Gordon Diamond, whose business operations and philanthropic commitments have done a great deal to strengthen the Richmond community, was honoured recently by the Fraser Institute.
The institute’s highest recognition, the Founders’ Award, was bestowed on him in recognition of exceptional entrepreneurial achievements, generous philanthropic endeavours and dedication to competitive markets.
The Diamond family’s company, West Coast Reduction Limited, was leading the environmental movement since almost before there was an environmental movement.
With a slogan “Nothing left behind (except sustainable solutions),” West Coast Reduction has been collecting organic materials from the agricultural sector, food processors, restaurants and retailers for decades, turning what would have gone into the landfill instead into livestock feeds, fertilizers, alternative energies and other sustainable products. Restaurants and businesses throughout Richmond and British Columbia have known West Coast for most of the past century as an ally in recycling and repurposing waste materials and animal by-products into valuable commodities that improve the planet.
The success of West Coast Reduction has made Gordon and Leslie Diamond leading names in the philanthropic life of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada and the world, having donated more than $150 million to charity causes.
When Gordon was recognized on Nov. 1, at an impressive gala featuring leading figures in British Columbia’s business and philanthropic communities, all of his many achievements were detailed and celebrated. Well—almost all of them.
One thing about Gordon that was not mentioned was his mentoring of younger potential leaders. Mentors matter. It is easy to quantify financial support, but is more challenging to quantify the impacts of decades of guidance in moral, personal and professional expertise derived from knowledge, experience and humility.
I am one of those who has benefited from Gordon’s wisdom and dedication to nurturing success in successive generations. The omission of mentorship among his many accomplishments made me realize that people often overlook the intangible, but incredibly powerful, impacts of mentoring on individuals and society.
Across the past 30 years, through all the challenges and achievements during my years in the not-for-profit sector and in private industry, Gordon’s moral support has strengthened me constantly.
He has the exceptional ability of transmitting hard-earned contemplations and understandings of intellectual and complicated concepts in cogent expressions that truly inspire.
He gave me invaluable advice and taught me that there is no uninterrupted path to success. In difficult times, he assured me that failure is not truly failure—that failure should be seen as a temporary, changeable situation that delivers an invitation for creative solutions.
Detours, happenstances, roadblocks and impediments are all pieces of a great puzzle—challenges to be resolved through resolute and determined commitment to succeed. Mistakes and bad decisions of yesterday, which extend the boundaries of knowledge, are today called experience. Gordon gave me the guidance to have the resolution and fortitude to always push ahead while taking care of the people around me.
This is how mentorship works. It is not sitting in a classroom and it does not necessarily involve any sort of formal structure, though it certainly can.
Sometimes, people who mentor and people who are mentored do not even associate the relationship with that word. It is, quite simply, a one-on-one relationship through which wisdom is transmitted from generation to generation.
In a time when we are very focused on formal learning and structured activities from childhood to retirement, mentorship is too often overlooked as a critical part of individual, professional and business advancement.
My experience tells me that emulating and carrying forward the quintessence of Gordon Diamond by being a mentor to others and looking for ways to improve the society I live in is the best way I can both thank and honour him.
That is the legacy of Gordon Diamond.
Eyal Lichtmann is CEO and Executive Director of the Regional Animal Protection Society