Unveiling the Ivy Lee Method: Empowering Executives with Timeless Prioritization Strategies Inspired by Charles Schwab's Transformation

The Ivy Lee Method: A Lesson in Prioritization That Transformed Charles Schwab’s Executives

Happy Sunday Coach,  

Today, I want to tell you a story that I think you might be able to relate to.   


Once upon a time, in the bustling streets of New York City in 1918, a man named Charles Schwab found himself facing a daunting challenge. He was the president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, one of the largest and most influential companies of its time. Schwab knew that to maintain and improve their success, he needed something extraordinary. That’s when he crossed paths with Ivy Lee, a man who would forever change the way his executives managed their time. 


Charles Schwab was a visionary leader, but he was feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks and decisions he had to make each day. He believed that improving the productivity of his top executives could significantly impact the company’s bottom line. So, he decided to hire Ivy Lee, a renowned efficiency consultant. 


Ivy Lee was no ordinary consultant. He was a pioneer in the field of public relations and had a reputation for achieving remarkable results. Schwab wanted Lee to work with his executives and find a way to boost their productivity. Lee agreed to take on the challenge. 


On a sunny morning, Ivy Lee gathered Schwab’s top executives in his office and gave them a simple but powerful lesson in prioritization. He asked each executive to follow these steps: 


  • At the end of each workday, make a list of the six most important tasks you need to accomplish the next day. 
  • Prioritize those tasks in order of importance, with the most crucial task at the top of the list. 
  • The next day, start with the first task and focus on it until it’s completed. Then, move on to the next task, and so on. 
  • If you don’t complete a task, move it to the next day’s list and make it a priority. 


The executives were skeptical about this seemingly simple method, but they decided to give it a try. To their amazement, it was simple, but it worked wonders.  


Isn’t it true that complexity causes confusion and paralysis.  When faced with too many priorities, we freeze and do nothing, or we choose escape routes from making real decisions. We go back to email. We search the internet. We respond to texts and say yes to the knocks at the door.  


Lee’s method was a simple rule to guide complex behavior.    


Lee’s method forces you to decide on what your first task will be the night before you go to work. It removes the friction of starting (the biggest hurdle to finishing most tasks task is starting them).  


The prioritized 1-6 method requires you to single task. The Myth of Multitasking is that being busy is synonymous with being better. The exact opposite is true, having fewer priorities leads you to better work and greater output. 


Study world class experts in nearly any field athletes, artists, scientists, teachers, CEOs, and you will discover one characteristic runs through all of them. Focus.  The reason is simple. You can’t be great at one task if you’re constantly fraction your attention, your capacity and your time in 10 different directions. Mastery requires focus and consistency.  


Ultimately, the clarity provided by a short, prioritized list allowed the executives at Bethlehem Steel to focus on what truly mattered. They were no longer overwhelmed by a long to-do list that left them feeling scattered and unproductive. 


Within a few months, Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s executives were achieving more in less time. The company’s productivity soared, and profits followed suit. Charles Schwab was so impressed by Ivy Lee’s method that he sent him a check for $25,000 (equivalent to around $500,000 today) as a token of his gratitude. 


So, what does this story mean for you? The lesson here is clear: prioritization is the key to productivity if you are looking to maintain and improve your success. Just as Ivy Lee’s method transformed the executives at Bethlehem Steel Corporation, it can transform your success as a coach and recruiter.  


By focusing on the most important tasks and eliminating distractions, you can achieve better results in less time.  It can be a game changer.  


You know this, but are you doing it?  


If you’re looking to improve your performance and recruit top talent effectively, consider exploring the High-Performance Coach and Recruiter Program. This program offers valuable and simple insights and strategies (just like the Ivy Lee method) to help you reach your coaching goals.  


Just as Charles Schwab turned to Ivy Lee for guidance, you too can seek the guidance you need to excel in your coaching career. Prioritization is the first step, and the High-Performance Coach and Recruiter Program can provide you with the rest of the tools you need to succeed.  It’s coming soon so keep an eye out for it.  


To your success,  

Mandy Green 

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