If you spent part of your morning today “rolling up the rim to win,” you have Ron Buist to thank for the opportunity. The former marketing director for Tim Hortons for 25 years, Buist help turned a once little-known donut shop into one of Canada’s leading franchises and–of course–invented one of Canada’s most beloved contests. Buist is a confident, entertaining, and motivating presenter who takes audiences behind the scenes of this beloved Canadian institution, and shares the many valuable lessons about marketing, customer service, and business that he picked up along the way. We’re happy to shine our spotlight on Ron:
What inspired you to want to be a speaker?
I like people and enjoy gaining their rapt attention when I discuss the highlights from my book, Tales From Under The Rim: The Marketing of Tim Hortons.
Any advice for aspiring speakers?
If you want to motivate an audience come with a well prepared presentation around a topic you know. Put as much to memory as you can. No one wants to see you stand up and read from a script. Rehearse. Always do a technical check of your equipment prior to each presentation. And, do not only be on time, but work within the allotted time you are given as well.
What do you like to leave audiences with?
I feel I have succeeded if the audience mentions something I have said or that they have seen that sparks a greater interest in their own business.
How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?
I write the client as soon as I receive a contract to say thank you and to arrange a phone call with them one month in advance of the actual presentation. We discuss what they want and how I can help achieve their goals. At one hour prior to the audience being in attendance, I do a tech rehearsal.
Do you have an especially memorable event you can tell us about?
Each event offers an exciting challenge. It is hard to pick one over another since my audiences vary by age, gender, business, or personal background. It is one of the advantages in speaking about Tim Hortons, because everyone knows about Hortons and everyone has their own story to tell about their association with it.
Any funny or embarrassing situations you found yourself in as a speaker?
Years ago, I used to wear a lapel mike that was controlled by the AV company. During a break, I went to the washroom and they forgot to turn the darn thing off. 150 people were privy to my own personal rendition of Handel’s Water Music . I have never used a lapel mike since.
Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?
The Salvation Army. 96% of all monies they receive go to help the poor. 100% of the monies collected in the Christmas kettles goes back to help those who need it. You can volunteer without being a Salvation Army member. In my experience they never “preach” to you or ask for anything more than you are willing to give, be it money or time.
If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?
What I’m doing –“Teaching”, if you will, on a stage and with a microphone. It only took a lifetime to gather my presentation material.
Desert island album?
I like a wide selection of “old” music, from Bach to Bert Bacharach.
Best subject in school?
Writing, composition, English literature, and philosophy.
Last book you read?
Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley. The next will be One Summer In America 1927, by Bill Bryson.
Last film you saw?
I’m an old movie junkie. I just watched Any Given Sunday, for example.
I admire Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban. Another more expected answer might include Halle Berry, not only for her on screen work, but also for going to court to keep the paparazzi away from her children.