Raymond Stone

Director of the Board of Big Life Foundation

An entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist, Raymond Stone has turned his attention to the conservation of wild animals in Africa.

In his current work as a consultant, Raymond relies on 30 years of experience to help healthcare providers who want to succeed within the Canadian marketplace.

While still a young man, Raymond immigrated from South Africa to Toronto, Canada, where in 1985 he founded Futuremed Health Care Products, a healthcare distribution company that he took public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2006. Raymond led the company for 30 years before selling it to Cardinal Health, a recognized global leader in healthcare.

Raymond’s childhood in South Africa resulted in a love of wildlife that never left him. That passion for animals has led Raymond to philanthropy and photography on behalf of wildlife conservation in Africa.

That’s why Raymond now serves as a director of the board with the Big Life Foundation, where he works closely with a dedicated global team using innovative conservation strategies to protect and sustain East Africa’s wildlife, including one of the greatest populations of elephants remaining in the region.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I’ve always felt a powerful connection to the wild places of Africa. I grew up around them in South Africa. There’s something special about these parks, and I didn’t want to imagine a world where the animals that make them special are extinct. Once I sold my company, I had more time to devote to this cause. I liked the concept and philosophy behind Big Life Foundation, so I decided to join their cause. I’ve found their focus and methodology to be both effective and impactful.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I like to get up early and use that morning energy and lucidity to accomplish whatever tasks are slated for that day. I always begin with reading the paper online. I prefer The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Globe. In my semi-retirement, I’m able to accomplish my primary goals early in the day, then spend the rest of the way on other tasks.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I don’t like to make snap decisions. I like to plan and develop my ideas on my own, fleshing them out as much as possible, and then discussing them with others. I think it’s important to really marinate in an idea before trying to turn it into action. It allows you to fully understand every angle of what you’re considering, and then you really understand it well enough to communicate it to others, which is really important when your work requires collaboration.

What’s one trend that excites you?

A lot of different things interest me, from sports to reading to wildlife conservation and photography. My involvement with charities is important to me. I work with several other charities in addition to Big Life. Generally I like to be involved with anything involving people. I’m a very people-oriented person.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Once I start something, I want to get it done. Often it irritates people I work with because I like to hammer on something until it’s done. I hate to leave loose ends. It’s part of what makes me tick. Not everyone has the same focus that I have once I get started, so I try to be cognizant of that, but it works for me. Also, I rely on my gut instincts. They’ve served me well.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Delegate, delegate, delegate. Early on in my business, I found it difficult to delegate a lot of the work. It was a big problem for me as my business started to grow. But I became a huge believer in hiring the right talent to work with. That was an enormous positive factor in why my business continued to grow for many years.

Ultimately, I found people that understood my goals and could make decisions on their own. For many years, every year was better than the previous year, and a big reason for that was putting together the right team of people.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

You got to have a plan. That’s always been critical to me and any business I’ve been involved in. Come up with a plan and then execute it once it’s in place.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

From the very beginning of my career, it was important to me to put the customer first. The customer is our king, and we need to serve that king. That attitude and that focus helped build the culture that FutureMed was known for. It was a business focused on a high level of service. We would bend over backwards to accommodate the customer.
It was a key fundamental of the company and built into the company culture. It was there from the beginning and it just grew. I’ve always been very aware that customers have choices. If you treat that customer fairly and make them the top priority, you could do business fairly and profitably.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I was reluctant to delegate early on. I had to have my finger in all these different pies, and it didn’t work. I put myself under unnecessary stress. I learned the lesson the hard way. It’s not possible to do it all yourself. You need to find like-minded people, and be inclusive in the decision-making process. Not doing that early on was detrimental to my business. I had to figure it out. Once I did, I certainly reaped the rewards.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I’m not great with computers. A lot of people would call me computer-illiterate. I’m the wrong guy to ask about software, but I will say that the Internet changed the way I did business. Like many others, I had to adapt. Using the Internet in a way that provides better service and data to customers, all via the convenience of the Internet.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I recently read Barack Obama’s book “A Promised Land,” which I found to be a fascinating and brilliant work. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve read in the last five years. It opened my eyes to what he had to do to accomplish what he did. In general, I’ve been fascinated with American politics over the last 12-16 years.

What is your favorite quote?

Winston Churchill quote: Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Key Learnings:

  • Make sure to delegate tasks.
  • The customer is king.
  • Don’t leave loose ends. Make sure to follow through.