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’.


How Stephanie McMahon Grew The WWE As Chief Branding Officer

Want to know something surprising about Vince McMahon?

Before the WWE exploded, Vince McMahon had a rocky start.

He lived in a trailer without indoor plumbing. Struggled financially. Even declared bankruptcy.

But VinceMcMahon rose like a phoenix and made his pipe dream a reality. He built the WWE into the wrestling empire we know today.

Because he never gave up on the American Dream.

A dream now shared by his daughter, Stephanie McMahon.

As WWE’s first chief branding officer, Stephanie is growing the brand by empowering its female athletes and inspiring women globally.

Here’s how Stephanie is laying the smackdown as WWE’s chief branding officer.

Don’t take risks. Do take calculated risks.

You know what Wrestlemania is.

You may not know is that Wrestlemania’s liftoff required a hefty sacrifice: Vince and Linda McMahon mortgaged everything.

Building the WWE required calculated risks backed by passion, intellect and guts. The McMahons were cash-strapped but determined to give their consumers what they wanted.

It was a calculated risk that:

  • Had a huge turn out. 20,000 people showed up for Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden
  • Generated tons of revenue
  • Boosted publicity. People were talking about WWE.

If you want to know, then ask.

Stephanie McMahon shares a secret on how to over-deliver on amazing content.

It’s simple. Listen to your consumer.

Stephanie McMahon says WWE has 60 data scientists surveying their customer base.

She doesn’t have to guess what the fans want. The data tells her what story arcs to pursue and which superstars to highlight..

This is why WWE launched their own network.

Market research showed that WWE fans were five times more likely to consume online video content than the average viewer.

WWE responded and delivered a live streaming service direct to their consumers.

It was another calculated risk that helped the WWE build a loyal following.

Stephanie McMahon: A Pioneer for Women

Growing up, Stephanie never second-guessed a woman becoming CEO. 


Because her mother was CEO of WWE for 30 years. She says:

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

But Stephanie McMahon laments how this belief is not the same for women across the world. That’s why she advocates for women to be in visible positions of power.

These powerful women become beacons of hope for generations of aspiring young girls.


In 2015, the call for women empowerment in the WWE exploded on Twitter for three days.


Fans wanted increased recognition and screen time for the female athletes

People want to see powerful women excelling in their craft. They want to see Serena Williams. They want to see Rhonda. And they want to see WWE’s female athletes kick ass on screen.

WWE listened and they responded with:

  • Better female character development
  • More athleticism in female matches
  • More women headlining main events
  • Divas rebranded as superstars (like the men)

Stephanie McMahon gave these female athletes a platform to showcase their charisma and power.

Leveraging their superstars and social media

Stephanie McMahon didn’t want to just showcase talent on the big screen. She wanted to cultivate it. Empower WWE’s athletes.

That is why she helped grow NXT: a league built for people to hone their talents.

But talents didn’t stop at just training and character development.

NXT taught the athletes to be their own producers and editors. To be their own content creators.

Superstars started leveraging social media to promote the network and their personal brand.

Xavier Woods grew his YouTube gaming channel to 1.9 million subscribers. This opened opportunities for WWE to expand into the gaming industry.

The Bella Twins offered glimpses into their lives outside the WWE arena with their popular lifestyle channel.

Stephanie McMcMahon wants to equipped her superstars with the tools they need to succeed.

Ending on a hopeful note.

Stephanie McMahon says WWE’s mission is to make people smile.

When WWE’s female athletes performed for the first time in Abu Dhabi, a chant broke out in the audience: 

“This is hope.”

Hope that encourages women to smile because they can be like the female superstars in the arena. They can do what they want to do. Be who they want to be.

This is how Stephanie McMahon is building a million dollar brand as WWE’s chief branding officer. She is steering a network that is customer-driven, cultivates its talents, and empowers its male and female superstars to exceed their limits.