David C. Novak

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David C. Novak
David Novak.jpg
David C. Novak at the 2012 George McGovern Leadership Award Ceremony.[1]
Born (1952-10-30) October 30, 1952 (age 66)
Beeville, Texas, United States
Alma materUniversity of Missouri
OccupationFounder, CEO of oGoLead; Co-Founder, Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Yum! Brands, Inc.
Known foroGoLead, Yum! Brand's, Inc., PepsiCo, Lift-A-Life Foundation

David Charles Novak (born October 30, 1952) is an American businessman, author and philanthropist. He is Founder and CEO of oGoLead and is Co-Founder and retired Chairman and chief executive officer of YUM! Brands Inc.[2][3][4]



Novak was born in Beeville, TX in 1952. His father was a government surveyor, marking latitudes and longitudes for the nation's mapmakers and would move the family to the next location about every three months. By the time Novak was 12, he had lived in 32 trailer parks in 23 states. Novak says the "nomadic" childhood experiences taught him how to be a better leader and helped him succeed.

Novak received a bachelor's degree majoring in journalism with an advertising minor from the University of Missouri and was a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity.[5]

Novak is a Christian and has been a member of Southeast Christian church.[6]


Novak is Founder and CEO of oGoLead, a digital leadership training platform created to address the lack of leadership development in the workforce today. oGoLead teaches Heartwiring™️ and Hardwiring™️ leadership skills through an online leadership development program, podcasts, blogs, and videos.

In 2016, Novak launched OGO (O Great One!) Enterprises,[7] the "world's first recognition brand" on a mission to convince people of the usefulness of recognizing what others have done and close what he has dubbed the "global recognition deficit." Novak believes recognition creates an energized work force and inspires people to do great things.[8] He also wrote O Great One! A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition.

Novak is Co-Founder, retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yum! Brands, Inc. (CEO from 1999 to January 1, 2016).[9][10] During Novak’s tenure at Yum! Brands, the company doubled the number of restaurants to 41,000, market capitalization grew to almost $32 billion from just under $4 billion and it was an industry leader in return on invested capital.

Novak was President at KFC and Pizza Hut, and held senior management positions at Pepsi-Cola Company, including Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales.

His first job was as an advertising copywriter at Ketchum advertising agency. He was Executive Vice President/Director Account Services Tracy-Lock/BBDO in Dallas, Texas, serving as account supervisor on Frito-Lay products, Pepsi-Cola accounts and others before becoming the Executive Vice President of all Frito-Lay products at the agency.

Novak is credited with the invention of Crystal Pepsi, a clear cola introduced in 1992. While it didn’t succeed in the marketplace, Novak stated that he learned a valuable lesson from that failure: even though every project had naysayers that would tell him something couldn't be done, "sometimes the naysayers have a point."[11]

Novak’s mission is to build strong leaders at all ages and goes beyond oGoLead to include his Lift-a-Life family foundation that created Lead2Feed, the largest privately funded leadership service program in middle and high schools. Novak and his wife, Wendy, also donated $21.6 million to the University of Missouri, School of Journalism to create the Novak Leadership Institute.

He was named 2012 Chief Executive of the Year by Chief Executive magazine.[12]

He is the author of three leadership books including the New York Times bestseller, Taking People With You, The Only Way to Achieve Big Things, O Great One!, A little Story About the Awesome Power if Recognition and The Education of an Accidental CEO, Lessons Learned from the Trailer Park to the Corner Office.

Awards and honors[edit]

Novak has been very active in impacting the business world. As a senior management member, he has received several prestigious awards. He was recognized by Chief Executive Magazine as "2012 CEO of the Year," one of the world’s “30 Best CEOs” by Barron’s, one of the “Top People in Business” by FORTUNE and one of the “100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World” by Harvard Business Review.[3] He received the 2015 Horatio Alger Award for his commitment to philanthropy and higher education and became a lifetime member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.


  • Novak, David C. (2007), The Education of an Accidental CEO, Crown Business, ISBN 9780307393692
  • Novak, David C. (2012), Taking People with You, Portfolio Hardcover, ISBN 1591845912
  • Novak, David C. (2016), O Great One! A Little Story About the Power of Recognition, Portfolio Hardcover, ISBN 0399562060


  1. ^ "Christina Aguilera honoured by Hilary [sic] Clinton for hunger relief work". OK!. Northern & Shell. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  2. ^ "David C. Novak: Executive Profile & Biography". Bloomberg. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Taking People With You". www.takingpeoplewithyou.com. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  4. ^ "Former CEO of a $33 billion fast-food company shares the greatest leadership insight he's ever had". Business Insider. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  5. ^ Licata, Elizabeth. "Yum! Brands' former CEO donates $21 million to journalism school". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  6. ^ https://www.organicconsumers.org/old_articles/corp/exploit122704.php
  7. ^ "OGO (O Great One!)". whosyourogo.com. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  8. ^ "The One Truth You Should Know That Most Leaders Keep Quiet".
  9. ^ "David C. Novak to step down as Yum chairman/CEO". Lane Communications Group. May 1, 2014. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
  10. ^ Jargon, Julie (May 1, 2014). "Yum Says Novak to Leave CEO Role, Become Executive Chairman". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
  11. ^ Jones, Del (November 7, 2007). "Even good CEOs can pick the wrong direction". ABC News. USA Today. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  12. ^ Donlon, J. P. (July – August 2012). "The Recognition Leader". Chief Executive (259): 24–32. ISSN 0160-4724.