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Linda McMahon & Stephanie McMahon

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I’m Linda McMahon, and Stephanie McMahon is my daughter.

Stephanie had worked in human resources and manned the reception desk as a summer intern before she joined the company full time after she graduated from Boston University in 1998. So Stephanie was joining a family business where her father, Vince McMahon, was the Chairman, I was the CEO and her brother, Shane McMahon, was the company Vice President. No pressure on this young woman!

My mom talks about the pressure, but for me, my job was to do as much as I possibly could to give back to my family. This was the business my parents worked so hard to build, making many sacrifices along the way. I had every confidence I could be successful because my parents believed in me. And I never thought of gender as an obstacle because my mom was the CEO. I just thought it was a given that women could and should be CEO. It wasn’t until later in life that I experienced gender bias. It is so important for female executives to be visible; women and girls need to know they belong in these roles just as much as men do, and it’s equally as important for women to support one another in life and in business. This is especially true with mothers and daughters.

WWE McMahon Lindan And Stephanie

For the first three months, Stephanie shadowed me and kept my schedule, attended my meetings, and was copied on my notes and correspondence. She sat in on the meetings with my direct reports who were all SVP’s and EVP’s. Then after her three months with me, she kept the Chairman’s (her father’s) schedule (which she much preferred except maybe for midnight and later workouts). With this overview, she was ready to start to work. I watched her with a mother’s pride and dread, knowing there would be times when she would screw up and all eyes would be on her. But, one of Steph’s many strong suits is, she is an attentive listener who hears and understands. She was not afraid to make mistakes and acknowledged learning from them. In meetings with peers and senior officers, she would ask questions to which many might have thought the answers were obvious, but it was amazing how many would engage in the answers and the explanations, and how many learned something new from the discussion. (This is a tactic I use to this day…sometimes ask a question of your group to which you would expect they all know the answer and spark that informative discussion. Great ideas are often born out of rethinking what you already know. WWE Rule: Treat every day as though it’s your first day on the job).

And then, Stephanie stepped into the alternative WWE universe and became, in addition to her work as now manager of the creative writing team, per-former in the ring, making her a crossover executive with one foot in the ring and one foot in the corporate world…a challenging and very demanding role because now, on a weekly basis, she traveled to live events which were televised, but she was expected to keep her “day job” schedule as well.

In the meantime, she married one of WWE’s biggest stars, Paul Levesque, whose performing persona is “Triple H.”

(Life imitated art with Paul and I. My mom is leaving out many juicy details; let’s just say it was forbidden for me to date one of the wrestlers, so when we first became a couple it was problematic, to say the least! But that’s another story…)

Next chapter—Stephanie became pregnant, so her in-ring performances were curtailed and finally stopped, but she still traveled to the televised events as she was the head of the creative writing team and also a skit and talent interview producer. During all of this time, Stephanie did not report to me. All of creative, TV production and marketing reported to the chairman, her father. So I acted more in an advisory role and helped her navigate her growth in the corporate world which gave her a unique insight into the role of CEO. This was not an easy job being both the CEO and her mom, but in many ways, the job was made easier because of my years of experience, and I knew my daughter very well.

In a lot of ways, I feel like I did report to my mom (actually I do to this day! She’s my mom!), and certainly, I did indirectly as she was the CEO. I watched her intently as she would click up and down the black marble hallways of WWE in her fabulous Ferragamos. I noticed how she smiled and always had time for employees passing by. She always knew everyone’s name in the company, and she took the time to connect with them personally. I’ve had many coaches, some who have told me not to “bore” people with stories about my kids, and some who have said taking personal interest is invaluable in building trust and showing respect. Given there are still people at the company who talk about my mom ten years since she has been gone, and how much they miss her, I would say the latter is correct. Though my mom wasn’t doing it strategically, she was asking because she cared, and that is the mark of a true leader.

Adding to the demands on her, Stephanie’s first child, a beautiful baby girl was born, and Steph and Paul decided that she would travel with them on the road every week to the televised events. On the first trip, I took off my CEO hat and went, at Steph’s request, on the road with them on their new tour bus, to evaluate the new nanny and conditions on the road. For me, it was the most important job I had had in many years. I was so flattered that Stephanie trusted my opinion with her single most valuable possession, her daughter.

Nanny and tour bus passed grandmother’s watchful eye, so every week for two years, little Aurora got to experience a two-day road trip. That was all fine until baby sister came along, and Stephanie decided that was too much to handle on the road and do her job as well, as was required. I certainly concurred, so babies stayed home when mommy needed to travel, especially when sister No. 3 arrived! Three babies in four years! Stephanie had more than a full schedule because her responsibilities in the company were growing as well.

She became head of all creative content…for TV, as well as, the newly developing digital content for the website and social media. Stephanie has such a passion for WWE, and she earned promotions from new hire to manager, to VP, to Exec VP and currently Chief Brand Officer. As CBO, Stephanie travels the world marketing and promoting WWE and developing new business.

