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The Latest Career Training Tools: Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs

Tuesday, June 01, 2010   (13 Comments)
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By Sue Shellenbarger

Associated Press

Girl Scout cookies have been blamed for many things–unethical behavior by parentspushing 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.

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Comments...

Janet Christiansen (Cilli) says...
Posted Sunday, October 17, 2010
My older daughter (10th grade) hates selling cookies. She feels it's intrusive to knock on doors, and doesn't like asking people to buy at sales outside stores. However, at sales, she is fine speaking with people and handling the money. I have tried to explain that cookie sales is the way to earn money for trips (which she likes) and that there are days when I really don't want to go to work, but I do b/c it's how we afford housing, food, entertainment, etc. Sometimes we have to do things we don't enjoy in order to reach a future goal. Also pointed out that people like GS cookies, and ask for them at other times of the year, so they are welcome. Any other ideas for motivating an older GS? (my 6th grader is fine with selling cookies) Thanks.
kathryn w. kenney says...
Posted Monday, June 14, 2010
A good way to motivate middle school girls is to listen to their concerns and help them discern between those they can control and those they can't. You probably won't be able to change the dates of your cookie sale (advise those with New Year's resolutions to put the boxes in the freezer and eat in moderation). But you can go further afield to get away from the fierce competition. As soon as our troop entered middle school we began selling at stores outside our neighborhood. We look for areas that are under served and fill the need. That way the girls are not caught off guard when they "bump" into friends while selling. Also the selling becomes an adventure in itself when they explore new neighborhoods. Another important motivator for middle school girls is to let them lead. They need to dream up goals; some love camping, some love travel. We need to be quiet long enough for them to voice these dreams. It is hard to do because girls need lots of time and we are impatient.
Suzanne G. Plumley (Gardner) says...
Posted Monday, June 14, 2010
I don't have a problem with the postive achievements cookie selling creates. My problem as stated earlier lies in the motivation of girls at the middle school level. I still try to get my own three to set goals, and this often causes a form of rebellion in teens as they mature through this difficult hormonal time. Any ideas for those dealing with the middle school age group?
Deborah L. Strobeck (Strobeck) says...
Posted Friday, June 11, 2010
My daughter's troop had taken their earnings from cookie sales to attend the GS Jamboree in Hershey, PA two years ago and had a wonderful time. Now that they are in their final three years in high school, they are intending to use earnings from the cookie sales and bottle / can drives towards a cruise or other major trip as Seniors. It takes a lot of determination, but this year was the first year my daughter sold over 200 boxes.....which was a first for her in 7 - 8 years of scouting. Was well worth the effort.
Bethany A. Wire (Wire) says...
Posted Wednesday, June 09, 2010
I see the fundraisers as skill builders. They help the girls help convey their ideas and products in lucrative ways that help them "sell". The girls can learn the art of rhetoric, and the art of persuasion as well as budgeting and setting goals. I myself sold cookies for many years, and I learned how to share my ideas and to set goals for myself, which I still do today. Without the sales practice I would not be able to sound reasonable when I have ideas.
robin l. jordan (freier) says...
Posted Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Girl Scouts are not "pushing cookies" . Girls learn goal setting, sales techniques, and money managment when selling cookies. Quit trying to change tradition. Selling Girl Scout cookies has been done for almost 100 years and will remain a girl scout tradition. We need to go back to the good old times and quit trying to update everything into modern times. Modern times is the problem not the cookies.
kathryn w. kenney says...
Posted Monday, June 07, 2010
Girl Scouts sell cookies to earn money for their activities. Fund raising is asking someone else to pay your way--a distinct difference. When the cookie program from Little Brownie Baker or the cookie pin activity from GUSUA is implemented properly girls learn to set goals, structure their selling to meet those goals and have a blast using the money for educational and/or service program. You can set a small goal, put in little effort and be satisfied. OR . . . you can live your dream and set a goal that takes multiple years to achieve. Our troop set a goal to visit world headquarters in London during 7th grade. They sold cookies with a passion for three years and also sold Fall Product. In October 2010 these juniors in high school spent a week in London as a result of selling girl scout cookies. There are many similar stories. It is American capitalism in action. The discipline learned selling cookies is the same one needed to stay fit. No conflict! Juliette Low lives on.
Suzanne G. Plumley (Gardner) says...
