Successful people are born out of productive habits. Today, Brittany and Connor discuss Stephen Covey’s book “Seven Habits for Highly Effective People,” and the advice he gives to readers to help them be successful and productive people.


Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Connor: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Connor.

Connor: We’ve had a lot of recurring themes on this show that we talk about a lot. One of them, of course, is entrepreneurship, and we’ve had a few entrepreneurs even on the program Yep. To talk about their work and, you know, what has made them successful, which I think has hopefully been helpful to teach listeners or share with them some ideas about what they can do to follow in their footsteps maybe. But today I wanted to kind of continue on that theme and talk about a book written by a guy named Steven Covey. This is C O V E Y. We’ll actually link to this in the show notes page. So just go to You can check it out there. Now, Covey was a very successful businessman. He was kind of a leadership coach. He was a public speaker.

Brittany: Is he from Utah, Connor? Is he from where?

Connor: He lived in Utah. Yeah. He lived in Utah, passed away, you know, I don’t know, five, 10 years ago, something like that. And a very, very sharp guy. And he had a lot of great advice to give. It’s funny, I remember when I was in college, I went to a lecture of his at my college, and I was sitting, I don’t know, fifth or sixth row, and he did this exercise. I don’t remember what it was about, but he had everyone close their eyes and he said, okay, everyone point to which way you think is north, or something like that. Or maybe he.

Brittany: Oh, goodness, I dunno that I’d know.

Connor: And so everyone has their eyes closed and they’re pointing. He says, okay, now, while keeping your finger in the direction it is, everyone opened their eyes. And so I opened my eyes. Everyone around me is pointing in the opposite direction of me, And so he called me out specifically, he is like, you’re going in the wrong direction, son, And I’m like, I’m really bad with knowing where directions are in when I’m inside a building. So that’s my Stephen Cubby memory. I literally haven’t thought of that in like 15 years since that happened. But, you know, cubby was a super successful guy and one of the most popular books of all time, frankly, especially for like business and entrepreneurs and kind of being professional. It was a book that he wrote, and it’s called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Have you read this one, Brittany?

Brittany: I’ve read it, for work. Actually, we had to read this one and another book I wanna talk about. What is it? Is it Dale Carnegie? He had another one that’s similar, How To Win Friends That Influence People. And these are really, yeah, these are probably two of my favorite books of that genre.

Connor: So this one, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is full of good advice. And it’s not just, I mean, even if you’re don’t wanna be an entrepreneur or anything like that, frankly, anyone who wants to, you know, improve their life, it’s got really good stuff in there. So I wanna start maybe by briefly running through the seven habits, and then Brittany, I thought that you and I can discuss them each a bit. Yep. So according to Covey, these are the seven habits of highly. What, does it mean to be highly effective? It ne it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making a ton of money, although it could be that, right? If you’re effective. I, think of that as you’re being influential. You’re a good problem solver. You are doing what you say you will, right? You’ve got a good balance in your life to make sure that you’re, you know, getting the things done that you want. I mean, this can be broader than just, I’m starting a business, you know? And as I list these habits, you’ll see that this isn’t just connected to how to be a successful entrepreneur. It’s how to be effective. But so much of it translates, I think, to especially entrepreneurship. Yep. So here are the seven habits, and then we’ll kind of break those down. And maybe Brittany, I’ll have you do the first couple and then we can go from there. So, habit number one is be proactive. Be proactive, instead of reactive. So we’ll maybe get into that. Habit two is begin with the end in mind, the end of what you’re trying to accomplish. Habit three is to put first things first. Sounds like something grandma would say, right? Honey, put first things first. Habit number four, think win-win. So what are like win-win solutions where you can kind of both on, you know, in a negotiation or in a decision where both sides win? I love habit five. Habit five is seek first to understand.

Brittany: It’s one of my favorites too.

