Not long ago I ran into a young lady selling Girl Scout cookies in front of a grocery store. I must admit that I have been a Girl Scout cookie junkie for many years. I have a hard time looking into young scouts' eyes and saying no. The scout cookies are pretty darn good as well.

I do have my favorites now, and I suspect I have made some Girl Scout troops a lot of money. I have often wished that I could track those young eager scouts to a time later in life when I could look back and see how the lessons learned selling cookies may have changed their lives. Success comes from interesting projects at interesting times and in interesting places.

I recently read the story of "The Cookie Kid." The names Markita Andrews and Girl Scout Cookies are synonymous with success.

Markita grew up in difficult circumstances. Her father left home, leaving Markita and her mother to fend for themselves. Although Mrs. Andrews had a dream to travel, the money she earned as a waitress was being saved for her daughter's college education. Traveling around the world would have to wait.

Markita had other plans. As a Girl Scout, she read that selling enough Girl Scout cookies, would win a trip around the world for herself and her mom. There was one catch: She had to sell more cookies than any Girl Scout ever had. She wasn't excited about selling cookies but was determined to win that trip around the world.

Markita followed the advice of an aunt who told her to go where the people with money are and ask them to buy cookies. She approached prospective buyers with her polite yet direct sales pitch, saying, "I'm earning a trip to camp. Would you like to invest in one dozen Girl Scout cookies or two dozen?" Five years and 39,000 sold boxes of cookies later, Markita and her mother enjoyed that trip around the world.

Markita's story doesn't end here. Her selling success prompted IBM to invite Markita to speak to their salespeople. She also addressed the insurance business's "Million Dollar Round Table." While there, she enthusiastically sold each of the 5,000 people a box of Girl Scout Cookies.

Walt Disney productions made a movie about her called "The Cookie Kid." Her book, "How to Sell More Cookies, Condos, Cadillacs or Anything," quickly became a nationwide best-seller.

Amazing results occur when people set a course, pursue it with relentless passion and keep their mind focused on the desired result. Markita Andrews apparently subscribed to Denis Waitley's observations: "Success is not reserved for the talented. It is not in the high I.Q., not in the gifted birth. Not in the best equipment. Not even in ability. Success is almost totally dependent upon drive, focus, and persistence!"

Snoopy, the cherished "Peanuts" cartoon pet, sat droopy-eyed at the entrance of his dog house. He lamented, "Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. There's so little hope for advancement!"

Perhaps you feel like Snoopy -- hopeless with very little expectation of any advancement or success in your life.

There's an old saying that suggests, "If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you've got. "And if, like Snoopy, we continue lamenting our demise without doing something different, the future will be a repeat of the present.

Whether you're Snoopy the Dog or Markita the great Cookie Kid, I like what the recently deceased UCLA coach John Wooden once said: "Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."

Steve Densley is president of the Provo-Orem Chamber of Commerce.

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