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The Education of an Accidental CEO: Lessons Learned from the Trailer Park to the Corner Office

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David Novak--one of today's most engaging, unconventional, and successful business leaders--lived in thirty-two trailer parks in twenty-three states by the time he reached the seventh grade. He sold encyclopedias door to door, worked as a hotel night clerk, and took a job as a $7,200-a-year advertising copywriter with the hopes of maybe one day becoming a creative director David Novak--one of today's most engaging, unconventional, and successful business leaders--lived in thirty-two trailer parks in twenty-three states by the time he reached the seventh grade. He sold encyclopedias door to door, worked as a hotel night clerk, and took a job as a $7,200-a-year advertising copywriter with the hopes of maybe one day becoming a creative director. Instead, he became head of the world's largest restaurant company at the ripe old age of forty-seven. While David never went to business school, he did learn from the greatest of teachers--experience--and plenty of other very smart people as well: Magic Johnson on the secret to teamwork, Warren Buffett on what he looks for in the companies he buys, John Wooden on ego, and Jack Welch on one thing he'd do over. Now he wants to share with you what he discovered about getting ahead and getting noticed; motivating people and turning businesses around; building winning teams and running a global company of nearly one million people; and always staying true to yourself. "The Education of an Accidental CEO" is filled with David Novak's street-smart wisdom: From his formative years... - Walking through your anxieties - Avoiding the poison of stereotypes - Staying "right-sized" - Breaking through the clutter From his years as an ad executive and chief marketing officer ... - How not to roll over like Fluffy the dog - Seeing yourself as a brand - When to pull the plug on the Super Bowl As the COO of Pepsi Cola and then as president of KFC and Pizza Hut ... - Why a gold watch can have less value than a floppy rubber chicken - Knowing when "the answers are in the building" - Knowing when to do nothing - What it takes to revitalze a company And as CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc. ... - How to "shock the system" - How to avoid the slow-no's - Managing two up and two down David Novak's ideas for building an entire culture around reward and recognition--getting everyone from division presidents to dishwashers to buy into recognizing the achievements of others--is studied by other companies and discussed here in great detail. Whether you are the CEO of a global conglomerate or a budding entrepreneur, there is something here that will help you get where you want to go.


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David Novak--one of today's most engaging, unconventional, and successful business leaders--lived in thirty-two trailer parks in twenty-three states by the time he reached the seventh grade. He sold encyclopedias door to door, worked as a hotel night clerk, and took a job as a $7,200-a-year advertising copywriter with the hopes of maybe one day becoming a creative director David Novak--one of today's most engaging, unconventional, and successful business leaders--lived in thirty-two trailer parks in twenty-three states by the time he reached the seventh grade. He sold encyclopedias door to door, worked as a hotel night clerk, and took a job as a $7,200-a-year advertising copywriter with the hopes of maybe one day becoming a creative director. Instead, he became head of the world's largest restaurant company at the ripe old age of forty-seven. While David never went to business school, he did learn from the greatest of teachers--experience--and plenty of other very smart people as well: Magic Johnson on the secret to teamwork, Warren Buffett on what he looks for in the companies he buys, John Wooden on ego, and Jack Welch on one thing he'd do over. Now he wants to share with you what he discovered about getting ahead and getting noticed; motivating people and turning businesses around; building winning teams and running a global company of nearly one million people; and always staying true to yourself. "The Education of an Accidental CEO" is filled with David Novak's street-smart wisdom: From his formative years... - Walking through your anxieties - Avoiding the poison of stereotypes - Staying "right-sized" - Breaking through the clutter From his years as an ad executive and chief marketing officer ... - How not to roll over like Fluffy the dog - Seeing yourself as a brand - When to pull the plug on the Super Bowl As the COO of Pepsi Cola and then as president of KFC and Pizza Hut ... - Why a gold watch can have less value than a floppy rubber chicken - Knowing when "the answers are in the building" - Knowing when to do nothing - What it takes to revitalze a company And as CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc. ... - How to "shock the system" - How to avoid the slow-no's - Managing two up and two down David Novak's ideas for building an entire culture around reward and recognition--getting everyone from division presidents to dishwashers to buy into recognizing the achievements of others--is studied by other companies and discussed here in great detail. Whether you are the CEO of a global conglomerate or a budding entrepreneur, there is something here that will help you get where you want to go.

