Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Buying a Fire Truck One Cookie at a Time

I recently joined an organization which provides philanthropic support to my local community. They hold two fundraisers per year to support very worthy community projects such as the Girl Scouts, the Little League, the Food Pantry, and the Fire Department.

One of the fundraisers involves a community sale with furniture, household items, plants, and an old-fashioned bake sale. The day before the sale is filled with preparations: volunteer teenagers setting up tables, vendors hauling in booths, and a group of ladies (who are renowned for their cooking and baking abilities) who make and sell homemade soup and baked goods.

Being new to this organization, I wanted to do a really good job. I must admit that in the tradition of my grandmother, great-grandmother, and my numerous aunts, I relish the thought of spending a full day in the kitchen, focusing on nothing but baking. Faced with mountains of butter, cream, sugar, flour and all forms of dark chocolate (everything that Dr. Oz says we should stay away from) I am transformed into my own version of Julia Childs. Baking is cathartic. Baking when conducted by several hundred local (mostly) women is a force to be reckoned with.

When I dropped off my contributions this morning (again this is my first foray with this group), I was overwhelmed by the beauty and the magnitude of their generous cooking skills. Items were intricately prepared, beautifully decorated, packaged with bows and ribbons, and everything looked delicious. Clearly, I was in the company of professionals.

The bakers are the supply side of this fundraising equation, but equally important are the members of the local community who come forward to purchase these luscious treats. Without the buyers, the efforts of the people who do the set up, provide the saleable items, advertise, market the event, and cleanup is meaningless.

So my business lesson from the bake sale today was:

1) remember who the buyers are,

2) make the product attractive to the buyers,

3) keep the goal in sight.

Three rum cakes and a few batches of double chocolate cookies doesn’t sound like much when considering the cost of a fire truck, but when combined with the efforts of a few hundred other determined and dedicated workers, the fire house gets a new addition.

Mary’s Seriously Rich Double Dark Chocolate Cookies

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 12 ounce semi sweet chocolate, melted, cooled
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted, cooled
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon strong espresso
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Beat eggs and flour together for six minutes. Add melted chocolate, butter, vanilla, and espresso. Sift together cake flour and baking powder. Gradually add flour mixture. Beat on lowest setting. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. The mixture is very sticky. Chill dough for three hours. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto parchment paper on cookie sheets. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes until the tops look shiny and cracked. Cookies are very soft. Cool on cookie racks. Makes four dozen.


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