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What Phoenix Business Leaders Learned from Selling Cookies


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Elizabeth Reich

Title: CEO

Company: Make-A-Wish Arizona

Number of Years as Girl Scout: Four years

Favorite Badge Earned: Camping Badge

Current Role with Girl Scouts: Alum

In your own words, how did being a Girl Scout prepare you for business leadership and success? I can still remember going door-to-door to encourage people to purchase cookies and having to share that we were out of Thin Mints because we only received a limited amount of boxes. Today, I think of that when I think of our donors and supporters because you always want to know your audience and make sure you are filling their needs by having all the ‘thin mints’ they could want.

 

Melissa Rein

Title: Owner

Company: The Brand Consortium

Number of Years as Girl Scout: Six years

Favorite Badge Earned: Philanthropist – I organized a school coat drive with my troop, which donated several hundred coats to needy kids.

Current Role with Girl Scouts: Alum

In your own words, how did being a Girl Scout prepare you for business leadership and success? I didn’t know it at the time, but being a Girl Scout prepared me to become a resourceful business woman and fearless publicist. I was an entrepreneurial young Brownie who tired very quickly of toting my red wagon full of cookies door-to-door around the neighborhood and hawking our wares sitting in front of grocery stores. Plus, in Denver it was cold! I was constantly coming up with new ways to expand my business, use ’technology’ to raise awareness and sales and ultimately build my business  with efficiencies that allowed me to work smarter and not harder. My parents were completely against selling cookies for me, but I knew I had to get in front of the cookie deprived at my dad’s firm, so I proposed a business plan to him that entailed allowing me to come to his company and pitch my product directly to his employees on several occasions throughout each sales period, and I convinced him to match the orders so I’d have product to sell onsite for those that may have missed their preordering opportunities. Word got around that I drove a hard bargain in the cookie business pretty quick, and soon I had order requests from company vendors and other businesses in his building. Participating in Girl Scouts helped me develop confidence, sharpened my competitive edge and forced me to develop a thick skin, quick in my door-to-door selling days I recall encountering many NO’s from cranky neighbors and doors literally being slammed in my face. (Yes, this does happen to smiling third graders – be kind!) With help from my mom, who was also my troop leader, I learned pretty quickly to brush it off and chug my wagon along to the next house. This is a skill I still use just about every day in the business world.

 

Laura Craig

Title: Owner and President

Company: Rhythm & Wine, Jalapeno Inferno (all locations Valleywide)

Number of Years as Girl Scout: Three years

Favorite Badge Earned: Hospitality – of course. It was actually called “Hostess” in my earlier years, with a cup of coffee at the logo.

Current Role With Girl Scouts: Alum and proud participant in the Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge

In your own words, how did being a Girl Scout prepare you for business leadership and success? The Girl Scouts allowed me to, at a young age, improve my social skills as well as establish lifelong friendships. The informal setting was perfect to learn new skills, become a part of a group, and cultivate simple leadership roles. Hospitality was a natural for me, I loved it back then and I still love it to this day. It is a little harder now, but still in my DNA – although i do a little more now that just put the coffee on! One small way I still love to get involved each year is by volunteering our restaurants to be part of the Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge, where chefs from across the Valley and Northern Arizona are assigned a classic Girl Scout cookie and challenged to create a unique dessert item for their menus with it. We make ours – using the Trefoil this year – available at all of our locations all month long, with a portion of proceeds benefiting our local scouts.

 

Kim Dees

Title: Senior Vice President and Southern Arizona Division Manager

Company: Washington Federal

Number of Years as Girl Scout: Five years

Favorite Badge Earned: Outdoor Cook – there was just something cool about cooking an entire dinner in a foil packet!

Current Role with Girl Scouts: Alum

In your own words, how did being a Girl Scout prepare you for business leadership and success? Most people don’t know it, but the Girl Scout Cookie program is the largest girl-led business – and among the most successful financial literacy programs – in the world! And funny enough, like Girl Scout Cookies themselves, we are celebrating our 100th anniversary at Washington Federal this year too. From selling cookies, I not only took critical money management skills, but marketing, public speaking and even team work skills that I use to this day. Plus, I can still set up a mean cookie booth in a pinch, if needed. And, I still have my sash, to boot.

