Digital Girl Scout Cookies: Good or Bad?

I was a die-hard Girl Scout. Yes, I enjoyed the campouts, badge earning, and other activities — but my favorite time of year was selling Girl Scout cookies. I am extremely competitive, and each year I would challenge myself to do better than the prior year. No one put me up to it. My parents did not pressure me or push me to sell a specific number of boxes. They also did not reward me for my achievement. It was my own crazy self that worked my ass off to do more than I ever had.

One year, one of the prizes from the local community of Girl Scout troops was a 10-speed bike. I did not have a 10-speed and wanted one badly. I knew it would take a lot of babysitting and tips from my paper route to be able to purchase that bike, not to mention selling my parents on my spending my hard-earned money. The next best way to ensure I had that bike was to sell the number of boxes required to win the bike — and I did.

A different year there was a trip to an amusement park in Ohio. I had been a few times on school trips, and absolutely loved amusement parks, so of course it was on my list to win a trip. I had my goals in mind and I made sure I met them, however crazy I was to find ways to sell boxes. Since I lived on the edge of a University campus, I would go to fraternity houses, their student center, apartment complexes, and dorms, not to mention door-to-door in my entire neighborhood to sell as many boxes as possible. I learned a lot — specifically on how to cater my communication and language to the person on the other side of the door, or the one with cash in their hands. I learned how to warm up my audience, be cute when needed, or spout off the benefits of the different types of cookies – whatever I could do to make sure they walked away with boxes of cookies in their hands.

So when I found out that Girl Scout cookies have gone online, I had mixed feelings. Girl Scouts will now be able to take credit cards and transact business via an app online. They can have family and friends in other parts of the country place an order through their specific online webpage. Here is why I have mixed feelings — yes they learn business techniques for 2015, online sales, webpages, social media, and credit cards, but I feel a lot is lost. It feels much like what happens when parents sell for their kids at work, but their kids never have to do a thing. How is that good for the kid? My parents did not sell a box for me. I sold every single one.

With selling cookies now online, I fear that kids will no longer know how to make change, do math in their heads as buyers put them on the spot with questions, and my largest concern is that they have now taken the human side out of selling cookies. Maybe I am old school, but I feel that the learning experience has dwindled for these girls.

What do you think?

Tyler’s Lemonade Stand

If you were an adult in my world when I was a kid, you probably would have thought that I would have gone into sales. Now the thought of it kind of grosses me out. Why sales? I was a Girl Scout which means I sold Girl Scout cookies. I think the only reason I even stayed in the troop for the many years that I did was because of the competition (with myself and others) of selling Girl Scout cookies. I am not going to go into details, as I have other blog posts about that.

My elementary school also raised money by selling nuts and candy every year. I cannot even remember the prize — maybe it was just knowing I sold near if not at the top of my class. At the same time I also had my own paper route. I delivered the “The Star Press” which meant it was the evening/afternoon newspaper. (Thank goodness, as I am so not a morning person). Every few months our manager would ask us to go “canvassing” where basically he would take us to strange and sketchy neighborhoods, often at night and ask us to go door-to-door to see if we could get folks to sign up for the newspaper. That was the least glamorous of all the gigs even with the random prizes and money he would throw in each night to see who would be encouraged to try harder and come out on top. Mind you — I was nine at the time.

And, yet, I am not in sales and I do not even dream of ever being in sales as a career. (My dad would have been so bummed). I often wonder what propelled me to want to excel and do so well selling things door-to-door. I was not a crazy outgoing kid, but somehow going door-to-door, selling on college campuses, and the competition of it all was an adrenaline rush for me.

Fast forward to 2015 and I come across “Tyler’s Lemonade Stand Fundraiser.” Tyler lives in Grafton, NY and decided to raise money for a police sergeant that was battling cancer and could not work. See this video of the long line of police cars that come to pay Tyler a visit and show their support. So far Tyler has raised $1500. Amazing. Now that is sales and talent put to good use. You rock, Tyler.

Nostalgia of Girl Scout Cookies

I will always have fond memories of being a Girl Scout. I was pondering the impact it had on my elementary school days as I waited for Chris to break into our box of Samoas. You should have seen my face on Monday when I received my boxes of Girl Scout cookies. A huge smile, and pride for what those girls are hopefully learning about themselves, leadership, competition, friendship, and service.

There is a lot I do not remember, but I have tiny morsels of events from being a Brownie (pre-Girl Scout) and then the years I was a Girl Scout. I remember some of the ceremonies we had, that we each had to take turns bringing in the treat for our meetings each week, earning merit badges, and even dad and daughter campouts. I remember learning how to make blueberry muffins on an open fire by baking it in an orange peel. I know, strange that I remember that so vividly. I remember events my troop went to, prizes we won, and even scary moments, such as driving back from an event and almost getting hit by a drunk driver (seconds from impact).

However, what I remember most, and what was my absolute favorite month of the year was selling Girl Scout cookies. I was a fanatic. I lived, breathed, and slept with the idea of selling those sugar filled treasures. I mean, like Christmas, they only come once a year. Each year I attempted to sell more than the year before. I competed against myself and my own goals, the other girls in my troop, and the other girls in my county. See, I was a poor girl, and selling cookies not only benefited and gave funds back to my troop, but it meant winning prizes (such as tickets to a large amusement park, a TV, and a 12 speed bike). All things that were not in my realm or remotely accessible to me. So I sold, I charmed, I conquered. Want to see me in action?

I recently read this Fast Company article: “Lessons from Inside the $800 Million Girl Scout Cookie Selling Empire.” I agree with their five points discussing selling cookies, leadership, and entrepreneurship. It taught me a lot about what is mentioned in the article: money management (it felt like a lot of money to deal with at the time), overcoming shyness (that was never really an issue for me), business ethics (I sold ever single box, no help from the parents), setting goals (whatever the biggest prize was), and group decisions (not something I remember much about).

A message to little Girl Scouts out there: Make sure you make the sale and exchange the cash. Having your parents do it for you teaches you nada. While I am not one to encourage sugar indulgence, it is definitely hard to resist. Especially when you are walking into the grocery store. Go buy a box, and maybe let that girl creatively get you to buy two, three, or ten more.