Connor: And then to be understood, so often people want to, you gotta hear me, you gotta understand. No, no, no. First seek to understand the other side and then seek to be understood yourself. We’ll get into that in a minute. Habit six is synergize. Ooh, what does that mean? Sounds like one of those eighties exercise.

Brittany: I don’t love that word. I’m not gonna lie.

Connor: The other size. Yeah. In the big spandex and big socks. Let’s do jazzer size. All right, synergize, we’ll talk about all the kids are like, what is that? What? Okay, kids, go to YouTube with your parents and look up Jazzer size and you’ll have a really good laugh. Oh goodness. Oh, maybe. Well, no, we’re not gonna link to that one. Have it. Number seven, the last one in his book, sharpen the Saw. What does that mean? We’ll get into that at, I guess the end. Okay. So Brittany, maybe if you’ll take the first couple, let’s talk about this. So have it one, be proactive, have it two, begin with the end in mind. Why don’t you start there and let’s break ’em down?

Brittany: Yeah. So proactive, in a nutshell, what Covey’s trying to say is basically nothing is going to happen to you. You know, if you wait around for things to happen to you. But it’s actually more than that. And I love this. In fact, I think I’ve probably talked about this on other episodes, but I really like the theme of personal responsibility. And we’ve, we’ve actually had a lot I think of,  episodes about that. So a lot of being proactive is taking responsibility for your own actions, right? And making sure that, you know, bad things are gonna happen to all of us. Things that are gonna, maybe not just bad things, but they’re gonna stunt, I guess, which would mean like, it would put a pause on, being able to progress and doing the things you wanna do. Things like that are gonna happen all the time. Look at entrepreneurs who haven’t been successful their first time. We’ve talked also a lot about people have to fail before they succeed. So a lot of what he means by being proactive is that when you do fail when you do come up against these walls, that you have to, you know, you have to scale like climb. but you need to be able to not let them interrupt your character or not let them affect your character, to still move past them to do bigger things, to focus on what you can do in your life to change things. And I think that’s really profound. I don’t think we’re doing that enough in our lives. And so proactive, I, like that he puts the personal responsibility spin on it. Cuz it does just sound like, all right, let’s get ahead of things. Let’s do it. But this next one, or this next quote, sorry, I’m gonna read a quote from this section of the book, he says, but until a person can deeply and honestly say, I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday, the person cannot say I chose otherwise. I’m gonna unpack that for a minute. So when you make a choice, there’s a consequence. All of us do something and then something else happens. So if you do something and that leads to a bad result, you need to be able to look back at that and say, okay, this happened because I chose not to do something. You know, if you’re someone who’s not homeschooled, you’re in school and you choose not to do an assignment and you get a bad grade, that’s a cause and effect, right? So it’s kind of the same thing, but you’d have to look at that and say, oh, this is my own fault. So what can I do to change this in the future? So the next one I really like also, which is to start with the end in mind. So what does that mean? Well, you have to have goals. I think Emma and I did a whole episode on, on goal setting. You have to know what you’re aiming towards, what you’re running towards, or even what you’re running from. Maybe, you know, a lot of our entrepreneurs or heroes we’ve talked about had really poor childhoods or things that had happened to them that they didn’t like. So they were running away from that. They wanted to do things successfully so they wouldn’t have to have that happen in the future. So you can be running towards something, or you can be running, you know, away from something. But this part and this kind of sounds a little dark, but I like this, Covey says, to imagine your own funeral, which sounds weird, I hope mine is a big theatrical show. I want a big playlist, I want celebrities there, you know, the whole thing. But he really means, how do you wanna be remembered? How do you want people to talk about you at your funeral? How do you want your legacy is what they call that? and he says you should create a personal mission statement, which is like what you’re all about, what you wanna be, what your character is, and what you wanna do. You know, not just grow up and, you know, get married and have kids. That’s so important too. But do you wanna homeschool those kids? Do you wanna teach those kids to have a lemonade stand? Do you wanna start a business? So all these things you wanna be remembered for. And also the value upon like all the things you do, like what that’s based on, what your values are, being trustworthy, having integrity, which is, ooh, I was gonna explain integrity, and then I couldn’t even think of how to do it. Connor, how would you, putting you on the spot, how would you explain?

