A Tribute to Lark Group Founder Larry Fisher

I just had the great honour to be asked to speak at the celebration of life of someone I was very fortunate to work with. Watching him thrive, in his early 80s, and have such a positive impact on his community, company and family, inspired me to be a better version of myself.

Through the stories, from different parts of his life, from some of the hundreds of people at his Vancouver celebration of life, I was reminded of how I want to live my life. Here, in my tribute to him, are a few of mine.

Our world recently lost someone who had multiple impacts on thousands of people’s lives.

I was fortunate to work with Larry Fisher who built the construction and development Lark Group of Companies, for about 4-1/2 years before he started the final battle he unfortunately didn’t win. In his late 70s when we met, he was the example of how I want to live: to thrive, be successful in business and live an amazing life. Into his 80s, he was still skiing more than 40 days a year at Whistler.

Larry, his son Kirk, and their executive team, built many amazing buildings in the Vancouver area, including the health and technology district across from Surrey Memorial Hospital. Very involved in the community, he wanted to make the City of Surrey, in particular, a notably better place to live and work. Larry pushed hard to build a great company that not only was good for the community but created opportunities for employees.

Deeply connected to his family, he treated many people in his company like family, as well. If you met Larry, you’d never forget his enthusiasm and passion, which can be some summed up in the purpose of his company: To boldly elevate people.

When you were around him, you were always elevated in some way. Whether it was a debate, with a whole lot of laughter; or being inspired to stay late and work harder to get a job done.

I’ve never seen anyone so excited to talk about brutal facts. He’d pound the table and was like a kid in the candy store because he wanted to make sure we dealt with any uncomfortable issues that could hurt the business.

One night, as we worked on a critical project for one of his companies, after a full day of a strategic planning, Larry – 81 years old – was with us until midnight, making sure that we were well-hydrated and fed so that we could keep on working.

A few key memories of Larry flash through my mind:

At every strategic planning meeting, no matter where we were – in a boardroom, retreat centre or hotel –about 4:00 pm, he’d always wheel in a cooler of refreshments to bring extra energy and creativity to the group.

On a few occasions, I was with him when, at the end of a long day, he talked to his 101-year-old mom on speaker phone. They would share a daily brandy and she would sing him a song.

Larry sat at the front of the room, as I taught the principles of Your Oxygen Mask First to his key leaders, taking more notes than anybody else. And flying back from Boulder, Colorado after spending two days with Jim Collins at a private session – an absolute highlight for him because he was a massive follower of Good to Great – I couldn’t get any work done because Larry wanted me to help him finish and refine his Flywheel. I actually kneeled in the aisle beside his seat, moving when the crew came by with the beverage cart.

His enthusiasm never diminished.

Larry, with his son Kirk, created and ran an amazing company for 50 years with everything it takes to endure for at least another 50. I was convinced, as may others were, that he expected to be at the helm of his group of companies, impacting people on a daily basis, well past his 100th birthday.

He consistently worked with such a contagious joy and passion that radiated everywhere and you couldn’t help but want to be part of it and always left feeling more elevated. I am so proud to have known him.

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