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99: Trish Mueller on listening, leadership, and developing talent

Trish Mueller former Home Depot CMO

In this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast, Alan talked with Trish Mueller, co-founder of Mueller Retail Consulting. Prior to starting her consultancy, Mueller was chief marketing officer at The Home Depot from 2011 to 2016, where she spearheaded the company’s shift from print and traditional media to omnichannel marketing. In 2015, Mueller earned the CMO Club’s CMO Marketing Innovation Award. In addition, she presently serves on the board of directors for Dave & Busters.

In the course of her discussion with Alan, Mueller talks about her career in marketing and how it led to a focus on leadership and the transformative “lightbulb” moment when she understood it was less about outworking people and more about developing talent. “Instead of doing the work, or leading the people doing the work, or even developing the strategy,” says Mueller. “It really was more about acquiring and then inspiring and empowering people to develop and drive the strategy themselves.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • Retail in her blood: Mueller fell in love with selling stuff at an early age. (1:21)
  • The words that led Mueller to study leadership to empower her teams: “If you’re working too hard, you should look at your team.” (6:07)
  • Mueller on how curiosity and an avid reading habit have impacted her career: “Whenever I ran into trouble, I would always pick up a book.” (9:16)
  • Mueller’s “listening first” approach to mentoring other leaders. (16:18)
  • Spending time with your team outside the office will help you to better understand how to motivate them. (21:37)
  • What to do when you believe in the people on your team, but management doesn’t. (36:54)
  • Mueller’s biggest challenge as a young CMO was making herself understood. (40:06)
  • The perils of the C-suite: “If you don’t do your job, someone will always be happy to do it for you.” (42:37)
  • Mueller’s concerns about the impact of technology, privacy concerns, and the perils facing marketers in the future. (50:46)