David Novak on Why Being Late Means You Don’t Respect People’s Time, How to Get Promoted and How to Develop a Higher Sense of Urgency

Show Notes

The former CEO of YUM! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc.) who was able to help lead the company to doubling the number of restaurants to 41,000, and growing its market capitalization from $4 billion to $32 billion teaches about working with a sense of urgency, how to get promoted, how to get ready for work and how to lead your organization. 

Years ago I read an incredible book about how to become a more effective manager and business leader called The Education of an Accidental CEO. This book was written by CEO of YUM! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc.) 

    1. Yes, yes, yes and yes! Thrivetime Nation on today’s show we are interviewing the retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yum! Brands, Inc. who was the company’s CEO between 1999 to January 1, 2016. During his time at Yum! Brands, he was able to help lead the company to double the number of restaurants to 41,000, and growing their market capitalization from $4 billion to $32 billion. David Novak, welcome onto The Thrivetime Show how are you sir?
    2. David, I know that you’ve had a ton of success at this point in your career, but I would love to start off with your childhood when your dad’s job was to mark latitudes and longitudes for the nation’s mapmakers…what was life like growing up?
      1. My dad was a government surveyor, he had a high school education and we were in a surveying party of about 15 families. 
      2. We would move about every 3 months
    3. David Novak, I loved your book The Education of an Accidental CEO, but for our listeners out there that are not familiar with your path to becoming the CEO of Yum! Brands I would love for you to share the story. When did you start with the company and what was your role?
      1. I got a journalism degree from the University of Missouri
      2. I wanted to start out in an advertising agency
      3. I got a job as an advertising agency as a copywriter
      4. I gained an appreciation for getting inside the mind of the consumer and the mind of the advertising industry
      5. I decided I had to go to New York, but I felt like a duck out of water there
      6. I received a call from an agency in Dallas and I worked my way up to be the head agency guy at 28-29 years old
      7. I was interviewed to run the advertising for Pizza Hut
      8. I became the COO of the Pepsi Co.
      9. I ran KFC & Pizza Hut and eventually Yum! Brands
      10. I looked to see who had the job above mine and asked what skills I needed to have to get their job.
    4. What was your work ethic like
      1. Early on, I would get there before everybody and leave later than everyone else
      2. It was important to me to get ready for the day
      3. The night before I think about what the things I needed to get done the next day.
      4. You make your best decisions when you’re grateful and the worst decisions when you’re angry
      5. Later on in my career I started to come into work at 9 AM
    5. NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24
    6. When did you first feel like you were truly beginning to gain traction with your career?
    7. David in your book you share about Howard Davis helping you to work with a sense of urgency…I would love for you to share about the things that Howard taught you?
      1. He was a make it happen now and had an incredible sense of urgency to get things done for our clients
      2. He taught me to get a harder edge and become tougher minded
    8. David Novak, in your book you write on page 37 about Learning by Doing or How I Created My Own Business Degree…I would love for you to share what you mean by this?
    9. David, on page 45 of your book you talk about the importance of acting like a leader…in your mind what does this mean?
      1. Be the leader, act like the leader.
      2. The idea was everybody counts. 
      3. You can take the lead, you don’t have to wait for someone to ask you to do something
      4. The higher up you go, there’s nothing that you can do yourself.
      5. You have to get people involved
      6. The best way to motivate people is to listen to them
    10. What would you say to a business owner who is late to everything all day and never having a plan for their day.
      1. One of the responsibilities of leadership is caring about your people.
      2. Everytime that you get to work late, you are telling people that you don’t respect them and don’t respect their time.
      3. When you give people feedback, start by saying what they appreciate about them and then what needs to be addressed.
    11. David Novak, you wrote in page 61 of your book, “I learned at Pizza Hut that my enthusiasm would take things only so far. Getting people geared up to turn business around was just the first step. After that, I had to find a way to sustain that energy in my keep and keep the momentum going.” What are your tips for our listeners about to keep their teams inspired?
      1. Recognize people for all of the behaviors that you know will produce results
      2. Recognize people who are exercising those behaviors
      3. Have a healthy dissatisfaction for the status quo, pressing people towards the higher goal
      4. Make people feel like they are on the “A” team
    12. If you could go back 20 years, what would you say to yourself?
      1. Always be positive
      2. Make sure you focus on what matters most
      3. Be patient, but don’t lose your sense of urgency
    13. How did you figure out to look for the positions above you?
      1. I am very competitive
      2. I did my job to the best of my ability
      3. I looked at the person above me and asked what do they have that I don’t have? And most of the time there wasn’t anything. There may have been some skills that I needed to learn, but when I got those down I found out that I would get the job.
    14. Wes Carter wants to know is the goal of YUM brands to take over the world like in the movie Demolition Man.
    15. David, I love The Education of an Accidental CEO because it is so practical…and in the book you write, “The Definition of Marketing – when you get rid of all the doublespeak surrounding the finer points of marketing, what marketing really comes down to is convincing people to do something you want them to do.” I love for you to share what marketing isn’t in your mind?
    16. David when you were managing KFC, Taco Bello, Pizza Hut, and Pepsi how did you stay organized on a daily basis…how did you typically spend the first four hours of every day?
    17. David, what are your pro tips for leading a meeting effectively…I want to get into the nitty gritty of how you believe meetings should be run?
    18. What are a few of your daily habits that you believe have allowed you to achieve such massive success?
    19. David Novak, you decided to retire in 2016 and to start DavidNovakLeadership.com, what is DavidNovakLeadership.com all about and why did you start it?
      1. What matters most to me is developing leaders
      2. I started this company and there is a lot of free content on leadership
      3. I’ve posted 83 podcasts to date with great leaders like Tom Brady, Jack Nickalaus, etc.
      4. I’m friends with almost anybody that I’ve interviewed
      5. We have two leadership programs that we sell and I’m working on a subscription-based model for teaching leadership
    20. David, in 2013 you wrote and released the book, Take People with You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen….what is this book all about at its core?
    21. David Novak you titled Chapter 3 of your book, Be an Avid Leader: Sek and Build Know-how….what do you mean by this?
    22. David, Chapter 8 of your book is titled Strategy: Gain Alignment Every Step of the Way at Every Level…I would love for you to share what this Chapter is all about?
    23. David Novak from your experience why is it important to use recognition to drive performance and how do you do it on a practical level?
    24. We find that most successful entrepreneurs tend to have idiosyncrasies that are actually their super powers…what idiosyncrasy do you have?
    25. What message or principle that you wish you could teach everyone?

