Work and Money
Girl Scout to CEO: The Power of Planning, Showing Up, Being Active, and Art
Our seven legacy badges build on more than 100 years of Girl Scout history and are a cornerstone of Girl Scouting. These badges (Artist, Athlete, Citizen, Cook, First Aid, Girl Scout Way, and Naturalist) are available at five levels of Girl Scouting, from Brownie to Ambassador.
Could one of these badges be more attributed to building a future CEO than another?
I turned to Girl Scout alum and business owner Sonia Greteman to further my research.
What services does your company offer?
Greteman Group is a marketing communications agency that specializes in aviation. We combine strategy, passion, creativity, and innovation in traditional and new media — and have for 33 years. Our creative and digital services include websites, advertising campaigns, logos, environmental exhibits, and more. We leverage every media channel: paid, earned, shared, and owned.
When did you first know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I always knew I would run my own firm. I was an early entrepreneur, shoveling snow from driveways and mowing lawns. I then started helping my photographer father print black-and-white racing photos in our basement darkroom. I especially liked selling the portraits of the guys and their cars at Dad’s speedway vendor booth. Once I was in college, I helped fund my graphic design degree by taking commissions to draw elaborate portraits of Wichita’s who’s who. I also painted fabric and designed dresses for society women. I started freelancing logos for businesses, and discovered that it was more fun and more profitable than my full-time job. In 1989, I made the leap to start my own business.
Which of the Girl Scout traits have carried over into your adult life and business?
Courage and curiosity come to mind first. I've always been a calculated risk taker and a seeker of inspiration, knowledge, and connection. Those traits have led me to travel the world and explore other cultures — from Europe and the Far East to Thailand and Egypt. I'm hardworking and honest, traits that have served me well as a business owner. I play the long game and do the right thing, which may not be the easiest or the most profitable course at the time, but the reward comes back tenfold.
Imagining that your professional life is a continuation of the Girl Scout program, what professional award/recognition ("badge") have you been proudest to earn?
I’ve always been a motivated individual, and when I was in the Girl Scouts, I particularly liked the concept of badges. You learn something new, you get a reward. I enjoy getting things done and sewing the proof on my sash. But if I could take my sash into my adult life, I would add several especially meaningful badges: the Wichita Chamber’s 2022 Over the Years, the Wichita Business Journal’s 2020 Executive of the Year, the Wichita Arts Council 2019 Arts Advocate, and the 2012 Donna Sweet Humanitarian of the Year. I feel humbled and honored by these awards.
What does the Girl Scouts' 110th anniversary mean to you?
The Scouts’ anniversary means more to me as my own agency — now 33 years strong — adds another year to its history. I know what it takes to not just survive, but to thrive. It requires listening and adapting to changing times and needs while holding tight to those things that should never change. Girl Scouts has remained true to its mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. I’m proud to have been a Scout. It’s made me who I am.
How did being a Girl Scout shape you as a business owner?
My Brownie and Girl Scout memories have vividly stayed with me. My first big trip was when my troop went to the Kansas State Capitol. I saw its larger-than-life John Stewart Curry mural, and it changed my life. From that point on, art has been an integral part of my life, weaving its thread through my business, marriage, hobbies, travel, and philanthropic support.
Art serves as an all-encompassing force. The Girl Scouts taught me the power of fun, friends, and collaboration. I even learned synchronized swimming, and in retrospect, that taught me how to work together and — pardon the pun — make a splash. I learned how to build a fire and keep warm on a cold night thanks to my troop-leader mother. The Girl Scouts schooled me on the power of planning, showing up, and being active. And it taught me how to sell. I sold the heck out of those cookies.
The Bottom Line
Building skills and earning Girl Scout badges in childhood can help young girls foster a strong foundation or strength and perseverance needed for them to grow up into strong, powerful women. Sonia Greteman is a great example of this.
Greteman Group specializes in lead-generating, relationship-building marketing solutions, and is a NAWBO-certified women-owned business enterprise. For more information, visit gretemangroup.com.