The Education of an Accidental CEO

While other CEOs have written books about their careers, David Novak is not, as you will discover, an ordinary CEO and this is not your ordinary business book. THE EDUCATION OF AN ACCIDENTAL CEO: Lessons Learned From The Trailer Park to the Corner Office (Crown Business,


October 2007) chronicles Davidís personal journey to the top including the lessonsóthe good, the bad, the uglyóthat proved valuable along the way.

In the book, David, who never earned an MBA, takes his experience growing up in 32 trailer parks and living in 23 states by the time he was in the seventh grade and combines it with the powerful lessons he learned along his journey from a $7,200-a-year advertising copywriter to his current job as CEO of Yum Brands, running the worldís largest restaurant business (including KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silverís, and A&W All-American Food), which employs almost one million people.

THE EDUCATION OF AN ACCIDENTAL CEO combines the how-to lessons of Execution with the motivational story-telling of Who Moved My Cheese, and shows managers and leaders how to build a winning team by getting everyone on board to build a winning business. It illustrates how Novak melded three separate and underperforming companies, spun off from Pepsico in 1997, into an international juggernaut based on his ideas about "taking people with you." On an even broader level, Novak's unique take on motivation and inspiration are practical, tested and useful for anyone, regardless of where they are in their career.

David's ideas for building an entire culture around reward and recognition is key to his overall business strategy. From the division presidents to the dishwashers at Yumís individual restaurants, David has built an entire culture around reward and recognition. This system has been studied by other companies and is discussed in great detail throughout the book.

THE EDUCATION OF AN ACCIDENTAL CEO is filled with Davidís street-smart wisdom:

The Power of Recognition and Reward
It doesn't matter whether you're dealing with a highly ranked executive or someone who's taking orders in a restaurant, you can never underestimate the power of telling someone they're doing a good job.

Never underestimate "the power of goofy." David Novak's awards such as the floppy chicken, the walking teeth and the cheese head work because they are sincere and linked to the values of YUM but also fulfill a deep human need to be connected.

You Never Know What You're Capable Of
Whatever position you're in, always look at your peers and decide whether they're better than you; then work to become better than them. Once you are, then look at your boss and ask yourself whether he has something you don't have. Then work to become better than him, too.

You never get promoted until someone can see you in the position you aspire to.

Great Leaders Take People With Them
Telling isnít selling. Lead a process of self discovery by sharing what you know with others so they can discover what needs to be done on their own ñ then they own it along with you.

Being a tough motivator who gets things done and being a decent person aren't mutually exclusive. There's a big difference between being tough and tough-minded.

To Get Anywhere or Do Anything You have to Break Through the Clutter
Shock the system by taking whatever the conventional wisdom or prevailing attitudes are and turn them on their ear. What customer perception, belief, habit or belief do you have to change, build or re-enforce to grow the business?

When something is important, "go bonkers". How you say something is just as important as what you are saying. For David and Yum it is customer mania - not customer service, customer satisfaction or customer focus - but being a maniac about your customers.

While David did not receive the traditional upbringing and education usually bestowed on would-be CEOís (a permanent address, private schools, an advanced degree, etc.), he did capitalize on all of the experiences he had along his more unconventional path. He analyzed and taught himself how to get ahead and was fortunate enough to meet some major icons of leadership along the way. He was able to ask Magic Johnson the secret to teamwork, Warren Buffet on what he looks for in the companies he buys, John Wooden on ego, and Jack Welch on one thing heíd do over.

Whether you are the CEO, a budding entrepreneur, or a novice in the business world THE EDUCATION OF AN ACCIDENTAL CEO will help you get where you want to go.