 

Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

Facebook David Novak Thrivetime Show

Clay: On today’s show, we are interviewing the former CEO of Yum! Brands. You know, Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut. He was the CEO of that organization. However, my interest in David Novak started many, many years ago. You see, back in the day, I was reading this incredible book about how to become a more effective manager and leader. The book was titled The Education of an Accidental CEO. And the book was written by the CEO of Yum! Brands at the time, David Novak. David Novak, N-O-V-A-K. And the book was just a real page turner. I’m a guy who believes that the more you learn, the more you earn.

Clay: And so I was just flying through this book where David shares how he was able to double the size of the restaurants to 41,000 worldwide restaurants, and he was able to grow the company’s market capitalization from $4 billion to $32 billion. And so you can imagine my excitement and nervousness when David Novak agreed to be on today’s show. I didn’t want to waste this opportunity, and so I asked David about everything I’ve ever wanted to ask him, including how did he go from living in a trailer park to becoming the CEO of one of America’s largest companies?

David Novak: People would say, “Well, how could you live in a trailer and travel around like that?” Well, I thought everybody did it. What’s really funny is that even now, no matter how big the house is, when I get together with my two sisters and my mom and dad, and I’m blessed that they’re still alive at 90 years old, we all sit on the same sofa, clumped up against each other just like we did in the trailer.

Clay: I asked David directly, “What are the keys to getting promoted?”

David Novak: Early on in my career, I really tried to outwork everybody and I would get in at five o’clock and leave whenever I felt like I could leave.

Clay: I asked David about what kind of behaviors will absolutely kill your path to promotion and will make you an ineffective leader even if you have the job title.

David Novak: Every time you get to work late, you’re telling people you don’t respect their time, you don’t respect them. And you know what? You just can’t do that. People are not going to be motivated by you. They’re not going to follow you unless they can respect and know that you respect them and their time’s valuable.

