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GameStop CEO Advice: Volunteer

Mike Mauler
Former CEO at Gamestop

Learning outcomes

  • The power of volunteering to open up options early in your career
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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 was the biggest challenge for you climbing the corporate ladder?

I would say probably politics. I’ve never been very political. You sit there in a corporate environment. I don’t know if you’ve been in a corporate environment, but you sit there in a corporate environment and you see that one guy, that constantly asks the boss out for lunch or let’s go have some beers. You feel like you’re losing out on relationships. I was never one to do that. The relationships at work was a challenge sometimes. At the same time, we talked about this, volunteering for everything. If you’re new and you’re 28 and you’re looking to move your way up the corporate ladder, anytime the boss asks for, “I’ve got this terrible project, it’s been failing for years, who wants to take the challenge on?” You’ve got to be the first hand to be raised. Every single time I got promoted was because I took on a challenge that was failing and no one wanted to do it. I think that’s incredibly important. I think you also have to know what’s your goal in life, what are you trying to accomplish? Showing up. Trying to show up on work on time.

Yes, cover the basics.

The basics. I can’t even count. I would say probably 90 percent when I was back in supply chain, 90 percent of the warehouse workers and refurbishment workers were terminated because they couldn’t show up to work on time. You can’t get anything simpler than that. I think you show up on work on time, you volunteer for everything you can. Then I think internally, you try to do self-improvement. Whether you’re listening to Tom Peter CDs or anything else, you try to make sure you’re reading books and listening to tapes and trying to make yourself better every day. I think that makes a world of difference.

What is so important in your mind about volunteering? What does that show to you if you’ve got an employee that keeps volunteering for things and projects?

It shows me that they have enthusiasm and a need to succeed and they want to take on challenges. That’s what you need in the future. It’s amazing to me, you sit in a conference room. Okay, we have this issue with the loyalty program, whatever it is, and can someone take this on? You immediately get one gal or guy that stands up and goes, I want to take that on, I want to be part of that. It tells you, one, they just invited themselves to the seat at the table. The other nine people that didn’t volunteer to do anything, they’re not going to have a seat at the table. They gave themselves an opportunity to actually do something with it. All of a sudden, they’re doing video interviews about the wonderful loyalty program. If you just focus on the job at hand, which is important, as well, but if you just do that, you miss out on all of the opportunities for more than that.

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