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Exclusive Interview: Stephen Covey on His Morning Routine, Blogs, Technology, GTD and The Secret

Exclusive Interview: Stephen Covey on His Morning Routine, Blogs, Technology, GTD and The Secret

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey

It’s such a thrill to share with you this interview with one of my heroes, author Stephen Covey of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame.

Covey, of course, is one of the inspirations of this site, and has informed all of my writings (including Zen To Done) that talk about getting important things done, not just everything on your to-do list.

Besides The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, some of his other best-selling books (which I highly recommend) includeFirst Things FirstPrinciple Centered LeadershipThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, and his most recent book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness.

He’s also started up his own website, Stephen R. Covey: The Community, which is a community of his readers, with exclusive articles, video and audio, as well as forums, blogs, and tools for those trying to live the 7 habits.

The 7 Habits include being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first, thinking win/win, seeking first to understand, synergizing, and sharpening the saw. His 8th habit boils down to “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.” Indispensable reading.

I was able to connect with Mr. Covey through email, and in this interview I tried to keep the questions to a minimum (he’s a busy guy), avoid repeating too much of what’s already available in his books, get a little more personal, and give you guys (and myself) a little insight into someone who has found a way to live his life according to his principles.

I hope you enjoy this interview!

Zen Habits: For a lot of people your books are so full of mind-blowing and life-changing ideas, that they get overwhelmed. They want to start, but don’t know how to. What would be the best first step they can take to make a positive change?

Covey: Listen to your conscience regarding something that you simply know you should do, then start small on it—make a promise and keep it. Then move forward and make a little larger promise and keep it. Eventually you’ll discover that your sense of honor will become greater than your moods, and that will give you a level of confidence and excitement that you can move to other areas where you feel you need to make improvements or give service.

ZH: To give us some insight into your life, what is your typical morning routine on a work day, that incorporates some of your principles into your everyday life?

: I make an effort every morning to win what I call the “private victory.” I work out on a stationary bike while I am studying the scriptures for at least 30 minutes. Then I swim in a home pool vigorously for 15 minutes, then I do yoga in a shallow part of the pool for 15 minutes. Then I go into my library and pray with a listening spirit, listening primarily to my conscience while I visualize the rest of my entire day, including important professional activities and key relationships with my loved ones, working associates and clients. I see myself living by correct principles and accomplishing worthy purposes. One of my favorite quotes is, “The greatest battles of life are fought out every day in the silent chambers of one’s own soul.” (David O. McKay) Much of this listening and visualizing work is very challenging, so I win the private victory when I have made my mind up and commit to live by correct principles and to serve worthy purposes.


**To read more about this interview, click here!**


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4 Business Tools That Make Life Easier

** great article on**

4 Business Tools That Make Life Easier

These apps are worthy of your attention because they will free up more time in your day.

Easy Simple Tools



One awesome advantage about running a tech company in the San Francisco Bay Area is that I hear about–and get to try out–many of the apps and software that are just entering the market. If the tool makes me more efficient or has real potential to help a small or midsize business, I’m all ears.

But a lot of the buzz around technology these days is just hype, especially now that everyone wants to be the next Instagram or Pinterest. As a business owner, how do you know which company, app, or platform is worth your attention and will help your business grow? Most entrepreneurs I know just don’t have the time to try every new tool du jour.

So, I thought it would be helpful for Inc. readers if I wrote a monthly roundup of online business tools that, in my humble opinion, live up to their promises. If they work for me, they just might work for you. (Added bonus: Most of them will be pretty darn affordable, if not free.)

Here are four tools that I’m loving this month:


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Make a Great First Impression: 7 Smart Tricks

** Great Article We Found on**

Make a Great First Impression: 7 Smart Tricks

People decide whether to work with you within two seconds of meeting you. Here’s how to make an impact.


Research shows that customers decide whether or not they want to work with you within two seconds of meeting you face to face.

That puts the burden on you to make certain that those two seconds really count. The only way to do that is to prepare ahead of time.

These tricks may help.

1. Keep Yourself Fit

Your energy level is dependent upon your overall level of health. If you tire easily, rest assured you’re likely to look tired–especially under the stress of an initial meeting. And if you look tired, other people will make the snap decision that you’re too tired to get the job done.

