Jen Mueller is the first person to admit she rarely slows down. And, she likes to talk. A lot. This energy and enthusiasm have made her a stand-out voice in sports broadcasting in Seattle and why we chose her for our Live Your A Game interview series. Mueller’s passion is contagious and her insights are the reason we wanted to share her tips to win in sports, business, and life.
At Alumna House, we want to talk to inspiring women in sports, whether they’re in the game, on the sidelines, or behind the scenes, and share their inspiring stories. Wearing our sports apparel will ensure you look good on the outside, but we also want to help you feel confident on the inside. We want to celebrate all women, on or off the field, who inspire us to live our A Game.
Jen Mueller is most widely-known as a sports reporter in Seattle. She’s spent 15 years covering the Seattle Mariners on TV and 14 years as a Seahawks sideline reporter. While she lives and breathes sports, she’s also an author of several books, including Talk Sporty to Me and The Influential Conversationalist, as well as a frequent video and podcast host and motivational speaker. It’s quick to see why. Mueller’s high energy and passion immediately come through as soon as she starts talking. Her tips to win reflect her dedication to finding the work she is the most skilled at and also happens to love. Her advice reminds us, that with commitment and dedication, we can all find the work we truly love.
Here are Mueller's 10 tips to win in sports, business, and life:
Mueller said one of the biggest mistakes we can make is creating problems in our minds that limit us in work and life. Life is filled with obstacles already, so we shouldn’t create more things to hold us back. So when people ask her about the obstacles of being a woman working in men’s sports, she views it as a self-created obstacle that’s more about having the right perspective.
Mueller said she never focused on being a woman in a male-dominated field. She said if she allowed herself to get caught up worrying about being one of the only females in the locker room, she would already be putting herself “3 steps behind everybody else.” Instead, she focused on the work. She would ask herself, “How can I get better every day and how can I get my job done?”
Doing so has created an all-inclusive environment as Mueller sees it: “Today, guys in locker rooms don’t know what it's like to not have women on the sidelines, women doing sports, so everything has changed.” And that’s a pretty great place to be. By not engaging in stereotypes, she has been able to focus on the job she loves and continue moving forward in her career.
“It’s important to pick your battles,” according to Mueller. “The first locker rooms I went into were not very friendly ... They did not want women of any kind in there, and I don’t blame them. It’s their workspace. They’re not used to it.”
So even though she felt she wasn’t always treated fairly, she had to pick her battles and see the bigger picture to sometimes deal with less-than-stellar working conditions.
According to Mueller:
“You have to pick the challenge and you have to decide what’s more important to you. And it was important to me to get into the room and do my job and to prove that I could do the job. Once you get into the room, I didn’t think that it was worth it to say I don’t really like how I was treated in the room.”
She said her biggest challenge was “getting the opportunity in the first place. I will deal with everything else. I will put up with everything else as long as ... you and give me the opportunity.” She said she got those opportunities by picking her battles wisely.
In the end, she said, “You have to just decide what’s important to you and let everything else go.”
Mueller talks about the importance of being intentional with the time you’re given: “Knowing where you want to go and being intentional about your next step is really important to getting there.” Even though she’s talking about the small amount of time she was given when reporting from the sidelines, her insights can be applied to every situation in work and life.
She explained, “All I was guaranteed was about 15 seconds when we made that introduction. So I was gonna make sure that I had the very best impression in those 15 seconds.”
She also told us how being intentional even about the color of her clothing was part of her strategy for success:
“I would sit in a press conference and the MLB commissioner was there or the NFL commissioner was there. I was very intentional about what I would wear - usually, something colored, I still do this, usually something that was a color that stood out from everybody else.”
Often a small detail like that would make the difference in her getting to engage in a room. She said, “when that’s the only thing you have, you learn to get very strategic very quickly.”
But creating opportunities was only the first step. Mueller said once she got their attention, she needed to be prepared.
Planning and doing research has been an essential part of Mueller’s work as a broadcaster. So when she was able to get herself in front of someone and create those opportunities she said she always had questions prepared: “I knew how I was gonna get into it because that was my only chance to make an impression.”
With such a small window of time to get her job done, she talks about the importance of being on top of her game:
“I often have to tell stories in 15 to 30 seconds. I can’t afford to be stumbling around for the question that gets the right answer. When I do a post-game interview I get three questions. We have about 90 seconds. I have to get in and out of a question and get out of the way so the athlete can tell the story. That means that I have to come in very prepared and not wasting any words or any time. So when everything in your career is measured in seconds and opportunities, you learn very quickly that you’ve gotta come up with a way to make the most of them.”
