Category Archive: Girl Scouts

3 Instant Life-Lessons Taught By Selling Girl Scout Cookies

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season! It’s the 102nd anniversary of the Girl Scouts, and as I’ve been helping to sell these delicious baked treats, I’ve also thought about the lessons the girls learn every year while selling their cookies. It’s more than just being able to earn badges… selling Girl Scout cookies actually teaches valuable life lessons that impact far beyond the here and now.

3 Instant Life-Lessons Taught By Selling Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scouts teach important lessons about responsibility, business, networking and life through the sale of the brightly-colored boxes of delicious cookies.

Be Fun to Have Fun.  As the band Harvey Danger says in their 1997 song, Flagpole Sitta, “If you’re bored then you’re boring,” and this has stuck with me ever since. Easily one of the most difficult parts of the cookie season is having to sell outside a store for hours at a time trying to stop customers as they go in or out to buy a box (or 10) of cookies. It’s fun at first, but after 3 hours or more, it gets pretty mind-numbing for the girls and for the parents.

Some girls will complain they’re bored and my automatic response is, “If you’re bored then you’re boring”… and that’s when I realized we need to exude fun to have fun. Once we started playing games, jumping around, singing and more, it helps to pass the time, but it also grabs people’s attention. We sell way more cookies this way.

This is an excellent lesson to learn for life and the workplace. People love and react to optimistic and fun people. If you’re dealing with a particularly difficult customer or client, try smiling. The results will likely be the same as a Girl Scout dancing while selling cookies in front of a grocery store – positive!

Network to Your Advantage.  This year fewer girls are selling door to door, due to safety concerns, and many no-solicitation policies in neighborhoods. Instead, they have to use their networks – church friends, grandparents and their friends, friends, friends’ parents, parents’ friends and coworkers, and so on. Thinking beyond the immediate family and first line of best friends will help expand your network. Also, girls that make the most sales are the ones that carry their cookie sales sheets everywhere. They take them to school, sports events, church, volunteering, parents’ workplaces, grandparents’ workplaces, great-grandparents’ nursing homes and more.

To win the cookie selling game, the scouts must think outside the box (no pun intended) and not be shy about selling their cookies. This is the same as owning your own business or excelling at entrepreneurship. Creating and following through with a network is important and you must put yourself out there without being afraid of being told “No!”

Learn To Accept No’s.  Speaking of no’s… while selling Girl Scout cookies, we discovered there are a huge number of people that don’t like either Girl Scouts themselves or their amazing cookies … how is that possible?! Also, many people don’t carry cash (this is becoming more and more common), and others already ordered from their neighborhood scout. These discreet or straight “no’s” are a disappointment, but the more the girls hear, the less they sting.

While running a business, this is a difficult lesson to learn. The no’s seem to always sting and can bring more frustration every time. No’s are never fun, but with every no, adults need to take it the way these girls do – in stride. Don’t let them get you down.

Take a deep breath and move on to the next client. There is no sense in stressing over one no when there are potentially hundreds of yes’s out there waiting for you!

While you’re out buying your weight in Girl Scout cookies this year, remember, you’re teaching these girls life and business lessons that will last their entire lives. Now, go buy those Samoas without an ounce of guilt!

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3 Tips For Painless Girl Scout Journeys

Let’s face it, most leaders really do NOT like the new Journey program.  

And unless you do some thinking, and planning, and make a point of turning it into an extreme hands-on exercise, the girls do NOT like them either.  I’ve heard them compared to school, class, and homework. And they are BORING.  Well, to be fair, they can be boring, or they can be really interesting and exciting.  It all just depends on how you decide to present them.

3 Tips For Painless Girl Scout Journeys

  • Make the Journey as hands-on as possible.  That means field trips to various places, like a water treatment plant for Brownies in the Wonders of Water Journey, and a trip to a TV or radio station for a Cadette Media Journey.
  • Find subject matter experts and have them come and speak to the girls.  You may have to call around a bit for this one, but every time we’ve done a program and brought a speaker in, the girls have eaten it up.
  • Rack your brain and find ways to make it interesting to the girls, and less school-like.  Let’s face it, these girls are already in school several hours a day, and making things less obviously academic and “school-like” will engage the girls more.  As the girls get older, give them particular activities to plan, and let them lead portions of each meeting.  Run relay races, find pertinent movies, visit community gardens.

