Vince McMahon is one of the most famous CEO’s in the entertainment industry worldwide and majority owner of the World Wresting Entertainment (WWE). His father was one of the original wrestling promoters and he has been involved in the wrestling industry his entire life – from the once humble local “road shows” to the worldwide multi-media spectacle it is today. Although approaching the age of 70, his passion for the industry and drive for success is just as alive today.
Behind any successful business has to lie great people. Here are some of the things Mr. McMahon has done to attract great people over the years:
1) He looks for charisma
Before the breakthrough of WWF (later to become WWE), Wrestling was considered more of a typical sport with traditional moves based on throws and holds. McMahon was the first person to really emphasize the entertainment aspect – he even admitted early on that WWF was not technically a real sport.
Traditionally wrestling was looked upon as an unappealing form of entertainment. McMahon realised that in order to promote the entertainment aspect he needed to hire people with real charisma – genuine entertainers. To this day, it’s his number one requirement and often his most successful wrestlers over history (“Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Ric Flair) were not necessarily the most athletic but oozed charisma and character.
McMahon realised that the extravagant lighting, costumes and entrances could only work if he hired people who wanted perform.
2) He has understands the importance of hiring great business people
Unlike what you may think from watching TV, the WWE is a highly well run and structured business. Other than people from the wrestling industry, it has hired a number of senior people from “traditional” corporate companies in key roles.
In an era when most other entertainment industries (e.g. sports clubs, publishing houses etc) were usually purely family run, Vince McMahon was the one of the first people to realise the importance of hiring expert business people to help grow an entertainment company.
3) He’s happy for others to take the glory
Anyone who watches WWE will know that generally speaking (although not strictly always), Vince McMahon is usually more of a “baddie” rather than the “goodie”. Over time he’s been happy to play the bad guy and for other characters – old or new – to take the glory.
In an age when many other entertainment franchise CEO’s are consistently looking to improve their public image and take credit for achievements (at least three English football club chairmen I can think of!), letting other’s take the credit is a key attraction for hiring and retaining great people.
4) He will readily take back ex-employees
Vince McMahon’s road to success has by no means been easy – and he has had more than his fair share of criticism and disagreements. Often even well publicised legal disputes with the wrestlers that have worked for him.
However one thing that has been key to success is that he has consistently been willing to take ex-employee wrestlers back. Whether it be Hulk Hogan or the Undertaker, Vince’s door is always open.
After one of his most famous act’s Dwayne Johnson (aka “The Rock”) left to pursue a now hugely successful career in Hollywood, McMahon even said the following:
“The Rock will always come back to us…”
We certainly hope so Vince.
Vince McMahon is probably one of the most public examples of how a leader can only be as good as the people he hires.
Week after week, the WWE continues to attract millions of viewers.
He’s one of the most hands-on CEO in terms of hiring for a NYSE listed company there is.
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