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GameStop: Trust and Accountability

Mike Mauler
Former CEO at Gamestop

Learning outcomes

  • The importance of driving accountability throughout each region

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

What were your biggest lessons from running the international business and turning around that unit?

I think the biggest lesson was each business situation is unique. We talked about that a little bit early, you can’t treat the guy in Italy and talk to him and manage him like you’re managing Germany. On top of that, there was a real push/pull quandary where you want the businesses to be independent and you want the managing directors to feel like they’re in control and managing their business. At the same time, you want them to work together, which is not an easy task because they don’t want to work together. It’s necessary. Yes. I think the biggest challenge is trying to figure out that balance between working together and being totally individually independent. It took a while, but we ended up figuring that out.

What advice would you give to someone then, let’s say that I have different units that are not working together, what would you suggest that managers can do to really align interests while also keeping the accountability at the regional level?

The first thing is not to take away accountability at the regional level. Everybody wants to do a good job. If you’re talking about people at a high level, again, these are mainly CEOs, some of the businesses, like France are like $800 million, so it wasn’t chump change. You want that person to feel like, I’ve got my business and I’m going to do the right thing.

At the same time, you’ve got to figure out how to make them realize that they need to work together because it helps all of them. That just took time and there’s some trust involved in that. You want the guy in France to go, okay, so the guy in Spain had a good idea, let’s take a look at it, without feeling threatened that he’s making all the ideas. I think the main thing is trust, where they need to feel trust that their peers have good ideas, as well, and that the boss is not going to penalize them for not having all of the right answerers all the time.

How do you drive trust within an organization?

Lots of conference calls and lots of meetings and lots of visits. Before I took over international, I’ve been told the managing directors have never been in the same room together ever. We changed all of that, where they actually became friends and having calls without me. I think that was a huge benefit to the business. That’s the only way to do it, is to really get these guys to work together. You can’t order them to work together. You’ve got to facilitate the relationships.

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