The short point is – engage the girls on their level, and focus on their interests. Going on a Journey can be fun and relatively painless if you approach the problem creatively.

What about you?  What are your best tips for painless Girl Scout Journeys?

— Haley Gray

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So You Want To Sell Girl Scout Cookies

Next Generation's Leaders

Next Generation’s Leaders

Many new leaders and cookie managers are overwhelmed by the Girl Scout Cookie Program.  It seems like a lot of work for not a lot of reward.  It seems crazy, and not worth doing on first glance.  After all, what’s the point of selling a lot of cookies.  There are other, better ways to raise money for the troop.  You’re not sure you want to sell Girl Scout Cookies.  I understand.

It is worth it.  Whether it is worth it in terms of dollars and cents is open for discussion.  That’s not the only reason to sell cookies.  The real reason is that selling cookies is teaching girls business skills, and how to manage a budget, marketing, sales techniques, and about what it takes to run a business.  The girls who sell the most cookies, get the biggest bang for their buck.

So, how does a girl sell 1000, 2000, or even 3000 boxes of cookies?  If you look at the picture to the left, the girl in the middle is my younger daughter, Xena.  She sold 3041 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies this past year.  My older daughter who is in high school sold 1659 boxes this year.  It is really not difficult to do, it just takes time, a little bit of planning, and a girl who really wants to sell a lot of cookies.  Note that Girl Scouts is about the GIRLS, and not a question of how many cookies the adults can sell.

So, how do these girls do it?

I assure you, I am not the one selling the cookies, but I do help them with some good techniques.

 

  1. Set a Realistic Goal.  People who set goals are more likely to reach them.  In the case of Girl Scout Cookies, girls typically sell about 30% more cookies when they set a goal.  That does not mean setting a goal for 2000 boxes, when you’ve never sold before.  Try for 100, 200, or even 300.  You could go for crazy like Xena, and set a goal of 500 boxes as a first grader.  
  2. Create a Plan.  Contact local businesses and ask to set up a cookie booth in front of their business.  The best locations are those with plenty of foot traffic.  More people = more in sales.  Best yet- have the girls put in their vests, and go ASK to set up a cookie booth, and make sure if you do a booth, to write a thank you note afterwards, and give them a few boxes of cookies.
  3. Make Your Table Cute. Make nice, clear signs with big letters that are viewed from a distance.  Also, keep food, snacks, beverages, and other things AWAY from the table.  Girls should also stand up whenever there are customers.  In some instances where girls are working booths for 8-10 hours, we bring a stool, so that they can be at eye height, yet sit a little bit of the time.
  4. Ask People to Buy Cookies.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people go walking on by, until a girl asks them to buy cookies.  (Note it HAS to be the girls doing it to be effective) People will turn around and come buy cookies.  Lots and Lots of times.
  5. Wear Your Best Smile. Smile until your cheeks hurt, and wave at people, and say “Hi”, and “Please”, and “Thank you”.  Be super friendly.
  6. Dress For The Weather. We live in the south.  Winter is not as cold here as it is in other parts of the country.  My daughters have nice, warm ski pants, long underwear, and heavy duty winter boots, hats, gloves, scarves, and even hand warmers that they wear during cookie season.  40 Degrees isn’t too cold until you have to go stand in it for 3-4 hours at a time.

In general, I’ve found that it’s possible to get to 300 or so boxes with going door to door for a couple of hours, and 2-3 cookie booths.  To get to 1000 boxes, then we spend more time at booths, typically most weekends. 2000 requires all 6 weekends of the cookie sale, and a few week nights as well.  To get to 3000 boxes like my daughter did, pretty much required setting up camp outside of a store for the entire cookie sale.  When she wasn’t at TaeKwonDo, or Basketball, she was selling cookies.

Selling Girl Scout Cookies isn’t so hard – it’s a question of just choosing the right spot, and putting in the time, following the tips above.

— Haley Gray

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Leading Girl Scout Troops

Since I’ve been leading Girl Scout Troops for over 10 years now, I thought I’d share some of the accumulated knowledge I’ve gained with other people.

I’m going to add information as I get a chance to type it in – there’s a lot of it.

