with Ryan Daniel Moran

Today’s episode features Ryan’s fireside chat with Stephanie McMahon at the Capitalism Conference in January 2019.


Vince McMahon went from a trailer with no indoor plumbing, to declaring bankruptcy to a 6 billion dollar brand. Stephanie talks about what it means to earn your place, listening to your audience and finding your business’ ‘motor’.


Ever wonder how the biggest travelling show — 180 countries in 25 languages — in the world runs?


Key takeaways

[5:40] The WWE’s image in the media has changed dramatically in the last decade, and Ryan asks Stephanie to talk us through the 4 generation story of how it became the global brand and community it is today.


Listen to your customers and do your research [10:25] the WWE’s direct to consumer network was created because the audience asked for it, and because the market research showed the WWE fans were 5 times more likely to consumer online video than the norm.


There is no ceiling [11:30] Passion is the biggest motivator. You have to believe in your idea more than anyone, you will fail, but you have to own the mistakes, learn from them and apply corrections to succeed again.


XFL [17:09] Learning opportunities in the form of failed attempts and mistakes are important, Stephanie breaks down what they learned with the XFL — there are 2 huge lessons — in order to better do it this time around.


Big shoes you don’t have to fill [19:30] Stephanie talks about being her own person within the McMahon family and building her own story — be proud of the people you admire but don’t compare yourself!


But Stephanie is still insecure and struggles with self-confidence, she shares her dad’s advice.


Thank you’s [22:20] The WWE’s mission is to put smiles on people’s faces and fans have been thanking Vince for it since the beginning. Stephanie has now started getting her own thanks — this is the fulfilling part of the job.


Building a story arc [25:34] Stephanie loves being the villain! She details how the shows are broken down, from Wrestlemania to the monthly shows to the smaller drivers.


Adoption strategy [27:00] the shift to the WWE network caused a big dip in Pay-per-View viewership and overall company value in the beginning, but they knew it was coming and were prepared to take that hit.


Relaying the message is key but always trying to provide your consumers with an experience that’s worthy of their passion, always, in every way is the golden rule at WWE.


60 data scientists are now surveying the WWE’s customer base regularly and helped correct some mistakes along the way:


Trying to lock customers into a 6 month subscription was not a good idea — they don’t do it anymore.


Changing viewer consumption is difficult, and they are still learning how to do it!


#GiveDivasAChance [32:42] the changes in how women are represented in the company didn’t only come from Stephanie and the executive team trying to effect change, but also the fans who started the movement with #GiveDivasAChance.


Stephanie details the evolution of the women’s division since that hashtag trended worldwide for 3 days.


Influencer marketing [35:48] Ronda Rousey was brought in because she was always a fan so the relationship was a good fit from the get-go.


Recruiting and building professionals [39:13] the WWE recruits from all manner of professional sports, from UFC and MMA to the Olympics, Rugby, Capoeira and everything in between, looking for top athletes and bringing them into their top-of-the-line facility which offers a huge array of training from in-ring to life skills seminars and academic training.


A Career-launching platform [40:30] With the Rock and John Cena having become such huge stars, Stephanie explains the intentionality and strategy behind the story lines at the WWE. It starts with NXT (a performance center) which is a league built specifically for people to flesh out their characters — and where the fans play a big part in choosing who makes it to the roster.


A family of greatness [44:43] family comes first and work/life balance will never be a 50/50 thing, so it’s about establishing priorities.  Building her children's work ethic, kindness, respect for others and yourself, learn and grow is very important to Stephanie and establishing a strong family foundation is critical for keeping people together.


Abu dhabi [48:53] women were allowed to perform for the first time in Abu dhabi — women are often edited out of shows for countries with more restrictive policies — and a chant broke out in the audience “this is hope”.


Trying new things [51:14] it’s important to trust your gut, WWE is famous for trying new ventures and going all in. Stephanie talks about blind vs calculated risks and the constant entrepreneurial spirit with the WWE.


Everything you want in on the other side of fear. But you have to know what you’re going after and you have to see it’s success through in your mind.


WBF [56:14] was another endeavour that did not turn out as planned!

You will make mistakes and have failures, just don’t make the same mistake twice.


“Mistakes are tolerated up to a point, but excuses never will be.” — Vince McMahon


Calculating risk [59:06] is broken down to what you are willing to sacrifice and what the upside might be.


Caring for your people [1:01:37] employees are employees and the talent are independent contractors — and they participate in every revenue stream aside from TV and subscriptions — and there is no limit to how much they can earn.


Family drama [1:03:34] Stepahnie dishes! And shares some very touching family memories.


Branding for the future [1:06:12] Ryan asks what the future holds for the brand and Stephanie shares how perfectly timed that question really is: there are some conflicting opinions on the direction the branding should take


Although Stephanie is not at liberty to go into details, she does talk about how social media and Internet platforms hugely factor into the branding strategy.


Business structure [1:10:10] Stephanie details the company’s multiple revenue streams and division structure. The WWE is the largest traveling show in the world!


To stay relevant, you have to always keep up. The WWE is currently codifying reinvention and to do that, you have to find the one thing you cannot change, the core of what you do.


QA [1:16:40] the audience are all fans!

1. On working with family?

2. How do you market to different cultures?

3. On metrics in brand repositioning?


A story about a story [1:23:50] Stephanie shares how life imitates art with her relationship with her husband.


Before signing off, Stephanie shares a few last words to the entrepreneurs in the room.


Thanks for listening!


Mentioned in this episode

8 figure exits:


“My parents mortgaged everything that they owned to make Wrestlemania happen, you gotta take calculated risks.” — Stephanie McMahon


“My mom was the CEO of WWE, so I always assumed women could be the CEO and could do whatever they wanted to.” — Stephanie McMahon


“Live as bold and as big as you possibly can.” — Stephanie McMahon

Direct download: Stephanie_McMahon_How_WWE_Became_A_Global_Brand_1.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 5:00am EDT