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Stephen Covey, at 79; ‘7 Habits’ self-help author

By Laurence Arnold
Bloomberg News / July 17, 2012
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WASHINGTON — Stephen Covey, whose 1989 book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” won millions of followers worldwide and helped fuse the genres of business and self-help, has died. He was 79.

He died Monday at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho, of complications of injuries sustained in a bicycle accident in Utah three months ago, according to a statement from his family. He was knocked unconscious in the April 19 crash in Provo, which occurred while he was riding downhill and wearing a helmet, according to an account in the Deseret News of Salt Lake City.

According to his website, Mr. Covey sold more than 20 million books in 38 languages and had four titles that each sold more than 1 million copies. In addition to “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” those were “First Things First,” “Principle-Centered Leadership,” and “The 7 Habits of Highly ­Effective Families.”

He also served as vice chairman of Salt Lake City-based Franklin Covey Co., an international business consulting firm and the maker of Franklin daily planners and the Franklin Covey Planning System. Franklin Covey was formed in 1997 when the Franklin Quest Co., which held seminars on time management, paid $160 million in stock for Covey’s Covey Leadership Center, based in Provo, Utah.

Mr. Covey and Franklin Covey’s other co-founder, Hyrum W. Smith, stepped aside as cochairmen in 1999 as part of the company’s plan to raise $75 million from investors by issuing preferred shares.

Calling Mr. Covey a “human-potential guru,” Time magazine named him to its list of the 25 most influential people in 1996.

Mr. Covey’s seven habits included setting priorities, taking initiative, and seeking “win-win” relationships. His 2004 follow-up book, “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness,” urged his many adherents to find their voice — their unique mixture of talent, passion, need and conscience — “and inspire others to find theirs.”

Mr. Covey was born in Salt Lake City. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Utah in 1952, a master’s in business administration from Harvard University in 1957, and a doctorate in organizational behavior from Brigham Young University in 1976, according to a 2004 profile in USA Today. He taught at BYU for 24 years.

A devout Mormon, he spent time as a missionary in the United Kingdom in the 1950s. He always denied that religious beliefs, his or any others, were involved in his writings.

With his wife, Sandra, Mr. Covey had nine children and, in 2009, 50 grandchildren, according to a story in the Dallas Morning News.

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