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Evil Genius: 6 Business Tips You Can Learn from a Girl Scout

Evil Genius: 6 Business Tips You Can Learn from a Girl Scout

    They are mad, evil geniuses I tell you!

    Every year I watch the sale of Girl Scout cookies with amazement. These sweet, innocent and friendly girls all become masters of marketing, sales and business through the months of January and February. And you know what? I happily buy Girl Scout cookies every year. I open my wallet for them, and admittedly it is because I buy through my personal “connection” (aka: dealer) of these addictive cookies. One would think they are pushing drugs with how people talk about the cookies, but that is all part of their genius plan!

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    Here is the truth: the cookies aren’t special. We all enjoy home baked cookies more than we do mass-produced cookies, but at the same time, I definitely will crave and even horde the cookies. No one better touch my thin mints! Why do I do this every year? Because, I buy more than the cookie. I buy the “sizzle with the steak”, and watching the geniuses work, I have learned a lot about business. Here are six business techniques I’ve learned from the delightfully, ingenious Girl Scouts.

    1. Sell The Idea – The Sizzle

    My father always says when it comes to sales, “sell the sizzle not the steak”. The idea is rather common. Sales is about selling the story, the image and everything around the product, not the product itself. I personally like the saying, “ride the brand”. Brand your sales with an image and then ride it. Apple computers have done very well, as people crave to be part of the Apple computer family. They want the image and the community that comes with Apple, and all someone has to do to join this select group of people is purchase an Apple product. The same idea is used in personal branding.

    When it comes to Girl Scouts, the sweet girls are part of the Girl Scout cookie idea. It is their fundraiser. It is an organization that teaches girls so much, from knitting to car mechanics. By buying Girl Scout cookies we are helping an organization that helps people in our own town and community succeed. So to play off one of my favorite movie lines – Girl Scout cookies are made with real Girl Scouts, as we are buying into the image with the cookie.

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    2. Back Up The Product – The Steak

    Call me old fashioned, but I feel a product needs to be quality, as quality backs up the sizzle. If Apple computers were junk, people wouldn’t want the image of being an Apple fan. True, one may be able to find comparable products for cheaper, but their products are still good products. The idea is that their brand demands a high price, while their product backs up the brand. Girl Scout cookies are good. They may not be my grandmother’s cookies, but they are still good. They are also slightly unique in the style / taste, which makes them stand out from other cookies. Thus, they are able to make a good steak to back up that sizzle. As manufacturers, product managers and business people, we need to make sure our products can back up the brand that goes with them. For me, it is a matter of taking pride in what I do, and I firmly believe the manufacturing company for the Girl Scout cookie takes pride in what they do.

    3. Motivate Your Sales Force

    Did you know there are bonuses for troops that meet sales levels? The girls know they are paying for trips and activities with every sale. Troop leaders are really good at motivating Girl Scouts each year to sell the cookies. Additionally, many troop leaders will teach the girls how to sell. They are great at doing it, and above all they are passionate about doing it.

    4. Order In Advance

    Starting in January in my area, Girl Scouts are asking for orders for their cookies. When it comes to business, this same idea directs part of our sales. By getting advanced orders, we know how much to manufacture. That commitment is great for any business, and why I encourage businesses to find a revenue stream that encourages pre-ordering.

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    5. Keep Product On Hand

    Even with the orders, most troops purchase additional cookies. These will then go on sale outside businesses or are taken with them when they drop off the pre-orders. Why? There are always, always those last minute purchases. There are always people who decide they actually want more than what they first ordered, and you need to fulfill that order. Every industry is slightly different, but learn how much product to have on hand.

    6. Timing is Everything

    I believe Girl Scout cookies are the bane of most New Year’s resolutions. Why? About 20-30 days is when people who are on a diet start craving sweets. Even if you are not on a diet, 20-30 days after the holiday is another time to crave sweets, and guess who comes along? Those, sweet innocent, mad geniuses with the perfect fix to your craving. They are there when the timing is right, and they don’t worry about it for the rest of the year. This not only creates an exclusiveness of needing the product then and there, but it fulfills a desire that is going to be there. Not only do they have their timing down, they have mastered that buy it now or loose it mentality. Two timing essentials at one moment!

    Conclusion

    The girls in my community are geniuses in business, and I think many Girl Scouts carry these sales techniques as they grow up. As someone who was never a Girl Scout, but had a lot of friends who were/are, I know these techniques can help anyone out.

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    So the next time you go out and buy your Girl Scout cookie “fix”, take note of the seller’s genius. I know I will be when little Rachel (my “dealer”) calls to get my order.

    (Photo credit: Mint Filled Chocoalte Patties via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

    7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

    I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

    It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

    A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

    1. Define Career Success for Yourself

    Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

    What does career success mean to you?

    This is about defining your career success:

    • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
    • Not what people may think of you
    • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
    • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

    “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

    When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

    There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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    • Work-life balance
    • Opportunities for growth and advancement
    • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

    Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

    • What do you mean by work-life balance?
    • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
    • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

    Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

    • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
    • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
    • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

    Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

    • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
    • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
    • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

    Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

    Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

    What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

    2. Know Your Values

    Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

    There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

    Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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    • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
    • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
    • Put the words on your fridge
    • Add the words on your vision board

    Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

    3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

    When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

    How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

    Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

    • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
    • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
    • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
    • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
    • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
    • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

    Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

    • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
    • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
    • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
    • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

    Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

    By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

    4. Determine Your Top Talents

    What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

    What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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    What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

    What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

    What do you notice?

    5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

    Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

    I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

    Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

    Keep these words visible too!

    Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

    6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

    Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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    Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

    “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

    7. Manage Your Own Career

    Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

    Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

    Summing Up

    For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

    Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

    Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

    1. Define Career Success for Yourself
    2. Know Your Values
    3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
    4. Determine Your Top Talents
    5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
    6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
    7. Manage Your Own Career

    “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

    Good luck and best wishes always!

    More Tips on Advancing Your Career

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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