What if Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson, and the rest of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department from “Parks and Recreation” spoke at your 2024 Sales Kickoff is our take on a potential SKO session featuring those characters. Click here to learn more about our 2024 SKO series.
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And now on with our show:
The “Parks and Recreation” characters who will speak at our 2024 SKO
Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler): Deputy Director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department. An enthusiastic civil servant who is passionate about her hometown. Known for her love of waffles, strong friendships, and extreme dedication to her job. It’s strongly implied that she eventually is elected President of the United States, but the writers have never given a definitive answer.
Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman): Director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department. A staunch libertarian who believes in self-reliance and minimal government and has a fondness for hunting, woodworking, and breakfast foods. Is possibly the richest man in Pawnee, but as he doesn’t believe in banks his wealth is in the form of gold bars that he stashed all over town (once said “I’m actually not sure how much money I have. But I do know how many pounds of money I have.”)
Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe): Pawnee City Manager. Excessively positive, health-conscious, and overly enthusiastic. Frequently uses the word “literally” for emphasis.
Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott): Indiana State Auditor. Initially comes to Pawnee to help solve the town’s budget crisis. Skeptical but well-meaning, he’s known for his love of calzones and creating the complex board game “Cones of Dunshire.” Was elected mayor of his hometown (Partridge, MN) and resigned in disgrace after two-months after his failed “Ice Town” winter sports complex bankrupted the town.
Donna Meagle (Retta): Office Manager of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department. Loves luxury and lives by her “Treat Yo’ Self” philosophy. Social media savvy and unapologetically confident.
April Ludgate-Dwyer (Aubrey Plaza): Administrative Assistant at the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department. Known for her dry wit, sarcastic demeanor, and disinterest in most human activities, though she has a soft spot for animals and her husband Andy.
Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt): Originally a shoeshiner in Pawnee’s City Hall, later becomes Leslie’s assistant and then hosts a children’s television show called The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show. Exuberant, childlike, and endearing in his enthusiasm and loyalty. Lead singer of the band Mouse Rat. Married to April Dwyer-Ludgate.
Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari): Parks Department employee with big dreams of wealth and fame. Co-creator of the “Treat Yo’ Self” philosophy, he has a knack for branding and entrepreneurial ventures, though they rarely pan out, often due to the involvement of the Saperstein family.
Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones): Initially a nurse who becomes involved with the Parks Department after seeking to fill in a dangerous pit behind her house, she later works as the Public Relations Director for the Pawnee Health Department. As an “outsider” to the Parks Department, she often serves as the “straight man” for the other characters. Leslie considers Ann to be her best friend in the entire world.
Jerry/Garry/Larry/Terry/Barry Gergich (Jim O’Heir): Longtime city employee who is clumsy and mercilessly mocked (particularly by Tom and April) , but is surprisingly competent at his job and has one of the happiest and most fulfilling lives outside of work. Was once described by Ron Swanson as “both the schlemeil and schlimazel of the office.” (In Yiddish, the “schlemeil” is the person who spills his soup, and the “schlimazel” is the person he spills it on.)
SKO Presentation Title: Waffles, Woodwork, and Winning Sales: A Pawnee Roundtable
Leslie: Alright, everyone – thanks for coming to the wonderful Pawnee City Hall. We’re here to talk about something super incredibly important. No, it’s not parks, but parks are the best thing ever and we should all spend as much time as possible in Pawnee’s beautiful parks. And no, it’s not waffles, even though waffles are amazing and you should eat waffles in one of Pawnee’s beautiful parks. We are here to talk about sales. We spend a lot of time trying to show the public how important parks are to our community, and we’ve learned a thing or two. Now I’d like to pass it to my dear friend and mentor, Ron Swanson, to hear some of his wisdom. Ron?
Ron: Leslie, do not refer to us as friends. We are work proximity associates. And talking about sales is a waste of time.
Leslie: Don’t be silly, Ron. You’re great at sales. You sold that chair you made and it became the must have item in Pawnee!
Ron: I didn’t sell anything. I made a quality product. Then I allowed someone to give me money. People appreciate quality craftsmanship at a reasonable price. Sales is for people who can’t actually make something of value.
Leslie: Well not everyone knows how to make a chair, Ron. Sometimes they have to buy a chair, which means they need someone to sell it to them.
Ron: Then they should learn how to make a chair.
Leslie: Oh, Ron, you big grouch. Listen everyone – the first thing to know about sales is that it’s about confidence. And being prepared. You need to learn as much as you can about who you’re selling to. Then you can make a friendship binder before your meeting. That way, you and your customers can remember all of the fun things you did together.
Ron: You’re presuming that I would want to be friends with them. I can assure you that I do not. Leslie, the less I know about people, the better. Sales, like government, should be as straightforward and unobtrusive as possible.
Chris: [Running in place] Ron Swanson! Leslie Knope! This is a wonderful conversation. I literally love talking about sales. In my opinion, if you want to be good at sales, it’s all about energy. And excitement. People want to know how thrilled you are to talk to them.
Ron: Chris, your approach is no different from a Golden Retriever’s. I don’t need someone to think I’m excited to talk to them. Quite the opposite. That’s why when people get too chummy with me, I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don’t really care about them.