Clay: I asked David, “As a manager, how do you correct people who are chronically late?”

David Novak: If you let that person keep being late and they work for you, you’re doing them a disservice and you’re doing the team a disservice.

Clay: I asked David, “When running a billion dollar company, how do you keep the team motivated?”

David Novak: And then what I would do is I’d recognize people every time I’d see them doing that, so that really puts the fuel on the fire and keeps people motivated, because people like to be appreciated for what they do.

Clay: I asked David about the mindset needed to achieve super success.

David Novak: Be patient, but don’t lose your urgency.

Clay: I also asked David about what kind of character attributes are you looking for in new hires?

David Novak: I love people who just can’t wait to make things happen, that have a high sense of urgency. That’s the kind of people I want to be around. Okay?

Clay: Right. And now without any further ado, I present to you my interview with one of the most successful CEOs in American business history, David Novak. This is recorded and then I go back and edit out my voice so the show sounds good.

David Novak: Okay.

Clay: All right, here we go.

Dr. Z.: It’s confusing.

Clay: Three, two, one and …

Speaker 3: Get ready to enter the Thrivetime Show.

Speaker 3: (singing)

Clay: Yes, yes, yes and yes. Dr Z.-

Dr. Z.: Yes!

Clay: We have interviewed the head of Harvard.

Dr. Z.: The head of Harvard.

Clay: We have interviewed the top literary agent on the planet.

Dr. Z.: The planet.

Clay: We have interviewed Seth Goden. But I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous to interview somebody. This is the guy who was the CEO of Yum! Brands between 1999 and January 1st of 2016, and he grew the business from $4 billion in market cap to 32 billion. David Novak, welcome onto the Thrivetime Show. How are you, sir?

David Novak: I’m doing great. There’s no reason for you to be nervous whatsoever, my friend.

Dr. Z.: He’s got very sweaty palms right now, I can attest to it. Quit wiping them on me, Clay. Quit wiping them on me.

Clay: Your book was so good. It blew my mind and I put it on my list. I want to interview this guy about the book, The Education of an Accidental CEO. Because there’s so much of your story that I want to unpack for the listeners. You’ve had so much success, but could you share about your childhood and kind of growing up in a home where your dad was marking the latitudes and longitudes on the nation’s maps or for the nation’s map makers?

David Novak: Well, my dad was a government surveyor and he was from a very small town, Haddam, Kansas. And my mother was from an even smaller town, Meadville, Missouri. But anyway, he had a high school education and the job he got out of school was to be a surveyor. So we were in a surveying party of about 15 families and we would move every three months. My dad would survey the surrounding area and then the team would go to the next small town. I’m the only guy you’d know that’s lived in Dodge City, Kansas twice.

David Novak: But anyway, my mother would check me into schools and say, “David, you better make a friend because we’re leaving.” Actually, it was, I think, an ideally childhood because I had such a unbelievable opportunity to be loved by great parents. And when I played little league baseball, the 15 surveying families, they’d come out and watch me play. It was unbelievable. And people would say, “Well, how could you live in a trailer and travel around like that?” Well, I thought everybody did it.

David Novak: What’s really funny is that even now, no matter how big the house is, when I get together with my two sisters, my mom and dad, and I’m blessed that they’re still alive at 90 years old, we all sit on the same sofa, clumped up against each other, just like we did the trailer.

Clay: For nostalgic reasons, have you gone out and purchased a double wide and put it on your front lawn?

David Novak: No, not yet. No. That may be something I’ll think about. [crosstalk 00:07:04] What is that? The Christmas Vacation, or whatever?

Clay: Yeah.

Dr. Z.: Don’t you fall in love with that Clark, it’s going to be gone in a month.

Clay: Now, you have had massive traction with your career. But could you share people your path to becoming the CEO of a massive company? I mean, how did you start and just kind of give us an overview of your path. Because I think a lot of people think, if they’re not careful, that you must have had the golden resume and had the perfect Ivy League background, and the next thing you’re just appointed as the CEO. Share your path to the top.

