When I was younger, I played Little League Baseball and every year we had to participate in an annual fundraiser which consisted of selling those  almond chocolate bars, commonly used for fundraising, to everyone we knew. There were prizes for the different monetary levels you achieved in selling. I’m not really sure if anyone ever ate those overpriced bars.

Regardless, I was still determined to get the best prize. I knew that the other kids in the neighborhood would also be knocking on the same doors that I was, selling the exact same candy, so I made it my mission to get there first and to be the best. I also knew that some of my wealthy teammates’ parents were just going to buy a bunch of candy for their kids. It wasn’t fair but that wasn’t going to stop me from winning.

I contacted everyone I knew, trying to sell that candy. I heard a lot of no’s. I hated hearing them. It burned me up inside every time somebody told me no.

But years later, I realized that those no’s” gave me the thick skin I needed in order to stick around long enough to begin hearing yeses.

From time to time, we all need to hear NO as it’s healthy for our growth as individuals and future leaders.

Fast forward to a text message I received the other day from a friend. Her friend’s daughter was selling Girl Scout Cookies via “Digital Cookie”, her personalized online link. She had a personal goal to sell 1000 boxes of those amazing cookies. I admired her mindset in setting such a high goal for herself.

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for Thin Mints and Samoas. It seems like the sales pitch gets stronger and stronger every year when those Girl Scouts come to my door and offer me those heralded green and purple boxes of delectable cookies.

But here’s the problem. This young woman didn’t come to my door to offer her cookies. She didn’t contact me directly. She doesn’t actually even live in my state. Yet I was asked, through proxy, to buy through her online link.

And I refused.

As an entrepreneur, I understand the power of the internet as it affects brand growth and I know firsthand the power of e-commerce and its ability to reach more people.

But I’ve also seen the double-edge sword of online sales, social networks, and the internet; we’re less connected to human emotions now more than ever before. So many of us calculate worth based on followers, likes, and online metrics on a computer screen; that we don’t know how to converse in real life.

Hearing a “no” doesn’t hurt as much online because we have the ability to hide behind our keyboards. When someone decides to visit my website to buy one of my books and decide not to,  I don’t even notice. I don’t have to face that “no.” But back when I used to work hard to sell my books individually to people, I remember the look in people’s eyes as they passed on buying my books, cd’s or whatever I was trying to sell. I grew because of it.

I can’t purchase the cookies because I believe that online sales rob these Scouts of the chance to hear a “no” or the opportunity to grow because of it. They miss the opportunity to overcome that objection and a chance to EARN the result they desire.

And that’s a travesty. Now I’m quite sure they still do the door to door sales and Digitally cookie is just supplemental sells, but it begs me to ask the question – is the focus of Girl Scout Cookies about making a sale or is it about personal and professional development?

I don’t buy the cookies just because they’re that good. I buy them because I support strategic hustle. I support hard work. I know it’s got to be tough for those girls to sell their cookies in front of various stores or to go door to door with those order forms trying to get pre-orders just as it was hard for a young kid from Abilene, TX to go door to door selling almond chocolate bars.

I’m sure those first few no’s hurt those girls just as bad as they hurt me when I was their age. But at the end of the day, they will grow stronger and gain the kind of confidence that will prepare them to eventually become future leaders of this country – just as it did for me.

I’ll be supporting the Girl Scouts’ cookie efforts, but it won’t be online. I believe in them too too much. I value the mindset that comes from earning sales the hard way. I won’t deprive them of that valuable skill, and you shouldn’t either.

We owe it to our youth to grant them the opportunity to “earn their stripes” the hard way, just as those who made this country great did.

But if you approach me in person… I’ll buy a few boxes.

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