Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why She Gives: Julie Sygiel Channels Girl Scout Experience to Create Supportive Communities of Women

You were a Girl Scout for 12 years growing up. What effect do you think the organization had on you? 
My experience in Girl Scouts has influenced almost every aspect of my career and personal development throughout my life! Each year I was in the organization, I had opportunities to try new things and take risks in a supportive environment. I rappelled down an 80-foot cliff, learned how to use diplomacy when personalities clashed, and even had my first interview experience when I applied to be on a national committee. Girl Scouts taught me to speak up, organize events, and form meaningful friendships.

How do you think Girl Scouts has helped you be successful in business?
When I was in high school, I was a member of the teen leadership council. We revised the bylaws of our group and voted using parliamentary procedure. Twice every year we hosted a conference for hundreds of high school-level Girl Scouts, and we also contributed to council decisions related to programming for high school girls. After college, when I started my own company, I felt more confident and comfortable pitching investors and leading board meetings because I had been exposed to board dynamics through Girl Scouts.

Speaking of business, did you sell Girl Scout cookies?
I sold them every year and, by the time I’d graduated high school, I’d sold over 10,000 boxes!

So it seems that you were always a business genius?
Not at all. The first year I was incredibly shy, hanging behind my parents as we went door-to-door in my neighborhood. By the second year of cookie sales, I knew how to make the ask and even recommended my favorite cookie to prospective customers. It took dedication, persistence, and excellent customer service skills to make those sales. Every year I sent thank you notes to my top customers and if a regular customer wasn't home the first time I tried to take their order, I would make sure to come back another time. If they still weren't home, I called them and made an appointment to come take their order. The cookie sale taught me the importance of organization and follow through, which served me well when I founded my own company. I used the same sparkling customer service, dependability, and go-getter attitude to acquire customers and investors when I ran my business for seven years.

Why do you invest in Girl Scouts?  
Our society faces serious challenges as we experience a growing population, dangerous environmental pollution, and conflict among nations. As our nation's leaders make decisions that will direct future outcomes of these and many other pressing issues, it is crucial that women's perspectives are considered and valued.

Girl Scouts nurtures and teaches girls to be active citizens and helps them cultivate a sense of integrity, belonging, worth, and agency. These skills are vital, not only for our top leaders in government and business, but also for every girl and women in our society.

Join Julie and women like her by giving to Girl Scouts today. 

Besides being a dedicated donor to Girl Scouts of the USA, Julie Sygiel is founder of the womenswear company Dear Kate and the nonprofit The Lady Project. She has served on the GSUSA Board of Directors for more than two years, and works to create supportive communities of women who make the world a better place.