BiggerPockets Business Podcast 44: The Most Effective Marketing Technique You’re Probably Ignoring in Your Business with John Ruhlin

BiggerPockets Business Podcast 44: The Most Effective Marketing Technique You’re Probably Ignoring in Your Business with John Ruhlin

49 min read
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Have you considered that there may be a marketing channel for your business that you’ve never taken advantage of? One that could literally provide dozens—or hundreds—of times return on the cost of it? You may not have put much thought into it before, but after this episode, you will!

John Ruhlin—author of the bestselling book Giftology—knows firsthand the value of giving gifts as a way to build both your network and your bottom line. And on this episode, John gives us all the ins and outs of giving gifts in a way that will not only surprise and delight the recipients of those gifts but also catapult the success of your business in the process.

John tells us his story of how—by strategically spending $10,000—he was able to create and foster a relationship that has made him and his business well into the seven-figures. And how with much lower amounts than that, you can generate the same value for your business, as well.

John tells us why giving gifts in the business world is important; who we should be giving gifts to (hint: it’s not who you think!); which types of gifts we should—and SHOULDN’T—be giving to achieve maximum impact; and how often we should be giving gifts to achieve the best results.

Most importantly, John explains why most of the gifts we often give to our clients, vendors, colleagues, and potential partners are not just failing to help us foster those relationships but are actually HURTING our relationships!

And make sure you listen for John’s tip on how to give the most impactful gifts for the lowest cost: It’s all about picking the right categories.

Check him out, and subscribe to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast so you won’t miss our next show!

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

J:
And let’s welcome John to the show. How you doing today, John?

John:
I’m fantastic guys. Thanks for having me.

J:
Excellent. Awesome. So John, this is an interesting episode for me because we talk about a whole lot of things relating to business on this show. We talk about marketing, we talk about sales, hiring, managing, all the things you typically think about as business things, the stuff you typically learn I guess in business school. But today we’re going to be talking about something a little bit different but equally as important, and that’s the key here, it’s equally as important. And I think a lot of people don’t realize it. You have a book, and for anybody watching us on YouTube right now, I’m holding it up. It’s called Gift-ology, and really it’s all about the, I’m going to call it the art and the science of gift giving. And I’ll be honest, I didn’t know about this book until a couple months ago somebody turned me onto it. And as soon as we heard about this book, I picked it up, I read it. I said, “We have to have him on the show.” So thank you so much for being here.

John:
Yeah.

J:
Amazing book, and really I’m looking forward to jumping in.

John:
Yeah. It’s one of those things that’s a meat and potatoes topic, but most people don’t give it a whole lot of credit. They’re like, “Oh, warm, fuzzy, check the box.” Isn’t that something you get at Christmas once a year and you can forget about the other 364 days? So it’s going to be fun to unpack it and show people that they’re leaving millions of dollars on the table by not understanding.

Carol:
Absolutely. Yes. And we’ll dig into this more, but I love how in the book you talk about the exact opposite of a concept you just touched on, which is it’s not just a holiday thing. In fact, maybe it’s not a holiday thing at all, and we’ll go more into that later. I think it’s really powerful. So in the book, you talk about there are really three whole parts to this whole concept of radical gift giving. And you break it down in your book this way. The first is why should we be giving gifts in the first place. Second, who should we be giving these gifts to. And third, what are the ideal types of gifts we should be giving. So as we dive into those topics, first I’d love to dig more into your backstory, specifically around how did you, John, become the king of gift giving. And then let’s specifically tackle that first piece, that first question, why is it important to even be giving gifts in the first place?

John:
Well, a lot of times people hear the topic that we talk about gifting or hiding gifts or that we work with the Cubs and some big clients. The simple fact is I’m a farm boy from Ohio. I grew up milking goats. One of six kids. And I was going to go be a doctor, and I’m naturally an introvert. People are shocked when they see me on stage that they think I’m extroverted but I’ve used when I was in college, I met a mentor, and he was a radically generous attorney. And he was a rainmaker. Referrals coming out of his ears, access. He was always giving things away. Find a deal on noodles and give everybody at church the next Sunday a year supply of noodles. It was like $30,000. I’m like, “Paul, you’re insane. Why are you doing this?” He’s like, “That’s just who I am.”

John:
At the time, I was interning with Cutco, the knife company, and out of desperation to pay for med school. I had no desire to sell or any of that type of stuff. So I pitched Paul, the attorney, I’m like, “You’re always giving things away. All of your clients are small business owner, you’re a small business owner.” They’re all company sub $500 million. Insurance companies, lumberyards, home builders, that kind of stuff. And I said, “Would you consider giving a pocket knife to all 100 of them?” And I’m sweating bullets. My girlfriend’s dad, by the way. It’s awkward if you’ve never pitched your girlfriend’s dad knives. It’s one of the more awkward conversations. I’m 20 years old at the time, and he leaned back in his chair. He’s about 60 at the time. He said, “John, I don’t order the pocket knives. I order 100 pairing knives.” I’m like, “We give a bunch of dudes a kitchen tool. That’s weird. Why?” I’m green. I’m country bumpkin. And he said, “John, in 35 years in business, the reason I have more referrals and access and deal flow is I found out a simple truth, and that’s if you take care of the family in business, everything else seems to take care of itself.”

John:
So for me it’s this lightning bolt moment. And I’m like, “I want to by Paul when I’m 60. I’d be a successful business owner.” He owned real estate that became Walmarts. He owned banks that went public, and it was because he was the most liked, trusted, and top of mind person. And so I’m like, “I’m going to model what I see in him.” I grew up poor. You’re generous. You’re successful. I’m not. So I started to mimic that generosity. And by the time I was a senior in college for Cutco, they’ve worked with over 70 years, about a 1.5 million reps in [inaudible 00:05:01] worldwide. We became their number one in the history of the company out of everybody. We lapped everybody multiple times, not because I’m a sales rep, but it was because I was using this methodology we now call gift-ology, which is really just a systematic way… Everybody says relationships that are most valuable assets. It’s cool to say, “Oh, I take care of my customers and my employees.” We actually started to show people how if you say relationships matter and then you suck at showing gratitude, then there’s an incongruency. And if you get really good at it, you will stand out and be what Seth Godin calls the purple cow. So we started to just get access to pro sports teams.

John:
To this day, small, mid-size companies are who we work the most with because they have a limited budget, and they have to go up against the 800 pound gorilla. And we showed them how you can put a dollar into this and get $10 back out if you do it the right way.

J:
Love that. Absolutely love it. And I love how you said the key is to take care of the other person’s family. You talk in the book, and we’ll probably get into this, but you talk in the book about if you can take care of the other person’s kids, if you can make the other person’s kids happy. And as a parent, I mean, if somebody can do something to make my kids happy, I’m their fan for life.