 

Trish Gulbranson

Title: CEO

Company: Derma Health

Number of Years as Girl Scout: Five years

Favorite Badge Earned: Cooking

Current Role with Girl Scouts: Alum

In your own words, how did being a Girl Scout prepare you for business leadership and success? Helped with independence.  I remember selling cookies door to door by myself in my little town 40-plus years ago.  Once they arrived, I had to collect.  I got my first lesson in sales and collections.  I also recall camping trips and learning to light a fire and cook outdoors. Good memories! 

 

Denise Seomin

Title: Director of Public Relations and Marketing Communications

Company: The Phoenician and The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician

Number of Years as Girl Scout: Five years

Favorite Badge Earned: Outdoor Cooking – I just loved preparing a meal over an open flame at Summer Day Camp.  These outings were exciting to me as a young girl, exposing me to a variety of experiences that helped to shape my confidence.

Current Role with Girl Scouts: Alum

In your own words, how did being a Girl Scout prepare you for business leadership and success?  My first “pitch” was selling Girl Scout cookies!  Being a member of this organization taught me respect, care and concern for others, and how to be a contributing member of society.  As Girl Scouts, we realized we were able to make a difference through our actions.  We were also mentored and encouraged, allowing us to believe we could do or be anything we set our mind to.  Each activity; each meeting provided a life lesson that was presented in a fun and memorable way.  We learned what it meant to be a part of something – and how to work together for the better.

 

Sen. Kimberly Yee

Title:  Arizona State Senator

Company:  Arizona Legislature

Number of Years as a Girl Scout:  Five years

Favorite Badge Earned:  Artist – drawing was my favorite badge as I have always loved to draw and do artwork.

Current Role with the Girl Scouts:  Alumna and Founder of Troop 1920, a troop for elected women of the Arizona State Legislature, the troop number honoring the year women were granted the right to vote.  Authored legislation in 2012 that honors March 12th of every year as Girl Scouts of the USA Day in Arizona and sponsored legislation authorizing the Girl Scouts special driver's license plate. 

In your own words, how did being a Girl Scout prepare you for business leadership and success?  Selling Girl Scout cookies door to door in my neighborhood was the perfect training ground to prepare me for grassroots campaigning.  Very few people are comfortable doing a "cold call" knock on a neighbor's door and being able to start up a conversation, but as a former Brownie and Girl Scout, we were trained to do that every year when we sold our boxes of cookies.  Today, I still go door to door in my neighborhood, but now I'm doing voter outreach and campaigning as a candidate for elected office.  The Girl Scouts taught me about being a leader, meeting new people, working with others and the importance of serving the community.  I have very fond memories of selling Girl Scout cookies, singing around a campfire and doing service projects to earn badges.  These experiences, through the Girl Scouts, help empower young girls to become bold leaders.   

 

Tori Stanley

Title: Co-Owner

Company: Beautif-EYE Studios

Number of Years as Girl Scout: Four years

Favorite Badge Earned: Wildlife Badge was my favorite. We went on a camping adventure and learned how to survive in the wilderness which I still use a lot of those lessons today. 

Current Role with Girl Scouts: Alum

In your own words, how did being a Girl Scout prepare you for business leadership and success? Girl scouts prepared me in multiple ways for so many essential qualities to succeed as a leader, friend, and of course a business owner. It was always about team work, supporting each other, leadership and optimism. I remember sitting in my living room for hours and hours organizing cookies.  I would prepare many plans and events to ensure I was the top seller that year, in other words creating a business plan. It taught me people skills and customer service at a very young age. I didn't realize it then but it was my own business and I had to create ways to make it as successful as possible. As a business owner now, these traits are so important still and I'm very grateful I was able to learn them at a young age.