David Novak: Well, I got a journalism degree at the University of Missouri, and I was fortunate enough there to really learn very early that I loved advertising and marketing. So I wanted to start out in an advertising agency, but back then, this was 1974, nobody was hiring. It was a very difficult time. And in the advertising business they want you to have experience and I had none. But I did get a job as an advertising copywriter at this little advertising agency in Washington, DC called R. Joseph Harrill & Farr. It got me started on my path. Actually, it was one of the best things that had ever happened to me because I had to write. There’s nothing more sobering than looking at a blank sheet of paper and you’ve got to come up with the idea, then you have to go sell it.

Clay: Right.

David Novak: So I got a great appreciation for getting in the mind of the consumer. Also, I really learned the mindset of advertising agency people, and that really helped me throughout my career. But anyway, I wanted to be in account work, so I decided I wanted to be an account executive. So I sent out resumes, top 25 advertising agencies. The first one to write me back was Ketchum, MacLeod & Grove in Pittsburgh. And I went there to work on the Rockwell Power Tool accounts. And then I decided, well, I had to go to New York. If you’re going to be in the advertising agency business, you better go to New York.

David Novak: Well, I went to New York. I got some job offers, but I felt like a duck out of water. I grew up in small town America. It just didn’t feel right to me. I didn’t have an MBA. I thought that that people might hold that against me. And out of the blue, I get this call from TracyLocke Advertising in Dallas to go be the account executive on Tostitos. So I went down there, hit it off with everybody. They offered me the job. I worked my way up very quickly to be the management supervisor on the Frito-Lay account. We had Doritos and Lays and Sun Chips. I was the head agency guy at about 28, 29 years old. I thought I was going to become the president of the advertising agency, but then the president of Frito-Lay and the head of marketing of Frito-Lay asked me if I’d like to go run marketing at Pizza Hut. So I interviewed for that job and now I’m running Pizza Hut marketing as the first person they ever hired out of the advertising agency to run a marketing function. And we doubled the profits in four years.

David Novak: And then I got promoted to be president of … or executive VP of Pepsi-Cola company, marketing and sales. I did that for a couple of years. And I needed to get operating experience so I begged for an operating job, which I got and became the COO of a Pepsi-Cola company. And then I reached my goal. I wanted to be a division president of PepsiCo and they offered me the job of KFC. Then I ran KFC and Pizza Hut, was fortunate enough to turn down the Frito-Lay job. And when they were thinking about spinning off the restaurant, so I was in the right place at the right time to end up running Yum! Brands.

David Novak: So all these things, I never could have dreamt it. I just did each job, did as well as I could each time, looked around and said, “Who has the job above mine? I’m going to figure out what kind of skills I need to get the opportunity to have that job.” And that’s what I did. So that’s why I think it was somewhat accidental. I never ever thought I would end up running a Fortune 500 company and the largest restaurant company in the world. But it turned out to be just a unbelievable American dream experience. Sorry for the long story.

Clay: No, no, no.

Dr. Z.: No, it’s great.

Clay: We like it if you make a short story as long on this long-form podcast. So thank you so much. Now, as far as your work ethic, I know you and I share the same faith. And there’s a Bible verse that talks about working as unto the Lord. We were supposed to not … it’s Colossians 3:23-24. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for human masters since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Jesus Christ you are serving.” When you’re working in corporate America at a secular company, not working at Hobby Lobby Or Chick-fil-A or whatever, talk to me about how you scheduled your day. What time are you getting to work? What was your work ethic like? I mean, were you getting there at 5:00 in the morning, 6:00 in the morning, 7:00 in the morning? Just walk us through your work ethic.

David Novak: It varied. Early on in my career, I really tried to outwork everybody and I would get in at five o’clock and leave whenever I felt like I could leave. When I was running Yum! Brands, I went through a process of where I probably got in very early and then I came in a little bit later. I learned that it was very important for me to get ready to go to work. So I always tried to start the night before, think about what my meetings are going to be, who I was going to meet with, what would a great outcome be like? And then I’d plan for that to happen. Then the next morning I would get up and I’d think about what I thought about the previous night and I would give gratitude.