John:
Game over. Yeah. We call it the inner circle. Paul did it naturally, but it’s treating the assistant, the team, the receptionist, the spouse, the kids, the pets, those are the four kind of buckets or categories. So when somebody hires us to do all their gifting for them, they’re like, “Oh, all of our guys like golf, and they like bourbon, and they like hunting.” I’m like, “I don’t care what they like.” They’re like, “What do you mean? We’re going to buy a bunch of golf and bourbon stuff.” I’m like, “No, you’re not.” They’re all a bunch of… In your industry, it’s a bunch of married white dudes, and they’re all married to a bunch of women that are treated like arm candy, aren’t given respect, they’re not treated well. They’re just treated like whatever, and if I can include them and their kids, all of a sudden you can invest a dollar and it’s like investing $1 million in the dude, the guy, the decision maker.

John:
And I’ve seen this happen in all industries where there’s a high powered female, and the assistant’s not taken care of or the husband’s not taken care of. So holistically we all know that everybody has an inner circle, and most of the time they’re not treated well. They get the leftovers of business. So when you can honor those people with respect and with not an Amazon gift card of a Harry and David basket and cheesy, stupid stuff that everybody does but a true artifact, you get them to be the internal sales champion, and then you end up with the executive as well as a client. And so you end up with more, and then those people become salespeople. So all of our clients and our clients’ clients become salespeople for them, and that’s where people miss the opportunity. They’re like, “Well, that’s client only worth $10,000 to me per year.” I’m like, “What if they referred you three clients? Now you could never hire them as a salesperson but if you do gifting the right way and love on them the right way with no strings attached, now all of a sudden you have a sales force of thousands of people selling for you and they’re buying the gifts for you.”

J:
I love that. You just said something really important. I think too many of us think of a gift as a tip. Somebody does something for us, and we reciprocate, and it’s the extent of which they did something for us determines the extent to which we reciprocate. But you just kind of turned that on its head, and you basically made it clear that your gift isn’t about what people have done for you in the past. It’s about, and I’m not saying you do this to get people to do things for you. I’m sure we’ll talk about that because you talk about that in the book. But it’s very much it’s you do these things because of what people can do for you in the future, and maybe somebody’s done nothing for you in the past but they have the potential to do something for you in the future if you want to create that reciprocity, a big gift might make a lot of sense.

John:
Yeah. Most people are like, “Hey, you’ve been at our company for 10 years, here’s your pen set from Target or your Starbucks gift card, your water. And they don’t realize that if you want people to run through walls for you, whether it’s a client, an employee, a vendor, a partner, a joint venture, referral source, a center of influence. If you do a gift after a referral, everybody says they’re in the relationship building business, but if you do gifts after referrals or after somebody served for so many years, you turned it into a transactional business. A tit for tat. You do this for me, and here’s… And people are like, “It doesn’t feel good if somebody refers you $1 million client and you send them a $500 Morton’s gift card. Why? Because they’re like, “Gosh, what a cheap SOB. You made $1 million, and you’re giving me $500?”” whereas if you sent even a sucky gift at an unexpected time just because.

John:
So for us, when we’re mapping out what we call relationship plan for a client, we do experience of a six figure review of who are all the important relationships or who could be an important relationship and let’s send them something not because they did a deal or because they send your referral. Send it because the relationship. You send that out, you could send the same stupid knife set to 10,000 people, and it will land differently if you follow the recipe. Personalizing it, handwritten note, all the details. People will fight back on us say, “John, I done gift-ology, it doesn’t work.” And I’m like, “Did you follow the recipe?” They’re like, “Well, kind of.” I’m like, “Well, if you kind of bake bread but don’t put yeast in, you don’t get bread.” If you kind of do gift-ology but you don’t put a handwritten note with it and you don’t give it at a time that’s unexpected. And you don’t tie it to a referral, you completely change how it’s received. And those little details relationship building, you can turn it from being a nothing return to 100 return just based on the details.

Carol:
That’s really cool. Can we talk more specifically… I have so many questions because I’m so passionate about this topic, but I think one, that will resonate so very well with our audience is that one little element within the recipe about the power of a handwritten note and why that’s important. And especially because I feel like no matter what the heck your budget is, even if you’ve got a small budget, I’m not seeing a whole lot of excuses you can’t write a handwritten note. Just talk to us more about that.

John:
Well, the handwritten notes more important than what you’re sending. When you’re dealing with affluent employees, affluent clients, joint venture partners, doesn’t matter. When you’re dealing with people that are making six, seven, eight figures, you’re not going to send them something they can’t go buy themselves. And so the handwritten note is what provides context. People are like, “Oh, just automate it on Amazon.” I’m like, “Are your relationships automated? Is that how you build relationships?” “No, I do FaceTime, and we do golf at Pebble Beach.” I’m like, “Well, you can’t do your experiences and your FaceTime at a Ritz Carlton level and think you’re going to do your gifting at a Motel 6 level and think that it’s actually going to be a benefit.” In fact, most people spend thousands, millions, billions of dollars on gifting, and what they’re actually doing is damaging relationships. They’re actually putting into a tangible form saying, “I don’t know you. You don’t matter.” And the handwritten note is what provides context.

John:
So if somebody says, “John, I’m just getting started,” I’m like, “Well, when I was in college 20 years ago, I was investing $500 a month.” I challenge anybody that’s an entrepreneur, you’re probably wasting $500 a month on beer or bar tabs or stupid stuff that’s not investing in relationships. It’s really not moving the needle. And so if you don’t have a budget or you’re dealing with the government, take… Our stationary is $9 sheets of steel. It literally costs $9 a piece, and we write on it with a Sharpie. And when I send that out to somebody, I can send it even to Walmart because that’s always a pushback, “Oh, we’re regulated,” or, “Oh, we deal with Walmart.” I’m like, “All your clients aren’t Walmart, first off. So there’s people you could send a gift to. if you can take them out to the Super Bowl or take them out to a nice big dinner, you can send them something thoughtful.” But the handwritten note is what takes it from being just stuff.

John:
In America, in the Western culture, we don’t need more things. But we have room for an artifact. And oftentimes we all have our desk, we all have a chore where a handful of people send us a really thoughtful note, whether it’s our boss, a client, a mentor, somebody. And we kept those notes. Why? Because it’s rare to get one, and when somebody puts thought and meaning into something. So really the gift is just the reminder of the relationship. It’s the delivery vehicle of the emotion. So the knives work because people break bread and host and whatever else. But I won’t let people send knives out unless there’s a handwritten note and unless they’re personalized to the family. No logos. The logo turns it into a promotional tool, a marketing tool. It ruins the gift and takes it into a different category. So the handwritten note to me is everything. And if somebody is not willing to do that with us, I’m like, “We’re not a fit.” We’ll write the notes for you, but we have to collaborate on what that’s going to be. If you’re not willing to do that one detail, you might as well just go order a bunch of crap on Amazon and send it out. But it’s not going to land the same way as something that feels like it came from one human to another.

J:
It’s so true, and I’m going to regret telling this story in case the person we’re talking about is listening to this. But we have somebody that is, he’s very generous actually, and I don’t mean to say this in a negative way. But we’ve done a bunch of work for him and not charged him, and he’s reciprocated very kindly with multi thousand dollar gift cards. And we very much appreciate that, but just like you pointed out before, it feels transactional. And it’s basically the other person saying, “Here’s the value I put on the work you did for me.” Not, “Here’s the value I put on you as I put on you as a human.” “Here’s the value I put on you as a partner or something I’m going to work with.” But, “Here’s the value I put on the work that you did for me.”

