Leadership

Success is “Elementary”

I got home from the grocery store today and, as I was putting away the groceries, there was a knock at my door. It was a friendly knock with a little rhythm to it. I figured one of my neighbors saw me come home and wanted to chat. I hesitated to answer it because I needed to change clothes to go to the gym. I answered the door and I was surprised to see a little girl with an armful of papers.

When I opened the door she tilted her head, adjusted the papers in her hand, and began to twirl her pencil as she explained that she is selling things for a fundraiser at school. As I listened to her, I remembered going door-to-door selling Girl Scout cookies as a little girl. I admired her for her poise and her confidence…and so young! I didn’t ask, but I’ll guess about third grade (maybe 9 years old). 

I politely attempted to get out of buying something, and with each one of my excuses she had a solid rebuttal. I told her I didn’t have cash and she said they take checks. I told her I was on my way out, and then I saw her school logo on her shirt and assured her that I know one of the teachers at her school and would buy something from her – and I was serious about that. We chatted about our mutual connection for a moment (and I learned a little about friendship through the eyes of a nine-year-old), and then she got back to selling: the sale was ending today so I couldn’t buy anything from my friend anyway.

At this point, I was completely impressed by her. She was so confident, poised, and never hesitated. Then I asked her to tell me again what she is selling because, I thought to myself at this point, she had earned a sale. She pulled out her catalogs as she explained what she was selling: kitchen stuff, candies and chocolates, and wrapping paper.

By this time, I had closed my front door behind me and I was standing on my porch with her as I started browsing one of her catalogs. She asked if I have pets, and I said yes. She asked if I have cats and I said, yes I have two. She said she figured because the house was so quiet. She observed that I was standing in the front door in a way to prevent my critters from escaping. Again, I was impressed. This time by her powers of observation! And her desire and ability to make small talk, like a good sales person. Wow, again.

We chatted as I browsed the catalogs. I asked her what they are raising money for and she said the robotics team at school. When I asked her if she was on that team she said no because it was for 4th or 5th graders, but the whole school was raising money for that team. AGAIN, I was blown away. She’s going door-to-door with excellent sales rebuttals; raising money for a team she is not even a member of!

I looked around and then asked where her mommy is and she said she’s just by herself. She confirmed that she lives in our neighborhood and her mom wasn’t far away…and then went on to explain that she wasn’t allowed to go “over there” as she motioned to the community entrance/exit. Again, I was completely blown away by her bravery, confidence and willingness to go door-to-door. Don’t worry: We live in a small, suburban community where everyone knows everyone…so she was not in any danger.

By this time, I am sitting down with her crisscross-applesauce style on my front porch. I decided I was definitely going to buy something, I just didn’t know what. I was conscious of time because I still needed to change clothes and get to the gym.

I picked out something in the catalog (Merry Christmas, Mom!), and started writing down my info on her piece of paper. As I did so, I started questioning her motivation for selling. I asked her, since she is not on the team, did she get any rewards for selling stuff. She said yes, to which I replied that I hoped she gets a nice prize. She said she has already won a few of them because she has so many sales.

I congratulated her and told her it was well deserved; then I told her she is a pretty good sales girl. Her confident reply: “I know.” I smiled and wrote out the check for my mom’s Christmas gift. Impressed again, this time by her self-awareness and again with such confidence.

We had a few parting words as I wished luck, and then I went inside to carry on getting ready to go the gym…with my mind buzzing about what I just experienced.

It has been a long time since I was in sales (of the retail nature), but this girl has a bright future ahead of her. I hope that her poise and confidence never waivers. I hope that her parents are proud of her, because she is an amazing little girl. She’s in elementary school, and is already a star. I had a great time chatting with her today.

She impressed me. She inspired me. And, I wrote about her to with hopes of inspiring you, too. I could make an analogy and tie this back to the business world we are all in, but I think I’ll let you all discover what about this story resonates with you. Please share in the comments!

Here’s to our youth, who are the key to the future of our country, our world, and so much more.

– Shauna

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