I took a slightly different path. I stepped down as CEO in 2009 and ran for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut, losing both the 2010 and 2012 races. No one was more actively supportive in my two campaigns than Stephanie. She critiqued some of my speeches which I really appreciated. She attended some of my rallies, and I could always hear her cheers above the crowd and see her smiling face.

One of the biggest lessons my mother showed me, not taught me, was grace under pressure and especially, during disappointment. When my mom lost her first race, she had to face a room full of people who were prepared to celebrate her victory. And instead of crying, or being angry or emotional, my mom simply smiled. She said the race didn’t go the way she wanted or planned, but that someone else had won, and we all needed to put our full support behind that candidate to make him successful. Because, if that Senator was successful, that would mean our state would be successful. And it wasn’t just what she said, it was how she said it, commanding the room with her unassuming power and delivering the message with passion and calm determination. I was feeling angry and wanted to excoriate the candidate who won, but once again, my mom showed me what it means to be a true leader.

After my political foray, I was a co-founder of Women’s Leadership LIVE with two women who became and remain two of my dearest friends. WLL’s focus is on woman entrepreneurs and providing tools to help them grow in business and in self-confidence.

In 2017, newly elected President Trump appointed me to his cabinet as Administrator of the Small Business Administration where I used every bit of my knowledge and experience as a CEO as well as an entrepreneur, whereby my husband and I had grown a two-person business to a publicly traded global enterprise. As I traveled the country visiting small businesses, I became even more aware of how difficult it was for women startups who needed better access to capital and guidance. I wanted to make sure that our Women Business Centers became better known as a free resource and that SBA was not the best-kept secret in the country.

Linda McMahon and Stephanie McMahon

And to her supreme credit, at my mother’s Senate Confirmation Hearing, she was endorsed by the two senators who she had lost to in Connecticut. In the contentious state of politics today, my mom was endorsed by two leaders in the opposing party.

On a parallel path, Stephanie became the champion of the WWE’s Women’s Evolution for women performers to position them as equals to their male counterparts, and she has had tremendous success. She also encourages women and girls in sports, business, and in life. She is an amazing role model. Occasionally, our paths cross, and we are speakers or attendees at the same conferences, and we have many shared professional acquaintances. Secretly, I like to take credit for some of her professional development, but in her 20 years of being a business professional, I think I have learned equally from her, looking at business ideas (and life) through her lens. Obviously, our working relationship was different than at a startup or small business, but I can’t imagine a better team than being with my daughter, and I would be smart enough to make her the captain.

It’s so funny that my mom would write this because I feel the exact same way. I would want my mom leading me and my team, no matter the endeavor, every step of the way.

I’m Linda McMahon, and Stephanie McMahon is my daughter.

Stephanie had worked in human resources and manned the reception desk as a summer intern before she joined the company full time after she graduated from Boston University in 1998. So Stephanie was joining a family business where her father, Vince McMahon, was the Chairman, I was the CEO and her brother, Shane McMahon, was the company Vice President. No pressure on this young woman!

My mom talks about the pressure, but for me, my job was to do as much as I possibly could to give back to my family. This was the business my parents worked so hard to build, making many sacrifices along the way. I had every confidence I could be successful because my parents believed in me. And I never thought of gender as an obstacle because my mom was the CEO. I just thought it was a given that women could and should be CEO. It wasn’t until later in life that I experienced gender bias. It is so important for female executives to be visible; women and girls need to know they belong in these roles just as much as men do, and it’s equally as important for women to support one another in life and in business. This is especially true with mothers and daughters.

WWE McMahon Lindan And Stephanie

For the first three months, Stephanie shadowed me and kept my schedule, attended my meetings, and was copied on my notes and correspondence. She sat in on the meetings with my direct reports who were all SVP’s and EVP’s. Then after her three months with me, she kept the Chairman’s (her father’s) schedule (which she much preferred except maybe for midnight and later workouts). With this overview, she was ready to start to work. I watched her with a mother’s pride and dread, knowing there would be times when she would screw up and all eyes would be on her. But, one of Steph’s many strong suits is, she is an attentive listener who hears and understands. She was not afraid to make mistakes and acknowledged learning from them. In meetings with peers and senior officers, she would ask questions to which many might have thought the answers were obvious, but it was amazing how many would engage in the answers and the explanations, and how many learned something new from the discussion. (This is a tactic I use to this day…sometimes ask a question of your group to which you would expect they all know the answer and spark that informative discussion. Great ideas are often born out of rethinking what you already know. WWE Rule: Treat every day as though it’s your first day on the job).

And then, Stephanie stepped into the alternative WWE universe and became, in addition to her work as now manager of the creative writing team, per-former in the ring, making her a crossover executive with one foot in the ring and one foot in the corporate world…a challenging and very demanding role because now, on a weekly basis, she traveled to live events which were televised, but she was expected to keep her “day job” schedule as well.

In the meantime, she married one of WWE’s biggest stars, Paul Levesque, whose performing persona is “Triple H.”

