STACIE LINN – GM @the DETROIT ZOO: AN “OLD-HAND” AT CONCESSION OPERATIONS
Stacie Linn, SSA’s General Manager at the Detroit Zoo, started with SSA during what ended up being the largest sales week in the zoo’s history at that time. She kept calm under the pressure, though…and it turns out her background in concessions and social work helped prepare her for that day. Read on to learn more about Stacie, an “old hand” at concession operations.
Stacie didn’t have the typical childhood. Her friends had typical summer vacations, playing outside and basking in the summer sun. Not Stacie – she spent much of her time on the road traveling to fairs and festivals in North Central Ohio, but not for the rides and entertainment. You see, Stacie was a key member of Linn Enterprises, her fourth-generation family business. When you go to a fair or festival, you just crave things like Italian sausage, gyros and shaken lemonade. And that is Linn Enterprises’ reason for being. Stacie’s first management position came as a young teenager when she and her brother were promoted to running a Hawaiian Shave Ice stand. She shared that she loved her upbringing – “It was a fantastic thing for me and I learned a lot, pretty early in life,” she said. With their unconventional lifestyle, Stacie’s parents were able to expose their children to many life lessons, such as how to manage people and get things done. As a result, Stacie quickly realized that if you pay attention, you can teach yourself a lot. Linn Enterprises continues today under the leadership of her sister – it’s all in the family.
HOW A SOCIAL WORKER BECAME A GM WITH SSA
Stacie is an Ohio University Bobcat, having earned her degree in social work. While in school, she was a weekly volunteer at a local shelter workshop, working with developmentally challenged adults. She helped them with general socialization and job skills, and enjoyed taking them on social outings. After graduation, her first job was working with dysfunctional families, which Stacie found very challenging. “There’s something that’s so endearing about the kids, but dealing with the parents was somewhat harder,” she said. One time, during a home visit, someone fired a shot at her! While she was calling the police and moving the children to a safe area in the house, Stacie was thinking she paid her way through school only to get a degree that gets bullets fired at you!?! No one was hurt that day, and Stacie put an optimistic spin on the incident by saying it was a lesson in crisis management. That’s a cool cookie!
After 3-1/2 years as a case manager for the state of Ohio, Stacie moved home to help her parents, and to start the process of joining the Peace Corps – but then tragedy struck the World Trade Center. As for many, life and its direction changed. She decided to stay stateside and put her food management skills to work by getting a job with a local restaurant group turning around struggling locations. Later, she returned to the tourism industry when she accepted a management role at COSI – Columbus, Ohio’s dynamic Center of Science and Industry. In 2010, she made the decision (universally supported!!) to join SSA as the General Manager of the Detroit Zoo.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE…
Stacie doesn’t have kids of her own (her miniature schnauzer, Riley, is her “baby”), but loves spending time with her seven nieces and nephews – all of whom are under the age of 7! Despite being three hours away, Stacie makes sure time with them is a priority, and likes to have date nights with her nephews. “I’m a complete and total pushover and do what they want, such as taking them out to dinner and the movies,” she said. As the oldest child, Stacie was responsible for taking care of her younger siblings. Stacie remembers that she and her brother used to gang up on their little sister. One of her most vivid memories involves putting her younger sister in a laundry basket at the top of the stairs, placing pillows and blankets at the bottom, then demonstrating how the laws of gravity apply to a homemade “bobsled.” Stacie laughingly said she’s now teaching the next generation that same trick, and she hopes her sister doesn’t kill her for doing it!
When Stacie isn’t working or spending time with family, she enjoys travelling with friends. In fact, she often carries her passport in her wallet so that when her flight attendant friend calls to invite her on a last minute trip, she can head straight to the airport! The world traveler has spent time in Thailand, Mexico, Ireland, England, the Caribbean, Europe, and Canada. Stacie is a natural explorer….she travels simply to visit places she hasn’t been. During childhood vacations, Stacie’s parents had a rule that vacations were about more than relaxing — they had to do something that would make them smarter, too. The idea that vacation is a learning experience is a tradition she tries to espouse today.
In fact, it was on one of her great adventures that Stacie discovered she had a fear of heights. The group climbed to the top of a pyramid in Mexico, and when Stacie got to the top, she suddenly realized that she was scared and couldn’t look down. She shared that she had to descend the pyramid steps on her backside while hugging the handcrafted stones. You don’t need video to picture that one clearly!
With adventurous travels comes the enjoyment of trying different foods, especially authentic cuisine. She believes that if someone makes food for you, you need to try it. There is one food, however, that Stacie (despite continued attempts to enjoy) just can’t stand — olives. “I know I should like them, and I try them all the time, but I just despise them!”
Most kids don’t think about the life lessons parents teach them at early ages. But Stacie took the expertise gained by working in the family business, and developed patience and level headedness in social work, then turned it into a successful career. You might see her next time you visit the Detroit Zoo, or you never know…somewhere out there learning something new about the world in which we live.