My dear friend Stephen Covey taught me: You Can Have It All, But Not All at Once

I sat with Steve in his backyard one afternoon and asked the guru: If you could choose just one of the seven habits, which one meant the most to him personally after 30 years of teaching this stuff? It was a rare moment to see him because he was still globe-trotting in his late 70s and kept an outrageous schedule. He invited Bonita Thompson and I to his serene French Provincial-style home overlooking Provo, Utah, where we talked privately about his busy life with the unusual perspective that comes from sitting in the Zen-like setting of his backyard terrace.

“If you focused on one thing, it should be the ‘foundation habit’ —being proactive about just the few things that matter. It’s the habit upon which all the others are based,” he mused. “Cut your priorities down to a few good things that mean the most. You can have it all, but not all at once!” Covey said there is a big difference between giving your attention only to urgent matters that compete for your mindshare and the more important things that will help you prosper in the long term. Our primal brain is easily seduced by fight-or-flight urges, which means that anything that feels like a crisis—and does NOT require deep thought—ironically will be given highest priority.

Covey believes that’s backwards. Unless you’re being chased by a saber tooth tiger, it’s likely that you will benefit from stopping to distinguish between “fire drills” and other issues that would have a longer term impact on your work. In other words, you may have to address certain pressing matters in the next hour, but think about what you need to do this week to invest in your long-term work and life objectives and carve out some time for that too. Covey cautions us against compiling massive to-do lists without first taking a serious reality check.

Bonita and I had come to Provo to see him for insights on a new book we’re releasing this fall called Admired: 21 Ways to Double Your Value. We did a national study with help of researchers at Stanford and Northwestern looking at how to be admired as a leader—not for just anything—but for something that matters over the long term. Covey smiled and winked, “If you just had a short time to live, what one thing would you like to be respected, admired and valued for? Be proactive about that.”

Create Value at Any Job

Floodgate co-founder Mike Maples has been responsible for helping to kick start some of the most revolutionary new companies around: Twitter and digg, just to name a couple. His secret? The ability to recognize talent and value in even the most wild sounding ideas and business plans.

“Great value creation is fundamentally a creative act. Part of that is taking the current job you’re in and doing the best you can at it. But the bigger part is taking only jobs that you’re passionate about. If you don’t have a job you’re passionate about, you’re flunking a cosmic IQ test,” he imparted.

As Mike says, most of us here in the U.S. have more choice than we think about pursuing the things we’re passionate about.

You have to have an authentic voice for what you do. You can be entrepreneurial at any job,” he shared emphatically. “If you think about your product and what you do not as convincing someone to buy something but rather as propoagating the truth because you care about it so much, than you’re more likely to succeed and you’re more likely to create value.”

Creating something valuable that people will be attracted to and want to be a part of first comes from your belief in it, so why waste your energy on something you don’t think matters? True value comes from the pursuit of your passions.

Watch the video version of my interview with Mike Maples below:

How to Enchant Your Customers

I recently got to chat with author and speaker Guy Kawasaki, whose most recent book, Enchantment, explores our need to be enchanted by people and organizations.

I asked him to tell me a few fundamentals we need to remember when it comes to making something happen:

1. You have to be likeable—you’re not very persuasive if people don’t like you!

2. You have to be trustworthy—because people can like you but not trust you for your advice.

3. You have to have a great product—enchant people with an exciting concept.

He also shared one of the most ironic things he’d learned in his career: you might assume that because you’re being innovative and creating a new and exciting product, people would see that and instantly get behind it.

“The more innovative you are, though,” he said, “the more you have to be enchanting.”

When people think about change, they get scared.

“But, one of the best ways to combat a fearful situation is to go with people you like and trust!” he pointed out.

 If someone has enchanted you that you like and trust, it helps remove that fear of change and makes you more willing to go forward.

Guy also points out that it doesn’t just have be the CEO or figurehead of the company who enchants you—he used the great example of the Apple Genius Bar.

“If you walk into an Apple store, you’re not thinking Steve Jobs will be handling your appointment!” he laughed. “Instead you go to the Genius Bar, and you meet someone who’s really smart, really trustworthy and really likeable–and they solve your problem! For all intents and purposes, that person is Apple for you.”

Boom! You’re enchanted.

Watch my interview with Guy Kawsaki below:


Your Story Matters

Story telling is one of the most primal aspects of human culture: we use narrative to relate to one another and it flows into all areas of our lives.


Peter Guber, head of Mandalay Entertainment, had an epiphany on the role storytelling played in his life and the lives of those around him. It was so powerful, it prompted the writing of his new book, Tell to Win.

“When I began to look at the last few years of my life, at the times when I’d failed, it was most often because I’d forgotten to tell the story or because I had the wrong story. When I was moved, I was moved by the right story, and when I paid it forward, I was often the winner even when I was advocating someone else’s story,” Peter told me. “And why is that? Because story telling is the way we see life. Everything that has a tradition has a narrative.”

That narrative is inside all of us: if you want people to join you, help them use the tool of telling their story.