This does not mean that you need to be a bodybuilder or Hollywood thin. But you must be healthy enough to look alert, capable, and interested.

2. Research the Culture

Different industries have different norms about what’s appropriate in terms of personal appearance and meeting behavior. For example, wearing an Armani suit to a meeting with a programmer is simply inviting silent ridicule. Similarly, different regions of the country (or the world, for that matter) have different norms. Women who wear even slightly sexy outfits can send the wrong message to managers from the Middle East, for instance. Find out what’s expected before you meet.

3. Send Clear Signals

Your semiotics are the signals that your appearance immediately communicates to other people. People make snap judgments based on clothes, accessories, and more: watches, jewelry, briefcases, makeup, skin tone, facial expression, and so forth.

As far as is practical, make sure you are consciously creating a set of visual signals that is most likely to communicate that you’re the kind of person that’s it’s appropriate to do business with.

**To read the rest of this article from the original source , Click Here**

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10 Habits of Remarkably Charismatic People

**Great article we found on**

10 Habits of Remarkably Charismatic People

Charisma isn’t something you have. It’s something you earn. Here’s how.


shutterstock images

Some people instantly make us feel important. Some people instantly make us feel special. Some people light up a room just by walking in.

We can’t always define it, but some people have it: They’re naturally charismatic.

Unfortunately, natural charisma quickly loses its impact. Familiarity breeds, well, familiarity.

But some people are remarkably charismatic: They build and maintain great relationships, consistently influence (in a good way) the people around them, consistently make people feel better about themselves–they’re the kind of people everyone wants to be around… and wants to be.

Fortunately we can, because being remarkably charismatic isn’t about our level of success or our presentation skills or how we dress or the image we project–it’s about what we do.

Here are the 10 habits of remarkably charismatic people:

1. They listen way more than they talk.

Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Frown. Nod. Respond–not so much verbally, but non-verbally.

That’s all it takes to show the other person they’re important.

Then when you do speak, don’t offer advice unless you’re asked. Listening shows you care a lot more than offering advice… because when you offer advice in most cases you make the conversation about you, not them.

Don’t believe me? Who is, “Here’s what I would do…” about: You, or the other person?

Only speak when you have something important to say–and always define “important” as what matters to the other person, not to you.

2. They don’t practice selective hearing.

Some people–I guarantee you know people like this–are incapable of hearing anything said by the people they feel are somehow beneath them.

Sure, you speak to them… but that particular falling tree doesn’t make a sound in the forest because there’s no one actually listening.

Remarkably charismatic people listen closely to everyone… and they make all of us, regardless of our position or social status or “level,” feel like we have something in common with them.

Because we do: We’re all people.

3. They put their stuff away.

Don’t check your phone. Don’t glance at your monitor. Don’t focus on anything else, even for a moment.

You can never connect with others if you’re busy connecting with your stuff too.

Give the gift of your full attention. That’s a gift few people give. That gift alone will make others want to be around you… and remember you.

**To read the rest of this article from the original source , Click Here**

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Make Failure Good for You

**Great article we found on**

This company’s fall from grace is well documented, but out of error comes experience. Follow these 5 tips from its founder for a “good fail.”

Fail Pants 2


Richard Keith Latman thought he was creating his legacy when he launched his budget PC-manufacturing company in 1999. But after the attorney general’s office filed a formal action against Microworkz, Latman’s life was irrevocably changed. The promise of becoming Silicon Valley’s next internet billionaire disappeared overnight, and Latman moved on to lose 11 jobs in 12 months, as well as go through a divorce and filing for personal bankruptcy.

It took some time, and more failures, but Latman finally found his way back to the industry he loved, selling cars (which he did in record numbers). He simultaneously developed a CRM tool for car dealerships. Today, Latman is once again at the top of his game as the CEO and co-founder of iMagicLab, a software company focused on the automotive industry. He’s also founder of Latman Interactive.

Latman has experienced the peaks and valleys of life and entrepreneurship many times over, yet his uncanny ability to see the next opportunity where no one else does propelled him forward to eventual success and happiness.

“The skill is in getting up to 50,000 feet; above your issues, problems, and opportunities, and being able to look down as objectively as possible to see if there is a path,” says Latman. “If we had to play the role of the marble in a maze it would be much harder to make it through. Look down on the puzzle instead.”