30 review for The Education of an Accidental CEO: Lessons Learned from the Trailer Park to the Corner Office

  1. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    Great book for managers. The book provides some history on the author but mostly encompasses his philosophy on management. It talks about his people focused philosophy and how to stay grounded from the corner office. I wish there were more tips on the daily nuts and bolts of using this techniques and better information on the his marketing strategies. However, the tips the author gives and the stories he uses to reinforce his strategies are very helpful. Overall, good book with lots of useful infor Great book for managers. The book provides some history on the author but mostly encompasses his philosophy on management. It talks about his people focused philosophy and how to stay grounded from the corner office. I wish there were more tips on the daily nuts and bolts of using this techniques and better information on the his marketing strategies. However, the tips the author gives and the stories he uses to reinforce his strategies are very helpful. Overall, good book with lots of useful information and references.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    Mr. Novak seems like a great CEO, and the individual stories about problems/stories at Pepsi and Yum brands are interesting. That said, there isn't much that is new here-just usual lessons like make work fun, and the importance of recognizing employees. Additionally, I would have liked to learn about how his initiatives decreased turnover in the restaurants among front-line employees. While these may be employees of the individual franchisees-they seem like the most important employees in the or Mr. Novak seems like a great CEO, and the individual stories about problems/stories at Pepsi and Yum brands are interesting. That said, there isn't much that is new here-just usual lessons like make work fun, and the importance of recognizing employees. Additionally, I would have liked to learn about how his initiatives decreased turnover in the restaurants among front-line employees. While these may be employees of the individual franchisees-they seem like the most important employees in the organization.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    I have to admit that this was an appealing audiobook even if the author is more than a bit heavy on the sales and marketing side and is in full command of many cliches.  Despite not knowing the author's name beforehand, the author's winsome persona and his skill in telling compelling stories about business life certainly won me over.  Also, I am fond of the restaurants he was in charge of [1], so that matters a lot.  While there is a great deal I liked about this book, though, I do feel it neces I have to admit that this was an appealing audiobook even if the author is more than a bit heavy on the sales and marketing side and is in full command of many cliches.  Despite not knowing the author's name beforehand, the author's winsome persona and his skill in telling compelling stories about business life certainly won me over.  Also, I am fond of the restaurants he was in charge of [1], so that matters a lot.  While there is a great deal I liked about this book, though, I do feel it necessary to point out that the author's claims to begin his life in the trailer park deserve an asterisk and some explanation as he does explain what he means in the book, pointing out that it was not due to poverty but due to his father's work for the government.  This aside, though, the book is definitely full of useful insight and the author is very candid about his own life and decisions and some of his characteristic short-sightedness when it comes to matters of career ambition. The audiobook itself is six discs, symbolic of the fact that this is a short book that it would likely be possible to read in a couple of hours (but which required about 7 hours or so to listen to over the course of my commute).  Most of the story consists of a generally chronological story (with a fair amount of foreshadowing) about how the author spent his early childhood and preteen years being the new kid in school having to make friends easily, and then moving on to an academic career and the search for work that included selling encyclopedias and moving from the advertising agency world to years at Pepsi working his way up as an advertising executive making his reputation on giving recognition, moving over to operations as a way of rising higher given the cap on advancing from the marketing side alone.  The author talks about his experiences as the man responsible for Crystal Pepsi and reveals plenty of his own foibles, while spending a lot of time praising the mentors he had that pushed him to advance and grow and improve.  I like the fact that at the end he talks about his efforts at education and training as well as providing an answer to frequently asked questions about his life and his company and his troubled relationship with PETA. The author is someone who is big on motivation, so your enjoyment of this book will depend in large part on your tolerance or enjoyment of people with a great deal of enthusiasm and a somewhat "loud" personality.  Likewise, the author gives off every bit of sincerity when it comes to an appreciation of the products of Yum Brands, talking about his own enjoyment of Pepsi products as well as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC in particular.  He shares his knowledge and appreciation of company history and his concern for recognition, as well as his deep interest in reading what others have had to say about leadership and learning from those who have gone before as well as his franchisees.  In fact, the author's appreciation for those who own and run restaurant franchisees likely helped him to be a very popular CEO with those important parts of his business, and perhaps contributed to his longevity as a CEO.  Seriously, though, this book is worth the time/cost for the jokes about rubber chickens and the story of how the author almost got fired by Pepsi, though, among its many other virtues. [1] See, for example: https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kwang Wei Long

    this book writes about the CEO style of running things during his time in Pepsi co and subsequently the CEO of Yum Brands. Peppered with his experience, it's a good read to understand how top execs think and work. this book writes about the CEO style of running things during his time in Pepsi co and subsequently the CEO of Yum Brands. Peppered with his experience, it's a good read to understand how top execs think and work.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alberto Lopez

    David Novak gives us a great business read. Not only is he a creative and all around great guy; he also inspires us to do more with out careers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Adriano

    I need to stop reading books by CEOs. Aside from How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg, I've found the rhetoric in these books to be very insincere. Novak's book is a little more down-to-earth than Howard Schultz's Onward, but only by a hair. His tips on strong management and leadership seem as though they strive to be different, but still feel like corporate speak that doesn't resonate with the rank and file. One thing I did appreciate is his ability to acknowledge practices out I need to stop reading books by CEOs. Aside from How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg, I've found the rhetoric in these books to be very insincere. Novak's book is a little more down-to-earth than Howard Schultz's Onward, but only by a hair. His tips on strong management and leadership seem as though they strive to be different, but still feel like corporate speak that doesn't resonate with the rank and file. One thing I did appreciate is his ability to acknowledge practices outside his own group and how he's co-opted them into his. It wasn't as painful a read as Onward, but I still feel as though I spent a few hours in a small car with a desperate salesman.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Don