J:
And maybe if they sent me one large enough that I thought, “Oh well, that’s way in excess of the work I felt like I did,” then I’m going to feel like I owe them something. But then they run the risk of sending me something that’s less than I felt like. And like you said, it’s very transactional. And you don’t even want to make the other person be thinking about the value. That takes everything off track, right?

John:
Yeah. You want to be focused on the relationship. The only two things that we’ll allow people to send gifts for is one is a just because and secondly, to honor somebody’s time. People oftentimes, “Hey, I want to pick your brain.” “Hey, I want to a,” whatever. If somebody gives me or a client that we’re working with, they give five minutes of time. Five minutes of times from the right person can be worth tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of dollars. And so when you acknowledge somebody with a handwritten note and a cool gift saying, “Hey, thanks so much for the time,” that’s totally unexpected. It’s beyond anything that they’re expecting. The surprise and delight is the element. That’s why I stuck a gift in the middle of March. It’s the same things that work in your inner personal life. If you’re married and you’re a dude and you only take care of your wife on Valentine’s Day and on her birthday, those are table stakes. It’s when you start doing things in the middle of March, in the middle of July not because you did something stupid, not because you had to. You did it because you wanted to. And that one little tweak of I did this…

John:
And that’s where I saw Paul. He would say, “What’s the most I can do?” And most people in business, if they’re honest with themselves, they’re like, “What’s the least I can get away with and still kind of look generous?” Whether it’s with their employees, that’s why it went so viral the company that gave $10 million worth of cash to all of your their employees. They’re a real estate company on the East Coast. They could have gotten away with $1 million and still been viewed kind of generous. But they dialed it up another 10X, and because of that, they probably a list of resumes of people begging to work there. And the long term goodwill and emotion buy in from their team and their partners and their clients, to know that you’re a giver, people want to see you win. Versus most people try to cut corners, and then they wonder why people want to see them lose. It’s because based upon the emotion that you drive into people with putting… Tell me your priorities. Let me look at your calendar and let me look at your checkbook, and I’ll tell you what your priorities are. People talk a good game on culture and relationship building, but they cut corners on the areas where they able to really differentiate above all the noise.

John:
At the end of the day, you get deal flow and you get opportunities because you’re top of mind in your life. And there’s a lot of people that are nice people, but they suck at relationship building and being top of mind because they’re sending Chotkis and promotional stuff and sponsoring trade shows and doing the same stupid stuff al of their competitors are. And they wonder why they’re not standing out. Well, they’re not doing anything remarkable in any area of the relationship building. They don’t have a plan for their relationships, and you don’t have a plan for that one component. You have an operations plan and all these other things. Why would you not have a relationship plan for your most valuable people? Which we spent 19 years developing one that we walk all of our clients through. It’s an onboarding process. We charge lots of money to do it.

John:
If your tribe wants to go download the entire playbook for free, figure a way to do it on their own, everything is there. The entire recipe, you can go to giftologyplan.com. They don’t have to pay for anything. They have to answer a couple questions, but they get literally the things that we’re talking about. Why should you send gifts, what should you be budgeting, what percentage should you reinvest back into the relationship, who should you be gifting to, who are you forgetting about? We walk them through all of it.

John:
Now what’s funny is people are like, “Why are you giving away your secret sauce?” I’m like, “Well, because it’s one thing to know it, it’s another thing to go execute on it.” And a lot of people who have heard us speak or read the book but they’re still doing the same stupid stuff. And they’re like, “I’m kind of doing it.” I’m like, “No, either commit to it and make it a priority or don’t. Don’t do it halfway because you’ll end up damaging the relationship.” But the plan is there for free if you want it.

Carol:
That’s excellent. Thank you. And that’s just another example of your company being generous and giving, and you’re showing how it really comes back in spades too.

Carol:
I want to talk a little bit more about you talked about all the noise of all this stuff we’re always getting. If you do gifting the wrong way, you’re not just neutralizing relationships at best, and you’re not just throwing away money. But you could also potentially be full on damaging relationship and damaging all of that. And what comes to mind with me is, and again just like J said earlier, sorry if I’m offending everybody. If I get one more logoed piece of whatever, I’m like, “Seriously people?” I mean, thank you for the thought; however… So can you talk more about that because I know so many small business owners, we all have really good intentions. We’re not doing it to try and annoy somebody. But I think you’re suggesting that really just isn’t the right approach. Can you talk more about that?

John:
Yeah. Well, I think that apparel… It’s like anything else. It’s like steak dinners or ball games or golf. It’s like the playbook that people look around and say, “Well, everybody’s doing it. It must work,” or, “Everybody’s doing it. I have to do it too.” And what’s interesting is ordering anything with a logo on it, you’d never go to somebody’s wedding, even if you’re the tackiest person on the planet. You won’t get the Tiffany’s vase and compliments of Bigger Pockets or compliments of Ameritrade. It’s be the cheesiest thing in the word to take this beautiful piece of art or knives or whatever and engrave a logo on it. But we’re dealing with human beings, whether it’s in our personal life or in our business life. And if somebody wouldn’t do something in their personal life, they probably shouldn’t do it in their business life either. They should be congruent. And a gift by its very nature is recipient focused. But most people when they give gifts, if you like steak, you take people out for steak or you send steaks. If you like wine, you send wine to everybody because you shop with your own rose colored glasses.

John:
Does the person really want another night out at a ball game eating nachos and beer, or would they rather be able to take their family for that game or be home for dinner with their family? So when you start to think about whether it’s your employees, your clients, your relationships, what would they really want? And the reason a lot of the artifacts that we do work, people say, “Well, John, does this work in tech?” I’m like, “Are there human beings at your company?” And they’re like, “Well, yeah.” I’m like, “Then it works.” The same thing that works for Google works for a million dollar business that we worked with because it’s human. Whether it’s 10 humans or 10,000 or 10 million humans, whether you believe in a god or not, we’re all wired as human beings, there’s certain things that whether you’re in Africa, Australia, South America, there’s certain things. Like our family is important to us, breaking bread. Even in 2020, it’s very important to us.

John:
So tapping into the humanity of the person and we all love to see our own name on things. It’s a Dale Carnegie class. How To Win Friends and Influence People. What’s the most powerful word in somebody’s dictionary in their head, it’s their name. So when I send a knife set to somebody, whether it’s a $100 knife or a $10,000 set that’s laid out, what makes it land… I’ve had billionaires that have cried receiving our gifts, and it wasn’t because the gift. It was the meaning of it and making it all about them in their quotes and they were a huge Ronald Reagan fan. So we engraved the entire set around their wisdom so they can pass that set of knives down to their grandkids someday. That now triggers their legacy and the memories of what was important to them. So it’s not about the item, but it’s about… People will use the excuse, “Well, it’s the thought that counts, John.” I’m like, “No. It’s a thoughtful thought.” You would never get away with your spouse saying, “Well, honey it was the thought that counts.” No, it’s the thoughtful thought. It’s the strategic thoughts. It’s putting your money where your mouth is.

