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FranklinPlanner’s Founders – How It All Began

Picture source: Wikipedia

The year was 1726. A young man named Benjamin Franklin was returning from London to his home in Philadelphia, an 80-day voyage. During the journey, he contemplated the direction he wanted his life to take. He wrote down his values in a small black book he carried with him, listing thirteen virtues he wanted to develop:

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
  1. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
  1. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
  1. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
  1. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
  1. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
  1. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  1. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  1. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  1. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
  1. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  1. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  1. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

For the rest of his life, Benjamin Franklin worked on one of these virtues every week, making incremental improvements in his personal character. The results showed in his historic life, where he is now revered as a philosopher, inventor, and statesman.

More than two-and-a-half centuries later, in 1981, Hyrum W. Smith read Benjamin Franklin’s biography, and was struck by Franklin’s impressive self-improvement and time-management systems. Smith moved to create a system of motivational seminars based on these revolutionary ideas.

The goal of these seminars was simple: help clients identify what they really want to accomplish, do the right things for the right reasons, and stay motivated until they complete their goals. Smith targeted these seminars to corporate groups and business executives, and focused on building relationships rather than direct marketing efforts.

Word of mouth spread, and by 1983, Smith teamed up with Dick Winwood, Dennis Webb, and Lynn Webb to form the Franklin Institute. During this time, Smith accepted every opportunity to speak, logging more than four and a half years traveling on business between 1983 and 1990. He taught effective planning, even when he expected a group of 30 or more and only three or four showed up.

Smith introduced the Franklin Day Planner in 1984 to help his seminar participants put values-based time management into practice. As time went on, the success of values-based planning helped the Franklin Institute grow into an international business. From mall-based stores in the US to UK to Australia to Hong Kong, Franklin Quest spread the art of planning worldwide.

Meanwhile, Stephen R. Covey, author of the best-selling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, built his own professional training organization, based on his landmark ideas of personal growth and professional cooperation. In 1997, Franklin Quest merged with the Covey Leadership Institute to become FranklinCovey.

290 years after Benjamin Franklin first wrote in his book, and more than 30 years after the creation of the Franklin Day Planner, the practice of value-based planning still changes lives. At, we’re looking forward to helping you achieve what matters most to you.

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