Connor: I think it doesn’t, Dr. Seuss have a booker about this, like the elephant that, what is it? I say what I mean, and I mean what I say an elephant’s word 100%. I seem to re I think that’s in one of Dr. Seuss’s books. But it’s saying that’s perfect. It’s saying what you mean, doing what you say you’ll do. It’s never trying to deceive or lie. Someone who has integrity is kind of quote-unquote a man of their word. Someone who you know will kind of fulfill what they say. Honestly.

Brittany: I like that. That’s a perfect, perfect thing. So that’s part of starting with the end in mind, right? So you wanna know who you are, who you wanna be, and then run towards that goal. And I think that’s important. And I think a lot of people are winging it, as they say, which is they’re just kind of taking each day as it comes at them. But I think it’s very important to know what it is you really wanna do and who you wanna be.

Connor: I’ll tackle the next two maybe. So let’s talk about putting first things first. I think this third habit is meant to help you put the first two into action. So for example, Covey asks, he says, what’s one thing that you could do regularly that you aren’t currently doing that would improve your personal life, or even one thing that you could do to improve your business life as you get older, your professional life? And so he believed that these questions could help us realize that, you know, we have the ability to change our life today. What’s this thing that we could do that would help improve other things? What’s the one thing that you could focus on that if you did it well, it would improve other areas of your life? So often we’re, as you were saying, like with being proactive, right? We’re very reactive to what happens in the world. Yes. And what other people are doing to us and the decisions other people are making. We just kind of go with the flow. But Steven Covey is like, look, if you wanna be effective, you put first things first. You’re proactive. You decide what’s the one thing that I need to do today. And then if you can prioritize that way, you are going to be so much more successful. And this even is a, you know, a lot of people who are very effective, and I do this to different degrees. I’m not the greatest at it, but they’ll start their morning by outlining their day and say, look, I’ve got a lot of people emailing me. I like that. I got a lot of stuff to do. I got a lot of different things that I could work on. But, you know, the first few hours, especially of my day or when I get home from school or you know, I’m doing homeschool today, what’s, what should I really focus on? What do I really wanna learn? What’s a new project I want to do? How do I wanna spend my time? I even talked to my kids about this last night, trying to help them be more intentional and saying, guys like, let’s, you guys are the kind of creators of your own life. What do you wanna do? What do you like? Rather than us kind of leading you along and whatever, let’s decide, let’s be very intentional. So putting first things first really just means being focused on priorities. And that actually even requires coming up with priorities. Yes. Right? You’ve gotta, you’ve gotta make decisions about where you want to go in your life. Okay. And then, you know, the next one is this idea of a win-win. This is kind of a mindset. This is, rather than looking at things like win Lose, oh, he won that award, that means I lost or I won that job, therefore other people lost, or I got that bonus, therefore other people lost. Instead, you look at life as kind of a win-win, how you can go through your life in a way making decisions and negotiations even, or creating jobs or being entrepreneurial in a way that like, look, I want you to win and then I’ll win as well. If I can help you and you help me in different ways, then we’re gonna both benefit. And that’s really kind of mutual exchange. You’re, you know, like what any good business owner is doing. You’re selling them a product or a service that’s gonna help them in their life and they’re gonna reward you financially and you’re gonna be able to generate profit in your business. So it’s kind of a win-win. But a lot of people have a different mindset that looks at this like a fixed pie, right? And so if I take out my slice of pie, oh, you have less pie now. And that’s not how the world is. But so many people operate with that type of mindset. So Covey talks a lot about, you know, having a win-win approach and making sure that you’re trying to find ways to have mutual benefits. So both people feel like they had a win. Brittany, why don’t you take the next couple?

