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O Great One!

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O Great One!

A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Recognizing employees for their good work is smart business and the right thing to do.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Well Structured
  • Visionary


David Novak’s grandchildren call him “OGO” – meaning “O Great One.” Novak, co-founder and former executive chairman of Yum Brands, leveraged the OGO concept throughout his career by recognizing his employees when they accomplished something special. He regularly tells his friends and relatives how much he values them. In this charming business fable, Novak – writing with Christa Bourg – illustrates the power of recognition and demonstrates that acknowledging employees’ achievement is smart business and the right thing to do. In a telling example of recognition and paying it forward, Novak is donating the book’s profits to a diabetes center named for his wife, Wendy Novak. This easy-to-read, instructive parable ends with 10 useful principles for recognizing employees. getAbstract recommends this helpful tale to business owners, executives, HR managers, coaches, parents and teachers.


The “Happy Face Toy Company”

When “Jeff Johnson” became CEO of the global Happy Face Toy Company, he realized that its managers and employees never recognized or praised their colleagues’ or staff members’ good work. He saw that Happy Face Toys was a place of unhappy faces. Managers and employees tore each other down, belittled one another and stabbed each other in the back. The lack of recognition for good work poisoned Happy Face’s corporate culture.

Jeff felt nervous as he drove from the company’s Chicago, Illinois, headquarters to inspect its original plant in Cleveland, Ohio. He had to decide whether to close the facility. The board wanted him to shutter it, but Jeff wasn’t so sure. The factory’s future wasn’t the only point of contention between Jeff and the board. He’d spent his career in the software industry and had no experience with toys. Although he had a family connection with the company, board members had been reluctant to name him CEO. They hired him with the understanding that he had one year to turn Happy Face Toys around. If he couldn’t, the board would fire him and hire someone else.

Jeff’s grandfather had started Happy Face Toys in 1953. ...

About the Authors

David Novak is the co-founder and former executive chairman of Yum! Brands. He retired in May 2016. Christa Bourg is a writer, editor and book packager.

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    J. G. 7 years ago
    This is a great read that every manager should read quarterly. It speaks to the lack of recognition increasing the overall unhappiness and negativity in the workplace.

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