David Novak: So I’d get up and I’d write down three things I’m grateful for every day. I’ve been doing this for a long time because I think you need to get yourself into a grateful state. You make your best decisions when you’re grateful. You make your worst decisions when you’re angry. So I always tried to work myself up the mood elevator so I could at least be in that state of gratitude or at least be curious and interested when I went to work.

David Novak: And then I wanted to work out, so that I could stay physically in good shape and have my energy right. So, later on in my career, I actually came in at nine o’clock and I found out that people were very happy about that because I really wasn’t a great morning person and nobody really wanted to schedule a meeting with me before 10 o’clock. So it actually worked out fine and I got just as much done.

David Novak: But I was always the guy who, from Monday through Friday, I would work as long and as late as I had to. But then I tried to be home on the weekends for my daughter Ashley and my wife Lindy. So even I went on an international trip, I’d try to get back on the weekend or if it was a two-week trip, I’d try to be back that second weekend. But that was kind of how I approached things.

Clay: On page 45 of your book, you talked about the importance of acting like a leader. What does that mean? I don’t think a lot of people wake up wanting to not act like a leader, but we have a lot of people who attend our conferences, who diligently implement what we teach and all of a sudden they triple the size of their company and now they find themselves a leader and they want to act like a leader. But a lot of people haven’t led KFC, Frito-Lay, Pepsi, Taco Bell. What does it mean to act like a leader?

David Novak: Well, I had a phrase that I used, which was “Be the leader. Act like the leader.” And the idea was that everybody counts. No matter where you’re at in the organization, you can take a lead, you can be proactive. You don’t have to wait until somebody tells you what to do. So, be a leader, be proactive, and then act like a leader. Do it. That’s what I thought leadership was all about. Now, obviously, the higher up you go … I always say, there’s nothing big that happens by yourself. You have to take people with you. You have to go from me to we. Okay? And for me that means, you have to really get people involved and you have to have collaboration. The most powerful way to motivate people is to listen to them. I always tried to do that. And then I would try to come up with the best solution by getting everybody’s input.

Clay: Imagine you were sitting down next to a business owner who’s in their 40s and they said, “Could you shadow me, David?” And something happened where you made a few more poor life choices. Next thing you’re shadowing this guy. He’s in his 40s. He’s a plumber. He’s got a staff of 15 people. And you watch this guy go arrive late to every meeting. He’s late to every meeting. He never has an agenda for anything and he’s just always late and he never has an agenda. He never has a plan. He gets to work right before the day starts. He’s reactive all day. What is that tough mentorship or coaching … What would you say to somebody like that if they’re sincerely seeking help and you’ve just observed them being late to everything and never having a plan?

David Novak: Yeah. Well I think one of the responsibilities of leadership is to define reality. So, I think first of all, people aren’t going to listen to you until they know that you care about them. So hopefully if this person was worthwhile and should be on the team, they would know that I cared about them and I had their best interest at heart. Therefore, when I offered them some input about how they could improve or how they could be more effective, they’re going to listen. But I think in a particular case like that, I usually try to find out what is a person good at so I can at least start out with, “Hey, you know what? You’re a really good plumber. But you know what? Every time you get to work late, you’re telling people you don’t respect their time. You don’t respect them. And you know what? You just can’t do that. People are not going to be motivated by you. They’re not going to be follow you unless they can respect … know that you respect them and their time’s valuable.”

David Novak: I was always very, and still am to this day, very direct. But I try to put things in balance. I think you’re always better off when you give people feedback to start out with what you appreciate about what they do and then say, “Here’s how you can be more effective.” But I think if you let that person keep being late and they work for you, you’re doing them a disservice and you’re doing the team a disservice.

Clay: On page 61 of your book, I highlighted the heck out of this page. And then Z., I know you’ve got some questions and so does Charles here. On page 61 of your book, I highlighted this excerpt. You wrote, “I learned at Pizza Hut that my enthusiasm would only take things so far. Getting people geared up to turn businesses around was just the first step. After that I had to find a way to sustain the energy and keep the momentum going.” What are your tips for the listeners out there that have a team and who want to keep their teams sustainably motivated on a weekly day in day out basis. What tips would you have?