Please DO join in and offer your ideas.

–Thank You, Haley Gray

  Leading Girl Scout Troops

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Teams Are Stronger

 

~by Haley Lynn Gray~

 

 

Deep Ellum - Girl Scout Cookies

Deep Ellum – Girl Scout Cookies (Photo credit: awsheffield)

How many times have you just done something because it was faster to do it than to rely on someone else? How many times, because you could do it better, or you didn’t feel like communicating with someone else or dealing with them? Would you believe me that good teams are stronger than the individual can ever be, and can reach greater heights?

I can give you several examples from my life of this. One of the easiest to talk about is about Girl Scout Cookies. As I’ve talked about it before, my troop sells a LOT of Cookies. What I may not emphasize so much is that we actually will allow any girl in the council to come and sell with us. We’ll credit the proper number of boxes of cookies, donations, etc, back to her home troop at the end of the sale.

Why in the world would I allow other girls from other troops to sell at OUR BOOTHS?

Because teams are stronger. I have several girls who are trying to sell over 1000 boxes of Cookies each. That is a LOT of booths. When you have 5-6 girls who are trying to sell that number of cookies, they can’t all go to the same booths. Quite simply, it’s easier for everyone to reach those numbers, if more girls are working more booths. Even if it means having other girls from other troops who are trying to sell a lot of boxes come and sell with us.

Even if we give other troops some of our booths.

Why? Because we have certain locations that we try to have a booth at every day. We condition people to seeing us there every day. They know that at that particular spot, they will find a Girl Scout ready to sell them cookies the entire cookie season. And we publicize that spot. It’s a win-win for everyone.

We form an unconventional team, and turn the idea of cookie selling on its head. After all, who would ever think of multiple troops working together. But it works better that way because we approach the process with the idea that working together is better; that we aren’t really competing with one another, and that teams are stronger together. All of us together are stronger than a single one of us standing alone.

What do you think?  What has your experience been? Are teams stronger?
.


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Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray

Haley-Lynn-Gray__IMG_2025-compressorHaley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.

Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching.

Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.

Connect with Haley:


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Giving Back To The Community

White House Science Fair (201405270032HQ)

White House Science Fair (201405270032HQ) (Photo credit: NASA HQ PHOTO)

A non-trivial percentage of my time is spent giving back to the community, through volunteer work, and through fundraising.  I noted in my profile that I currently lead three Girl Scout Troops, and also that I lead a cub scout den.  I think that giving back to the community is a great thing to do, and is rewarding and enriching.   I get back far more spiritually than I put into the effort overall.

Every week, I lead at least one Girl Scout Meeting, and one Cub Scout meeting.  That means that we are constantly coming up with new craft and activity ideas that are age appropriate.  That gets harder as the kids get older, and I work with a larger age range.    Since the point of the programs is learning, I find myself learning more about different topics, and having to constantly teach myself new things, and investigate new topics.  It means that I stay on top of life, and become more involved in the world around me.  I like that both programs are preparing the kids to face the world, and teaching them great life skills, organization skills, and leadership.  It’s hard to find too many other programs that start teaching those skills from such an early age.

Yesterday, I had a girl using a power saw, and she said that she finally got to do things in Girl Scouts that she thought she’d never get to do.  You can’t put a price tag on that.

It takes me probably 8 hours per week on average of volunteer time- except during Girl Scout Cookie Season.  Then things are much busier.  But the rewards that I get are worth so much to me.  Hearing that I made a difference in someone’s life is priceless.

What about you?  What volunteer work do you do?

 

 

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Taking Girl Scout Cookies To The Next Level

Girl Scout Do-si-dos cookies.

Girl Scout Do-si-dos cookies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My daughters once again outdid themselves selling cookies this year.  The total number of cookies sold by the two of them (including gluten free cookies, which didn’t count towards their official totals) was 7195.  One of them sold 6115, and her official total was 4750.  The other one sold “only” 1080 boxes.  They both reached lifetime of 10,000 boxes sold this year.  In addition to my own daughters, I had a number of other girls in the troop who also sold over 1000 boxes, and another number of girls from other troops who sold with us, who also reached 1000 boxes.  Not everyone that sells with us reaches 1000 boxes- but if a girl and her parents are willing to spend the time, I’m willing to work with them on doing it.

