Do the Most Important Things First

Industrialist Charles Schwab was a key figure in Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire. Frustrated with his inability to get everything done, he once reluctantly agreed to meet with a consultant named Ivy Lee, who was recommended to him by John D. Rockefeller. Schwab had little use for consultants, but since Rockefeller recommended Lee so highly, he scheduled the meeting. Lee’s proposal was elegantly simple.

He told Schwab to make a list of the six most important things he could do the next day to further the overall health and function of U.S. Steel. At the end of the day, Schwab was to review the list, move anything that had not been finished to the top of the next day’s list, and then add enough items to make a total of six again. Within fifteen minutes, the meeting concluded. Lee told Schwab to follow this practice for thirty days, and then send him a payment based on how much Schwab thought the advice was worth. After the month ended, Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000!

Source: Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?; Charles E. Watson, Thomas A. Idinopulos

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