Meet Judi - Girl Scout, CEO, Intrapreneur

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The concept of "servant leadership” may be a new term to some, but it is a concept that has been embodied by the Girl Scouts for the past century. Servant Leadership is based on the idea that servant leaders place the good of followers over their self-interests and emphasize followers’ development.

Bringing the concept into the business world, servant leadership has been described as a powerhouse leadership style that can transform business cultures and impact financial bottom lines. The lens of service changes a leadership style — and for the better.

Is there any correlation that the well-documented and publicized pillars of servant leadership are actually instilled in young Girl Scouts?  I found the perfect person to test my theory: Judi Devin, Girl Scout alum and CEO of medium well done, an organizational effectiveness and performance improvement company.

When did you first know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? I can trace the first seeds of my business savvy and intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial interests to my experience as a Girl Scout.  Red Radio Flyer wagons, 500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, a group of fleet-footed friends, a Saturday; a sales record. These were the ingredients for my introduction to business, leadership and strategy execution at age 11. By 22, I was a successful “intrapreneur.”*; shortly thereafter, a recognized entrepreneur. I love the thrill of developing a business idea and seeing it come to life.

*For those of us who are unfamiliar with the term, Judi describes an “intrapreneur” as “[someone who] applies entrepreneurial knowledge and skill sets to a client’s or employer’s workplace. In my case, I have made a career out of starting up departments, divisions, or even full-blown new businesses for the benefit of someone else. You have to be willing to work as hard as an entrepreneur, but know you do not have actual ownership in what you are creating and building from scratch. You are often grooming someone who already works for that organization to take over your role at some predetermined point in the future.”

What services does your company offer? medium well done is an organizational effectiveness, performance improvement, instructional media (learning), strategic communications, and experiential/live events company. We serve startup, medium-size and Fortune-listed local, national, and international clients. More simply put, we unleash the potential in individuals, teams, and organizations to improve business outcomes.

Do you remember any lessons or activities about “service” from your Girl Scout days? “Service” was not a value that was discussed in any depth; however, it was demonstrated through actions. As Girl Scouts, we shared what we learned and how those actions made us feel.

I recall we had projects that were both one-on-one and community-oriented. Our one-on-one projects were individually chosen. Mine were in the “helper” category. In one case, I assisted an older woman by daily walking her dog and sometimes going to the store to buy her some groceries. I felt a “warm fuzzy” inside from helping. As a troop we also had community service projects. My favorite was related to the environment — planting tiny tree seedlings in the state forest on an educational outing with a forest ranger. I went back to that state forest area as a young adult and marveled that those tiny saplings were now towering pines.

Describe how service is an important trait and value for you and your business? I define “service” as the giving of your knowledge/skills, time, and energy to an individual, team or organization; making a difference and increasing connection without expected benefit or the desire for reciprocity of any kind. In business, one of the best examples is the very act of “networking.” When I offer to connect an individual to others in my professional network who may have ideas or resources that might be helpful to them, I get that same “warm fuzzy” I got from helping my older neighbor with her dog.

How did being a Girl Scout shape you as a female business owner? Girl Scouts began my journey of developing my individual potential; it seeded the first blush at sound decision-making and leadership skills. It taught teamwork, collaboration, and cooperation and the value of community and service, and it nurtured what today we call emotional intelligence — learning to interact with others and appreciate the similarities and differences we each embrace with empathic understanding and respect.

Girl Scouts allowed me to develop skills, have experiences, and acquire mindsets that widened my world. Later in life, I would be able to articulate this into my personal mantra and guiding North Star: “Think BIG (Dream). Thinking small takes just as much effort and only gets you half as far.”

Being a Girl Scout does not turn you into an entrepreneur, although I hear there is now a badge one can earn for that. While not everyone is built for entrepreneurship, the Girl Scout experience does open up girls to understanding that gaining foundational business acumen is a life-long asset as you go out into the work world and as you build a life with family. Selling cookies is not entrepreneurship. However, it teaches business acumen — goal setting, planning, organizing, marketing, sales, managing, accounting, and teamwork.

Finally, the Girl Scouts provided as much of a social bonding opportunity for our stay-at-home mothers as it did for us. As a troop we all shared time together, experiences, trips, and projects, and bolstered one another’s personal development with all the adventures of youth and all the insecurities that come with preteen and teen years. Some of the girls in my troop are still my women friends today, although we may live a continent or more apart.

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Among other things, Judi Devin is a writer, educator, coach, strategist, and an award-winning community activist.  She is a former state president (MN)/national officer of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Today, she resides in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Tags: entrepreneur, female business owner, Girl Scout, Start Ups, intrapreneur

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Written By

Kate Weaver

Her 2016 mission was to ONLY buy products & services from women-owned businesses. Today, she remains a Speaker, Writer & Passionate Buyer of all WO things. See Full Bio

CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit current Girl Scouts: the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us. So CircleAround for inspiration, and CircleAround the leaders of tomorrow. CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA.

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