SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Stephen R. Covey, author of the bestselling motivational book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” died on Monday at an Idaho hospital from injuries he suffered in a bicycle accident in April, family members said in a statement. He was 79.
Covey, a former professor at Brigham Young University in Utah, founded an executive training center in Salt Lake City that merged in 1997 with Franklin Quest Co to form FranklinCovey, a leading provider of time-management seminars and publications.
The publicly traded company is perhaps best known for its line of Franklin Planner appointment calendars, which it markets along with books, workshops and other products based on its “Franklin System” of business management and Covey’s “7 Habits” principles.
Covey, a Salt Lake City native, earned a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University and a doctorate from Brigham Young.
But it was his seminal self-help guide to success in business, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change,” published in 1989, that made Covey a brand name.
He went on to write several more bestsellers about business management, including “Principle-Centered Leadership,” became a favorite motivational speaker on the Fortune 100 circuit and served as a personal consultant to organizations ranging from Procter & Gamble to NASA.
Covey was recognized in 1996 as one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, and was named among the world’s top 50 business thinkers in 2011 by Thinkers50, a group that compiles that list every other year.
His “7 Habits” title has sold more than 20 million books in 38 languages worldwide, and the audio version has sold over 2 million copies, more than any nonfiction book ever released on tape, according to publisher Simon & Schuster.
The book spent five years on the New York Times bestseller list and begat a number of sequels, including his 2004 title, “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness,” and his final work, “The 3rd Alternative,” published last year.
He died at the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls “due to the residual effects of a bike accident he suffered this past April,” his family said in its statement.
Covey fell off his bike and suffered severe head injuries requiring hospitalization on April 19 during a ride near his home in Provo, Utah, according to Provo police Sergeant Brandon Post.
Covey was remembered on Monday by colleagues at Utah State University, where he joined the business school faculty in 2010, as an accomplished scholar and tireless mentor to students.
“Dr. Covey touched the lives of people around the world in very personal ways,” Utah State President Stan Albrecht said in a statement. “He was an inspirational leader who was always a powerful voice for individual integrity, strong character and extreme trustworthiness in every aspect of life.”
In an article published in the business school’s magazine, Covey was described by one of his sons as an informal, approachable person with a good sense of humor.
“He always treated everybody the same, exactly,” Sean Covey said in the spring 2010 issue of the Huntsman Alumni Magazine. “It didn’t matter if you were the CEO of a Fortune 10 company or the local barber. You wouldn’t have ever known the difference.”
In his final hours, Covey was surrounded “by his loving wife and each one of his children and their spouses, as we sang him his favorite hymns, just as he always wanted,” the family statement said.
Editing by Steve Gorman, Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham