Round-up: What selling Girl Scout cookies teaches you about business

This week’s round-up is coming a little late due to some hotel wireless access issues. The official on sale date for All the Money in the World is less than two weeks away. If you’d like to pre-order a copy I would really appreciate it! If you do, I’ll send you an e-booklet called 10 Ways to Buy Happiness For Under $10. Just let me know. The mails were coming in all day yesterday, which was pretty cool.

Over at CBS MoneyWatch, my big post for the week was “What selling Girl Scout cookies teaches you about business.” Some troops have been forwarding this one around. I learned all kinds of things about setting goals and how cold-calling isn’t as awful as it sounds through a scouting stint a few decades ago. Please share!

I also posted “Why you shouldn’t make big decisions after 3 p.m.” Not only is willpower diminished at that time, an analysis of Twitter feeds published in Science this fall found that words like “annoy” peak then. In the early mornings, we’re more likely to use words like “amazing.” (Though, seriously, if you’re on Twitter during this productive, optimistic time…get off! Get some work done!)

And finally, I tell readers about “Mastering the art of practice.” There’s all kinds of literature about boosting productivity out there, but I think the best way to do things faster is to get better at what you do. The more time I spend writing, the faster I can crank out articles when I need to. People who practice speaking a lot learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s the same with many other skills.

As always, I appreciate a click, a comment and a share.

In All the Money (#allthemoney) news:

  • Mint.com quotes me in a story on “The time value of money vs. the money value of time.” This is a fascinating topic. A father writes of taking the week off from work to help out with his daughter’s school library fundraiser. The kids raised $150 for books. Of course, if he’d done any work that week, he would have earned more than $150, which he could have donated to the library. Did he make the right call? Would there be some way to split the difference?
  • Meghan MacDowell has a piece over at Levo League called “Not a Long Con: Redefining How Gen Y Thinks of Job Hopping” which quotes me extensively. I’m cited as the author of Grindhopping: Build a Rewarding Career Without Paying Your Dues, which was my first book, and one I maintain a certain affection for.
  • Catherine Gillespie of the A Spirited Mind blog sent me her review of 168 Hours. Nice! Gillespie turns out to be homeschooling her children while working, an interesting subset of homeschoolers that I’d like to write more about at some point when the book craziness is over.

Around the web:

  • I’ve been reading a blog called Squirrelers. One of the blog’s “Best Of” posts is about calculating one’s wealth in terms of “months of covered expenses.” This is actually how I’ve long thought of my financial security. How long could I go with no money coming in? I’ve learned that my comfort level requires a fairly high number of covered months. Ideally, more than my natural lifespan. Yes, it’s like I grew up in the Depression or something.
  • Over at Grumpy rumblings of the untenured, NicoleandMaggie write about the joys of big bookcases. They also claim it’s a horrible new year’s resolution to get rid of books. I sympathize. We just built a huge bookcase this fall, and the major upside is being able to see all my books and rediscover some of them.
  • If you’re into wonky blogs, Avik Roy’s Health Care blog should provide some light reading. I’ve also been told to check out Ricochet.com, so I’ll report back if that’s worth reading… 

(photo courtesy flickr user Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar)

7 thoughts on “Round-up: What selling Girl Scout cookies teaches you about business

  1. Thanks for the link!

    On the time vs. money question, it seems like part of the value to the guy taking time off for the book fair was in how much the event promoted reading and books to the children. As he points out, the kids can check books out of the library any time, but the book fair had them really excited. If another parent has the time to run the fair next time maybe this dad should step back and just make a cash donation, but I don’t think he should feel bad about taking time off because the event had a bigger impact than the $150 it raised.

    1. @Catherine- It is hard to account for intangibles. On the other hand, even if it’s hard to put a dollar amount on something, that doesn’t mean it’s priceless, either. If time with kids were truly priceless, than no parent could ever work. Or shower. Or sleep. We value it at some amount of utility, which probably changes at different stages in our lives. As I said in the Mint.com piece, I think the ideal way would be to split the difference — make a donation and volunteer, just have others help out with it too. Actually, the economics of volunteering is a fascinating subject in its own right. I particularly think of the “voluntourism” concept. If someone has very very specialized skills (like doing cataract surgery in a country where there are few eye doctors) that’s one thing. If it’s a high-priced lawyer paying several thousand dollars, plus his time, to go build a well somewhere because he thinks it’s fun? There’s obviously an economic argument for him to just donate what he would have earned (and spent getting over there). Though obviously the charity is probably hoping the lawyer, by becoming involved, will continue to give money for years afterwards…

      1. That’s a good point. Although in the case of voluntourism, if the lawyer didn’t go build the well, would he really write the check? I think he’d more likely still spend the money on a non-well-building vacation, and then make a smaller donation (if at all) to the charity. And certainly his subsequent donations to the charity would be smaller than if he actually traveled there and made the personal/emotional investment of seeing the area, building the well, and so forth. In any case, as you said, it’s hard to account for intangibles.

  2. Thanks for mentioning my blog, and great article on girl scout cookies as a way to teach business skills. Ironically, I actually wrote a post on girl scout cookies that went live today, but from a different angle – the buyer’s perspective.. Anyway, as a parent I think it’s a great program too, totally agree.

    Glad I found your blog, great stuff here.

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