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.”

The Dream is Free, The Journey’s Not

Why is it that we get in our own way as entrepreneurs? We have the ambition, the drive, we’re highly motivated to accomplish the goal. So what is it that holds people back?

I recently had the opportunity to meet with the leadership-great John C. Maxwell. John’s taught and authored over 60 books on leadership, including the bestseller, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership I posed the question to him–what prevents us from following through on our dreams?

“I think that when we don’t follow through, we lack enough valid reasons to follow that dream,” he responded simply.  “If I don’t have a lot of valid reasons to pursue my dream, I’m likely to give it up because the journey to accomplish it is very difficult.”

John went on to articulate the difference between dream and doing in a way I’d never heard–the reason we like dreams is because they’re free. They don’t cost us anything, there’s no sacrifice involved. Dreaming is the easy part. Making it happen?

“We can sit around the table imagining all these great things, ‘Wow! Wouldn’t be great if I did this? Bought that?’ Well, the dream’s free–the journey’s not,” John emphasized. “When we start the journey, that’s when we begin to realize there’s a cost. And every time we have to pay another price, or experience another set-back, the troubles and trials try to pull our hand off of the dream we’ve been clutching.”

Unless we have a lot of good, valid reasons to continue pursuing our dream, more than one or two, we’re likely to give it up.

“Entrepreneurship has a lot of uncertainty,” John affirmed.  “The more valid reasons we have for why we want to be what we want to be, and why we want to accomplish what we want to accomplish, gives us the tenacity and holding power to stay true to that dream and not let go of it so quickly or easily.”



Watch the video version of my chat with John C. Maxwell below:

Mark Accepts JFKU Lifetime Leadership Award

I am extremely honored to be receiving the Chuck H. Smith Lifetime Leadership Award from JFK University’s Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership today. They will also be awarding the distinguished columnist and economic advisor Tapan Munroe in recognition of lifelong dedication to entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership.

Wahid Tadros, President of California Engineering Contractors Inc., and Jeff Gray, CEO of Glue Networks will be presented with inaugural Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. They are two leading California entrepreneurs who exemplify business entrepreneurship with a social conscience.

JFK University’s Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership offers a powerful program designed for today’s entrepreneurs, who are at the heart of future business growth and job creation in the Bay Area. They’re a wonderful institution and it’s a great honor to receive this recognition from them!


Making it Happen: Peace in One Day

What I love most about Jeremy Gilley’s TED Talk, aside from the fact that it’s an incredible idea, is how relentless he’s been in Making it Happen! So many of us have great ideas, but the challenge is having the patience and drive to bring them to fruition. There’s no time frame, as Jeremy’s story proves. It can take years, often involving both big steps forward and leaps back.

Here are some valuable takeaways from his speech:

So, how did one person end up creating an international Day of Peace that garnered the attention of the Taliban?!

-First, Jeremy focused less on a specific outcome, and rather on the process of doing: his journey as a whole. Jeremy held onto the belief that no matter what the outcome, the journey was worth it and thus something beneficial would inevitably arise.

-Jeremy birthed an incredible idea: a day of peace, respected by all countries the world. A lofty goal, to say the least. But he started by using the resources he was most comfortable with and already a part of: the entertainment industry. Beginning with what you already know and where you have established connections is the foundation for growing any goal.

-As Jeremy details in his Talk, success is multi-tiered: you must have an idea, get constituents, raise both profits and awareness. But, the most important component? No one person can do it all alone! Jeremy birthed the idea of having a Day of Peace, but recognized that he would need the help of others to both accrue funds and garner greater attention. He was totally fearless in doing both. When he didn’t have money for a plane ticket to see the Dalai Lama, he asked! When he needed more publicity, he used his connections in the entertainment industry to bring Jude Law in to help. None of us can do it alone–but we all have the power to stop making excuses, use our resources, and ask for what we want.

-Jeremy’s incredible idea and work to have an international day of peace and non violence was about to finally fall into place–on September 11th, 2001. Obviously, forces far greater than him intervened and it didn’t happen. But instead of being deterred, which would have been so incredibly easy in light of what befell the world on that auspicious date, he chose to be empowered. He realized that 9/11 proved there was a greater need for his project than ever before.

Jeremy has remained steady on his path, garnering greater support and awareness since beginning his project and goal many years ago. This September 21st, Jeremy expects to finally hold the international Day of Peace he’s been working for. But as his story and TED Talk prove, no moment in between has been lost: they’ve all been part of enacting the change and vision that first sparked his amazing mission.

Whether or not we’re attempting to create a global day of peace, Jeremy’s story is an incredible lesson in how to make it happen. Click here to find out more about Jeremy’s mission.