Speaking in a new interview, Stephanie McMahon has recalled how she began working in the family business. Including one “painful lesson” where her father Vince McMahon told her that she’d “failed him.”
After graduating from Boston University in 1998, Stephanie McMahon began to take her first proper steps into the wrestling industry. While this led her to begin appearing as a performer across WWE television in 1999, the young McMahon also began serving an apprenticeship on the business side of the operation.
During an appearance with the SBJ I Factor, McMahon recalled how she spent time with each of her parents, learning their particular roles.
“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 explain that by seeing her mother in such a high profile position within the company, she never felt that her gender was a barrier to success.
“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,”
WWE’s Chief Brand Officer then discussed the differences in teaching styles between her parents. McMahon said that while her mother was much more planned and organised, Vince was always “in the moment.” Despite the differences, Stephanie said that both styles are effective.
“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.”
However, as with any learning experience there will always be mistakes. Something McMahon said that she was far from immune from, but slightly complicated by the fact that her boss was also her father.
Reflecting further, Stephanie recalled one occasion where she was micromanaging the team she was overseeing, something which led the WWE’s Chairman to say that she had “failed him.”
“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,”
“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.”
Stephanie McMahon has held numerous positions within WWE including several within the creative team. The former on-screen General Manager moved into her current role of Chief Brand Officer in 2013.
Speaking elsewhere, McMahon recently named former Women’s Champion and UFC star Ronda Rousey as an inspiration, describing the star as “unapologetically herself.”
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.