That’s what makes Mueller so good at what she does. Planning and being prepared don’t leave any room for hesitation or dead air space. She makes sure she’s done her homework and is ready to handle any situation that arises.
Communication is something Mueller is a master of and it’s evident in every question she asks as a sports reporter. She said watching people communicate and talking to lots of different people every day has given her a great deal of practice.
She told us, “... when you start to really pay attention ... when you give somebody just the smallest tool to allow them to tell their story or to have more confidence it becomes inspiring ....”
She said the nuances of communication are second nature to her because she doesn’t overthink it. She has spent her entire life talking to people and picking up on expressions and body language.
When talking about the importance of communication, she told us:
“I work with a lot of athletes who may or may not want to talk to me. And it could be because they’re introverted. It could be because they’re having a bad day or maybe they haven’t just gotten used to being around TV and media people. And I still have to get them to talk to me.”
That’s exactly what she does – masterfully, and it’s why she is such an icon in the Seattle broadcasting world.
Getting started probably seems like the most obvious tip, but Mueller said she sees a lot of people holding out for the perfect job or waiting until they figure out exactly what they want to do. According to Mueller, this is wasted time that could have been used to help you get ahead:
“You are not going to have your dream job right out of the gate, so just get started ... My dream job, the one that I currently have, did not exist when I got into the industry. In fact, nobody in the country has the job that I have. I have carved out a niche, I do exactly what I love to do. I have done this for a long time, it fits everything that I love and there’s no way that I could’ve put this down on a piece of paper and said this is where I’m gonna end up.”
So don’t wait. Get started. Now.
“Take the class, get the internship, even if it’s ... not exactly what you wanted,” Mueller said. It’s all about taking small steps that build, grow and ultimately move you forward.
Yes, you read that right. Packing cubes. If you want to win at traveling, Mueller swears by packing cubes: “Packing cubes are the best thing ever. I pack one city in one packing cube and one city in the next.”
When she’s on the road, she has to stay organized since she’s constantly moving to different games and towns. She said packing cubes help her pack items for each day separately – one cube per day. Plus it fits right in with her Type A personality. We absolutely love this idea for any kind of travel, whether it’s a work trip or a family vacation!
Mueller said one of the most important tips to win that she would have given her younger self is to trust yourself. Early on she said she was a bit of a “hothead” and let things get under her skin. Even though she has no regrets, she said there are certain situations she could have handled differently.
She said, “There was a lot of time that I spent working at 3 am at the studio when everybody had gone home because that’s when I had access to equipment and I would be dragging the next day and I had no idea if it was gonna pay off.”
Mueller said if she would have told her younger self, “Stop worrying about how it turns out in the end. Just do the work. Trust yourself,” she would have gotten where she wanted to go much quicker. The takeaway according to Mueller, “You can bet on yourself. You know what you’re capable of doing. I would have told my younger self to just relax and trust that it was gonna work out in the end.”
One of the things we focus on at Alumna House is the importance of finding ways to unwind. No matter what your responsibilities are, it’s key to find small pockets of time where you can relax and recharge.
Like a lot of successful women, Mueller said she has trouble slowing down, especially since she’s on the road often. Even though she has a demanding schedule, Mueller said:
“I usually try to block off 4 hours on Saturday mornings. I sit down with my coffee and my newspaper and I read my newspaper cover to cover ... that gives me something to look forward to at the end of every week. I will often have a glass of wine if it’s a day game and it feels like this extra treat to get to pour a glass of wine at 5 pm.”
She goes on to say, “The hours off are probably me doing some writing and just clearing some white space on the calendar for whatever I feel like I need to do to get back to being grounded. Sometimes that’s laundry. Which is weird but I really don’t want to see a pile of laundry in the corner.” I think we can all relate.
Mueller is all about showing up and doing the work. She said even though you won’t have your dream job straight out of the gate, if you commit to it for the long haul … you’re gonna be more satisfied in the end.”
Her mentor told her, “Jen, there’s no shortcut, you just have to keep showing up and keep doing it.”
And after hearing that advice throughout her years as a Seattle broadcaster, she has taken it to heart:
“There’s no one thing that you can say. There’s no one story you can turn. There’s no one interview. It truly is showing up over and over and over again and being very consistent. That is everything from your attitude, your body language, your smile, the way you greet people the way you prepare, the way your final work product looks. It’s all of that and there’s no shortcutting.”
So grab your favorite Alumna House team shirt or jacket and get out there and start living your A game. Use Jen Mueller’s inspiring tips to win to remind you to keep moving towards the life you’ve imagined. And even though we want to help you look your best on the outside, we know that looking good starts on the inside. And we want all women to succeed in business, sports, and life!
Need an instant mood booster? Watch our full interview with Jen Mueller HERE.