John:
So it’s not spending the most money, but it is being as strategic as possible because at the end of the day, you’re basically… In the Old Testament, kings would give other kings a thousand or 10,000 head of cattle based upon the value of the relationship. They realized that you’re basically putting into tangible form. Either you matter or you don’t matter. And whether you’re the janitor or whether you’re the CEO, we all want to matter. And that’s where the logoed crap… If you give it out to your employees, that’s fine, but it’s a uniform. That’s not a gift. And if you give it out to your clients, you have to ask yourself, “Does that logo of the insurance company add value or take value away from the item?” And in most cases, even when we’re dealing with bigger companies or organizations where the logo’s cool, like the Cubs, the higher up the food chain we go, the small the logo gets because the logo does add value for the Cubs. But when you’re dealing with affluent people, do they want a basketball sized thing on their shirt? No.

John:
So I don’t do apparel. We don’t do gift cards. We don’t do food. And it’s because it’s either not thoughtful or the return on investment and the return on relationship isn’t high. When somebody’s already received 15 vests from Patagonia, it’s no longer a cool gift. I’m sorry. You can only wear one vest at a time. We do these crazy thousand dollar mugs. They’re call artifact mugs, and people are like, “$1000 for a mug?” I’m like, “You can only drink out of one.” When you have a mug that tells your whole life story and your core values and your legacy, that mug becomes one of the most valuable things. You’ll grab it. If your house is on fire, you’d probably grab the mug, your pictures, the things that are irreplaceable. Not on dollar amount but on meaning.

John:
So that’s where the swag… People, “Oh, John, you’re the swag guy.” And I’m like, “I hate the word swag.” That’s not meaningful. Would you give swag to your spouse? No. So why would you give your thousand most important relationship, your top 20… It makes zero sense. When we start to map it out for people, they’re like, “Oh my gosh. I’ve been doing it this way for 27 years.” And I’m like, “Well, hey, the next 27 years you can be different if you put it into play.”

J:
I love the fact that you just gave us a litmus test right there. You want to give them a gift that if their house is on fire, it’s going to be one of those things that they grab because they don’t want it to perish when they leave the house. So that kind of leads me to my next question. How do you figure out what’s going to resonate? So sometimes we know people really well. We have 10 year, 15 year relationships. We’ve met their families. We know what they love. We know what they hate. We know who they are. But in other cases, they’re relatively new relationships, and we don’t have a ton of information about them. But we still want to give them a gift that’s going to resonate with them, that they’re going to carry out of a burning building. How do we figure out what that gift might be?

John:
Yeah. Well, there’s different levels. I call it foundational gifting versus the crazy one off. When I met Cameron Herold, I wanted him to be a mentor. That’s destroying the book where I couldn’t afford his $20,000 a month coaching. So I got $7000 worth of Brooks Brothers because it was his favorite store and outfitted his hotel room to look like a Brooks Brothers store when he flew into Cleveland.

J:
Okay, wait. Whoa, whoa. So we’ve had Cameron Herold on the show. I’m a big fan of Cameron Herold. I want to hear this story. So take us back a little bit. Tell us that story about Cameron Herold.

John:
Yeah. This goes back 14 years ago. I heard him speak at an EO event. I had just joined EO. I was barely qualified. I went to the event and was nervous because I heard a guy cut a quarter of a million dollar check to bring KISS in privately. I was like, “I’m out of my league,” kind of a place. But I heard Cameron speak, heard he was coming to Cleveland was like, “I want this guy…” He had grown 1-800-GOT-JUNK from $2 million to $127 million, was the COO. He grew multiple companies over $100 million. I’m like, “I want him on my corner. I want him to refer me business. I want to be friends, buddies, bros.” And we all have those people in our life that we admire, that we want to be in our corner. They could be influencers, they could be podcast hosts, could be CEO of companies in our communities. It’s different for everybody. But we all have people that are pillars, would be pillars in our business and that we want in our corner, and that was what Cameron represented for me.

John:
So I invited him to a Cav’s game for opening night and Morton’s dinner, which is like a playbook that everybody uses. But I thought it was so cool because it was opening night for Lebron, and I’m a big Cav’s fan. He’s from Canada, he could give to rips about the NBA. Didn’t realize that, but we don’t often think that way. And when the response was underwhelming when I invited him to the game, he said, “Sure, I’ll go. But only because I don’t have anything else going on.” I was like, “I got to hit him in a different way.” And then I found out he loved Brooks Brothers. I ended up behind the scenes with his assistant getting his shirt size, and I bought one of everything in the new fall collection, all the jackets, pant suits, belts, shoes, everything. And then went to the Ritz where he was staying and outfitted his whole room to look like a Brooks Brothers store.

John:
Now my business partner literally thought I was insane and said, “If it doesn’t work, I think this is going to blow up in our face. It comes out of your personal draw.” So I was putting $7000 not out of my company but of my personal money on the line. And when Cameron came in, you could tell he just wanted to go take a bath or a shower and go to bed. He didn’t want to go to the dinner and the ball game. It had been a rough travel day. He came down like 25 minutes later, his eyes were like the size of silver dollars. He’s like, “John, whatever you want to talk about for as long as you want to talk about it. I thought when I flew to Dubai and the Four Seasons remembered my name and had a bottle of water waiting for me when I went out for a run, I thought that was like amazing customer experience. Nobody’s ever treated me this way.”

John:
Now what’s interesting is I continued to send him gifts for the next 10 years once a quarter. I would send, I built him a whole knife set, $10,000. I built him leather goods. I sent wine tools that are like $600 with his autograph carved into it. Crazy stuff. And people are like, “Man, that’s like, what’d you invest? $20,000.” I’m like, “Probably.” “That’s a lot of money for one person.” I’m like, “The reason I can go speak and get $60,000 to speak on stage now is when I was begging to speak for free, Cameron started landing me my first $5-, $10-, $15,000 speaking gigs,” because he would be double booked. He would say, “Ah, you need to book John Ruhlin.” And they’d be like, “Who the heck is John Ruhlin? Does he have a book?” “No.” “Just trust me.” And he would go advocate all of his hundreds of clients have all received gifts from us. His podcast have all received gifts from us. It’s literally a 50X return on investment. That $20,000 has turned into seven figures.

John:
So people pushback and are like, “Ah, that’s stupid,” or, “I could never afford that.” I’m like, “Well, if you look at your entire business, I don’t care what size company…” A lot of the companies we work with are EO and WPO and vista companies and they’re sub $20,000 companies. That might be $2 million, $3 million, $5 million. And we all have these budgets that we’re using, and we’re not reinvesting back into our relationship. So Cameron’s a perfect example of somebody I invested in for the long haul and it’s paid me back in an enormous amount.

