list priority management

The Most Profitable Lesson


Marshal Sylver talks about priority management.


steel Bethlehem confront
ivy challenge get things done
piece hand (2) within reason
stay further proceed
so forth schedule on schedule
realize at least distract
priority evaluate daily basis
specific establish stick (2)
item assured accomplish
shift put off challenging
tough reward take care
try process convince
check (2) whatever as long as you like
worth adjust think (2)
chess inflation profit/profitable
ability opponent make sure
move on important


Video (Starts at 1:20)


Bethlehem Steel

When Charles M. Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel, he confronted Ivy Lee, a management consultant with an unusual challenge. He said, “show me a way to get more things done. If it works, I’ll pay you anything within reason.

The Way (Secret)

Lee then handed Schwab a piece of paper. He said, “Write down the things you have to do tomorrow.” Schwab did it. “Now number these things in order of their real importance.” Schwab did that as well.

Lee said the first thing tomorrow morning, start working on number one, and stay with it until it is completed. Next take number two, and don’t go any further until that is completed. Then proceed to number three and so and so forth.

Don’t Worry

“Now if you cannot complete everything on schedule on the same day, don’t worry about it — at least you will have completed things of greater importance, before getting distracted by things of lesser importance.

Priority Management

The key to this is realizing that it is not time management, it’s priority management. And you need to do the same thing.

On a daily basis, list the things you need to get done, evaluate their relative importance in the order you need to do them, give them a specific number.

Take Action

After establishing your priorities, stick to your plan of action. Begin on item one, and do it until it is done. Then move to number two. In this way you can be assured of accomplishing the things most important to you on a day-by-day basis.

Sometimes people will shift their priorities because the things they need to accomplish are challenging. It may be that you put off certain tasks that you know need to get done.

Worse Things First

I have a philosophy I use called “worse things first”. And what that means is that you take care of the toughest things first, because it is usually the toughest things that create the greatest rewards for you.

Test it Out

After Ivy Lee taught Charles Schwab this process, he said to Charles to do this every working day. After you have convinced yourself of the value of this system, have your staff try it. Test it as long as you like, and then send me a check for whatever you think this idea is worth.

$25,000 ($250,000)

In a few weeks, Charles Schwab sent Ivy Lee a check for $25,000 (about $250,000 today, adjusted for inflation). Schwab later said that this lesson was the most profitable one he had ever heard in his business career.

Priority Management

If life were a chess game, then time is your opponent. Make sure every single move — and moment — matters.

Priority management is the ability to do the most important things, and then move on to the things that are less important.

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1. Charles M. Schwab was……..

2. Who was Ivy Lee?

3. Schwab had a problem or difficulty. True or false? If true, what was his challenge or difficulty?

4. Lee told Schwab to…..

5. If you complete only one thing on your list (task number 1), it’s a failure. Yes or no?

6. Is it better to complete five tasks (number 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), but not complete task number 1?

7. What happened in the end?

8. What is “priority management”? What did speaker mean when he said “Worse things first”?
A. Have you heard of priority management before?

B. Do you make a list and prioritize it?

C. People in my company make lists and prioritize it. Yes or no?

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