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Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts [Kindle Edition]

Kathy Cloninger
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Fundamental principles for how Girl Scouts USA is run and why it's so successful

Millions of American businesswomen, thought leaders, and politicians received their first lessons in salesmanship, money management, marketing, teamwork, and fulfillment in the Girl Scouts. The Girls Scouts has shaped the lives of more than 50 million alumnae alive today. Eighty percent of American female senior business executives and business owners are former Girl Scouts. In March 2012, the Girl Scouts will celebrate their 100th anniversary. Tough Cookies captures the essence of this iconic organization and the principles that have allowed them to build and sustain a 100-year-old organization.

Under current CEO Kathy Cloninger's leadership, the Girl Scouts has transformed and enhanced its ability to develop leadership in young women. Tough Cookies outlines the rise of the Girl Scouts, this recent and dramatically successful shift, and lessons that are applicable to make any business or organization a success.

  • An inspiring story of the Girl Scouts founding, along with leadership and business lessons that can be applied to organizations of any size
  • No other organization compares to Girl Scouts in size, experience, and resources devoted to developing leadership skills
  • Publication coincides with the 100-year anniversary of GSUSA

What can your business learn from the Girl Scouts?

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place."

The Girl Scouts' Mission Statement sounds simple enough. But organizing 2.3 million girls and 880,000 adult members to execute a strategy of turning today's girls into tomorrow's leaders is hardly a jaunt in the woods. It takes an efficient, focused, and determined organization that knows who it is and where it's going. Tough Cookies captures the essence of this iconic institution and the principles that have sustained its 100-year history of success.

Less than a decade ago, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) faced a coming crisis. Girls were changing, and Girl Scouts struggled to fit into the modern family's busy schedule. On top of that, the organization's unwieldy structure, comprised of 300 disparate councils, undermined its ability to deliver leadership to girls. GSUSA needed to reassert itself as an institution that mattered. In order to execute its strategy, it would need to undergo a restructuring virtually unprecedented in the non-profit sector, merging its 300 councils down to 112 that would each serve tens of thousands of girls.

Full of inspired wisdom, Tough Cookies describes Girl Scouts' transformative journey to become an integrated, unified movement for girls. Learn how this massive non-profit addressed its most pressing challenges, including how to:

  • Rebrand itself not just as a gaggle of cute girls selling cookies and camping, but as the most important organization for girl culture

  • Create the world's best personal leadership development model for girls

  • Provide efficient and effective governance to deliver scouting to girls

  • Make it easier for volunteers to lead troops

  • Attract donors

  • Remain democratic and mission-focused throughout the merger process

Millions of American businesswomen, thought leaders, and politicians received their first lessons in salesmanship, money management, marketing, teamwork, and fulfillment from Girl Scouts—as will millions more to come. Discover how lessons from Girl Scouts of the USA can help your organization achieve such lasting success.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Tough Cookies

"Tough Cookies makes it clear how badly we need morewomen in leadership today—and offers a compelling road mapfor getting where we need to be. If you care about the future, readthis book."
Ilene H. Lang, President & CEO, Catalyst

"Remarkable and essential! In Tough Cookies, KathyCloninger draws on a rich blend of personal experience,wide-ranging research, and on-target insight to show how to tapAmerica's most valuable potential resource: the leadershippotentialof girls. I can't think of a better resource for the Year (or theDecade) of the Girl."
Sally Helgesen, coauthor of The Female Visionand author of The Female Advantage

"Guided by a transcendent mission and Kathy Cloninger'scourageous leadership, the Girl Scouts have transformed themselvesfor a new century. Tough Cookies is a compelling story oforganizational renewal—told from the inside—that willserve as an inspiration for all leaders everywhere."
Willie Pietersen, author of ReinventingStrategy

"For the millions of former Girl Scouts who continue to live thePromise, Tough Cookies touches our hearts. For the millionswho are just learning about the Girl Scouts, this book helps charta bright future."
Frances Hesselbein, President and CEO, Leader toLeader Institute; former CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA

"Tough Cookies shows what vision, courage, and anunflinching dedication to mission can accomplish. Kathy Cloningermakes it clear that the Girl Scouts—and girls—rank highamong our nation's treasures."
Johnnetta Betsch Cole, PhD, President Emerita,Spelman College and Bennett College for Women

"Kathy Cloninger has captured the excitement and boundlesspromise of the transformation of Girl Scouting. If you want to knowhow to make a great (and irreplaceably valuable) organizationgreater, this is the book for you."
Connie Lindsey, Executive Vice President, CorporateSocial Responsibility, Northern Trust

Product Details

  • File Size: 433 KB
  • Print Length: 181 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 31, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LVQGR4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,681 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LITTLE MISS MERIT BADGE October 16, 2011
As someone who experienced the power and promise Girl Scouts can offer, I applaud the compilation of inspiring stories that can inspire and ignite interest in scouting today, As director of leadership studies at a major university, it is refreshing to see women's stories of leadership, courage and conviction.As author of a memoir that honors the role Girl Scouts played in helping me get through a challenging childhood, i took solace and felt a kinship with the essays presented in Tough Cookies. Thanks to Girl Scouts, the stories in this book prove that we don't crumble! Well done, a fun and motivational read.
You're Only Young Twice: 10 Do-Overs to Reawaken Your Spirit
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough Cookies January 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you are a Girl Scout Volunteer or parent of a Girl Scout and are having a difficult time understanding all the changes being made in the organization, then I suggest reading this book. It's written in plain, oridnary language, easy to understand terms and lots of relatable situations. I as a volunteer Facilitator for our council read this book and it made everything seem so much more clear to me, as to WHY things are changing the way they are, which had never really been explained in quite the way this book does it. It's well worth the money and helps you understand the direction the our National CEO is taking us into the future..
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars intended for mixed audiences, but good November 17, 2011
By Rebecca
I'm a Girl Scout leader with a career in program management so I thought this would be a great book to hit both those points. It did, but the problem is that it seems that the book is intended for a lot of different audiences and doesn't cover any one set of interests in great detail. It was interesting to see GSUSA from a top-down perspective, but the ever-present "give us help" message was still in there. From a business perspective it touched on some great points, but didn't delve into any of them enough to make those topics transferrable to another organization.