Carol:
It really has paid you back exponentially, and I think that is such an absolutely wonderful example. It’s so quantifiable, and you just took massive action. You were willing to put your own money on the line, and it brought you such an amazing return. I would suspect much bigger than you ever anticipated in the very first place. I would like to break this down a little bit more. There’s one step there that, again, I always like to think about our audience. A lot of people are small business owners. A lot of people might say, “Well, I don’t necessarily have that type of budget,” or, “I don’t know how I would even go about figuring out the right gift to give a Cameron Herold.” Will you tell us because again I also like to lie it out saying, “There are on excuses, guys. It’s just that you just have to think through the process of how to do it and get resourceful and so on.” Could you lend some insight for how, for example, you found out that Cameron Herold liked Brooks Brothers so that we can relate that to other people that are listening to this show.

John:
Well, the cool thing is that over the last 15 years since I did that for Cameron, people drop hints on social media like crazy on what they’re passionate about. Now what’s interesting is that most of the gifting I do is not Cameron Herold-esque. It’s not $7000. I’ll send the same knife set to 1000 people for a client, and they’re like, “Well, what if they don’t like the knives?” I’m like, “Well, the last time I checked most people are married. Most people eat, most people break bread, most people have kitchens, most people are into food. They’re either foodies that are entertaining. They like quality. They never go spend $500 on a knife set.” So I can take the same tool, the same delivery vehicle, and it’s not really about the knife set. It’s about the fact that I included their spouse. Because if somebody’s into bourbon, that’s where people mess up. “Oh, this person’s really into bourbon.” And so they send them a bottle of Bullet or a Buffalo Trace. Now meanwhile they’re drinking Pappy. So they think they’re doing something good, but what they’re really doing is showing their immaturity in that category.

John:
So coming at it from a different angle, if you’re not willing to go all in and make it a 12, then coming at it and taking care of somebody in a way that would be like great instances people will give watches, and they’ll give out this beautiful $500 Seiko watch to everybody. And they’re like, “Oh, they’re so proud.” Now meanwhile all of their clients have Rolex’s or Breitling or Paddex. And so they spent $500 to look silly where as if they spent $90 on the nicest luggage tag on the planet because most people travel, most people never go spend $90 on a handmade, brass, beautiful luggage tag. So I can spend 80% less and take a category where most people go really cheap, and take it up not 1% or 2% higher, I can take it up 10,000% higher. And that’s why the $9 letterhead works. Anybody can afford $9 letterhead. I don’t care who you are. College kids have reached out saying, “I want to do the letterhead.” But it’s just a matter of priorities.

John:
When you take a category where most people go really cheap and you don’t go 1% or 2% higher, you take it way up. It’s the purple cup concept. And you take an area where everybody’s having a pissing match, like trade shows and marketing and Facebook ads and all these other things. There’s nothing wrong with them, but the reason that we’re able to get in some cases a 20, 30, 40X return is because everybody thinks the gift should cost $20. So they’re like, “What can I get for $20?” Like, “You should just write a really nice note on $9 letterhead and save yourself the $11.”

John:
But if you do have a more sophisticated business where you have a real marketing budget, real marketing budget might be $100,000 a year for biz dev and whatever else. If you took that $100,000 and redirected it towards areas where everybody’s doing the Seiko watches thinking their cool but everybody’s regifting them, and you start buying $90 luggage tags, you actually would spend less than your competitor and have 10 times the impact because you’re looking at it from a different lens. And that’s what we’re encouraging people to do in all areas of their business is saying if you’re having a pissing match with your competitors, then it’s just noise. Redirect the percentage of that over here into this blue ocean, and gifting is one of those because people take it for granted. They check the box. They suck at it. They think they’re at a seven, and they’re really at a negative three. And if you do that and even just got to a three, you’d be so far ahead and above everybody else. So it’s not spending the most money.

John:
I just recorded a video for our new website around what I really feel like who we’re for is I love working with David’s versus Goliath. I love working with the little shepherd boy that all he has is a slingshot and a couple smooth stones, and he’s going up again Goliath, this 10 foot tall Philistine giant. And because he’s bold and courageous, he’s willing to freaking nail Goliath right in between the eyes. And he takes down the giant and becomes the king. I think we all resonate with the underdog. We all resonate with the David and Goliath story whether you’re a person of faith or not because in most cases, we are David going up against a publicly traded company, some bigger competitor that has a bigger budget. So you’re never going to outspend the publicly traded company. But you can be more out thoughtful them. You can out think them. You can be more creative. You can be more bold with a smaller group of people. So instead of treating 10,000 people at this mediocre, vanilla way. Take your 10 people and go all in on those 10 people, and get them to be lifers with you. That’s really the core message isn’t a gifting message. Nobody cares about gifts, but we all care about the outcomes and the results of real relationships and the return on relationships. So that’s the core.

John:
People give us excuses all the time, and I’m like, “Guys, I bootstrapped this business. I don’t have any outside investors. It’s me and my business partner. But we play with the big boys, the big billion dollar companies, even though we’re a smaller business because we’re willing to really be different and how we [inaudible 00:34:50].”

J:
So let’s go back to, and I don’t necessarily want to use the Cameron Herold example, but that kind of gift. So let’s say somebody that’s listening right now, there’s somebody that they want to get in front of, an influencer, a potential client, a potential mentor. Somebody that they’re willing to do the work and to spend the money to get in front of that person. I imagine there’s a right and a wrong way to do that because I could see doing things that come off as, “Oh, this guy’s a stalker,” or, “This guy is just making me uncomfortable with the type of gift he just gave me or she just gave me.” What are some rules if I’m trying to get the attention of somebody that doesn’t know I exist? Are there rules for how I play that?

John:
Yeah, for sure. One I would say is if you really have a valuable product service or offering, make sure that you actually have something that’s going to be valuable. I think sometimes we’re not honest with ourselves, and we think that we’re able to help somebody that we’re not. I remember early on I wanted to go after the big companies, but I wasn’t even ready. I wasn’t in a position to actually help those companies. I just wanted them as clients to shortcut, but they really weren’t an ideal client. So I think being honest with yourself of who your ideal avatar is. Are you going after this person because it’s cool, or are you going after them because you actually helped them? I think there’s a big different there.

John:
I would say as far as being a stalker, there’s no question that if you’re going to play in the blue ocean and do things that are different, that are bold, there’s risk involved. We’ve had times where we’ve sent knife sets to people, and we didn’t realize they were going through a divorce. So the knives had the ex-wife’s name on them, or we sent things to people and they were going through a Ponzi scheme investigation for fraud. So the gifts got sent back, and people were pissed. So there is risk. It’s not like I’ve had gifts that were bigger than Cameron Herold where we sent it to somebody or myself personally and it didn’t land. It just didn’t work.

John:
Now I only need 80% of them to land. The 20% that don’t, I’m not worried about. But I think a lot of times people don’t have the right mindset going into it and realizing you have to be willing to commit to this for the long haul. Most people it’s like flavor of the month. Like, “Oh, let’s try to gift-ology this month.” And if it doesn’t work the first two or three times, they’re like, “It doesn’t work for me.” It’s like, no, it works. It’s just a matter of if you only ran one little ad on Facebook, maybe you hit it, maybe you don’t. But there’s a tweaking, it’s an art and a science, and you have to give time the opportunity.

