I’m getting kinda sick of cooking. I mean, don’t get me wrong – Blue Apron tries its hardest to make good food simple, but ever since Amber got pregnant I’ve been the primary cook of breakfast-lunch-and-dinner, not just breakfast and the occasional dinner. As such, I’ve made a list of foods I plan to eat while Amber is on vacation:

I’m very much looking forward to destroying my health in this glorious time.

Taking People With You by David Novak

Business non-fiction is one of my favorite pastimes. Reading the advice of successful people always feels like time well spent. Taking People With You leaves me with a great respect for David Novak, the Executive Chairman of YUM! brands here in Louisville. He was CEO at the time of the book’s publication. It’s a public version of the leadership training Novak has taught to the many franchisees and company leaders for Yum and PepsiCo over the years.

Hardcover of Taking People With You by David Novak
Hardcover of Taking People With You by David Novak

In particular, I really enjoy Novak’s third section on following-through on goal settings and properly measuring and rewarding your employees. It actually made me look at the tools we use at Automattic and think “hey, we’re totally doing this right,” because we gather so much data on everything we do. It’s refreshing to read advice and realize your company is totally living it.

The first section of the book is a little fluffy. One of my least favorite things in the business genre is how so many authors tell you to ‘use this book’ a certain way. In my opinion, if you can’t find value in a 200 page book reading it cover-to-cover, it’s not a good book. This was enjoyable, so I don’t accuse Novak of having a poor product, rather I wish he’d ditch the pretense of ‘read only one chapter a day maixmum’ or ‘use this as a workbook.’ Stand by your ideas as just that – ideas – and they’ll hold up a lot better.

Similarly, lots of Novak’s examples fall into the trap of an executive presenting himself as the main character of a narrative. Realistically a lot of people were surely involved by committee, by meeting, and certainly implementation for many of the examples and stories presented. Leadership is why we’re reading the book, but it takes a lot more than the CEO saying ‘we should have Wing Wednesday’ in one meeting to make Wing Wednesday happen and all those little actions don’t really get mentioned.

But Novak offers great arguments for some specific tactics Leaders should be using:

  • When beginning a new undertaking, think through your strategy, then its structure, then the culture that can make it happen.
  • Reward people in an interesting and notable way
  • Be an avid learner and seek out all the information you can from all the people you can
  • When creating a change, also learn and decide how to market the change within your team
  • Change is never over and improvements will always lead to new improvements

It’s a quick read and one I’d recommend for folks interested in leading business teams. Novak definitely speaks with a ‘corporate’ voice which I’ve become less accustomed to since delving so much about the tech industry, but it actually grew on me. Maybe it’s that Louisville charm. 🙂

Don’t take my word for it, Warren Buffett endorses Novak and the book as well:

David Novak is the best at leadership, whether teaching it in this book or practicing it.

Buffett and Novak have lunch at KFC once a year, apparently. Now that’s a lunch I’d like to join one day.

Thanks to my mother-in-law, Dana, for recommending the book and loaning me her copy of it. She had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Novak and receiving a signed copy. “Yum to you!” is a pretty great inscription.

David Novak signed this copy of Taking People With You
David Novak signed this copy of Taking People With You

Taking People with You: The Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen by David Novak

Amazon ; Goodreads ; Wikipedia


Wil Wheaton (and some of his guests) constantly references this song on Tabletop and Titansgrave. I assume he does in real life as well, but all I know is the internet. Anytime someone rolls a 19 with dice, he pronounces it ‘nine-nine-nine-nineteen.’

I figured it was time I actually listened to it. And now I’m sharing it with you. Here’s Paul Hardcastle’s seminal eighties tune, “19.”

Game Day

I absolutely love playing board games with friends. We invited a bunch of people over for games last night.

We also played Forbidden Desert by Matt Leacock, Star Trek: Catan by Klaus Teuber, and 7 Wonders (with the Cities expansion) by Antoine Bauza.

Password Protected Baby Photos

So it’s still news to a lot of folks that my wife and I are expecting a baby. One of the things we’ve talked about is how we’re going to distribute info about this kiddo as it grows up. So many people our age put all kinds of pictures up on Facebook and other social media, but once you do that you really lose a lot of control over what can happen to that photo.

And honestly, how many of us would’ve wanted our baby pictures out on the internet everywhere when we come into adulthood? My child doesn’t know its stance on privacy yet, so I’d rather err on the side of caution until their old enough to make their own choices. That said, I’m not foolish enough to keep grandparents away from photos of grandchild.

So here’s our plan!

Free Blog at

Shocking, right? I blog at and it’s a really great hammer for lots of web-related nails. I need place to put things on the internet – I can do it for free here.

Public Posts That Aren’t Embarrassing

Just a story about something that happened? Public. It’s all good. I don’t think my kiddo will hate me for sharing stories as much as sharing photos.

Password-Protected Posts for Photos

We’ll give out a password to our family (and friends that ask us for it) and use the password protection available on every post or page, just always the same password. This makes the photos totally available for the folks we actually want to see them, but not the weirdos on the internet and definitely not the marketing department in Facebook HQ. Grandparents won’t even need an account.

An aunt uploaded this baby photo of me to Facebook. I've decided to handle it.
An aunt uploaded this baby photo of me to Facebook. I’ve decided to handle it.

Alex, have you setup this site yet?

Nope. This is more a notice that this sort of thing is possible when you actually own your site instead of trusting other services with it.

Learning to Blog

The editorial folks at have done a lot of work making Blogging University courses, teaching folks how to make the most of their shiny new WordPress blogs. They’re really helpful and include a commons area to interact with the other folks taking the course and help from staff members like me. And they’re free!

I’ll be volunteering in a Blogging 101 course this July:

Blogging 101 is three weeks of bite-size blogging assignments that take you from “Blog?” to “Blog!” Every weekday, you’ll get a new assignment to help you publish a post, customize your blog, or engage with the community.

You’ll walk away with a stronger focus for your blog, several published posts and a handful of drafts, a theme that reflects your personality, a small (but growing!) audience, a grasp of blogging etiquette — and a bunch of new friends.

Learn more about the courses going on in July (we have a 201 writing course, too!) and how to register here:

July in Blogging U.: Blogging 101 and 201

I’m Back

I love Ber’s sense of humor. Right now the parasite is the size of a lemon and will grow into tiny human sometime in December. Parasite to be named later.

Brews and Ewes

So I took a bit of a hiatus.  Partly due to the fact that the books I had recently read weren’t review quality.

But mostly due to the fact that I’ve been sick for the past 2.5 months…

Its a parasite

parasite house MD funny

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