In addressing a packed room of Wharton graduate students yesterday afternoon, motivational speaker and best-selling author Stephen Covey used a seemingly unconventional teaching technique to convey a rather conventional lesson: It is always best in business to join together and work toward a common goal. Covey, the internationally known author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, asked the roomful of students to close their eyes and then point north. When nearly everyone began pointing in opposite directions, Covey told the audience that, "The essence of leadership is to get people pointing in the same direction." Covey came to Penn as part of the Zweig Executive Dinner Series Committee. His appearance in one of the largest rooms of Steinberg-Dietrich Hall proved so popular that every seat was taken, leaving groups of students standing in the aisles and sitting on the floor. Covey was recently named one of Time magazine's 25 most influential people. Over the past 30 years, Covey has worked as a consultant with international companies, focusing largely on leadership and time management skills. But he is perhaps best known for his motivational book, which was a mainstay on The New York Times bestseller list for several years. Covey discussed several of his now-famous "seven habits" of success in his talk yesterday. Drawing on both personal and professional experiences, Covey, dressed in a stylish black suit, lectured for the first half of his hour-long talk on what he considers to be four qualities of good leadership: modeling, pathfinding, aligning and empowering. Making his talk Penn-specific, Covey also applied his common goal theory with Wharton's program of team-learning. "I think that is so important, so valuable, that you are having team-learning experiences," Covey said. "The world is very interdependent. You cannot think independently in an interdependent world." To draw an example, Covey equated being overly independent with trying to play tennis with a golf ball. "You can do it, but it doesn't work well," he joked. When asked what advice he could give to graduating seniors, Covey offered some tips that could well be relevant to all students at Penn. "Write a personal mission statement and live by it," the author said. "Read and take full advantage of the learning opportunities here. Try to get the job that taps into your passions." Writing a personal statement is one of the "seven habits" of success that Covey outlined in his book. Calling his experience on campus "tremendously pleasurable and positive," Covey wished the students luck in finding the jobs that they wanted. Many of the students who attended Covey's talk were at least familiar with the "seven habits," but had not necessarily read his book. "My husband has read several of his books, and he says that they are very good," said Vanessa Pfeiffer, a second-year Wharton student pursuing her master of business administration degree. "My friends said that I shouldn't miss this opportunity." First-year MBA student Dave Sturek added, "I thought it was very interesting. It was very typical of what I heard and discussed before, but he is very inspirational and gives a lot of people hope that they can live their lives in a similar way that he does."Comments powered by Disqus
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