John:
The other thing I would say is that I don’t include people’s kids in a gift unless I have a relationship with them, and the reason is is that it’s one thing to take care of somebody’s spouse. It’s another thing to take care of somebody’s assistant or do something big for them. But it can be in 2020, the kids in my opinion are off limits. There’s too much risk there and not enough return. Now if you have the relationship, the warm relationship, that’s different. You’ve talked about them. Maybe you’ve met them. Those are different. So I think that there is risk, but there is a way to put the risk in your favor when you’re doing it. To me, going all in on the thoughtfulness and saying, “Hey, I did the homework. I realized what would really resonate with you or with your family or whatever else.” And I think the big thing is is being willing to show up multiple times.

John:
For Cameron, I didn’t ask him anything, for anything when I was at that dinner and ball game with him that time. I did the crazy Brooks Brothers experience to show them that I was different, but at that point, I didn’t ask for anything. I continued to send him gifts, and then he came back to me and said, “John, what can I do for you?” I think that’s where a lot of people, it’s a Gary Vee’s concept. It’s not rocket science. It’s jab, jab, jab, right hook. It’s not jab, right hook. It’s show up, show up, show up with value, with value, with value, with value, and then you maybe earned the right to be able to ask. But it doesn’t guarantee it’s not… If you do something for your spouse and then expect something five minutes later, how does that work out? Usually not well because it felt manipulative. It felt like there’s strings attached.

John:
So we all hope that things are going to work out, but really at the end of the day when you’re trying to get to somebody influential, all you’re doing is earning the right maybe to be able to get a little bit of their time. Doesn’t guarantee the business. It may get them to a listen a little bit differently and be open to what you’re saying differently. But I think sometimes people think that gifting is this magic bullet. They can have a sucky offering or service, and then they do an amazing gift and magically the investment dollars are going to rain down. And that’s not how it works. Everything else has to be buttoned up, and this has to be the cherry on top of the sundae. Most people don’t have a sundae, and they think the gifts are going to magically help them. And that’s not what we’re teaching.

Carol:
It has to be one cohesive package. Speaking of the continuing to jab, jab, jab, hit or keep continuing to surprise and delight people, continuing to be front and center, how often should we be giving gifts to these different people that we are targeting? What’s the right consistency time frame?

John:
You don’t want it to feel like the jelly of the month club, if you’ve seen the Chevy Chase movie. Christmas Vacation. Jelly, I’m going to get this $40,000 bonus, I get jellies every month. But I think for us most of the time when somebody’s hiring us, a good cadence is once a quarter for their most valuable relationships. It doesn’t feel automated, but it’s also your still top of mind. So for most everybody that engages us to do their gifting with them and for them, two or four times a year is enough. The goal is to be thoughtful. The goal is to remind them that you exist. The goal is to show gratitude and appreciation just because. But at some point and time, if you start sending stuff, especially to warm relationships. I send gifts to all of my vendors. People are, “Why do you send gifts to vendors?” I’m like, “I don’t have a business without vendors. I want them to run through walls when I have something come in last minute or I need them to work a weekend or whatever else. I need this to be a true partnership.”

John:
But two to four times a year for most relationships is a good frequency of not too little, not too much. But I will say if somebody can’t afford to do four world class things, it’s better to do two world class things than four mediocre things. I think that’s where people… Like I disagree with the way Chet Holmes wrote Ultimate Sales Machine. I love the book. I agree with everything he talked about. The only thing I don’t agree with is he did gifts for his dream 100, and they’re all trinkety, junky stuff once a month. I’m like people don’t need a stress ball and a shoe and whatever else. Make sure that what you’re sending is congruent with the value and the level that you play at. And if you can’t afford to do something four or three times, even once is better than three mediocre. So that’s where I think in our Western culture, we think more frequency is better. And it can be if you’re able to keep the same level of quality. But most people don’t have an unlimited budget. And so dialing it back on quantity and dialing it back on frequency and going all in on a smaller number is better than going wide and just spray and pray.

J:
It sounds like most of the gifts that you give and recommend giving are physical gifts that are lasting, that will stick with the recipient for a long time. Is there a time and a place for experiences? Is there a time and a place to be giving something that’s an experience versus a lasting gift, and what is that time and place?

John:
Yeah. I think that we focus on tangible because of the lasting element to it. But I think no matter… People are like, “Which is better?” And I’m like the best is when you do a world class, once in a lifetime experience. Whether that’s Pebble Beach or flying to Israel or some crazy… Like I hired the number one wine guy in the world, Eddie Osterland on a regular basis to come and create this food and wine experience that nobody could ever buy because it’s him walking you through how to use food and wine as a… He has a book called Power of Entertaining. Basically how to use food and wine as a competitive advantage.

John:
So if you can combine a once in a lifetime experience with an artifact, now you have the memory, the emotion that’s tied to the trip, the experience, the whatever that they could not buy. It needs to be something that’s not… It’s unique, it’s different. It’s not the typical Morton’s dinner. It’s not the typical ball game in normal seats. And so if you can combine the experience with an artifact, either pre, during, or post. Ideally pre and post. Now every time they use the item, whether it’s the knives, the leather goods, the whatever, it takes them back to that memory and that experience. So it’s not one or the other, it’s both and, but it’s taking instead of doing the same stupid stuff for a lot of people, it’s narrowing it down saying, “Let’s go make this world class on both sides.”

John:
Most people will do their dinners at kind of a Ritz Carlton level, and then they do their gifting, like I said, at a Motel 6 and they wonder why it doesn’t work. “Oh, we got to give something at the conference, the trade show, the summit.” So they end up passing out the jackets and the paraphernalia and the gift cards and the journals from China with logos the size of softballs. It’s like that doesn’t work. So if both and but being just as thoughtful with the details, with the experience as you are with the tangible and being just as thoughtful with the handwritten note. It’s kind of like the Five Leveling, if you’ve ever read the book the Five Leveling. I just talked to Gary Chapman who’s a friend and mentor of mine. He wrote the book, sold like 22 million copies. It’s realizing that words of affirmation or handwritten note with the gift and the experience, it’s just really being thoughtful with how you’re doing things with your relationships. And if you do that with the experience, it’ll blow people’s minds. If you combine it with the artifact, they’ll still be talking about it 10 years later because the memory will be very top of mind.

J:
Excellent. I have one more question before we jump into our four more segment of the show. And this is because we deal with a lot of, personally, Carol and I, we deal with a lot of companies. So a lot of what we do is real estate. So we deal with real estate companies. We deal with brokerages. We deal with companies that have lots of people. And oftentimes there’s a gatekeeper. It’s like yeah, you want to make the CEO happy, but keeping the secretaries happy as well and keeping the other people that are kind of be that gatekeeper to the CEO and the people that you’re going to interact with probably more often than the CEO. You want to keep them happy as well. How do you decide when to give a gift to the guy or the girl who’s going to refer your work versus giving gifts as groups to companies or to other groups of people where everybody kind of plays a role in helping you?