David Novak: Well, number one, I think you recognize the heck of all … You recognize people for all the behaviors you know that are going to get results. So I just make it clear, these are the four or five behaviors that I know that if we do these things we’re going to get results. And then what I would do is I’d recognize people every time I’d see them doing that. So that really puts fuel on the fire and keeps people motivated because people like to be appreciated for what they do. Number two, I think as a leader, you always have to keep defining the unfinished business. You’ve got to have a healthy dissatisfaction for the status quo. And so to me, defining the unfinished business, saying, “Yeah, we’ve done well, but guess what? We can climb this mountain. We can go here to there.”

David Novak: I think people want to be in a high achievement organization. And then, I always really believe that you make people realize and feel like they’re on the A team. People don’t want to go to work being a part of something mediocre. They want to be a part of being something great. So I really liked to make people feel like, “Hey, nobody’s going to beat us. We’re going to be the best in the world, and let’s do great things together.” And I think that’s how you keep building momentum.

Clay: David, I want to introduce you to Dr. Robert Zellner here.

Dr. Z.: Hey, David.

Clay: Dr. Zellner, meet David. Dr Z. is an optometrist and an auto auctionist and he owns a bank. Dr Z., what’s your question? That’s true.

Dr. Z.: David. I’m not sure-

David Novak: That’s a pretty eclectic background there.

Dr. Z.: He gave me the short answer, I mean, the short version. So I don’t want to overestimate your enthusiasm.

Clay: Tell him what else] just one more thing.

Dr. Z.: No, I’m not going to talk about David.

Clay: One more thing.

Dr. Z.: He’s the one we want to talk about.

Clay: Okay, sure, yeah.

Dr. Z.: I believe it was under your tenure that you guys started to sponsor the Kentucky Derby. Is that correct?

David Novak: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Z.: Okay. So I’m in thoroughbreds. That’s one of my passions. I breed and race and have them. Can you make a phone call and get my horse in the Kentucky Derby this next year? Do you still have some pull?

David Novak: You know the answer to that question.

Dr. Z.: I mean, I know you could get me some chicken wings pretty fast or a pizza delivered pretty quickly, but can you get my …

David Novak: I learned very quickly that that horses eat a lot more than they pay.

Dr. Z.: Amen to that, that’s for sure. Listen, I always like to ask this question. If you could go back 20 years or 25 or 30, whatever’s kind of appropriate … You get your DeLorean time machine, fly back and do that and talk to yourself and tell yourself something, what would you go back … “Self? Hi, How are you doing? You’re looking good, self.” What would you say to yourself if you go back in time?

David Novak: Well, I think I would say, “Always be positive, which I was, make sure you focus on what matters most, and be patient, but don’t lose your urgency.

Dr. Z.: Oh, interesting. Be patient, but don’t lose your urgency. That’s like on a t-shirt. I [crosstalk 00:21:52] a t-shirt.

David Novak: You can’t get ahead of yourself. I don’t like people to be … I love people who just can’t wait to make things happen, that have a high sense of urgency. I mean, that’s the kind of people I want to be around, okay?

Dr. Z.: Right.

David Novak: But when you’re coming up, things just don’t happen fast enough for you and you wonder if you’re going to get there. But boy, if you stay positive, you work on the things that really matter most and you stay patient, the results will come. Okay?

Dr. Z.: Yeah.

David Novak: Those are a few things, but I’m not so sure I didn’t know those things.

Dr. Z.: Yeah. Well, it’s fun because just like Clay highlighted your book to an obsessive amount [crosstalk 00:22:36] I want to highlight something you said earlier for our listeners out there, and that is, you looked at the position ahead of you at that time in your life-

Clay: So powerful.

Dr. Z.: … and you figured out the skill sets or the skills that you needed to conquer in order to have that job. I thought that was very powerful. I mean, that was like, wow. That alone, I mean, that’s like your drop the mic, boom, done. That was a great deal in that. How did you learn that or where did you get that from or how’d you figure that out?

David Novak: I’ve always been extremely competitive.

Dr. Z.: There you go.

David Novak: I was ambitious. I wanted to be successful, and I got in the area that I loved, which was advertising and marketing. And so I did my job as well as I could do it and then I looked at who had the job I had of me. And then I said, “Do they have something that I don’t have?” And the answer I convinced myself of was, no. I can do what they do. Now, there may be some things I need to learn to do what they do, but I can get that done. So I would focus on getting that done and as soon as I did, I got that job. And then I’d have another job.

