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Managing the Board

Mike Mauler
Former CEO at Gamestop

Learning outcomes

  • How to listen and build a relationship with the board as a CEO

Executive Bio

Mike Mauler

Former CEO at Gamestop

Mike is the Former CEO of GameStop, the gaming retailer with over 5,500 stores globally and $8bn of revenue. In 2005, he joined GameStop as the Global Distribution and Logistics President before leading Gamestop International, where he was responsible for over 2,000 stores and 12,000 employees, from 2010-18. Prior to GameStop, he enjoyed 20 years building and running retail and supply chain operations for companies such as Fisher Scientific, Mattress Discounters, and Electronics Boutique. Mike now advises various startups and lectures at universities throughout the US. Read more

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Interview Transcript

How would you advise a young CEO to deal with a board?

I think the board can be your friend or a big obstacle. I think you want to do things that make the board your friend. You want to listen to them and in a lot of cases, they’re going to be really bright people that have good ideas that you should focus on. At the same time, you shouldn’t be afraid of sticking to your guns and if you think something needs to be done and the board is not in this agreement, I think you should fight the fight. If you just go along with whatever they say, in the end, if it doesn’t work, you’re the one that’s going to get blamed. It’s not the board. I think it’s important that you focus on the things you think matter.

Did you ever feel influenced too much or too little by the board? How do you remain truly independent or an independent thinker as a CEO with a board?

I think it’s really hard. Again, because you’re new to the position and you’re dealing with the board. They’re going to ask you and tell you to do things that you don’t think are right. Your initial reaction is to feel like, I can’t really push back because they’ll be mad at me. You shouldn’t worry about that. You should do what you thin is right and communicate really well. You don’t want to tell the board to get lost, but you want to be able to communicate that I don’t agree with that for these reasons and see where that takes you. I think the way to keep your own sanity is to make sure that you try to focus on the things that you think should be done.

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