The smartest people I know happily pay for advice on growing their business.

I personally pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for the world’s top advisors to give me an edge. And it’s been worth at least 10 times as much as I’ve paid.

But would I ever pay over half a million dollars for one piece of advice?

How about you?

Charles Schwab, the steel magnate from the US certainly did.

About a century ago Schwab hired Ivy Lee, a smart young consultant for some advice.

At that time Schwab was CEO of Bethlehem Steel. It was a fast growing company but it was disorganised and inefficient. He knew if he couldn’t get on top of things fast they’d be swamped by their competition.

Lee offered to give Schwab one piece of advice which would revolutionise Bethlehem Steel. And in turn Schwab would pay him whatever he thought it was worth.

What was the advice Lee gave Schwab?

He advised him to write a list of the 6 most important things to get done at the end of each day.

And rank them in order.

Then when he came in the next day to start working on the top item and not stop until it was completely finished. Then the second … then the third.

And before he went home that night he was to do it again.

Schwab followed this advice to the letter … and his efficiency went through the roof.

As agreed he wrote Lee a cheque what he thought it was worth, which was $25,000 or …

… well over $500,000 dollars in today’s money.

This one piece of advice revolutionised Bethlehem Steel. And Schwab named it as the reason behind a $100 million turnaround in the business.

It’s little wonder Schwab paid so much. What about you? Was the advice worth the money?