“I went to the interior of New Guinea and spoke with Shamans who don’t use written language but use oral narrative.Then I went to the bowels of Ethiopia, one of the most remote places in the world, and they used the same method,” he emphasized. “These distant cultures and places depend on the  story, it’s the way they move people.”

When you have a product, a brand, when you’re the leader, you have to know how to emotionally move people. And as Peter says, telling purposeful stories is the key to it all.

Watch my interview with Peter Guber below:


How to Get Promoted (or Fired) Faster!

When you’re working your way to the top, it’s vital be ambitious, to make an investment in your education, to be expanding your skill set and challenging yourself to do better.

But one of the most common mistakes people make on their climb upward is becoming too focused on the next job, the one they don’t have yet, instead of doing their best in the one they’re in.

When I sat down with GE CEO Jeff Immelt (now also the newly appointed chairman of the White House Council of Jobs and Competitiveness) his advice was to first get deep and then get broad:

“My advice is do every job like you’re going to have it forever. At GE, I would always do anything asked of me with integrity,” he insisted. “I would try and do it in 80% of the time and then expand my horizon. I was constantly trying to stretch my boundaries. But it always started with meeting my responsibilities first: doing the job, doing it well and doing it with integrity.”

As Jeff says, one of the easiest ways to get derailed is to say, ‘This is beneath me, I can do more’ instead of showing how well you can do it!

“I had some jobs for one year, some for five, but I valued every step along the way and did them all like I’d have them forever.”

Watch Jeff’s advice below:


Your Passion Can Change the World

Ge Wang, designer of Ocarina and Leaf Trombone: World Stage for the iPhone, and Magic Piano for the iPad, is using his passion for both music and technology to change the world. In fact, Ge views his revolutionary “apps” as having the potential to bring about a kind of social movement:

“In working with this new technology, there seems to be the ability to bring about a new kind of creative consciousness: with it, we can connect people around the world who didn’t know each other previously and may never have had the chance to know each other. Now they have the opportunity to connect through music and creativity.”

Ge believes firmly that the desire to create and express exists inside everyone: it’s about finding ways to draw it out.

“It just takes the right conditions to unlock people’s inherent creativity. I want people to feel that playing music is as easy as picking up the phone,” he said passionately.

The new social movement is not just about the here and now technology but rather about technology that’s connecting the world, Ge says. His work perfectly demonstrates that when you align your passion with a higher purpose, anything is possible.

Watch the video version of my interview with Ge Wang below–he demos both the Ocarina and the awesome Magic Piano iPad app!


The Big Bang Theory

Imagine that you were invited by Sir Richard Branson to be on the virgin flight of Virgin Airlines: the plane is loaded with dignitaries, government and business leaders and crowded with news media and reporters. Just as you’re taking off down the runway, there’s a huge explosion with black smoke and flames!

“Nobody likes to be on a plane when there’s a big bang,” Branson laughs now. “Especially when it’s an inspection!”

Because this plane had only just arrived from Boeing and the inspection couldn’t be completed, it wasn’t insured. So Virgin Airlines was minus a million dollars from repairing the exploded engine–breaking their overdraft limit in the bank.

“We had no idea whether we could make a go of it at all and nobody was expecting us to succeed,” Branson admits. “Yet I just felt that traveling on other people’s airlines was not a pleasant experience and that there had to be a way of doing it better.”

In the end, Sir Richard did indeed find a better way, but when the crisis first hit, he actually avoided solving the problem. Instead, he put all of his energy into trying to find blame. The problem with that strategy was that no matter how much he blamed the bank, or the explosion, or anything else, he still had to deal with the issue at hand. Finally, he realized that his biggest priority had to be finding a way to save the day.

The truth is, you can’t have control over everything: stuff happens sometimes! You do, however, have control over the choices you make: you can take control of your destiny. The difference between good and great isn’t perfection. Rather, it’s finding the best solution: putting together a great team and making great things happen. So stay focused on your dream, the dream you deserve–no matter what.

Check out the video version of my interview with Sir Richard:

Measure Success From the Inside

What does happiness have to do with your success in life?

Tony Hsieh, founder of, has been a serial entrepreneur for the entirety for his young career but sold his last company because he didn’t like doing it anymore!

He thought it was a great idea, but lost the desire to go into the office. He went on to found Zappos with a very different vision.

“What I think of as happiness has changed a lot over the years,” Tony admitted. “There’s a lot of talk about happiness coming from within—not from external factors. But most people go throughout life thinking it does come from the outside. I think it’s about being part of something bigger than yourself, something that has meaning.”

Happiness does indeed mean so many different things to so many different people, and our definition changes throughout our lives. But here are four ideas to consider when it comes to creating happiness:

1. Freedom of Choice

We all want to feel a sense of control in making choices in our lives and that we have the freedom to make them.

2. Making Progress

We want to feel we’re in a position of making progress and hitting the milestones and goals we’ve set for ourselves.

3. Deep Relationships

We want to feel connected to others—that we’ve established deep and meaningful relationships with genuine intimacy.

4. Doing what Matters

We have to feel like we’re doing something bigger than ourselves, that we’re pursuing our own passions and participating in something that’s going to have a larger impact on the world.

So, how do you define happiness?