Brittany: Yeah. So the next habit’s actually my favorite one. And I think you said it was your favorite too. And thats seek first to understand, then be understood. And I think a lot of times we really want under people to understand our ideas and where we’re coming from and we get really excited about the things that we know or the things we believe. And so we just wanna talk at people. But the thing is, people aren’t really gonna listen to you if you’re just talking at them and you’re not listening to what it is they want. I think Covey puts it in a perfect way where he says, you know, we are, we sit, like when somebody’s talking and I do this all the time, we’re already thinking of our response. We’re not thinking of like, okay, where is this person coming from? Why does this person think this way? Okay. Like, let me understand where they’re coming from. We don’t do that. I know I am guilty of that. So that’s what he says is one of the most important ways you can be effective. Cause remember that’s the whole point of this book is how you can be effective, how you can be a leader, help change people’s minds or help, you know, create value for someone else. So the first key to that is realizing that you need to understand where someone else is coming from before they can understand you. And he has one quote I’ll read real quick that says, most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply, which is kind of what I just said, where you’re listening, ready to respond, but you’re not really listening. So I’m not gonna spend a lot of time on the next one. Cause I told you in the beginning, I think the term synergy, that’s silly, and I think it’s thrown around a lot. the kids probably won’t know this, but every time you go to like a staff retreat or like a company retreat, people are always telling you like, get excited about synergy. And nobody really knows what that word means. But, it, what it really means, in a nutshell, is like working together, using other people’s skills and backgrounds, like coming together and creating this amazing, amazing energy that’s like life-changing. But one thing I wanted to point out is it did remind me of specialization. We’ve talked about this, how different people, diverse people with a bunch of different backgrounds and skills can come together in our economy and do something great. So that’s kind of how I’m thinking of synergy in this way because I don’t like the jazzer size. So, Connor I’ll let you touch on the last one.

Connor: That’s gonna be burned in my brain now. synergize and feel like those jazz hands, you know, and yes, in spandex, terrifying. Okay, so the seventh habit is to sharpen the saw. This really just means taking care of yourself. Be the best version of yourself that you can be. You wanna stay sharp, you want to be ready at any time to be an effective tool. If you pull out the saw when you need it and it’s rusted and the little teeth are bent and stuff, it’s not gonna be effective for you. If you wanna be effective, you have to be ready, right? You have to be ready so that when an opportunity emerges or when someone needs your help or when there’s a business opportunity for you, you’re good to go. You’ve got your life in order. Maybe you’ve saved some money, you’ve gained some skills and knowledge, right? And so sharpening the saw is investing in yourself and making sure that you are, you know, physically fit mentally, you know, they’re good social and emotional regulation. You’re, caring of other people, even your spiritual side, just figuring out your life in a way. So you’re functioning well. You’re not a lazy teenager, you’re not, oh, what should I do today? I only care about myself. Right? None of that. We wanna be effective and we wanna go out and change the world and create an amazing life. Stephen Covey’s book is awesome, especially for adults, but certainly for teen books. We’ll link to that. He’s got a website full of information as well. Check out That book is amazing, and it’ll transform your life if you haven’t read it and if you let it. So all of this is to say, even for the younger kids listening, just like I was telling my kids last night, I think it’s very important for us to think about what is the type of life that we want to create? And do you just wanna let life pass by and you’re kind of being blown around like a boat, you know, with a wind to and fro? Or do you wanna have a firm anchor? Do you want to, you know, make some intentional decisions and say, we’re going in that direction and here’s what we’re gonna do. Life is so much better. I think when you have plans and when you have goals. and then when you learn how you can be a better version of yourself to go achieve them. So, Brittany, this is a fun discussion. I really like the book. I’m glad you did too. it’s really helped me in my life. Make sure to check out the show notes page you guys, and as always, tell your friends about the podcast. Let’s get more people listening. We love how many of you are out there listening to this podcast. We love it. We thank you very much, and Brittany, until next time, we’ll talk to you later.

Brittany: Talk to you later.