Chris: Ron you are literally the most interesting person I know. I love listening to your unique perspective. But I also disagree with your unique perspective. There’s nothing better than getting to know people. Isn’t that right, Ben Wyatt?
Ben [Looks up from a stack of papers]: Um…hi. What’s happening here?
Chris: We are talking to these people about sales. Why don’t you tell them about how you sold your complex but wonderful board game?
Ben: [Looks uncomfortable] Well, I mean, I wasn’t setting out to make money from the Cones of Dunshire – I just wanted to make a board game. Besides, it was so complicated that I didn’t think anyone would want to buy it. So I guess I just got lucky?
Ron: See everyone – even the bean counter figured out that you if make a quality product, people will want to buy it. No selling required.
Donna shares her secret to influencing people during the 2024 SKO
Leslie: Ben, I love you, but this is not at all helpful. Donna, you’re great at influencing people. What’s your secret?
Donna: [Flips her hair] Oh there’s no secret, Leslie – I’m just fabulous.
Leslie: That’s true, but there’s only one of you. What advice can you share?
Donna: You’re right Leslie, there is only one of me.
Leslie: [Sighs] Why are none of you helping me with this?
April: Because it’s lame
Ron: [Nods approvingly]
April: Sales is just telling people what to do, and I don’t listen when someone tries to tell me what to do. Or what not to do. Or tells me anything really.
Leslie: Sales isn’t telling people what to do! It’s about connecting with people and giving them what they want.
April: What I want is to stop talking about this. You should cancel the rest of this meeting and just make animal sounds into the microphone.
Andy: Come on, April – give Leslie a break. Sales can be cool. Like that time I sold cassette tapes of Mouse Rat’s hit single “Bye Bye Lil’ Sebastian” outside the zoo. I sold like 37 copies!
Ron: [With a tear in his eye] He was a damn fine horse.
Leslie: That’s the spirit, Andy. Sales can be a way to show the world what you’re passionate about…wait, Andy did you say cassette tapes? Don’t you mean CDs?
April: [Rolls her eyes] It’s vintage and ironic, Leslie.
Leslie: Can we please get back to talking about sales so we can help these people? This isn’t Eagleton where they all wear monocles and sell silver spoons from their ivory towers. Here in Pawnee we are about helping real people. How about you, Tom, you always have great business ideas like rent-a-swag. What advice do you have for these fine people?
Tom Haverford promotes his podcast at the 2024 SKO
Tom: Thanks for asking Sell-sie Knope! Rent a swag rented the dopest shirts, the swankiest jackets, the slickest cardigans, the flashiest fedoras, the hottest ties, the snazziest canes and more to the teens of Pawnee. And it worked for two reasons: 1) Because I have the body of a teenager and 2) Tom Haverford’s signature customer service. I let customers know right away that Tom Haverford would take care of them. But then I had to sell the business when Dr. Saperstein stole all my customers.
Leslie: OK, Tom. So you’re saying that people should take good care of their customers and stay ahead of the competition. That’s excellent advice.
Tom: That’s right Leslie Knope-ortunities. And everyone don’t forget to subscribe to my podcast “Treat Yo’ Self” where Donna and I talk about all the ways you can live your best life. #TomTalks #HaverFaves #LikeAndSubscribe
Leslie: That’s great, Tom. But remember, we’re here to talk about sales and not podcasts. Even if “Treat Yo’ Self” is an excellent podcast and everyone should listen to it – while sitting on a bench in one of Pawnee’s beautiful parks. So Ann Perkins, my best friend in the entire world, what advice can you share?
Ann: Well, Leslie, I’m not in sales, but while working for the health department I’m often “selling” Pawnee Residents on the idea of being healthy. Which is not always easy in this town since the Pawnee food pyramid is just Sweetums products.
Ron: The government has no business telling me what I can eat. The only food pyramid I’m interested in is the pile of eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, hash browns, chicken-fried steak and buttermilk pancakes in JJ’s Diner’s “Four Horse-Meals of the Egg-Pork-alypse.” I didn’t listen when the American Heart Association said not to eat it, and I’m not listening to the health department either.
Jerry surprises everyone at the 2024 SKO
Jerry: [Stands up] Can I add something here, Leslie?
April: No you can’t, Terry. But don’t let me stop you from dazzling us all with your wisdom.
Leslie: It’s ok April. Go ahead, Larry.
Jerry: Well I just want to say that sales, like anything else, is about treating people with kindness…You know, my family always says, “A smile costs nothing, but it’s worth a lot.” So when you’re talking to a customer, just be sincere and listen. A little empathy can go a long way, and making people feel good is a great way to make a sale. And even if you don’t make the sale, you’ve made someone’s day a little better – and that’s a win in my book.
Leslie: Wow, Garry, that was…surprisingly eloquent. I think that’s a great note to end on. Thank you all for sharing your insights. I think we learned that everyone can have their own unique approach to sales, and the most important thing is to be true to yourself and…
Jerry: [Tries to sit back down and falls out of his chair].
April: Classic Barry. Even when he says something good he manages to Jerry it.