Stephanie McMahon details the balancing act of life while working in the family business.
Stephanie McMahon has been a regular part of WWE television since 1999 and just prior to her television debut over 21 years ago, she began working behind the scenes in WWE with both her mother Linda McMahon, who was then the CEO of WWE, and her father Vince McMahon, the visionary of all WWE creative.
Linda and Vince have different approaches to life and business and Stephanie McMahon, in a new discussion with the SBJ I Factor details what she learned while working directly underneath both and she compares and contrasts her parents’ business philosophies and teaching styles.
“Once I graduated college, I first started in a really unique internship opportunity with my mom who was then the CEO. I would get to sit in for about three months, I'd get to sit in on any meeting she had Unless, of course, it was confidential in nature. I would write questions down on a legal pad and after each meeting, if she had the time, she would sit with me she would go through each question, she would answer that, in my spare time I read through contracts, I would read all relevant media news stories that were flagged and coming to her office, just trying to learn as much as I possibly could. Then, I spent six months on the road with my father, Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO, and he was always the creative force of our company and that's where I really found where my passion lay, which is in storytelling because I believe that everything is storytelling, whether it's sports, whether it's content, programming, any type of media, marketing products, it's all storytelling.”
Stephanie went on to say that seeing her mother and a position of power from such a young age also helped remove any concept of gender barriers in her life.
“I never saw gender as a barrier. You know, to me, I just assumed that women should be the CEO, you know, that was just the way it was, wasn't it? So I do think that helped shape. You know, how I viewed business. I think it also gave me a lot of confidence early on to know that that was a possibility. I think it's really important to have that representation, no matter what it is, and to know that you have the opportunity to be just that,” said Stephanie.
When asked to compare the difference between her parents' teaching styles, Stephanie would credit her father as more of an “in the moment” teacher who was more instinctive in his approach. On the other end of the spectrum, her mother would always set aside time for questioning in a more traditional approach
“Very different. Yeah, even in terms of teaching, so my mom would sit with me and answer those questions on the legal pad. My dad didn't have the time for that. Plus, that wasn't his style. He's very much an ‘in the moment’ teacher. So when things happen, that's when he's going to follow up with you about the lesson. [He’d say], ‘Here's why I said this. Here's why I did that. Did you see how this person handled that situation?’ So very different styles. But both, you know, equally as effective.”
Stephanie then recalled a time that her father was disappointed in her and openly stated that she had "failed him" leading to a team member of hers almost quitting because of her micromanaging.
“I think sometimes when you make mistakes, that's when you grow. Not all the time. You can certainly grow without making mistakes. But I think that there's a lot of positivity when you make a mistake. Because if you own it, first and foremost, you assess it, you study it, you learn why you made the mistake and how to correct it, and you make sure you don't make that mistake again. But I think it could be very painful,” Stephanie said.
“One key lesson that my father taught me -- I was micromanaging. I was doing what I thought was right, I mean, all the best of intentions, but I really was absolutely micromanaging this particular team. My dad told me that I had failed him and it was a very, very hard, painful lesson, especially because he's my father, not just my boss, right? To think that I had failed him was something I took on so emotionally and it was painful for me and I think for a lot of people, making mistakes and doing things that you wish you didn't do are painful. But you grow from them if you're able to, and it is worth it. It's why I don't have regrets in life. I've made mistakes, don't get me wrong. I've definitely made mistakes. But I think I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't made those mistakes and had the opportunity to learn from them. I think that's just so important.”
Today, Stephanie Remains the Chief Brand Officer of WWE and continues to work alongside her father to help facilitate the growth of WWE.
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