Ron DiFrancesco

Ron DiFrancesco

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Mindfulness and Resiliency Expert

In 2000, Ron DiFrancesco was working in the Finance industry in the role of Vice President, when he was selected to close the Canadian operation and shift the business to New York City.

In September of 2001, he was leading a fast-paced trading culture consisting of 350 specialized brokers in the South Tower of the World Trade Center.   He never saw the plane before it hit the North tower but when he did, he thought it was pilot error.

He was on his way to the elevator when the second plane hit.  The impact was a few floors below him leaving him, and many others above the crash zone, completely helpless. The trading floor he had been standing in moments before was destroyed.

For Ron, 911 was a day that changed his life forever.  As the last man to make it out of the South tower Alive Ron has experienced deep personal pain and he still struggles with PTSD. 

But with the incredible support of his family and community, and his daily focus on mindfulness, gratefulness and by giving back, Ron has not only survived but thrived.  He was honored in a special edition of Time magazine for 9/11 Portraits of Resilience, and was asked to do a movie based on the book The Third Man Factor by John Gieger of the National Geographic.

Ron is a married father of four, who resides in Toronto.

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Speaking topics

Mindfulness is the Key to Being Resilient

Ron shares the story of surviving the 911 terrorist attack in New York city.  How he struggled to overcome survivors guilt and PTSD by focusing on Mindfulness, what he has learned is the key to resiliency.  For Ron, Mindfullness brings you into the moment, the now.  It reminds you to feel grateful, give back to your community and focus on what matters most.  Mindfullness not only makes you more resilient and able to take on any challenge but it also makes you happier.

Speaker testimonials

He was amazing! Ron was truly inspirational. We have never experienced such a moving presentation. He tailored his presentation very appropriately to the audience with students and others. I simply cannot express how truly honored and privileged we feel to have been able to host Ron to our community. I hope we have an opportunity again sometime in the near future. Thanks so much for helping organize his visit.

City of Mason, OH

I had the privilege of hearing Ron DiFrancesco speak at the Canadian Positive Psychology Conference. It was quite simply the most deeply moving talk I have ever heard. Ron’s experience of 9/11 is unfathomable. Hearing his message of gratitude, voiced with such rawness, authenticity and grace left no dry eye in the room. Encountering Ron is a game changer. You cannot help but walk away with reorganized priorities and a renewed respect for life.

Rory Darkins | Sydney, Australia

Ron speaks to the heart of what it means to be human. His courage and vulnerability in telling his story allows others the opportunity to reflect and examine their own lives, and thus make meaning from their experiences. At the heart of his story lie themes of resilience, muddling through grief, searching for hope and reaching out to navigate life’s most defining moments with those around us. Ron exemplifies what it means to live authentically. He encourages us to live transparently, and to open up a dialogue with one another about our deepest pain and our greatest joy. Ron’s story is about a journey; a journey we ought to do together.

Hannah Darkins | Sydney, Australia

I had the pleasure of hearing Ron speak at the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Defence Lawyers on May 26, 2016 in Toronto. Ron’s compelling journey from the leafy streets of Stoney Creek, Ontario to the skyscrapers of Manhattan did the impossible and silenced a room filled with lawyers. All were enraptured with the story of Ron’s life and the important message he conveys of being thankful, persevering in the face of extreme adversity and stopping to smell the roses once in a while. Thank you Ron.

President | Canadian Defence Lawyers 2016-2017

I had the honor of hearing Ron DiFrancesco present his poignant story of his experiences both during and after 9/11. It is a captivating story of resilience, character strengths, and wisdom, which are apparent in his words and in Ron’s observations and insights about his experience. As I reflect back on his story and presentation several weeks later, I feel as if I’m watching the scenes of a movie of someone who has overcome the unimaginable, endured the impossible, and looking death straight in the eye, pushed through it all. Of course, this is no movie. This is as real as it gets. Ron was at the epicenter of the tragedy of my generation. Ron, the miraculous final survivor of 9/11, honors those who have passed, the families who survive them, and the rest of us by courageously sharing and allowing us to not only be part of the experience but to learn from it. It is impossible for someone to walk away from his story and not be filled with emotion, some of which is deep feelings of gratitude for life and hope for our future.

Psychologist and Education Director, VIA Institute on Character

Ron’s speech was a very personal and an emotional one. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it is for him to get up and speak about it. It certainly was a complete 180 in delivery from Big Daddy Tazz last year but certainly a good message. For me it definitely was moving and made me think about how I sweat the small stuff and how life can change so quickly. When you least expect it. I had a few people come up to me after and say how great it was. Inspiring. Many of us had many discussions for the next few days about his experience and 9 11 in general.

Brookfield Renewable Partners LP

Ron met and exceeded expectations, and there is nothing but positive feedback flooding in from our survey we send to attendees. He was far and away our most popular breakout session, both in terms of registration numbers, and satisfaction scores. He is a walking test to resilience, and an inspiration to everyone who had the opportunity to listen to him tell his story. I would absolutely recommend Ron.

Kyle Armstrong | McMaster University

Ron was great – the room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The delegates were very engaged and quite emotional.

Gaby L | Workplace Safety North

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