Stephen R. Covey, author of the bestselling self-help book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," died Monday, his family announced. Covey, 79, had been injured in a major bicycle accident in April.
Covey's signature work was published in 1989 and became a lasting bestseller — in 1994, it had been on the New York Times bestseller list for 220 weeks. Currently its sales are tallied at more than 20 million copies. He went on to write a number of sequels and spinoffs, including "The Third Alternative" (2011) and "The Eighth Habit" (2005). He was also a sought-after management advisor.
Covey was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. He got an MBA at Harvard, then returned to Utah to get a doctorate from Brigham Young University, where he taught business management.
Covey’s management post at BYU led to "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," which launched a second career as management guru for companies and government agencies, among them Saturn, Ritz Carlton, Proctor & Gamble, Sears Roebuck and Co., NASA, Black & Decker, Public Broadcasting Service, Amway, American Cancer Society and the Internal Revenue Service.
The books have legions of adherents in corporate America who swear by its principles. But critics tend to see it as part of a cult of the self-help American frenzy of past decades or so that tends to trivialize big problems.
Covey founded a Utah-based management training center that sold books and videos and held training seminars. In 1997 it merged with FranklinQuest, a deal from which Covey was said to have made about $27 million in cash and stock.
"We believe that organizational behavior is individual behavior collectivized," he told Fortune magazine in 1994. "We want to take this to the whole world."
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Stephen R. Covey in 2003. Credit: Ric Feld / Associated Press.