Coffee with Ron

by Tieja MacLaughlin

This is a Coffee Shop.

The laissez-faire message on the front door of Louie reads.

The Liberty Village venue is conveniently located around the corner from Ron Tite's content marketing agency, The Tite Group.

Founded three years ago, Ron was looking for answers to pain points in an industry he spent years in as a Creative Director.

An avid public speaker (70+ public appearances annually), published author (his second novel This Is That comes out next month) and CEO, Ron sat down with me for coffee one October morning.

Ron Tite will be speaking at The Art of Leadership conference on October 21, 2016 at the Metro Convention Centre. Use promo code TM34 to receive a discounted ticket.

Here are five things he taught me about marketing, and life:

1. Brands have to be media properties, and media properties have to be brands.

"It used to be Church and State," Ron explained. "But it's not anymore."

The best example of this concept can be seen for Orange Is The New Black, where Netflix (brand) and the New York Times (media) came together collaboratively in advance of the season premiere.

"I want us, collectively, to redefine what content is in that space. It's such a huge opportunity."

2. Sports people, and the people who just figure it out.

Ron has a PhysEd degree from Queen's. Not what you might expect from someone in his line of work.

Through charm, circumstance, and forward thinking, Ron landed his first post-secondary job in the Queen's School of Business. The man responsible for hiring him explained the valuable skill set of a sports background.

"You're competitive, you know how to operate within a team, you're completely down to earth - the kind of people you want to have a beer with - you're not too academic, but clearly you're smart. That's a great set of ingredients for a successful business person."

3. Never apologize for trying to do things differently.

"I've been wrong before," said Ron. "Really, really wrong."

But this hasn't stopped him from pushing the envelope.

"I knew that the whole advertising ecosystem was being disrupted. But because there was so much pressure to deliver year-over-year revenue, I couldn't step back. So I quit."

It paid off. Ron spent six months investigating and researching, and came out on the other end with The Tite Group - a successful Toronto based agency.

4. Good work is good work. Period.

"The one constant during my research, throughout the entire ecosystem, was people want good shit."

Forget about long, drawn out agency processes. Keep a smaller team in place to make quick decisions, and keep moving forward. Quality trumps all.

5. You need to do side projects to continually innovate the assembly line.

There's an Oshawa reference here.

Born and raised in the blue-collar south side of the city, Ron used car manufacturing to explain his own business model.

"The assembly line is where you make your money. It's very efficient, people have very specific jobs and they don't veer from those jobs. You've stripped all the waste along the way so you can become really efficient and really good."

Innovation, however, happens outside of the assembly line.

"Car manufacturers also create a concept car. There's no expectation of profit from the concept car. It's never going to market. It's just a side project. And we need to do the side projects to continually innovate the assembly line."

Once the concept car has been refined, it is implemented within the assembly line. And voila, progress!

Tieja MacLaughlin