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The $25,000 Idea

Give me ideas for using my time well and I’ll pay you what your advice is worth.

Charles Schwab, the former President of Bethlehem Steel, once called in the consultant, Ivy Lee, and told him:


“Give me ideas for using my time well and I’ll pay you what your advice is worth.”


Lee immediately handed him a sheet of paper and said:


“Write down on this sheet the important things you have to do tomorrow and number them in order of priority. When you come to the office, start with No. 1 and don’t start No. 2 until No. 1 is completely finished, even if it takes you the whole day.


Once you have made a habit of this method of working, try and get your staff to follow it too. Then send me a cheque for how much you think my advice is worth.”


A few weeks later, Lee received a cheque for $25,000, accompanied by a few lines in which Schwab said the advice was the most valuable he had ever received from a consultant.

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