Dr. Z.: Sure. I love it.

David Novak: The next job is going to be the head of marketing. The next job would be operations. The next job is president, the next job CEO. But I just kept looking up and saying, “What do they have that I don’t have?” and then try to get it.

Dr. Z.: I love that.

David Novak: But you have to do your job, the job that you have, before people are going to think about you for the next job.

Dr. Z.: Amen to that. There you go. I love that.

Clay: Speaking of a sense of urgency, can we talk about Howard Davis?

David Novak: Yeah.

Clay: I want to talk about Howard Davis from your book. Can you tell listeners who Howard Davis was and what he taught you? Because that story is fascinating.

David Novak: Yeah. Well, Howard Davis was the top guy at TracyLocke Advertising. He ran the Frito-Lay account and I worked for him. He hired me. I’ll never forget it. He picked me up in Dallas and he had his Corvette. He was about 6’4″ and he wore these glasses and he was intimidating as can be. But this guy was a make it happen now, do what it takes for the client type of guy. And he had an incredible sense urgency and he was tough as nails. And I was a guy who was a really good interpersonal person. I could work well with teams. I could get things … But I needed to get a harder edge. And he taught me that. He taught me how to get a harder edge. He taught me how to get even a higher sense of urgency and he taught me to be tough, tough minded.

David Novak: And these were things that I don’t think, particularly the toughness, was something that I really learned from him, the sense of urgency I had. But he was at a whole different level. And I have to tell you, having a sense of urgency in business, and I’ve met a lot of great leaders, they all have a great sense of urgency. I mean, they’re all pushing. They want things to happen now. They don’t want it to happen tomorrow. And he taught me that. I write him a note every now and then telling him what he taught me.

Clay: Now we have Charles Colaw on the show today, there David. He owns a fitness gym. Imagine like a Planet Fitness meets a Chick-fil-A. Okay?

David Novak: Okay. It’s a Christian-owned large big box gym. It’s called ColawFitness.com. They have three locations and they’re in the process of opening two more at the moment. Charles Colaw, what question do you have there for Mr. David Novak?

Charles Colaw: Well, first of all it’s just thank you for having the opportunity to speak with such a fine CEO that has high character and high values. I love that. One thing I was wanting to connect with you on is we’re currently … Of course, we’re in three different states. We’ve got about 87 to 93 employees, I’m trying to continue to keep a good … as a Christian company, we really follow core values of Christian values and I like to keep my teams really connected. And what I’m seeing is that you lose some things as you scale and some of that … A lot of my staff really like that interpersonal relationship. It sounds like you’re a really caring guy and you’ve learned how to have edge.

Charles Colaw: I guess the question is, we do a weekly meeting with our corporate team and then we do a call-in with all of our locations to kind of connect them. And I’ve seen that as we grow, I feel like they are less engaged at each location. Is there anything that you would say we should be doing differently than a once a week phone call or a weekly meeting with each area location? What kind of strategies would you try to use for keeping our teams more connected and more in tune with the brand and mission and vision?

David Novak: Well, first of all, I commend you for having these meetings and communications meetings because I really believe … I mean, Sam Walton said it and I couldn’t agree more. “The more you know, the more you care.” People want to know everything they can possibly know about the company. I think the most important thing you can do when you’re building a business is make sure you establish what your cultural values are. What are those things that are most important to you and what’s going to drive success and results in your company? So, I think the culture is the unifying bond that that allows you to get bigger and still stay small. You can’t let everybody in every outlet create their own culture. You want to have that culture that that is what your company is all about and people know it.

David Novak: And then you want to recognize people for the behaviors when you see them. You want to have your HR systems built around these behaviors. You want to promote people. You want to pay people for really driving your cultural values that you know are going to get the results. I think that’s how you really make a big company small. It’s just one of those things where people talk about culture but they don’t invest enough in it. I studied all the great companies when we were spun off from PepsiCo. I went out and visited the Walmarts, the Southwests, the Home Depots, a lot of the great companies. Every one of them, when you ask them what was most important or what was key to their success, they all talked about their culture.