    You never know what you are capable of, share what you learn each day, obstacles may be others and frequently are within self, fears about future, stereotypes are self-limiting, everyone has something to contribute, be there and talk to newborns all the time, telling is not selling, plant seeds via head and heart, slow and soft, what today-tomorrow, what and who, arrogance vs listening, answers are in-building and with customers, empower grass roots to improve, 8-customer focus-belief in people- You never know what you are capable of, share what you learn each day, obstacles may be others and frequently are within self, fears about future, stereotypes are self-limiting, everyone has something to contribute, be there and talk to newborns all the time, telling is not selling, plant seeds via head and heart, slow and soft, what today-tomorrow, what and who, arrogance vs listening, answers are in-building and with customers, empower grass roots to improve, 8-customer focus-belief in people-reward-coach-accountable-excellence-positive energy-teamwork, track McDonalds, Wooden-basics, Theresa, openly discuss what does not work-walmart.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marca

    I enjoyed this book. Lots of common sense information/advice about the workplace. The author comes across as humble, but very confident. I wish I had his instincts. His message that he reinforces again and again is to let employees know that they are appreciated and he had some fun ways to do so. I took notes. The author seems to be a nice guy one would enjoy meeting – can’t say that about many corporate bigwigs. The book is definitely worth the read by anyone who manages people.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vicki -timman

    A very interesting journey documented by David Novak, formerly of KFC and Pepsico and now CEO of Yum! brands. An easy read with lots of storytelling to convey his philosophy of management and leadership, and if this type of thing is your cup of tea, it is a very easy and engaging read. I enjoyed it -- it is applicable to what the organization I work for does -- and I look forward to his next book, which was eluded to "Taking People with You" A very interesting journey documented by David Novak, formerly of KFC and Pepsico and now CEO of Yum! brands. An easy read with lots of storytelling to convey his philosophy of management and leadership, and if this type of thing is your cup of tea, it is a very easy and engaging read. I enjoyed it -- it is applicable to what the organization I work for does -- and I look forward to his next book, which was eluded to "Taking People with You"

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    I recommend this book to anyone looking for good tips on being a leader. I originally listened to it on CD and now I'm planning to buy multiple hard copies to give out to friends at work and in my fraternity. By the time I was done reading this book I seriously considered looking for opportunities to work for this man (at Yum Brands). Very inspirational. I recommend this book to anyone looking for good tips on being a leader. I originally listened to it on CD and now I'm planning to buy multiple hard copies to give out to friends at work and in my fraternity. By the time I was done reading this book I seriously considered looking for opportunities to work for this man (at Yum Brands). Very inspirational.

  11. 5 out of 5

    The Scrivener's Quill

    I listened into the fourth cd of eight and it was good, but it started to feel like an endless journey. I wasn't sure why I needed to listen to 8 cds so I stopped. By four I was sure I had about what I needed and my interest was falling off. I listened into the fourth cd of eight and it was good, but it started to feel like an endless journey. I wasn't sure why I needed to listen to 8 cds so I stopped. By four I was sure I had about what I needed and my interest was falling off.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cory Van Horn

    I have always been curious about the journey of becoming a CEO. David Novak shares his climb through the ranks of Pizza Hut, PepsiCo. And eventually becoming CEO of Yum! Brands Inc. It’s a great story of drive and determination with true honesty about mistakes made along the way.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wendee

    I loved this book so much. It was great storytelling but I love the business advice and all the fascinating stories from his life and career. I love his concept of rewarding people in ways that are meaningful to them and creating a business culture around reward and recognition.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Easy read-David is a motivational CEO and has some innovative ideas.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Banks

    although it says trailer park i believe trailer park is slightly misleading. other than that he is a hard worker interesting story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Barker

    Excellent book on management of people and how to achieve success.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karen Downs

    Loved it... David Novak shares his successes and challenges in a very open and sharing kind of way. Highly inspiring leader.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John Stieven

    A very insightful book about leadership -- and how to get the most out of your people -- highly recommended

  19. 4 out of 5

    Naveen

    A really inspiring book, showing us that you don't need a Harvard business degree to become the ceo of a nulti billion dollar company. A great read, easy to read and stayed interesting throughout. A really inspiring book, showing us that you don't need a Harvard business degree to become the ceo of a nulti billion dollar company. A great read, easy to read and stayed interesting throughout.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lori Grant

    A should-read autobiograpy on leadership for knowledge workers, managers, directors, C-levels, and entrepreneurs.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Higley

    Good book. There are some good insights in the book and Mr. Novak is very likable. It was a enjoyable and quick read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    Great, quick read. Lots of insights about leadership, strategy, and teamwork.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Yaseen Dadabhay

  24. 5 out of 5

    James Caperton

  25. 4 out of 5

    Derren Burrell

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joe Cronin

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eric Haight

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Steimer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anaele

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brandi

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