Friday, February 22, 2013

More Than A Cookie

We've been selling a lot of girl scout cookies around here.  I absolutely hated selling cookies when I was a kid.  I only did it for one year.  One afternoon, my mom walked me around the neighborhood to sell cookies.  She stood at the curb while I walked up to someone's house.  I rang the doorbell and waited.  And rather than opening the door, the person asked what I wanted through an intercom system. 

It may not seem like much, but I've had an irrational, but pronounced, fear of phones as long as I can remember.  It's only been in the last 6 months that I've been able to pick up the phone and make calls without having a panic response.  So there I was, 8 years old, all decked out in my brownie sash with my cute blonde curls and my cookie order form when I'm expected to talk on a giant speaker phone.  The only thing worse than a phone is a speaker phone.  My fight or flight response kicked in and I chose flight.  As in, I flew down the sidewalk and straight to my mom, where I buried my face in her shirt and cried.  Never sold another cookie. 

Of course, it's funny to think about it now, but there was still a primal "no cookie selling!" corner of my soul.  When the girls started girl scouts, I made it clear to our troop leader and the other moms: we would not sell cookies aside from booths.  Someone had to be the troop cookie mom though and I was happy to do that job.  I'll manage cookies, just not sell them. 

What I didn't count on is this amazing 8 year old I live with.  Turned out she had no problem at all with selling cookies.  She was happy as could be to chat people up, remind people we take credit cards when they said they didn't have cash, that they can donate to military troops if they're diabetic, and talk about her goals.  Boy did she have some goals.  Go big, or go home goals.  She really wanted to sell 1,000 boxes of cookies.  We settled on a more realistic 650 boxes for her first year.  She jumped at every booth opportunity that came along and convinced her daddy to take her door to door many nights.  One night, I watched her do the macarena for about an hour straight in front of Kroger to draw attention to a booth.  Many times I sat back and watched her make a sale that I would've let go.  She's confidently (and accurately) handled the cash box all on her own.  She's figured how many boxes she needs to sell each day to reach her goal and kept track of her sales so she knows when she's behind or ahead. 

I'll admit, I was a cookie skeptic.  But I've watched Sierra learn a lot over the last five weeks.  She started out timidly asking "would you like to buy some cookies?"  Now she has figured out that more neat dress makes a difference, that she can learn a lot from older girl scouts that have been successful, how to talk to customers, how to graciously accept rejection, how to stay motivated when numbers are down, how to set a goal and make a plan to reach it, how to handle money and make change under pressure, and how to market herself.  Now she explains to people what her goal is and how close she is to reaching it and even had the idea to make a video that she asked me to put on facebook as the end of the sale neared.  And she's done all this while following the rules every step of the way even when she saw other girls who weren't.  While the sales are going on, the girls are working on related activities that focus on 5 business skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.  All those business skills the Girl Scouts talk about girls learning...I'm seeing it at work in my house.

Tomorrow is the last day of sales for our council (aside from a "clean sweep" weekend where a few final booths will be out to sell leftover cookies), and Sierra will definitely meet her goal. I still hate doing sales of any kind, it's just not my thing.  However, I can't begin to say how proud I am of Sierra for finding something she's rather good at and building on it to become really successful and meet the goals she set for herself.  Yes, mom and dad have had to put in quite a few hours supervising, but she's done all the hard foot work and learned an awful lot along the way.

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