Posted Thursday, June 03, 2010
After taking my troop to National Headquarters last June for a forum primarily based on "Keeping Scouting in the Middle School Girl's Life", one of the topics we spoke on was fundraising. After learning personally from the girls their concerns, we came up with viable proposals which could assist girls Here were there concerns : 1.Magazine sales in the NE area- troops net little for their trips per item sold- 2. Girl Scouts are trying to "Go Green" the idea of selling magazines tends to contradict the theory of reducing an amount of paper use. - Proposal - Sell online subscriptions instead 3. Cookies should be sold but in a better time period--- fall cookie sales would be better for New England girls as 1)better weather for selling 2) avoids damaging healthy family New Year resolution stategies in both spending and eating 3)population creates nasty competition among troops in neighborhoods where 70girls in 4 troops are selling - Proposal: Map out streets where troops can sell
Susan Brown (Barnaby) says...
Posted Wednesday, June 02, 2010
I have to disagree that Girl Scout cookies contribute to childhood obesity and should be done away with in favor of calendar sales. Food itself isn't to blame but many factors contribute to the problem of nutrition in our society. Anyone can eat a few cookies and remain healthy and fit - overindulgence and lack of exercise poses the real problem. Rather than doing away with the cookies, we would do more of a service to girls to embody those fitness and health ourselves and BE positive role models. Cookie sales are a tradition - one that is loved by many, many people! It's true that some parents or leaders make the sale a competition, but they are a small percentage. The vast majority of girls, leaders and parents find the activity to be fun, profitable and educational! By contrast our council holds a "fall sale" fundraiser, selling magazines, nuts, and other items, but the sales don't even begin to touch what we make through cookies. People LOVE to buy Girl Scout cookies!
Angela D. Widdis (McVay) says...
Posted Wednesday, June 02, 2010
I would agree that kids are to busy these days, but who is allowing this? The parents are, that is who! The term pushing cookies is not at all what leaders do. I want to point out that the above story mentioned that these girls wanted to go on a Girl Scout trip. So, with that said, funds needed to be earned. These girls might have realized that if they did not earn their trip through the sale of cookies, they could not go because of the inabitity to pay. I think this alone made them a leader of their future. They saw a way to make it happen and they did it. As the story points out, one Scout decided that sales was not for her! That is a great learning. She knew that her future will not included thoes types of jobs, maybe she liked the tracking of the sales to lead her into a job in accounting. The handeling of money, stocking, inventory control, customer service, knowing the products, and honest "NICENESS" is just some of the things cookies can do for a Scout. As for obesity, really?
Deborah (Debbie) D. Dupire-Nelson (Dupire) says...
Posted Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Kids are too busy these days for such intense fundraisers. Plus, kids learn these skills in many, many other ways. I SO hope that the GSUSA will finally catch on that "pushing cookies," redefining body concepts, fighting child obesity, and several other goals are TRULY confusing concepts -- for girls and adults! While cookie-selling is "cute" and "traditional," it is at loggerheads with fighting obesity and diseases such as diabetes. Many health advocates argue that Ronald McDonald should be retired as an old and tired marketing icon for fast and unhealthy food (see Center for Science in the Pubic Interest: http://www.cspinet.org/new/200909221.html and http://www.cspinet.org/nah/7_98eat.htm , as well as many, many others). I would argue that, if the Girl Scouts want to sell things as a means of making money, the GSUSA should forego cookie sales, and focus on calendar sales, car-washes, and the sale of bio-degradeable materials -- as a part of a renew-reuse-recycle campaign.
Pennie (Opalene) K. Dupire (King) says...
Posted Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Kids are too busy these days for such intense fundraisers. Plus, kids learn these skills in many, many other ways. I SO hope that the GSUSA will finally catch on that "pushing cookies," redefining body concepts, fighting child obesity, and several other goals are TRULY confusing concepts -- for girls and adults! While cookie-selling is "cute" and "traditional," it is at loggerheads with fighting obesity and diseases such as diabetes. Many health advocates argue that Ronald McDonald should be retired as an old and tired marketing icon for fast and unhealthy food (see Center for Science in the Pubic Interest: http://www.cspinet.org/new/200909221.html and http://www.cspinet.org/nah/7_98eat.htm , as well as many, many others). I would argue that, if the Girl Scouts want to sell things as a means of making money, the GSUSA should forego cookie sales, and focus on calendar sales, car-washes, and the sale of bio-degradeable materials -- as a part of a renew-reuse-recycle campaign.
sylvia stverak says...
Posted Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Typo in the headline...what is a THING mint?

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