Through his harrowing journey, Latman always kept his eye on his core talents to find his next opportunity. “History is the best judge,” says Latman. “What are the core skill sets that you bring to the world? Always recognize what you do well and what you do poorly and stick with what you do best.”

In retrospect, Latman recognizes that he never had a track record of raising money, building big teams, or managing inventory. “If I had stopped to assess my skills and experience when I planned that business, I would have surrounded myself with a completely different subset of people,” he says. “Entrepreneurs often look at themselves as who they want to be, not who they have a track record of being.”

In his book, The Good Fail, Latman tells his story and explains why failure can be a necessary steppingstone to success. “A ‘good fail’ is a failure that has a learning value greater than the offset collateral damage,” he says. “These failures lead to new ideas about customers, innovations, and business plans.”

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Grow Bigger, Better, Faster: 6 Lessons

**Great article we found on**

Grow Bigger, Better, Faster: 6 Lessons

In rereading Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, it’s surprising how many great lessons the book has for CEOs of growing companies.

Dimitri Vervitsiotis

One of our partners, Greg Stoklosa, asked us to reread the classic business book, Built to Last, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, in preparation for our recent leadership meeting.  Collins, of course, is the author of Good to Great and a number of other business classics, and we were inspired by his recent interview in Inc.

We had both read Built to Last when it was first published in the 1990s, and we remembered it as having some great lessons for leaders of established companies who wanted to build lasting organizations. So we were surprised when Greg asked us to read this in preparation for a discussion about values, goals, and strategy for Avondale. We’re a small company with 26 employees, not like the large companies such as Ford, HP, Merck, and Disney that were profiled in the book.

But now that we’ve spent the last eight years building Avondale, we were surprised at how many great insights this book has for growing companies like ours. In fact, it seems to be more useful for organizations that want to set a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) and align on core values. Growing companies have the opportunity to aim big and build a lasting organization–the book’s core theme. There are also some great lessons for what growing companies like ours can do in the short term to maintain rapid, profitable growth.

Buried deep in Chapter 10, we found the key lessons for growing companies:

1. Paint the Whole Picture

Don’t rely on any one thing to preserve the core and stimulate progress. As Collins says, “It’s the whole ball of wax that counts.”

**To read the rest of this article from the original source , Click Here**

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Why Leadership Is so Hard

**Great article we found on**

Why Leadership Is so Hard

It’s very hard for leaders to show that they’re good at leading, and that they know what they’re doing. Which is why sometimes, they need to do a lot less.

Many burdens of leadership are well known and visible: getting people to back a common purpose and vision, managing change, and maintaining a balanced personal perspective. But there are a number of hidden challenges, common to both new and old leaders, that underlie the more familiar work. Here are three ways that new and experienced leaders can manage these rater inconvenient challenges just below the surface.

There are three recurring themes that can make leadership seem inconvenient. I’ll call them competency, doing, and control.

How Can a Leader Show Competency?

As an individual contributor, it’s easy to show that you know what you’re doing. If you have mostly transactional and tactical responsibilities, your decisions, actions, and results are largely clear. However, as a leader, your portfolio is larger, more ambiguous, involves more people, and is more vulnerable to a wide variety of influences.  With this comes both increased authority and less direct control over outcomes.

Many leaders mistakenly try to fill this gap by becoming “overly competent.” Usually, that means they invade someone else’s work while ignoring certain of their own key responsibilities. We see this in the start-up CEO with an engineering background who avoids his broader company responsibilities by staying immersed in the daily activities of the technology team.  We might also see this in the corporate Vice President who is running a new a new cross-functional department; rather than genuinely delegating work to the team, she keeps them tightly tethered that she won’t feel left behind.

Both of these micro-managers may be motivated by a desire to demonstrate competency in an area of their expertise (what they did in the past) rather than by focusing on the requirements of broader leadership (what they need to learn for the future.)

Leaders need to recognize that for them, competency is manifested differently than it is for their staff. A leader’s failure to adjust (or personal frustration at having to make an adjustment into new competencies) prevents one from leading fully.

**To read the rest of this article from the original source , Click Here**

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