 alone.

For a recession-era president like Obama, navigating the shoals of corporate cash would be tricky. Economist Paul Kedrosky says he might want to avoid private-equity firms and multinational conglomerates that evoke anti-Wall Street sentiment. “It’s more likely he ends up with the Silicon Valley crowd,” says Kedrosky. “Growth-oriented tech companies would like the younger, hipper ex-president” attached to their brands. Possibilities include behemoths Apple and Google, but if he’s looking for a hometown horse to bet on, fast-growing Groupon is based in Chicago. And as Facebook prepares for a $10 billion IPO, Mark Zuckerberg could come knocking.

Annual Earnings: $1.2 million

Likelihood: Possible, but remote