Libro 4/52 :: The Education of an Accidental CEO by David Novak



David Novak, CEO and President of YUM! Brands, opens Accidental CEO with a question from his wife: “Why would anyone want to read a book about a CEO they’ve never heard of?”




She understands his audience well.




In reality, Novak is famous in business circles. Novak was named 2012 Chief Executive of the Year by Chief Executive magazine. Overseeing YUM! (Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut) also means leading 400K employees. They know who he is.







And in many respects, this seems like a book primarily written for his employees. Cheery and benign, Accidental CEO was probably given as a gift to its top 10,000 managers.



I recommend Accidental CEO as an audio book, perfect for some mindless business-related road trip. Novak is a good story-teller. The details of his rise through the ranks at Pepsico are easy on the ears, but they cover no new ground. The flattering stories about Starbucks, Warren Buffett, Jim Collins, Southwest Airlines and Target, while probably true, are so tired.




So, so tired.

And that’s what this book is: So so.

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The Chapter titles offer a glimpse into the depth here:


– Getting down to business

– Paying my dues

– Getting out of my comfort zone

– Practicing what you preach

– Appreciating the power of people  






On a positive note, Novak appears like a disciple of Tom Peters (although TP is one business giant not fawned over) and displays the soft skills required to lead an organization, especially one with high turnover.




Given the state of the economy, many companies have all but eliminated reward and recognition over the past few years. Novak provides dozens of creative ways to reward and recognize.




Bottom line: This would be a great gift for a graduating senior – ideally one who hasn’t read any business books and eats a boatload of fast food. Otherwise, save your money and borrow the audio version of Accidental CEO from your public library.




Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente at Red Angle ( He plans on reading 52 books this year and will report back on his progress.



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LIBRO 52 Challenge YTD

1. Kennedy/Nixon by Chris Matthews

2. Poke the Box by Seth Godin

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

NA. Buy-In by John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead

4. Education of an Accidental CEO by David Novak

Categories: Libro 52 Challenge

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35 replies


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  4. Libro 8/52 :: 1776 by David McCullough « redanglespanish
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  12. Libro NA/52 :: James K. Polk by Walter Borneman | redanglespanish
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  14. Libro 16/52 :: The Illustrious Dead by Stephan Talty | redanglespanish
  15. Libro 17/52 :: The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk | redanglespanish
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  17. Libro 19 + 20/52 :: Thunderstruck by Erik Larson + In Cold Blood by Truman Capote « the red angle
  18. Libro 21/52 :: Ctrl Alt Delete by Mitch Joel « the red angle
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  21. Libro 25/52: The Business of Belief by Tom Asacker « the red angle
  22. Libro 26/52: 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman « the red angle
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