Founder & Host, What Works
If you’ve ever been curious about what’s working for small business owners in terms of marketing, hiring, sales, and productivity, talk to Tara McMullin (formerly Gentile). She has produced over 300 episodes of her What Works podcast — one of which includes our CEO, Sarah Avenir — asking hundreds of business owners the “nosy questions” most of us have about what happens behind the scenes.
Tara is the founder of the What Works Network, a membership community that connects small business owners to support each other and share their expertise. By running her business this way, Tara puts power in the hands of those she wants to serve, to connect, share and help each other grow. She can also take all the latest business and management research, and apply it to the needs and contexts of creative, personal, and small-scale businesses.
Tara makes business principles accessible in ways that don’t require a power suit or a conventional career track. For example, her book, Quiet Power Strategy, teaches the importance of self-leadership and “seizing the power of quiet.” By focusing on questions like: “What do you want to create?” and “How do you want to connect?” Tara encourages leaders to build a business that aligns with how they want to show up in the world.
When she’s not having candid conversations about running a small business, Tara is an idea collector and geeks out about podcasts and fitness. She’s on a quest to visit all 59 U.S. National Parks by 2027.
🤓 I geek out about…
I geek out about second-guessing institutions and long-held beliefs. I geek out about finding out what’s going on behind the scenes or beneath the surface. I geek out about finding the right words and examples to share big, complex ideas in an accessible way.
I tend to geek out more over context than content—but when it comes to specific subjects, I love to geek out about religion & theology, podcasts & podcasting, politics, and fitness.
🎒 I collect…
Ideas. Okay, I know that sounds super pretentious. I’m just not sentimental or precious about material things. I’ve purged my worldly possessions twice already and don’t regret a thing.
But ideas thrill me. I love learning about concepts in a wide variety of fields and finding the connections between them. I love when an idea I’ve “collected” pops back up after months or years in the back of my brain to fuel something I want to share or teach.
💬 My friends ask my advice about…
Pretty much everything. I’m the kind of person who gets asked for advice a lot—whether it’s what kind of beer to get at a brewery or how to train for a race or how to parse what’s going on in politics or what to do with their small business.
One thing I do not get asked about is where to go dancing or partying. That is just not my jam.
🧰 How my weird obsessions show up in my work…
I’m constantly making connections between the random things I learn and concepts I want to share with small business owners. I’ve written about running, climbing, hiking, road-tripping, epistemology, kayaking, and all manner of other things in order to make a business idea more accessible.
🌱 What form(s) of growth is/are most important for your company?
We’ve been working really hard at growing our capacity for meaningful & inclusive community-building at What Works. Now, we’ve turned our focus to gathering the next generation of members for our community—which means our primary goal right now is growing our audience. For me, it’s really easy to keep talking to the same people, the weirdos who have been around for a long time! But it’s much more challenging to create for people I don’t yet know, even if I know they’re just like the weirdos I already love.
At YellowHouse.Media, we’re focused on growing capacity while maintaining the high level of strategic guidance we’re able to give the podcasters we work with. That means exploring how new clients can work with our talented team members and how those talented team members can grow into new responsibilities. It’s a fun challenge!
🌤️ A thing that makes me hopeful about the future of business:
I’m hopeful about so many things—but one of them is so many business owners who are willing to talk about the very human side of running a business. It’s not all marketing and money mindset… there is so much more that can muck up the waters or create beautiful results.
💭 I wish more companies would…
Hire appropriately. Some small businesses put off hiring completely, others do everything they can to avoid hiring employees, and still others spend tons of money without ever really building their team. Of course, this extends up to much bigger companies too. I wish more companies treated their people like humans instead of resources to be optimized.
🚶 I would walk/drive/travel 500 miles to…
Portland, Maine. My usual go-to destination is the Flathead Valley in Montana… but that’s a few thousand miles away! I love Portland’s vibe, the fact that it’s right on the water, and how close it is to some of the best (and only) wilderness on the East Coast.
You can connect with Tara on Instagram.