After almost 20 years as executive chairman and board member at Yum! Brands, David Novak stepped down in May to devote his professional life to preaching the Gospel of Recognition.

It’s a huge step. Yum! brands is the restaurant and food franchise behemoth that owns KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell. It has nearly 43,000 restaurants in more than 130 countries and had over $13 billion in revenues in 2015. It opens an average of six new restaurants per day!

Now he’s founder and CEO of OGO (O Great One!), the first consumer brand focused on the awesome power of recognition.

When it comes to recognition, Novak is clearly a true believer.

“As the CEO of Yum, I learned harnessing the power of recognition can revitalize company culture,” he says.

“Whether it was handing out personalized rubber chicken or cheese head awards or giving a set of wind-up walking teeth to employees who ‘Walk the Talk,’ recognizing Yum employees was an enormous passion of mine and part of our success in connecting people back to the company by showing them how much they were appreciated.”

Culture of recognition

Novak calls recognition “a privilege of leadership.” That’s why, he explains, “we built a culture of recognition with each group, leader and brand embracing recognition in their own, personalized way around the globe.”

A new study conducted by KRC Research for OGO found nearly 90 percent of middle-management employees feel unrecognized by their supervisors and 88 percent also feel unrecognized by their co-workers.

Global recognition deficit

“We also discovered recognition and appreciation go far beyond the workplace with a shortage of recognition — what I've dubbed the ‘global recognition deficit’ — seen at home and in people's personal lives,” Novak says.

He cites other statistics to support his theory of a global deficit: 70 percent of Americans wish they were recognized more overall; 83 percent concede they could do more to recognize others.

“This is why I'm excited to launch OGO and bring the power of recognition to the forefront. My goal is to create a movement that motivates people to use recognition on a regular basis and inspire others to do great things,” Novak says.

10 key principles

Novak says there are 10 key principles that explain why recognition is important in human relationships.

1. People won't care about you if you don't care about them. Before you expect anything from other people, you must show them you care about them.

2. The best way to show people you care is to listen to them. If you don't take the time to hear and acknowledge what someone has to say, they won't believe that you care about them.

3. A great idea can come from anywhere. Great ideas are essential to the success of any organization, but don't assume that they come only from leaders — anyone can have a great idea.

4. Recognize great work and great ideas whenever and wherever you see them. Great leaders celebrate other people's ideas even more than their own, and do it in a way that is real and from the heart.

5. Make recognition a catalyst for results. The reason you recognize someone must be directly tied to the important goals and objectives of your organization. Leaders should not only recognize the good, earned behavior, but also recognize counterproductive behavior and address it when he or she sees it. By marking both good and bad behaviors, leaders can create a catalyst that drives results.

6. Make it fun. Everyone will want to be involved in recognition if you create shared experiences that are fun for everyone — not just the one being recognized.

7. Make it personal. When you give a reward, make it personal to you and the person you're recognizing. Don't just give out a generic certificate or plaque.

8. Recognition is universal. Everyone loves to be recognized for who they are and what they do well.

9. Giving recognition is a privilege. Leaders are in the unique position to recognize others. When exercised in the right way, giving recognition is a privilege that feeds people's souls and makes them feel great about themselves.

10. Say "thank you" every chance you get. The two most powerful words in the English language are "thank" and "you." Use them often.