 

So, what exactly do I do that is different, that yields such large numbers consistently? Also, note that it’s not just my own daughters, but other girls in the troop, and girls from other troops as well.  Not all girls in my troops sell, because that isn’t their thing.  I tell them that if it’s not their thing, then that is OK too!

 

Here’s What I do that Takes Girl Scout Cookies To The Next Level:

 

  • Figure out what the girls are trying to achieve.  Is it a trip to Europe?  Or Savannah?  Are they trying to sell a lot?  Or not?
  • Cookies are available for the entire season.  That means, if a girl wants to pick up cookies the last week of the sale, we still have cookies.  I can’t tell you how many people get out of the sale after the first weekend or two, because they don’t want to be bothered.
  • I give a wide range of good options for cookie booths.  That means we find businesses that will let us set up camp in front of their store for the entire cookie season, and offer booths 7 days per week.
  • I make booths available via signup genius first to my troops, then to other girls, who would like to sell with us.  This is a win-win because everyone gets to sell more cookies.  There is nothing worse than having to give up a wal-mart booth half way through the sale because you couldn’t get enough girls!
  • Random girls who sell with us, just get the cookies transferred back to their troop, and their cookie manager gets a bag of money for the proper number of cookies, donations, Operation cookie drop, etc.
  • We encourage girls to set their own goals.  Sell if you like, don’t if you don’t want to.
  • We explain how the troop bonuses work, and how much the troop average has to be to get X, Y, or Z bonus.
  • We show girls and parents how much they make per box.
  • We explain ALL of the prizes available, including what we have here called Superstar Destinations.  It’s an alternate prize structure that kicks in at 500 boxes for either one girl, or combined for sisters.  At 500 boxes, they get 2 points, and get 1 point for every 100 boxes over that.  Those points can be redeemed for cookie dough (camp, trips, anything council related), or other items, such as gift cards, a night at Great Wolf Lodge, etc.
  • We get help from parents to locate and secure new booth locations.
  • Parents help us count cookies, money, and tally sheets every Sunday night.
  • I have a spreadsheet updated once a week with cookie totals, so girls know exactly how many they’ve sold at any given point in time.

It’s not about 1 person selling a lot of cookies, but how to help more girls sell more cookies, and learn the skills.  They learn about inventory management, cash management, marketing, and general sales techniques.  The girls learn about setting goals, and tracking how they’re doing.  They also get really fast at loading and unloading a car for a cookie booth.

 

In short, it’s more about girls learning business skills, and life skills than the actual cookies.  But if you want to sell lots, I’ll be happy to mentor you.

 

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Encouraging Girls to Lead

Girls in the Lead

I spend a considerable amount of my time leading three Girl Scout Troops.  One of the biggest gifts that the program gives girls is the opportunity to lead, in ways that other organizations simply don’t.  Since there are fundamental differences in the ways in which girls and boys interact with the world, I think that it’s important to have leadership programs that are aimed at both genders.  It encourages them to step out of their comfort zones, and try new things.

As a leader, I take the opportunity to encourage girls to lead very seriously.  This year, 8 girls in my Cadette troop earned their Girl Scout Silver Award.  The silver award is the second highest award that girls can earn in Girl Scouts.  It is the highest award that they can earn at the Cadette level.  The highest award is the Gold Award, which can only be earned at the Senior and Ambassador levels.  The silver award has a prerequisite of one Journey, that typically takes 3-6 months to complete.   The silver award project is a minimum of 50 hours.

Each of these girls came up with a unique community service project that was also sustainable, after their involvement ended.  My daughter built a platform at the Tiger Rescue for a bobcat named Maggie.  Two girls made dresses for girls in Africa.  They taught other girls to sew in the process, as well as educated them on the need for proper clothing in other parts of the world.  One girl built a number of activities for Horse and Buddy.  Yet another took up donations for RUFF- a local rescue organization, and set up semi-permanent donation bins that will be taken care of after her project is done.  Each project is as unique as the girls themselves.