(Life imitated art with Paul and I. My mom is leaving out many juicy details; let’s just say it was forbidden for me to date one of the wrestlers, so when we first became a couple it was problematic, to say the least! But that’s another story…)

Next chapter—Stephanie became pregnant, so her in-ring performances were curtailed and finally stopped, but she still traveled to the televised events as she was the head of the creative writing team and also a skit and talent interview producer. During all of this time, Stephanie did not report to me. All of creative, TV production and marketing reported to the chairman, her father. So I acted more in an advisory role and helped her navigate her growth in the corporate world which gave her a unique insight into the role of CEO. This was not an easy job being both the CEO and her mom, but in many ways, the job was made easier because of my years of experience, and I knew my daughter very well.

In a lot of ways, I feel like I did report to my mom (actually I do to this day! She’s my mom!), and certainly, I did indirectly as she was the CEO. I watched her intently as she would click up and down the black marble hallways of WWE in her fabulous Ferragamos. I noticed how she smiled and always had time for employees passing by. She always knew everyone’s name in the company, and she took the time to connect with them personally. I’ve had many coaches, some who have told me not to “bore” people with stories about my kids, and some who have said taking personal interest is invaluable in building trust and showing respect. Given there are still people at the company who talk about my mom ten years since she has been gone, and how much they miss her, I would say the latter is correct. Though my mom wasn’t doing it strategically, she was asking because she cared, and that is the mark of a true leader.

Adding to the demands on her, Stephanie’s first child, a beautiful baby girl was born, and Steph and Paul decided that she would travel with them on the road every week to the televised events. On the first trip, I took off my CEO hat and went, at Steph’s request, on the road with them on their new tour bus, to evaluate the new nanny and conditions on the road. For me, it was the most important job I had had in many years. I was so flattered that Stephanie trusted my opinion with her single most valuable possession, her daughter.

Nanny and tour bus passed grandmother’s watchful eye, so every week for two years, little Aurora got to experience a two-day road trip. That was all fine until baby sister came along, and Stephanie decided that was too much to handle on the road and do her job as well, as was required. I certainly concurred, so babies stayed home when mommy needed to travel, especially when sister No. 3 arrived! Three babies in four years! Stephanie had more than a full schedule because her responsibilities in the company were growing as well.

She became head of all creative content…for TV, as well as, the newly developing digital content for the website and social media. Stephanie has such a passion for WWE, and she earned promotions from new hire to manager, to VP, to Exec VP and currently Chief Brand Officer. As CBO, Stephanie travels the world marketing and promoting WWE and developing new business.

I took a slightly different path. I stepped down as CEO in 2009 and ran for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut, losing both the 2010 and 2012 races. No one was more actively supportive in my two campaigns than Stephanie. She critiqued some of my speeches which I really appreciated. She attended some of my rallies, and I could always hear her cheers above the crowd and see her smiling face.

One of the biggest lessons my mother showed me, not taught me, was grace under pressure and especially, during disappointment. When my mom lost her first race, she had to face a room full of people who were prepared to celebrate her victory. And instead of crying, or being angry or emotional, my mom simply smiled. She said the race didn’t go the way she wanted or planned, but that someone else had won, and we all needed to put our full support behind that candidate to make him successful. Because, if that Senator was successful, that would mean our state would be successful. And it wasn’t just what she said, it was how she said it, commanding the room with her unassuming power and delivering the message with passion and calm determination. I was feeling angry and wanted to excoriate the candidate who won, but once again, my mom showed me what it means to be a true leader.

After my political foray, I was a co-founder of Women’s Leadership LIVE with two women who became and remain two of my dearest friends. WLL’s focus is on woman entrepreneurs and providing tools to help them grow in business and in self-confidence.

In 2017, newly elected President Trump appointed me to his cabinet as Administrator of the Small Business Administration where I used every bit of my knowledge and experience as a CEO as well as an entrepreneur, whereby my husband and I had grown a two-person business to a publicly traded global enterprise. As I traveled the country visiting small businesses, I became even more aware of how difficult it was for women startups who needed better access to capital and guidance. I wanted to make sure that our Women Business Centers became better known as a free resource and that SBA was not the best-kept secret in the country.

Linda McMahon and Stephanie McMahon

And to her supreme credit, at my mother’s Senate Confirmation Hearing, she was endorsed by the two senators who she had lost to in Connecticut. In the contentious state of politics today, my mom was endorsed by two leaders in the opposing party.

On a parallel path, Stephanie became the champion of the WWE’s Women’s Evolution for women performers to position them as equals to their male counterparts, and she has had tremendous success. She also encourages women and girls in sports, business, and in life. She is an amazing role model. Occasionally, our paths cross, and we are speakers or attendees at the same conferences, and we have many shared professional acquaintances. Secretly, I like to take credit for some of her professional development, but in her 20 years of being a business professional, I think I have learned equally from her, looking at business ideas (and life) through her lens. Obviously, our working relationship was different than at a startup or small business, but I can’t imagine a better team than being with my daughter, and I would be smart enough to make her the captain.

It’s so funny that my mom would write this because I feel the exact same way. I would want my mom leading me and my team, no matter the endeavor, every step of the way.