David Novak: You’ve got to make sure people understand what the work environment is that you want. And that brings you closer together. Then when you do all these things, you maximize the impact of those meetings because you reinforce the things that make your company what it is. And you, as you get bigger, you’ve got to make sure that people feel you, and that you don’t become the so-called CEO. I forget your first name, but you want to be-

Charles Colaw: Charles.

David Novak: You want to be on a first name basis. You want people to feel like they know you, and that’s really important. You don’t want to be Mr. anybody. You want people to feel like they know you and that you can listen to them.

Clay: David, you have been working on this podcast of yours there. It’s called the DavidNovakLeadership.com podcast. They can find it by going to DavidNovakLeadership.com. Click on the podcast button. And you’ve had a lot of really obscure guests. Recently you’ve interviewed Tom Brady. What’s it like interviewing a bunch of people that have achieved no success, my friend? I mean, you were only able to get Tom Brady on your show. I mean, what’s it like interviewing these people? That’s got to be exciting.

David Novak: Yeah, it really is. My passion when I was at Yum! Brands was leadership development. I taught a program called Taking People With You for 15 years to over 4,000 people in the company. So I asked myself, “What can I do now that I’m retired?” And I believe what matters most to me is developing leaders. So I want to make the world a better place by developing better leaders.

Dr. Z.: That’s great.

David Novak: So I started this company. We do blogs. We have a lot of free content self-assessments that you can take on your leadership ability. And then I do the podcast. I’ve done … I posted 83 today. The Tom Bradys of the world, the Jamie Diamonds, the Gary Kellys, great CEOs, great leaders.

Clay: Yeah. Jack Nicholas.

David Novak: When you have access to things and knowledge and you don’t share them, you’re being selfish. And you know what? I’ve been so blessed. I’ve been a CEO. I know all these people. I’m friends with almost everybody that I’ve interviewed. And you know what? I can bring aspiring leaders experiences that they could never get without these podcasts. And it’s very enriching to me.

David Novak: Now I also, I have a team and we’ve developed content on … We have two leadership programs that we actually sell. One is called Purposeful Recognition. Another’s called Essential Leadership Traits. But I’m also working on a subscription-based model where we can give people monthly insights and tutelage on leadership.

David Novak: But I’m having a blast with it. It’s fun. It’s my hobby, and it’s very gratifying. I interviewed Brady at Foxborough during preseason. I interviewed Jack Nicholas at his house. A lot of these I do over Skype or Zoom. So it’s fun. I just recently did … I haven’t posted them yet, but I’ve got Henry Kravis coming up. I’ve got David Solomon from Goldman Sachs coming up. So a lot of really talented people. Lynne Dowdy runs KPMG. But I know these people or I meet them and then I say, “Hey, would you be interested in doing a podcast?” And next thing I know, I’ve got them on the show. And I do my homework and I try to make it fun.

Clay: That is awesome. Well, I thank you so much for your time. I encourage all of our listeners to check out your website. Again, that’s DavidNovakLeadership.com, DavidNovakLeadership.com. And again, we just thank you so much for giving us a portion of your afternoon.

David Novak: Well, thank you. You guys obviously have fun and do good work. I especially enjoyed talking to the people who called in. It was my honor and my privilege.

Clay: Oh, well done.

Clay: And now without any further ado …

Group: Three, two, one, boom!

Speaker 6: There have always been people who don’t believe. They don’t believe in hard work. They don’t believe in responsibility. Ultimately, they don’t believe in themselves. They believe in shortcuts, in luck. They believe that outside circumstances control who succeeds and who doesn’t. It’s just the luck of the draw. But you, you are not one of these people. You believe that no matter what your circumstances tell you, success is still possible.

Speaker 6: And you accept this responsibility because you want to achieve something great. You’re hungry for it. You chase it from the moment your eyes open in the early morning. You chase it into all hours of the night. When others have given up, when others have said that it couldn’t be done, you’ve kept pushing. Because you believe that success is not a game of chance. Success is a choice, a choice that you make every single day. That’s what you believe.

Clay: Discover the world’s most affordable and effective business school today at ThrivetimeShow.com.

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