Each project taught the girl age-appropriate lessons about leadership, project planning, execution, and report writing.  The Girl Scout Silver Award is also a pre-requisite to the Girl Scout Gold Award.  I’m hoping that these girls decide to pursue the award as they enter high school.  We try to break the projects up into small chunks so that the girls get the idea that they can achieve great things if they break them up and do a little bit at a time.  You can eat an entire elephant one bite at a time.  It’s all about encouraging girls to lead, encouraging girls to do great things.  By giving them opportunities at an early age, they get to practice and hone those skills as they grow into adulthood.

It is a wonderful responsibility and opportunity.  It’s one I thoroughly enjoy.

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The Strangest Thing I’ve Done With My MBA

strangest thing I've done with my MBA

I am a troop leader to 3 troops. My biggest contribution for all three is to be the cookie Mom to all three troops. This year, I had 48 girls selling a combined 22000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. But that isn’t the strangest thing I’ve done with my MBA.

The strangest thing I’ve done with my MBA has been to figure out how to unload quantities of a new flavor of Girl Scout Cookie that had been ordered by troops. They essentially marooned themselves and owed more to Council than they were going to receive in troop cookie profits. I stepped in and took their leftover gluten free cookies as a transfer. That means I then got to sell large quantities of a flavor of cookie that other troops were having significant difficulties with. So far, I’ve taken in about 70 cases of cookies, including one troop who had 24 cases, and another from 2 hours away with 50 cases.

In less than 2 weeks I’ve shipped out cookies to other Girl Scout troops all across the country. Over 50 cases of cookies. have left my house. The post office is starting to wonder what we’re doing here with all of these cookies. This is probably the strangest thing I’ve done with my MBA. I stepped in to be a Sister to every Girl Scout. Because I could. I understand that I need to get the cookies out. And if I don’t, they’ll go to the Brown Bag ministries. But no troops will be left with them.

Problem solved. It’s actually been kinda fun. Normally, I don’t directly involve myself in selling cookies, because I believe it’s the girls’ thing. I am here in a supporting role. But this once, I’m stepping in, doing about the strangest thing I’ve done with my MBA.

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Cary Girl Scouts Explore Corn Maze and Cooking

Girl Scout Troop 1799 Cooks while CampingGirl Scout Troop 1799 Pitching Tents

by: Samantha K. Herring

 

Like many other Girl Scout troops, Cary Girl Scout Troop #1799 is busy this fall. The girls and their adult advisors recently traveled to Huckleberry Trail Farm in Siler City, N.C., for an overnight campout. After unloading supplies and setting up their tents, the girls began preparations for dinner.

They cooked macaroni and cheese for dinner using their camp stove and a box oven they had constructed at a previous campout. After eating, the group headed off to explore the farm’s corn maze in the dark—their favorite part of the weekend. Girl Scout Allison commented, “I loved it when my mom jumped out of the dark like a spider monkey and scared us!” Allison’s mother Paula is one of the troop’s adult advisors. Later in the evening, everyone relaxed around a campfire the girls had built sharing stories, songs, and s’mores treats.

The goal at Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines is to instill confidence, leadership skills, and a collaborative spirits in girls.  Planning and carrying out trips like this is a fun way of working toward those goals. Paula shared that “one of the joys of being a troop leader has been watching the girls grow and mature. It seems that they’ve come a to a new level in their maturity in being able to do so many of the things we used to do for them.”

The girls plan and look forward to many different experiences together. A week after their campout the girls met in an advisor’s kitchen for a cooking lesson. Marie Cloughesy, professional chef and teacher at The Chef’s Academy in Morrisville, taught the girls how to make bruschetta and Chicken Marsala. In addition to teaching cooking skills, Marie talked to the girls about her education and personal experiences as a chef. One of the girls said that she had always been interested in being a chef and really appreciated the opportunity learn from Marie and hear about her experiences.

-end-

Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines

 

Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls with 3.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouting is the leading authority on girls’ healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.

 

In partnership with more than 10,000 adult volunteers, Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines serves more than 35,000 girl members in 41 central and eastern North Carolina counties. (Counties are: Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Chatham, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Martin, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pender, Person, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Vance, Wake, Warren, Wayne, and Wilson.) The council’s administrative headquarters is located in Raleigh, with additional program and service centers located in Fayetteville and Goldsboro. For more information on membership or volunteer opportunities, call 800-284-4475 or visit www.nccoastalpines.org.

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