They didn’t earn badges, but the Girl Scouts who attended the “Cookie Institute” on Nov. 13 at Fordham Westchester walked away with something even more valuable:
Top-notch sales and marketing tips designed to help them boost orders for their famed cookies.
Fordham business instructors led the two-hour entrepreneurial training workshop for roughly 90 Girl Scouts from the Heart of the Hudson Council. When they were finished, the 7th through 10th graders received certificates making them “Cookie Entrepreneur Officers” (CEOs).
Though Julia Paul, 12, of Peekskill, N.Y. has a personal sales record of 358 boxes, she plans on beating that number during the next cookie campaign.
“[The Cookie Institute] has given me a few ideas of how to sell better,” Paul said. “Selling Girl Scout cookies has always made me happy, but I think this will make my sales shoot straight up.”
Jessica Riberio, 12, of West Harrison said she has a new respect for top-selling brands.
“I learned that certain brands and logos make people feel good, and I also learned a lot about the Girl Scout cookie,” Riberio said. “It was a fun experience.”
The Cookie Institute focused on goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics. Girl Scouts were taken through the entrepreneurial aspects of cookie selling and learned about the importance of having a basic business plan, budget and personal and troop sales goals.
Francis Petit, Ed.D., associate dean for Executive MBA (EMBA) programs, taught a lesson on the importance of marketing by highlighting some brands these pre-teens and teens knew a thing or two about: Starbucks, Apple and McDonalds.
“So what does the Girl Scout brand mean?” he asked.
The girls suggested fundraising, great taste, history and even “an introduction to capitalism for young girls.”
“The cookie alone isn’t going to sell it,” Petit told the girls. “It’s the whole experience. Most powerful brands are built from the heart. Authenticity makes them last.”
Mary Kate Donato, program associate for Fordham’s Executive MBA programs, lectured on the importance of a business plan.
The Cookie Institute was the first event under a new partnership between Fordham and the Heart of the Hudson Council. Future events, such as a Career Day, are in the works.
“It’s the first event in what we believe will be a very productive partnership,” said Michael Gillan, Ph.D., associate vice president for the Westchester campus. “The Heart of the Hudson Council is the coordinating center for all Girl Scout troops in the seven Hudson Valley counties—32,000 young women and 15,000 adult volunteers.”
“The Cookie Institute was a wonderful success,” said Pamela I. Anderson, CEO of Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson. “Not only did our girls get to feel like college students for the morning, but they learned skills that will help them with their cookie sales and most importantly, help them throughout their leadership journey. I hope that in five to 10 years when the girls are either interviewing for college or for their first professional job, they will remember with fondness their ‘elevator speech’ from the Cookie Institute.”
Kathy Cloninger, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, said the millions of Americans who support the Girl Scout Cookie Program are helping girls across the country build important leadership skills.
“Through cookie activities, girls learn how to plan, build teams, speak up, make decisions, solve problems and manage resources,” she said. “These skills add up, so that ultimately, girls learn to be leaders—in their own lives—and in our communities.”
Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson, Inc. serves southeastern New York state: Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties. Its central administrative office is in Pleasantville, with regional offices in Kingston, Middletown, New City, Pleasantville and Poughkeepsie.