Behind the Cape with Home Depot

Kudos to the leadership team at The Home Depot! These leaders inspired 500 women attending the company’s recent 8th Annual Women’s Link Leadership Form promoting Everyday Superheroes.

I had the chance to interview Trish Mueller, SVP and CMO; Carol Tome, CFO and EVP of Corporate Services; Stacey Tank, VP Corporate Communications and External Affairs and Ted Decker, EVP of Merchandising. Here are just a few of the highlights.

What’s your superpower?

Carol: Getting along on very little sleep, “Just four to five hours a night. And surrounding myself with smart people.”

Trish: “Being OCD.” She turned her obsessive compulsive disorder into an advantage and uses it every day at work.

Ted: “Curiosity.”

Stacey: “Breaking rules.”

Their kryptonite or weaknesses as a leader?

Carol: Getting too passionate at times which can be not such a good thing when angry.

Stacey: Being impatient sometimes.

Trish: Getting board easily.

Ted: Giving real time feedback.

What’s the best advice they ever gave or ever got?

Trish: “Don’t worry about salary or what others earn.” Just do what you love and do it well.

Stacey: She says she follows the Dalai Lama on twitter and learned to “bring warm-heartedness to everything I do. That’s the key to happiness.”

Carol: “Remember it’s not about you. It’s about everyone else.”

Other surprises?

I was surprised to hear these leaders didn’t put together any kind of rigid five-year plan for their career, but instead seized opportunities that they wanted as they came along.

They also talked about the mistakes. Carol told how early in her career she rode the elevator all the way down to the ground floor with company co-founder and then CEO Bernie Marcus. Apparently making a good impression was so important to Carol that she couldn’t think of a thing to say. “Then we walked to our cars parked side by side,” and still silence. Clearly she soon gained the courage to speak up. Women at Home Depot and everywhere, myself included, are grateful that she did!

These amazing leaders reminded me of my personal women in the workplace pet peeves.. many of which were discussed today. These seven jump out to me, mostly because these are mistakes I made – and regretted!

  1. Don’t: Stick with a job that makes you sad, anxious and/or inauthentic – because it earns good money or looks good on the outside.
  1. Do: Let the boss get to know you on a personal level – like men so often do when talking about sports. Why? If they don’t know you, they don’t know you’re a good person; essential information when considering a promotion.
  1. Do: Take on jobs that may seem too tough. We’re a smart bunch and will figure it out. (This issue doesn’t deter the men!)
  1. Don’t: Play by the rules. Always going through the correct channels and doing what you’re always supposed to do probably won’t get you to the top. As Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said, “Well behaved women rarely make history.”
  1. Do: Find a mentor or sponsor who can advise you and be an advocate for your advancement.
  1. Do: Raise your hand to ask a question or do a high profile project. Say yes to speaking opportunities that will raise your profile. These sorts of things lead to higher visibility. (You probably won’t get promoted if you’re under the radar!)
  1. Don’t: Think hard work and doing a great job is enough to get you where you want to go in your career. Of course a good work ethic and doing a great job are essential – but find out what will get you noticed. What will improve your relationship with decision makers so they know you as a human being not just an employee? That’s going to get you promoted.

Happy trails and lots of warm-heartedness!


By Cynthia Good

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