John:
Yeah. So whether it’s to a small company or to a large company, I treat the CEO and the assistant or the event planner as the same. A lot of times people will do the varsity level gift for the CEO and then it’s like a middle school gift for the assistant. And what that basically communicates to the assistant, secretary, receptionist, director of marketing, whatever, “Hey, you don’t matter as much as this person.” And I’m communicating that in tangible, memorable form. You’re not as important. That’s not good. Now if you can say, “I don’t have the budget.” I’m like, “If a client’s worth $50,000 in profit to you or $50,000 of revenue, you probably have enough room in your budget to reinvest.” So that’s why we try to make it a math equation.

John:
What’s the value of the relationship, lifetime value, the entire company, and then let’s just say you have $1000 to invest and you have three people to take care of potentially. Then do the same gift for all three people. Receptionist, director of marketing, VP of sales, CEO. We treat them all the same, and the reason is is because I want to go horizontal and deep in a company. And that person oftentimes who’s not the decision maker influences the decision, and who knows where they’re going to be in five years. And, oh, by the way, they’re treated like garbage most of the time. So a gift to them that’s at the same level of the CEO is going to have a thousand times more impact.

John:
And so the reason we’re booking some of the largest event on the planet isn’t because we’re good speakers, but there’s 100,000 good speakers. We treat the event planner who’s oftentimes behind the scenes doing all the work, the people that are actually doing the work in the trenches like gold, and it’s not that we don’t take care of the CEO and the CEO’s spouse and all that kind of stuff. But I think that taking care and realizing that holistically I’m going to take care of the entire company. I have some companies that we work with where we send 30 gifts. So for me, I want to make sure that I’m covering all my bases because oftentimes in bigger companies especially, people are shifting and moving and getting promoted and getting fired and moving to another company. I want them to take me with them, but I also want to make sure that I have things dialed in for that current relationship. So a lot of people short change themselves and they like, “Crap, I should’ve done this, this, and this.” But when it’s after the fact, it’s too late.

John:
One of my favorite examples I talk about in the book is the Orlando Magic. We landed Orlando Magic as a client, the CEO Alex Martins was this client. I sent the same gift or nicer to him and to his assistant Cheyenne for three years, not asking for anything. And the reason we landed our first six figure deal, and it was very profitable, was not because of Alex, it was because Cheyenne had advocated inside of the Orlando Magic and got six other department heads together for me. And they basically are like, “John, Cheyenne won’t shut up about you and gift-ology. She hasn’t shut up for like two and a half years. We know we’re going to buy from you. Can you just show us what we’re going to buy?” And my jaw hit the ground. I laughed. I was like, “This is crazy.” It’s not that Alex wasn’t important, he was. He was great. But he’s busy. He’s off doing other things. Cheyenne, treating her with the same level of respect and treating her like a peer, she’s still friends to this day. She’s wonderful. But she became my internal sales champion, not Alex.

Carol:
That so cool. I want to ask one more question here. Well, actually we got one and then a comment. But what was one of the gifts that Cheyenne got? I love all these examples. I love the examples on like the really expensive levels, on the $9 stationary level, and everything in between because again it just reminds all of our listeners that no matter what type of budget you have, as long as you do it properly with the recipe and the formula that you out lie for everybody, that it does make an impact. You have any example of something that didn’t resonate so well with her?

John:
So my personal gifting budget this year is about $600,000. $500,000 of its the silly knives. And the reason the knives is because it’s universal. I can take up $10,000 set and break it into $200 increments. For Alex and for Cheyenne, I sent them both a $1500 set of knives. But it was built over three years. And then I found out that Cheyenne’s mom loved gardening and Cutco makes an amazing gardening set that’s like $200 or $300. So I said, “Hey, I got something I’m going to send you.” It was before her mom or dad’s birthday, and we sent it off to her. She was like tears. “This is crazy. Now I can give my mom something that I normally wouldn’t be able to necessarily afford.” So that was like the extra over the top crazy. But in many cases, it’s me leveraging the mug and different things over and over and over again because those are just a delivery vehicle. But it’s the thought that goes into them and the note that really makes it land. But the gardening set was one of the big ones that kind of came out of nowhere for her specifically that put her over the top.

Carol:
That’s just such an awesome example and taking it to the next level and being just so absolutely over the top thoughtful to something that would really resonate well with her. I just wanted to share before we wrap up and go into the four more, I just wanted to share for our listeners and to you, John, something I think you might find interesting. An example of something that a good friend and business associate of ours gives on a regular basis because of gift-ology. He did read your book, and he sends us an interesting little surprise every once in a while.

Carol:
So we live in Sarasota, Florida, and he’s a mortgage broker. We’ve done lots of business together forever, and a couple days after we closed on the sale of this house, we get a package. And it is, and it sounds really silly but I promise you it was the coolest thing ever. It was this ginormous eight foot diameter rubber ducky pool floaty. So I got to tell you as silly as that sounds, best gift ever. Why? Number one, we just moved to Florida. We got a pool. Number two, we’ve got kids, and they want to be in that pool-

John:
I think that’s amazing.

Carol:
It’s brilliant. Every once in a while, guess what. We just got a multi-colored, purple, green, yellow, orange, and blue rainbow rhinoceros pool floaty. So every once in a while, just magically, the most ridiculous, awesome, phenomenal, over the top floaty shows up. And the kids are so excited. They’re so excited to show it to their friends and talk about. I mean, these things cost maybe $50, but the impact that comes with them over and over and over, it’s brilliant on so many levels.

John:
Beautiful. That’s so cool.

Carol:
I just wanted to share that example.

J:
Thank you, Alan.

Carol:
Yeah. Thank you, Alan. You’re amazing. Amazing.

John:
That’s perfect.

J:
Awesome.

John:
I mean, that’s spot on. Love it.

J:
Excellent. Okay. So I could ask questions for the next two hours, but I know your time is valuable. So I want to jump into the part of the show that we call four more, and that’s where we ask you the same four questions that we ask all of our guests. And then at the end, we’re going to jump into the more part where we give you an opportunity to tell us more about you, where we can connect with you, where we can find out more about your book and anything else that you have going on.

J:
So I think I will take the first question. You talked about your Cutco job, but that may not have been your first job or your worst job. Can you tell us what was either your first job ever or the absolute worst job ever, and what did you take from it?

John:
Probably the worst job was I did stocking shelves for a couple of months in high school of Marks, the discount department store, and that was not my favorite. Probably tied with that would be waxing floors on the night shift for a cleaning company before I went into college as well. So those two were not very entrepreneurial and made me understand and appreciate going out and figuring out a different way to not work for hours or hourly versus controlling my income.

Carol:
That’s perfect. So that leads me beautifully into my second question, which is if you had to pinpoint one moment, one little moment where you’re like, “I definitely have this entrepreneurial itch,” what was that defining moment?

