Oprah Winfrey Network picks up Ryerson-based TV show

A Ryerson-produced interview show with a business theme and a catchy name has been picked up by Oprah’s network.

The Naked Entrepreneur features a professor from the Ted Rogers School of Management talking to high-profile business leaders.

Sean Wise, a TRSM professor, says he created the show because he felt there was an unmet need for original Canadian content about entrepreneurship on television.

“I teach the introduction to entrepreneurship class at Ryerson, but have no Canadian success stories to share,” said Wise. “The show is meant to inspire, but also provide a grounded approach to entrepreneurship.”

Production and filming began in September 2012, and it’s continued ever since. Students from TRSM and the RTA School of Media collaborated on The Naked Entrepreneur as part of RTA Productions, an in-house production unit at Ryerson that hires students to film, edit and produce projects in a professional environment.

Rogers TV aired the first of 13 half-hour episodes of The Naked Entrepreneur on Oct. 28. In January 2015, the Oprah Winfrey Network will broadcast eight one-hour segments of the show.

“The network called us regarding another project and one thing led to another,” said Wise. “‘Always be looking for and creating opportunities’ is what we teach in entrepreneurship. It certainly helped here.”

Sitting comfortably on either side of a coffee table, Wise and John Sleeman, founder and chairman of Sleeman Breweries, engage in gritty conversation about Sleeman’s beginnings as an adopted child. The two chat about Sleeman’s family, leaving school at an early age, and the difficulties he faced growing his business.

“Are entrepreneurs born? Are they bred? Can entrepreneurs be adopted?”

These are the types of personal questions Wise asks his guests on the show.

The show’s unusual name has a purpose.

“The term ‘naked’ was meant to bring out the struggles, as well as the successes of the guests,” says Dana Abou Shackra, who worked on the show in January 2013 as an assistant producer. “It is a very candid perspective on the entrepreneurial journey.”

The show has featured big names from the business world like Debbie Travis, Harry Rosen, Christine McGee, and Brett Wilson.

Abou Shackra says the experience of listening to such successful entrepreneurs has been empowering.

“These are such big, inspiring, enthusiastic leaders,” she said. “You can sense the spirit and enthusiasm in the room every time an entrepreneur comes in.”

Caitlin Dosa, a fourth-year RTA student, worked on the most recent season of the show.

“In some ways it speaks for the people who work in RTA productions because we are entrepreneurial in our own way,” said Dosa. “Entrepreneurs give insight into how they started, how they stay on the edge and stay current and that is something that we all have to do when we are working in this industry.”

Wise is working on incorporating show content into a textbook on entrepreneurialism.

He plans to embed digital format to improve the student learning experience. A new bunch of RTA media and TRSM students will work on producing the fourth season of the program starting next spring.
The success of the show isn’t just bringing attention to TRSM and the media school.

“The show brings the spotlight on Ryerson as a whole,” said Charles Falzon, chair of the RTA School of Media. “It shows that we are connected with such great names, and shows that Ryerson is able to attract such sought-after leaders and such innovation.”

Sean Wise (right) in conversation with founder of Sleeman Breweries, John Sleeman. (Courtesy YouTube - NakedEntrepreneurTV)

Sean Wise (right) in conversation with founder of Sleeman Breweries, John Sleeman. (Courtesy YouTube – NakedEntrepreneurTV)

Episodes of the show are available online at nakedentrepreneur.tv/

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