Huffpost Teen
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Olivia Ottenfeld Headshot

The Impact of Selling Girl Scout Cookies

Posted: Updated:

You could say that Girl Scouts is grooming me for my future. I've been a Girl Scout for 10 years, and during this time I have met several older former Girl Scouts who all say their success was greatly due to their Girl Scout background and experiences. Take Cathy Coughlin, a former Girl Scout and now Senior Executive Vice President and Global Marketing Officer at AT&T. She said, "These days, Girl Scouts are promoting technology, financial knowledge, business planning, and skills that we in corporate America are looking for." That's what selling Girl Scout Cookies is all about for me.

By selling cookies, I have been able to work on my decision-making skills, which definitely were not the best (and are still a work in progress). Plus, my people skills have gotten a lot better. Nowadays, I feel as though I can approach anyone and ask if they are interested in buying cookies. That's the thing: 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.

After selling Girl Scout Cookies for so many years, for example, my math and money skills have gotten pretty good. And when working cookie booths in downtown Chicago, I've learned the art of up-selling, giving my customers options they may not have considered. You need to stay focused on each customer and can't take rejection personally. Believe me, those first few times are tough. All that runs through your head is, "Why won't they buy from me?"

As I say, cookie sales are more to me than just selling cookies. I can turn it into a fun challenge: maybe I'll try to sell more than in the previous year, or I'll work harder to earn incentives. Of course, my main incentive is knowing that the money earned goes toward my troop fund and makes many events and projects possible. The challenge I set for myself last year was to sell 2,012 boxes in honor of the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting. I was able to meet my goal, and with that money I traveled to Savannah, Georgia, the birthplace of Girl Scouting. My troop put the balance of the money I earned toward various service projects. During cookie season, girls work both as individuals and as members of a team toward a common goal, with each girl striving to do her best.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program has helped me grow. I have learned to be graceful when someone complains, and I try to nicely deflect objections. You can always remind customers that they can donate a box, perhaps to the Gift of Caring community service project that sends cookies to the military, shelters, and food pantries. I tell people that Girl Scout Cookies taste good... and they can do good. This has even more meaning for me since my cousin recently joined the Air Force.

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.

Thanks to skills I've developed from selling Girl Scout Cookies, I have learned how to manage my money. I've been able to decide how to better use my babysitting money, for example; spending some while saving some. It has also made it easier for me to approach a teacher or peer and ask for help, and it has helped me work well with others in school, softball, and volleyball. I have also become better at meeting my deadlines, understanding people, and perfecting techniques for pitching ideas. I'll be using these skills in the near future as I prepare to present my project for a Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

So go ahead, indulge your sweet tooth on National Girl Scout Cookie Day, and buy some cookies from your local Girl Scout. She might just be your future president!

www.girlscoutcookies.org