What makes Denise Kruse tick?
Cookies. No, not eating them—thinking about what she learned selling them. “When I was in second grade, my parents couldn’t afford to send me to camp,” says the CEO at business consulting firm AdamsGabbert. “I asked the scout leader how I could go to camp, and she said by selling 267 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.” So she got out her bike, put boxes of cookies in the basket, and started canvassing door-to-door in Lincoln, Kan. And, no, she didn’t stop at 267 boxes. “I sold 272, just to make sure I had enough,” she remembers. “The greatest lesson was that I had a goal, I worked hard and could earn it. It didn’t mean that things would always work out that way—we don’t hit every goal we set our mind to, because other things in life get in the way—but it was the first really powerful goal that I could achieve.”
Though her father, a United Methodist minister, couldn’t get her to camp, he imparted lessons of far greater value, Kruse says. “He had a significant promotion opportunity before my senior year in high school, but he declined so I could graduate with my friends; I look back and think about what a statement that was about him as a Dad. He was huge influence on me, living his faith without pushing it on others.” He was also extremely involved in efforts to improve the community, something that continues to resonate with her.
After earning hear business degree at Emporia State, she worked in a number of settings before the opportunity came to join AdamsGabbert in 2012 and eventually buy it from the Bicknell family ownership. The company, after some organizational retooling, is back on a fast growth track in consulting, payroll services, recruiting, process improvements and other business guidance. One key, she says, “I’m a huge believer in providing feedback. Most people appreciate direct, honest feedback that’s not personally incriminating or disrespectful.”
This content originally appeared in Ingram’s Magazine.