Richard Glover, Jr. is the CEO of Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Sanford, Florida. For Richard, the journey has always been about animals, conservation, and making a difference. After a brief stint outside of the animal care industry, Richard is back with the animals and couldn’t be happier. In this episode, he talks about telling complicated stories, understanding your audience, and executive leadership advice.
Telling complicated stories
“We want them to feel that coming here led to something that matters.”
Everyone loves snakes, right? Maybe not, but the Central Florida Zoo operates the Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation. In other words, they work to reintroduce Eastern Indigo Snakes into the Florida ecosystem. For snake haters, this sounds awful, but the truth is that these snakes are very good for the environment, specifically Gopher Tortoise habitats.
This is what makes the story so complex… many moving parts that may or may not be easily accepted by all guests. Of course, not every story or conservation effort can be about panda bears, so careful crafting of a story and why all of these actions matter is critical to all species.
Understanding your audience
“If they get the real sense of emotional connection, that’s what keeps them coming back.”
Coming into the organization, Richard’s goal was to watch and observe, both how the guests experienced the zoo as well as how employees went about their daily tasks. He felt this approach to learning really helped him understand how to connect with both audiences, guests and employees alike.
Richard talked about from his perspective, ‘what’s the best use of my time to move the needle the most?’ Certainly balancing the needs and wants of the guests, board and employees is critical, but so is finding ways for each of those audiences to connect with the zoo’s mission so they will want to stay engaged and involved.
Executive leadership advice
“If at any point you think you are the smartest person in the room, you aren’t.”
As Richard talks about his role as an executive, he mentions being a relationship-builder and getting teams with often-competing priorities to work toward the same goal. The key is to build a strong foundation so that in times of struggle or disagreement that the situation can be handled with respect.
He also said if you have an opportunity to add to your skill set – do it! Keep putting in the time and effort to learn the things you need to learn if you want to keep advancing. In addition, you can’t think that this is about you, because it isn’t.
Follow this link to learn more about the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. They can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To connect with Richard, you can find him on LinkedIn or he can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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