It's definitely worth a read, but I went in with too high of expectations. Kathy is a great storyteller.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Narrow focus November 19, 2012
The focus on business, marketing and leadership discourages today's girls from going into the fields of art, music, writing, science, inventing and many other areas where people prefer to work, and do better work, alone. Business and marketing essentially sell what loners have created, people who have the quiet and time and encouragement to experiment and fail, dream and create. Not all girls are alike.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Hershy
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts
Iam a GREEN DINOSAUR . 74 years in GS. Still active. Therefore I have gone through minor and major program changes. As a trainer when a program change comes up my hair turns a little grayer. With the Journeys I really flipped. My question was why have the same material the girls are getting in school. It has always been the policy to AVOID it wherever possible. But after reading this book and seeing the whole program. I'm sold. Those journeys are preparing for the thinking needed for the badge programs and service projects in areas using material where they are comfortable. TOUGH COOKIES shows us why these "LARGE" good turns are needed. They are going to really prepare the girls for the corporate world. They do not release the girl for the Daily Good Turn that should be done with the knowledge that you are personally doing something "small" for someone each day as your GIRL SCOUT GOOD TURN . But TOUGH COOKIES is a concise well written interpretation of the direction we must go if we are going to prepare our girls for life in the 21st century. Take it from one who loved "the good old days" a real "green dinosaur", this is an absolute MUST READ for anyone working with the Girls or
Adults. They will become even more understanding of their value. If you can get a copy and have your parents read it that would be really great. The attendance at your meetings and the support of the parents might even improve!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership Lessons February 27, 2013
Tough Cookies is briskly-paced, entertaining-while-informative book about Girl Scouts rededication to girls; and developing girls of courage, confidence and character who can change the world.

The statistics cited in Tough Cookies paint a troubling picture in which women's numbers are small and declining in virtually all leadership roles. Over half the population has under 20% of leadership roles. Study after study has shown that inclusion of women in leadership gets dramatically better results than exclusion. The world desperately needs the balanced leadership that results when women are represented fully.

Cloninger has led GSUSA to address these issues by providing leadership development for girls. Her insights are well informed and she suggests practical ways to be involved in helping this important movement.

This is an inspiring story but it has a very practical and business-like tone. Cloninger knows we must tug at the purse strings and not just the heart strings if we are to improve our society's leadership.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough Cookies January 29, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent information and analysis of Girl Scouts USA transformation to the needs of 21st Century young girls. Quite impressive statistics about the long reaching benefits of girl scout programs in preparing girls and women to take leadership roles throughout American business and culture.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars It tries to be like the boy scouts and learning how to make money ...
Don't care for this book. It tries to be like the boy scouts and learning how to make money by selling their cookies.
Very boring in my eyes. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Nina L. Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book!
I had no idea how complex Girl Scouts is. This book is an easy read. Written by the CEO of Girl Scouts of America, it is an inside view of 100 years of GS.
Published 1 month ago by S. Messner
1.0 out of 5 stars Choke on this one
This book is an agenda based viewpoint. It does not look at the organization in a balanced review and represents only the perspective that GSUSA is trying to "sell" the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by EW
4.0 out of 5 stars About "Girl Scouts, not cookies!
Interesting book about Girl Scouting. Would be of more interest to someone involved with Girl Scouts than a casual reader, and it is NOT about edible cookies!
Published 14 months ago by Susan Sloan "Ohio"
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book!!!
I have enjoyed reading this book!! It is a awesome book that describes how "behind the scenes" girl scouts have evolved from over 300 councils to what we have now of 112! Read more
Published on October 22, 2012 by T. Patton
1.0 out of 5 stars What a mistake! Sheer propaganda!
Tough Cookies is shallow and egotistical. The author reveals her her complete inability to "perceive" what is being inferred in casual conversation. Read more
Published on September 22, 2012 by Keepsakes
3.0 out of 5 stars a compelling story that deserves a fuller treatment
This should have been a big year for the Girl Scouts. But before they could blow out their 100 birthday candles, they got sucked into the kind of political firestorm that would... Read more
Published on May 29, 2012 by Them
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring and true
We all know and love them, and hardly anyone loves any t ime more than girl scout cookie time. But we often forget that this orgnaization's business model is nothign short of... Read more
Published on November 22, 2011 by evanlucky13
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More About the Author

Kathy Cloninger (New York, NY; is the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). On her arrival at Girl Scout headquarters in 2003, Cloninger launched a sweeping transformation of the entire Girl Scout Movement, renewing and revitalizing its commitment to developing girls' leadership capabilities, and implementing a new strategic business plan affecting every major area of organizational activity: programs, volunteerism, brand, funding, and structure/governance.

Under her leadership, Girl Scouts has completed a nationwide merger of local affiliates. This restructuring effort, virtually unprecedented in the nonprofit sector, has greatly enhanced the organization's ability to deliver programs and services to girls. Cloninger is a recognized leader in the not for profit sector, serving on boards of the National Assembly of Human Services, the National Council for Research on Women, American Humanics, ad Leadership 18. Cloninger was named to the NPT Power and Influence Top 50 by the Nonprofit Times in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

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