Ron Tite

October 22, 2018 by Speakers' Spotlight

Think, Do, Say: Finding Purpose in a Chaotic World

We work in a constant state of chaos. Call it disruption, innovation, or transformation, it changes industry to industry whether it’s due to new technology, changes in consumer mindset, new business models — looking at you Uber — but it’s there.

And, consumers are feeling it too. It’s like we’re trying to do business in the middle of New York City’s Times Square. Everything is buzzing, surrounded with opportunity, choices, and lots of shiny things, but people have no idea where to turn first, or who to trust not only with their money but with their hard-earned time.

So, how can an organization thrive amongst so much chaos? How can they stand out from their shiny competitors?

We spoke to marketing, branding, and creativity expert Ron Tite who has developed a new way of doing business that will help organizations get out of the rut of generalized mission and value statements, and instead stand out amongst the chaos: Think, Do, Say.

Think: Lead with Purpose

If organizations want to win the battle against chaos, they must have purpose behind what they do. A true purpose goes beyond a product or service and instead defines what’s at the core of the business. It’s finishing the sentence, “We believe that…”

Ron notes that it’s important that this purpose actually represents what a company is doing, and not just what they think people want them to do. Learn from the mistakes of companies past, like Audi, a car company who tried to sell cars by attaching themselves to gender equality. Or, Pepsi who ran the ill-fated “world peace” ad campaign starring Kendall Jenner.

These didn’t work because they weren’t authentic or based on a company’s true purpose.

Instead, look at Nike who is doing it right. Their core purpose is to support athletes. Simple. So, how do they do it? Not only by developing state of the art athletic gear, but also by supporting them in their beliefs. Their latest marketing campaign says “believe in something even if you have to sacrifice everything.” And this explains why they stand behind NFL player Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the American national anthem. This is how you lead with your core purpose.

Do: Reinforce Purpose with Action

Seeing is believing. People need to experience your purpose in order to believe it, so Ron says make sure you do stuff that reinforces your core beliefs.

Determine these actions by answering two key questions: Who are you doing it for? And, what do they want you to do?

Most people want you to solve a problem for them, but, this problem differs depending on the audience. Define who you want to reach and then determine what you can do for them based on your core purpose.

Equally important, Ron says, is who you do it with. It doesn’t matter what their job title is, or if they’re freelance or permanent, what matters is whether or not they are aligned with the same purpose and using it to fuel their actions to achieve a common goal.

Say: Tell People About It

The simplest of the three. Once you’ve defined your core belief and put it into action, it’s time to tell people about it, both internally and externally.

When these three align, you will have an organization that lines up with its people, and this creates positive brand momentum yielding high performance internally and the results you want externally.

Case Study: REI

So, let’s see this model in action! Ron calls on Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a US retail outlet for outdoor equipment. Whether you are going for a hike, taking a camping trip, or looking for a kayak, they sell what you need for all your outdoor adventures. But, their purpose goes well beyond the products they sell.

What do they THINK? Their fundamental belief is that a life lived outside is a life worth living.

What do they DO? They live their belief. On Black Friday, the largest retail holiday in the US, they closed their stores so that their staff didn’t have to deal with the chaos and could instead… enjoy the outdoors. The kicker? REI’s sales did not suffer from opting out of Black Friday, instead their staff returned rested and revived from a day outdoors making them more inclined to sell harder and help others do the same.

What do they SAY? They turned Black Friday into a memorable campaign telling people to #optoutside. Eight million people took part.

This happened in 2015 and, although the campaign has grown and changed over the years, it still exists today. For example, if customers want to enjoy a national park, REI will pay for the uber ride. Their actions continue to tie-in with their core purpose and they make sure people know about it.

In 2017, REI’s managing editor Paolo Mottola was named the Content Marketer of the Year by Content Marketing Institute.

Join the Think, Do, Say Revolution

It’s not easy, but Ron says all it really takes is commitment. This way of thinking has become the new fundamental to good business and needs to be treated as more than just a checklist. So, get the entire company together and start talking. The only actual barrier facing organizations is not having the guts to be transparent and have those real conversations.

It’s time to own the chaos. Cut through the BS and bring purpose back into what you do.

Named one of the “Top 10 Creative Canadians” by Marketing Magazine, Ron Tite is an award-winning advertising writer and creative director for some of the world’s most respected brands, including Air France, Evian, Hershey, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, Intel, Microsoft, and Volvo. He is currently the Founder and CEO of Church & State, a content marketing agency, where his work has been recognized by The London International Advertising Awards, The New York Festivals of Advertising, The Crystals, The Extras, The Canadian Marketing Association, and The Marketing Awards, to name just a few.

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