When I trained to be a troop leader, I was very impressed with what Girl Scouts was basically about. It was about teaching girls to gain self-confidence and lead--traits that are so vital with succeeding in the business world.
Today, my daughter worked at a booth selling cookies. I'm sure many of you see the girls planted at various supermarkets and other business hawking their cookies. They're learning some basic selling techniques. This is just one of many areas where the girls are learning on how to become leaders. I was impressed as I saw my daughter smile, ask people if they were interested in buying the cookies, then thanking them regardless if they bought any.
I was also particularly entertained by the potential cookie customers. There were those that would flat-out ignore the girls, and quickly go into the store without even acknowledging the girls. I saw one person literally sprint into the store to avoid saying, "No thanks." Seriously?
There were the potential customers that didn't want any cookies, but gave lame excuses such as, "I'll buy on the way out," then go quickly past the girls on the way out without buying. These customers frustrated the girls the most. "Why can't they just be honest and say they don't want any?" my daughter asked. Good question. I tried to point out to the girls that they can probably tell which people weren't interested vs. which people were by noticing body language or whether they asked questions such as how much the cookies cost, etc.
Other potential customers gave us perfectly valid excuses for not buying, such as already buying X amount of boxes. At this stage in the game, that is perfectly understandable.
This leads us to another type of customer--one who cannot resist the cuteness of the girls and can't say "no"--even if they probably should. There were quite a few people who said that they already had a ton of cookies and were starting to say "no," but then quickly caved. I can't say I blame them.
That brings us to the last type of customer: those that somehow haven't come across anyone selling cookies and enthusiastically buying a bunch. We didn't get very many of those customers.
The most entertaining customers were a couple of dads that had grown daughters who were avid girl scouters growing up. These dads love what the organization is about and spent quite a large amount of time at our booth sharing what Girl Scouts provided their daughters while giving the girls lots of pointers on how to effectively sell. It was really amazing to see dads so pumped up about Girl Scouts, and I loved seeing them share their enthusiasm.
As I opened up with in this post, the Girl Scouts want to help girls develop skills to be tomorrow's leaders. As Sheryl Sandberg wrote in her book, Leaning In, women are not in the amount of leadership roles that they should be at this point. Sheryl is teaming with the Girl Scouts to help start a campaign to ban the word "bossy," a label frequently used against women and girls that could ultimately keep our future potential leaders from actually becoming leaders.
So, when you are out and about on your errands and see a group of adorable young girls trying to sell you cookies, I highly encourage you to engage the girls, let them stretch their leadership muscles, and buy a box if you can. If you can't, then respectfully let them know why. Either way, you're helping to mold the confidence of a possible future Fortune 500 CEO.