Girl Scout cookies have been blamed for many things–unethical behavior by parents pushing cookies on co-workers, mindless munching that packs on pounds at the office, fundraising overload among parents.
But in this tough economy, more attention is being paid to such fundraisers as a career-training tool–that is, as a way for budding saleswomen and managers to learn business skills. In a recent New York Times interview, Barbara Krumsiek, chief executive of Calvert Group, credited her youthful experience selling Girl Scout cookies with some of her early success in management. Ms. Krumsiek says she enjoyed vying for cookie-sales awards and working in a positive way with a group of peers. This helped her a lot, she says, when at age 30, she was promoted from working as a solo contributor to managing 200 people.
A growing number of girls today are making the cookie-career connection and setting some tough sales goals for themselves. Praised as “marketing mavens in the making” three school-age girls were recently sent to a Coral Gables, Fla., spa for selling more than 1,000 boxes each in 23 days. Some Scouts sell as many as 2,400 boxes apiece.
They are also plying some savvy sales tactics. Two Florida eighth-graders recently turned a mom’s Chevy Tahoe into a mobile cookie booth by covering it with messages, such as “Don’t Just Tagalong – Buy Thin Mints Too.” They also donned Thin Mint and Samoa costumes to hawk cookies in front of local stores. Each was intent on selling 2,000 boxes of cookies to help finance a Girl Scout trip.
Cookie sales served as a career lesson years ago for my daughter, with the opposite takeaway – they showed her what she did not want to do. We always required her to sell the cookies herself, which meant accompanying her on a lot of door-to-door visits and supermarket parking-lot shifts. If my daughter had ever thought of a career in sales, I’m sure the experience of selling cookies quashed the idea. As hard as she tried, she never chalked up more than a few dozens boxes sold – usually less than one-fourth as many as those who took the top sales awards. That was a valuable lesson in itself.
Readers, do you see fundraisers as skill-building exercises for your kids? Or are they just another task to get out of the way? Are kids just too busy these days for intense fundraisers like this. Click here to read the full article.