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The Business of Mongabay Tips

Lessons from 25 years of Mongabay

Next week marks 25 years since I founded Mongabay out of my passion for nature.

I never imagined that a personal effort to raise awareness about tropical forests would evolve into a global network of dedicated journalists reporting from nature’s frontlines. It’s been incredible to see the contributions of these talented individuals making a real-world impact, from halting destructive projects to inspiring meaningful action.

Reflecting on this journey, here are a few lessons that have guided my approach at Mongabay:

🌿 Recognize when success is due to circumstances or good fortune, rather than solely talent or insight. Acknowledging the role of luck and external factors is crucial for understanding the true reasons behind why something has worked.
🌿 Model the behavior and values you wish to see in your team. Leading by example fosters a culture of integrity and respect.
🌿 Invest your time and energy where it counts. Focus on areas where you can make the most significant impact, even if it means making tough choices.
🌿 Respect people and their ideas, other species and the ecological systems that sustain us. A holistic view of respect fosters a deeper connection to your mission and to each other.
🌿 Believe in the goodwill of others / Assume good intent. This builds a foundation of trust and encourages a positive and collaborative working environment.
🌿 Listen. Truly listening can reveal insights and perspectives that might otherwise be overlooked.
🌿 Encourage open communication. Dialogue is key to fostering innovation and resolving conflicts.
🌿 Limit assumptions, especially when it comes to people. Keeping an open mind reduces misunderstandings and promotes inclusivity.
🌿 Minimize micromanagement. Trust your team and give them the autonomy to thrive.
🌿 Find passionate people and offer them opportunities to pursue purposeful work.
🌿 Position people to succeed.
🌿 Ensure that people have the flexibility and support to maintain a healthy work-life balance
🌿 Foster a “no blame” culture. Learning from mistakes rather than assigning blame promotes collaboration and can reduce anxiety.
🌿 Admit when you’re wrong. Owning up to mistakes builds credibility and trust.
🌿 Say thank you. Genuine gratitude strengthens relationships and morale.
🌿 Follow through on commitments. Reliability is the cornerstone of trust and respect.
🌿 Be scrappy. Resourcefulness can overcome limitations and lead to innovative solutions.
🌿 Embrace iteration. Continuous improvement is essential in a changing world.
🌿 See things through. Persistence, with flexibility, can help overcome adversity. Staying committed while adapting to new challenges is crucial for long-term success.
🌿 Get outside regularly, ideally in nature. Nature can inspire and rejuvenate, reminding us why our work matters.

Thanks to everyone who has been part of this journey. Your support and dedication have been invaluable.

By Rhett Ayers Butler

Rhett Ayers Butler is the Founder and CEO of Mongabay, a non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. He started Mongabay in 1999 with the mission of raising interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife.