Career Profile: Gwen Elliott on Building a Media Business, and Her TV Show on the Oprah Winfrey Network
Gwen Elliot is a Media Strategist and Co-Creator of the Media Method. She is also TV producer of The Naked Entrepreneur TV that ran for two seasons on the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada. She helps her clients get their big break with media. Gwen has helped entrepreneurs get featured on the New York Times, Forbes, Virgin, Learn Vest, Daily Worth, Levo League, national TV shows, morning shows and local cable shows.
Gwen herself has also been featured in Forbes as a Fierce Female Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post and TEDx to name a few. She is also the creator of Your Big Break, a podcast series that shares the stories of how entrepreneurs got their big break in business with help from mainstream media.
Read on to learn how this media maven, transitioned her career to build her own media business.
Name: Gwen Elliott
Location: Toronto, Canada
Current Title/Company: Media Strategist & Co-Creator of the Media Method
Educational Background: Bachelor of Arts, Minor in English, Radio and Television, Ryerson University.
What was your first job after university and how did you land that opportunity?
My first job in the media after university was working at the CBC on an initiative called Live Right Now. I was a researcher on the project and the goal was to encourage Canadians to live healthier lives. The truth is when I first graduated, I couldn’t land a job in the media, so I started in the working world as a hostess at a steakhouse (and I was a vegetarian at the time). I realized that if I was going to have to start my career this way, I’d love to work at the best restaurant I can find. So I later applied to a top restaurant in Toronto and got the job! One day an executive at the CBC (who I used to intern with) came in for lunch and was shocked to see that I was about to seat her at her table. She told me to reach out to her as she may have an opportunity for me at the CBC. I followed up and got my foot in the door with my first media job!
How did you utilize press or networking to be a creator of the Naked Entrepreneur show on the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada?
This happened in a way I never could’ve predicted! When I was working at restaurants, I was also pursuing my dream of turning my blog (called Start Something Big!) into a TV show. After pitching my blog to a producer on a local cable TV show (I simply found her email address online), I also emailed the head of Rogers TV (the local cable network) to request a meeting to pitch a TV show. Turns out, I got booked to be on a segment on the show and got a meeting with the station manager right after that. After pitching the concept, she said yes to giving me a chance to make the show. I got the opportunity to create a pilot episode! After turning in the pilot episode, I soonafter I got the yes to create a full season! Hallelujah! On the show, which was called, “Start Something Big!” I requested to interview Dr. Sean Wise (an investor/author/former Dragons’ Den advisor/my former entrepreneurship professor) for a segment. The segment aired, and a few years later, when he wanted to create his own show, he remembered I was a TV producer and asked me to come onboard to produce the show! The show started as a web-show, then got picked up by local cable, and then got picked up by the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada.
Whenever I go to a networking event by myself and if I feel nervous, I remind myself that if I feel this way, I’m sure that other people who are attending are nervous too! One tip is to smile when you walk into the room. I’ve found that smiling makes me feel more approachable and open to talking to new people. Another tip I now follow about networking events is something I learned from Derek Sivers, a writer and entrepreneur. He has a HELL YEAH or no theory that I love. Before signing up for an event ask yourself if it feels like a HELL YEAH? If not (and you feel like you’re forcing yourself to go), I highly recomend you say no this time and find a new one that you’re excited about!
What do you foresee your business in the next five years?
In five years my business will be nine years old! Almost a teenager! Geesh! I have been deeply inspired after working with marketing genius Nicholas Kusmich, to learn that he grew a multi-million dollar business after ripping his vision board off the wall and letting go of goals. He focused on doing great work and following his gut instincts in business. In five years, I can only imagine there will be new platforms to explore, marketing techniques to employ and new ways to create game-changing content, so I’ll be following my gut instincts and focusing on how I can help! Though I do predict I will have a book out, and will continue growing and evolving my online course The Media Method Program with my collaborator Natalie MacNeil!
For the young women out there with a passion for entrepreneurship and a desire to pursue it, what advice can you give them?
I used to want to be an entrepreneur, as it seemed like the only way to be truly free. Turns out I bought into the hype and realize that it doesn’t matter if you work at a company or you work for yourself… feeling ‘free’ is an internal process. Right now, I realize it’s all about enjoying the work and that’s what I encourage you to focus on. When you enjoy what you do, you’ll find your passion and energy becomes infectious and many doors will open that you didn’t even see!
What has been your biggest accomplishment outside of work?
My new obsession is training in Krav Maga (a self defense system developed by the Israeli Defense Forces that focuses on real-world defense). I feel accomplished every time I leave a class (which is now four or five times a week). Though I will say getting my yellow belt was super fun and I would love to earn a black belt one day!