When Charles Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel, he confronted Ivy Lee, a management consultant, with an unusual challenge. “Show me a way to get more things done,” he demanded. “If it works, I’ll pay you anything within reason.” Lee handed Schwab a piece of paper, saying,”Write down the things you have to do tomorrow.” When Schwab had completed the list, Lee said, “Now number these items in the order of their real importance.” Schwab did, and Lee went on: “The first thing tomorrow morning, start working on number one and stay with it until it’s completed. Then take number two, and don’t go any further until it’s finished or until you’ve done as much with it as you can. Then proceed to number three, and so on. If you can’t complete everything on schedule, don’t worry. At least you will have taken care of the most important things before getting distracted by items of less importance. The secret is to do this daily. He went on to summarize: • Evaluate the relative importance of the things you have to get done. • Establish priorities. • Record your plan of action and stick to it. He finished by saying, “Do this every working day. After you have convinced yourself that this system has value, have your people try it. Test it as long as you like, and then send me a check for whatever you think the idea is worth.” In a few weeks, Schwab mailed Lee a check for $25,000. He later credited Lee with giving him the most profitable lesson he’d learned in his entire business career.