John:
I think it happened with Paul. I think I talked about it. I thought Cutco was going to last maybe a month if I was lucky. My family can’t afford these knives. This is crazy. But when Paul believed in the concept and had that light bulb moment that I could sell this as a business tool. Not knives, I could sell this to companies and help them. And that was like the holy crap. And that turned me into thinking about relationships differently and opened my eyes to things and got me to switch my major from pre med to marketing. But that moment when I was like this guy who I respect and admire believes in what I’m doing and believes it enough to invest significantly. And started giving me the knives to pass out to his business friends. His belief in me opened my eyes to there’s something here.

J:
Awesome. I’m going to switch up question number three because here’s a question I’ve been wanting to ask the whole episode and hadn’t gotten to. So I’m going to make this my question number three. What’s the best gift you’ve ever given? The one you’re most proud of. Doesn’t have to be the one you spent the most money on, but what’s the one that you thought, “Wow. That gift was perfect. I nailed it.” And what’s the best gift you’ve been given by somebody else?

John:
Gosh. I could talk about this for a couple hours. The best gift I’ve ever given, one of the ones I was most… One of the guys who believed in me the most is a guy, right hand guy with Cutco. Believed in the idea when they thought I was stealing credit cards to sell these orders because they didn’t believe the size of the orders. But he believed in me early on. He’s the best man at my wedding. I knew he loved going to spas and whatever else. So I sent him a sauna. It literally brought tears to his eyes. He was like, “Dude, this is insane.” But I could tell you Jeffrey Gitomer, we sent… Took us 18 months to track down a Häagen-Dazs freezer. He loves Häagen-Dazs ice cream. It’s illegal to own a Häagen-Dazs freezer because Nestle owns the brand and owns all the equipment. So we sent him like 50 pints of ice cream of Häagen-Dazs in the freezer with one of the crazy mugs to eat ice cream out of. And so that one, he received a lot of cool gifts. Yeah, there’s those.

John:
As far as ones that have been done for me. I mean, I think initially Paul believing in me and giving me the knives and basically transferring his social capital to me to go with his business friends, and I was a 20 year old. It was just weird to sell knives. It was weird. All of that belief was big.

John:
The other one I would say is my wife back in 2016. I love surprises, she hates surprises. But for Father’s Day, we went back to visit my dad and see my family in Ohio. And she had laid out this whole day of surprises. I had wanted Air Jordan’s growing up. Couldn’t afford them, farm kid. And she tracked down the original pair that are stupid money back when I was 16 years old. 1996. The Jordan’s with the patent leather. And then had orchestrated like my 30 closest friends to all be there for brunch on Sunday. And then organized for us to have… She had jerseys made for herself and for our three girls at the time with the name on the back, “Team Ruhlin.” And then had organized us to play five on five with guys I hadn’t seen in like a decade. And then that night, didn’t get to go to the game, but we’re watching it with friends. We watched the Cavs win game seven, which first championship for Cleveland being a basketball guy, I’m crying. My brothers are crying. It was crazy. So she nailed it, knocked it way out of the park. It about killed her because she had to keep it a secret from me, which I’m not easy to keep secrets from because I always see the angle and figure out what’s going on. And she had me completely blindsided. It was unbelievable.

Carol:
That’s amazing. That is like my jaw about hit the floor there. I’m trying to pick it back up. That’s incredible. I mean, talk about amazing. Wow. Really cool.

J:
It must be tough to be your wife.

John:
It is. On a lot of different levels. I mean, being married to an entrepreneur, it can be a suck… It’s all flashing lights out in social media, but behind the scenes, there’s times she wants to kill me.

Carol:
Love it. I love it. So the fourth and final question, we’ve been talking about giving gifts to other people and other companies and people within our circles and all different people. I would like to know when it comes to you, what is something… My fourth question is, what is something that you’ve splurged on for you that was totally worth it? We love asking this question of entrepreneurs because we just get a whole random breath of answers. So what is your one big splurge that was worth it?

John:
What’s my big splurge? So growing up I wanted a tattoo. I thought tattoos were cool, and you see the little [inaudible 00:57:55] sporting them. Would I want that when I’m 60? I don’t know. So the tattoo thing. And I’m not a real flashy person, but I ended up getting this gold bracelet custom made that says,[foreign language 00:58:07], which is Lord Jesus or Lord and Savior depending upon your reading of the Hebrew. And it was a couple thousand dollars. But it was my way of tattooing my core values, belief, faith in a way that I could remove but maybe some day pass it down to kids or grandkids. But it’s my daily reminder that I splurged on and spent money on jewelry, which is not really my thing. But in that case, it was totally worth it.

J:
That’s awesome.

Carol:
Very cool. I love that splurge.

J:
Excellent. Okay. So that bring us to the more part of the four more. This is where we give you an opportunity to tell us where our listeners can connect with you. I’m going to hold up the book one more time, Gift-ology. Fantastic book. Everybody should go out and get it because again it’s one of those things that in business, we think about the things that are obvious in our business to push our business forward, and we work on those things that are obvious. And this is one of those things that’s not obvious. But in many respects is even more important than all those other things that we do day to day.

J:
So tell us where can they get the book, where can they connect with you, what else do you have going on? Anything else you want to tell us.

John:
Yeah. I would say take the free gift. The being a gift-ologist, I’m all about free first. And then once there’s value, I think the giftologyplan.com is a great place to start. I do think that if you want to pick up the book, it’s 20 years of blood, sweat, and tears that we put into our entire playbook. It’s a 90 minute read. So they can get it anywhere they want, on Amazon. And then at that point, for speaking or consulting or the Gifting Agency is pretty simple. It’s giftologygroup.com if somebody wants to reach out directly to us. But it’s one of those things where I want people to start converting their heart set and mindset and realizing this isn’t a three month commitment. We won’t take on clients that aren’t thinking about this in at least a three year increment. If this is just going to be like, “Hey, we’re going to try this for three months and move on to the next thing,” you’re going to look really silly because you’re going to go from being radically generous to Ebeneezer Scrooge, and that’s going to do more damage for your relationships in your business. This needs the be like everybody says they’re playing the long game, but if you really are about like, “Hey, I’m measuring my business in decades, not days,” then this is a good methodology and tool set to engage with.

J:
Awesome. John, this was fantastic. Thank you so much for being here. Congrats on everything, and look forward to chatting with you soon. Thank you again.

Carol:
Thank you, John.

John:
Thank you guys. This is a blast. Thank you so much.

Carol:
Thank you. See you soon.

J:
Thanks.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Why it’s all about building relationships
  • The impact of giving at unexpected times
  • Why you should start sending handwritten notes
  • How to choose a gift that your recipient would appreciate
  • His Cameron Herold story
  • How to ask for something by offering value first
  • Why a good gift doesn’t make up for a bad service offering
  • How often you should send gifts
  • How to handle gatekeepers
  • The risks of gift giving
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “The key is to take care of the other person’s family.” (Tweet This!)
  • “It’s not the thought. It’s the thoughtful thought that counts.” (Tweet This!)
  • “You want to focus on relationships.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with John