Girl Scout Cookies and learning to live an entrepreneurial life

Today is National Girl Scout Cookie Day.  I used to not know much about the Girl Scouts, but my wife recently started a troop, and this has given me the opportunity to learn a bunch about this remarkable organization.  In particular, I’ve become really interested in the role of the fabled Girl Scout Cookie in the flow of the Girl Scouts organization, whose misson is to build “…girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”

From a purely financial point of view, sales of cookies help fund troop activities.  A percentage of sales go back to each troop, so the more boxes are sold, the more money a group of girls has to engage in activities in pursuit of the Girl Scout mission.  Selling cookies is a fundraising activity.

Of course, it’s about much more than money.  There’s a lot of potential learning to be had.  The Huff Post recently published an awesome essay written by Girl Scout Olivia Ottenfeld on that point, and here’s an excerpt:

…the Girl Scout Cookie Program is not really about the cookies, but about
all of the life skills girls learn as part of the program. Many people
don’t really understand that. That’s why we’re launching National Girl
Scout Cookie Day on February 8…

…There are so many positive values I’m learning from selling cookies.
There is no limit to what a girl can do: undertaking a service project
to help make a difference in her community, exploring new challenges by
kayaking in a nearby lake, or broadening her horizons by traveling to
another state, or even another country. When I hit the business world
after college, I will fear nothing.

So, people of the universe engaged in the art and science of bringing cool stuff to life, I have a simple ask of you.  And I’m not asking you to buy cookies (only do that if you really want to eat them).  Instead, I’d like to ask you to pause and engage in mindful conversation with the next Girl Scout who approaches you to buy cookies.  When you’re asked to purchase cookies over the next few
weeks, consider treating that query as a valuable
learning opportunity for those cookie sellers

Whether or not you buy cookies, you can choose to have a quality interaction with that girl by asking her about the project and what she’s hoping to get out of it.  For younger girls, ask how many she’s hoping to sell, what her troop hopes to do with the money, etc… for an older girl, ask her about her marketing plan, how sales are going relative to that plan, how things compare to previous years, how is the Fiscal Cliff impacting cookie sales this year, if at all, up to and including what she’s dreaming of for her future.  By doing so, you’ll help her learn some of the key lessions (including how to deal with rejection) articulated so well above by Olivia Ottenfeld.

Here’s a great video which builds on these ideas:

Opportunities to frame one’s character and worldview as that of a creator, builder, and entrepreneur need not happen solely in a classroom, nor can they.  They happen just as well on a playing field, at the keyboard of a piano, or out selling cookies to benefit your fellow scouts.  Please consider being part of that learning journey, and positively influencing a girl’s life forever.

I’ll take a few boxes of Tagalongs, please!