Cultivating Kindness is a series that celebrates kindness and the positive impact that it has in our own lives, the lives of others and on the world. In this series we will be interviewing people from all walks of life to understand how they cultivate kindness in their lives and the work that they do.
We are thrilled to be kicking off the series with Tony Gilding, President of Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia (BOS Australia). After spending 20 years in the fast lane in Sydney, culminating as CEO of Australia’s largest gift company, Tony made a big change to move to the Byron Bay area. Not one to chill out, he now owns the iconic Macadamia Castle Animal Park and has continued to be an active campaigner on local and international issues. Not only is he the (volunteer) President of BOS Australia, he is also the Deputy Chairman for Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital and a Board Member of Rainforest Rescue. In addition to this he is also known for his quick wit and classic (some good, some terrible) zingers.
We chatted to Tony about what kindness means to him, how it has helped him through his career and his activism, his daily rituals and more.
What does kindness mean to you and how do you apply it to your life and the work that you do?
I am on the tough love spectrum of kindness. I believe inspiring and educating people to be the best they can is the kindest gift I can give.
How has being kind helped you along your journey?
My greatest thrill is when people come up to me 20 years after working with me and tell me how much they learnt and how I gave them opportunities that have helped them in their current lives.
What inspires you?
The wonders of nature and in particular rainforests and their inhabitants.
Do you have any daily rituals?
I am sadly addicted to a coffee in the morning and don’t mind a glass of wine at the end of the day. These mark the start and finish of my working day.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
It is more important to be respected than liked.
Do you know what your purpose or ‘why’ is?
No idea. I just try to do something positive every day.
What is your #1 book recommendation and why?
So many good books. I have enjoyed two Primate books recently. The Intimate Ape by Shawn Thompson and Walking with the Great Apes by Sy Montgomery. Both provide great insights into great apes and Leakey’s angels who pioneered great ape research
Who is your #1 kindness role model and why?
Nelson Mandela. A great inspiration in patience and strategic thinking.
What is your favourite Karma Collective product and why?
I love the stainless-steel insulated bottle. Nothing refreshes like a cool water in the hot and sticky rainforests of Borneo.
Being all about animals, we must give a special mention to BOS Australia here. Deforestation, poaching and the illegal palm oil industry have all contributed to the devastating decline in the wild Bornean orangutan population. Tony has been the President of BOS Australia since 2011 and in that time, BOS have rescued, released, and rehabilitated 468 orangutans back into the wild where they belong^. With over 400 staff working tirelessly on the ground in Borneo and several sister organisations around the world helping to raise funds to carry out their work, we want to do our bit to contribute to the cause.
To celebrate the start of our Cultivating Kindness journey, we have adopted 6 orangutans from BOS Australia for one year, to help them on their journey to learn the skills they will need to return to the wild one day. You can adopt an orangutan here too or make a donation of your choice to help them here.
Thanks for joining us on our journey to discover how those around us cultivate kindness.
^As at 12th June 2020