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How Leaders Lead with David Novak
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How Leaders Lead with David Novak

Author: David Novak

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David Novak hosts real leadership conversations with the best in business, sports and entertainment to talk about how they get such incredibly good things done and how they are making a difference in their communities. David, a former co-founder and CEO himself, has been asking great questions and learning from top leaders his whole life. Now he brings those leadership learnings to you in How Leaders Lead with David Novak.

24 Episodes
Head coach of the University of Kentucky NCAA men’s basketball team, John Calipari’s approach to leadership (and coaching) is direct and fearless. Affectionately known as “Coach Cap,” he has been named Naismith College Coach of the Year three times, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. Listen as David and John discuss communication and trust, eating KFC with Warren Buffet, and how to build a successful team year after year.
Jack Nicklaus, nicknamed the Golden Bear, has dominated the game of golf. Known around the world as one of the best players of all time, Nicklaus won 117 professional tournaments over his 44-year career. Listen as David and Jack talk about the important lessons he learned from his father, the great advice he gave Rory McIlroy, the importance of family and many other incredible stories of leaders he admires including previous presidents and other successful athletes.
A firm believer in the power and rarity of independent thinking, Dave Cote, former Honeywell CEO and current Executive Chairman of Vertiv Holdings, released his first book this year, “Winning Now, Winning Later.” The book, released in June, expresses his knack for individualist thinking by analyzing and challenging the current, accepted trends in leadership. Listen as Dave and David discuss leading amid a pandemic, his tenure at Honeywell, and his goals for the future.
As a lawyer working in mergers and acquisitions for Home Depot, Frank Blake was shocked to be offered the job of CEO in 2007. For the next eight years, he experienced a crash course in leadership at the highest level. Taking cues from his son (a store manager at the time) and “Built From Scratch”, the story of Home Depot, Frank employed the “inverted pyramid” approach to his new role. Listen as David and Frank discuss the power of handwritten notes, avoiding the CEO “bubble”, and why he decided Home Depot should stop opening new stores.
Steve Burke, Chairman of NBCUniversal for the last nine years, landed his dream job. Ignoring his family and mentors’ advice, he followed his intuition to NBCUniversal after working next door to his father’s old office at Capital Cities/ABC. Listen as David and Steve discuss running Euro Disney, what he’s learned from Warren Buffett, and teaching people to think like owners instead of renters.
Founder and CEO of 822 Group, Mory Fontanez is a purpose coach whose mission is to cultivate mindful, EQ-driven leadership in a capitalistic culture. She guides other leaders and CEOs to identify and then employ their intuition, helping them establish authentic values and an actionable mission for their organizations. Listen as David and Mory discuss the everchanging consumer zeitgeist, harnessing chaos, and the role that love can play in corporate America.
After more than thirty years with PwC, Tim Ryan was elected Chair and Senior Partner by his peers in the spring of 2016 for his aggressive growth plan and long history with the company. But when a racially charged shooting took place that summer, listening to his employees’ rousing response motivated Tim to drastically shift his plans. Against the advice of many, Tim immediately pivoted his focus to address racial injustice both at PwC and in society at large. Listen as David and Tim discuss his toughest client experience, the Oscars mixup, and why he wrote a letter to his partners in 2040.
In part two of this interview, Jamie Dimon talks with David about growing up in Queens, the Bear Stearns acquisition, the future of the American dream and what prioritization looks like when you’re leading the world’s largest financial institution.
As we reach our midway point of this first season, I want to take a time out and just thank you for the overwhelming positive support you've given to the podcast. The reception we've felt from you has been nothing less than sensational. Your words have been encouraging in both reviews & how you've spread the news through social media. You really give me a sense that we're doing something right :) So, thank you.
Jamie Dimon has served as the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest of the big four American banks, since 2005. Born into a family of stock brokers, Jamie has led through the 2008 financial crisis, a massive emergency heart surgery, and now a global health pandemic — What’s his secret to success? Anticipating every possible outcome, reading constantly and continuing to learn from those around him. Listen as David and Jamie discuss the global economy, battling cancer, and the future of America.
Former Captain of the New York Rangers and NHL legend, Mark Messier attributes his success to building close relationships with his teammates outside of the game. One of the greatest ice hockey players of all time, Messier started his professional career with the Edmonton Oilers alongside his friend and fellow hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky. He is a six-time Stanley Cup champion — and the only player to ever captain two teams to Stanley Cup Championships. His playoff leadership while in New York ended a 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994, earning him the nickname "The Messiah.” Listen as David and Mark talk about his transition from the Oilers to the Rangers, what it felt like to lose Gretzky as a teammate, and how to galvanize individuals to maximize team performance.
Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health, started his career as an impassioned pharmacist with no aspirations for the C-suite. Through his passion for pharmacy and level-headed vision, he has led CVS Health to incredible success through streamlining their mission statement, balancing the roles of teacher and student and never losing sight of the consumer and their health— including the historic decision to eliminate the sale of tobacco products. Listen as David and Larry discuss Covid-19 testing, Arnold Palmer, the opioid crisis and healthcare innovation.
David is back with Tom Brady for a deeper dive into what makes him such a compelling leader. This extended interview offers a glimpse into Tom’s early life, why he chose football over baseball, how to display confidence when you don’t feel it, and more.
Six-time Super Bowl Champion, Tom Brady opens up about the “second quarter” of his career as he transitions from a 20-year run with the New England Patriots to a fresh start leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady describes his personal leadership style as “caring,” and places emphasis on listening and learning, diligently preparing every day, and the gratification that comes with helping those around him achieve success. Many of us have seen Tom Brady in action — but what we see on the field is only the tip of the iceberg for this incredibly passionate, hardworking and humble leader. Listen as Tom and David catch up to discuss performing in the clutch, social injustice in the NFL and the importance of daily dedication to your craft.
David talks with Former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, about her path from childhood in India to leading Pepsico’s transformation to deliver healthier products with greater purpose. Indra tells how she saw dark clouds on the horizon of PepsiCo’s future when she was established as CEO, and how she carried out her plan to change the product portfolio to reflect the changing consumer, despite strong pushback. Now enjoying retirement, Indra shares her perspective of how COVID is exposing the need for radical societal change to address inequalities. She also talks about the work she is doing on a memoir about how she balances career, marriage, and family.
How does the creator of one of the world’s most well known beauty brands, pivot to the wellness category and find her footing in a place where authenticity, realness and reality are key? David gets the story behind Bobbi Brown, the brand and the woman who turned her lipstick-making hobby into a billion dollar brand, only to sell it in search of a new challenge – the wellness market. He gets to the story behind the story, where from an early age, Bobbi watched her grandfather in his business, building up security and comfort to be “Just Bobbi.”  Always working to make things better, Bobbi left Estée Lauder after 22 years to try her hand at wellness products. This gave her the freedom to solve problems in unexpected ways and lead a creative team who is not content with the norm. Her lack of fear and excitement to jump into new opportunities with a risk of failure, keeps Bobbi from feeling like she missed a moment. Her desire to create something more authentic has driven her through her career. Whether it be more natural toned lipsticks and makeup that bring out the innate beauty in women, or finding that natural product that brings out the best in someone - has naturally guided her devotion to raising up other women, creating role models and to pursue wellness and success in life.
David talks with the CEO of Mastercard about his work to make fairness as important a trait of leadership as empathy. David gets Ajay’s story about growing up in India and learning to create plans B and C for every situation. Ajay shares his vision for creating financial inclusivity that empowers low-income people to access the funds and credit they need to thrive without depending on corrupt government support. Ajay also explains how diversity is closely linked to innovation, and how the responsibility of leaders is not to create unbalanced privilege for a few, but to level the playing field for all and recognize success from wherever it comes.
Hear how Beyond Meat Founder and CEO Ethan Brown pushes his people with intense loyalty to drive success all while delighting his customers with better protein options that don’t change why people enjoy meat.
Tony Xu leads by breaking problems down to the lowest level of detail - almost to the point of applied mathematics. That’s why he worked every step of delivery for the first year and a half that DoorDash existed as a company. Tony is committed to hiring and training employees that have a strong ownership mentality and bias towards action that spurs them to get 1% better every day. Using high-powered data and logistics, Tony wants to help small business owners serve more customers—even during the COVID-19 economic slump. Such a big task requires Tony, and his people, to break problems into smaller pieces, so that by understanding the twenty steps that go into delivery and the many steps required to helping small businesses survive and thrive, they can make good things happen for restaurants, dashers, and consumers.
In this episode, David talks with the CEO of the PGA of America to find out how Seth is leading in light of COVID-19 externally, and improving communication internally. When he left finance on Wall Street and joined the PGA of America, Seth discovered a disconnect between headquarters and the Professional instructors that required him to reshape the culture to have better communication and trust, where no bad attitudes would be allowed to poison the atmosphere. Seth is also working to make the PGA more diverse from headquarters to the golf course.
Comments (1)

Patrick Maguire

Learn leadership from David Novak and the best leaders in their domains. The first episodes are a great start to the relaunch of the Podcast.

Jul 30th
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