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Sometimes its best to look at what everyone else is doing to try to open doors for their business, for new relationships, and new opportunities and then do something completely different and unexpected; to do something that will clearly have an impact and leave a lasting, positive impression.
Today on #MakingBank, host Josh Felber invites John Ruhlin to discuss the art of giving gifts in business. He shares some excellent advice on the right way to embrace gifting as a means of building relationships and acquiring new clients.
John Ruhlin is the founder and CEO of Ruhlin Group, a firm that specializes in high-level gifting plans to build relationships and acquire new clients.
The company was originally founded as a way to market Cutco Cutlery as a high-end corporate gift to companies of all sizes. This partnership with Cutco has allowed the company to become the No. 1 distributor of Cutco in the company’s 60-year history and an active consultant to its executives and leadership.
John currently resides just outside of St. Louis with his wife, Lindsay, and two kids. He’s the co-author of the best-selling book “Cutting Edge Sales” and is a sought-after speaker on the topics of C-level selling, relationship development, and strategic gifting.
So, tune-in to hear Josh talk to John about his humble beginnings of growing up on a farm in Ohio to becoming the number 1 distributor of Cutco in company history to gifting his way to big clients.
✔ Gifting do’s and don’ts.
✔ Why you should gift like a king.
✔ The best (and worst) types of gifts to give.
Free gift: Download the top ten worst gifts http://giftologybook.com/bank/
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Win Hearts, Minds, and Business. The Art of Giftology with Guest John Ruhlin: MakingBank S3E4
Josh Felber: Welcome to Making Bank, I am Josh Felber, where we uncover the success strategies and the secrets of the top one percent, so you can amplify and transform your life and your business today. I’m really excited with today’s guest, he’s an Ohio native originally, practically, almost right down the road from me, we grew up together, but we never knew each other. But I wanna welcome John Ruhlin, to Making Bank.
He is ranked number one in sales in the 70 year history for one of the largest direct sales companies in the world. His ranking has broken records that still stand among the one million plus distributors that have walked through their doors. His firm now specializes in teaching fast growing service firms how to stand out, be more memorable, and become even more referable through giftology, the art and science of using gifts to cut through the noise, drive referrals, and strengthen retention. They also help firms develop and execute logistics of high-end gift giving programs to open the doors with impossible reach, to sea level prospects, and drive referrals from current clients.
His clients span across all sizes and industries, and they include everybody from UBS, Raymond James, Wells Fargo, the Chicago Bears, San Antonio Spurs, MGM, Shell, Chevron, the Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, DR Horton, Miami Dolphins, Caesars Entertainment, Darren Hardy, Tom Searcy, Shep Hyken, Jason Gaynard, Jeffery Gitomer, and John Maxwell. I mean, it’s an amazing group of people and businesses. He lives just outside of St. Louis now, so he skipped out on Ohio, with his wife Lindsey and three daughters, his second book Giftology was released June 20, 2016. And at the end here we’ll definitely give you a direct place so to go find John, learn more about him. So John, I’m gonna welcome you to Making Bank.
John Ruhlin: Josh man, thanks for having me. It’s always fun to join Ohio dudes in crime here.
Josh Felber: I know, it’s so cool man.
John Ruhlin: Absolutely, absolutely.
Josh Felber: Real quick, before we get started, I just wanna show you guys, here’s John’s Giftology book. Nice smooth leather, shiny.
John Ruhlin: Very nice Vanna White impersonation. I appreciate the shout out on the front end.
Josh Felber: No problem man. So I mean, I remember hearing your story, Archangel Summit actually. Or Mastermind. And it really connected, and it was really cool just with how you positioned yourself, and how you used gift-giving to get yourself in front of some of these top companies in the world. And so I thought, man, just with all the different entrepreneurs I know that watch the show, and some of the inroads that they’re trying to make, I thought what with your story and what you’re doing, just could create such a huge impact. So I’m really excited to have you be able to talk about that today.
John Ruhlin: Absolutely. So I think a few people that are watching are probably ready to hit the snooze button, like really? Gifting is gonna be this game changer in their business? I’ve spoken to some of the biggest companies … I just spoke at Fortune Magazine Gross Summit, and I think that people, when they heard the introduction, like Giftology and Verne Harnish who runs Gazelle, is one of the founders of EO, I could tell people were like why the heck is this … does this dude get knives? What does that have to do with business? And I think people don’t understand is every business is about relationships. And everybody says relationships are really important, but most leaders, if they’re honest with themselves, they suck at actually the execution of gratitude and appreciation.
So it’s fun to kinda make the rounds around the world and kinda be the guy nobody knows who’s gonna be coming on stage. And then after they hear the stories and they hear our client list, they’re like you grew up milking goats on a farm. How the heck did you … I thought you grew up near Harvard, or MIT, or LA, or Chicago. Like someplace that’s sexy and cool with the country club relationships. But I tell people all the time, if what I do can help me, a farm boy from Ohio, it can really help anybody.
Josh Felber: Definitely. And I guess give us a little bit of your background, and kinda what got you on this path. I guess how you got started as an entrepreneur, and then we’ll kinda move into how you got into this whole gift-giving process.
John Ruhlin: Well it wasn’t part of the master plan. I grew up poor on a farm, milking goats, splitting wood. Our whole house was heated with wood. We had a one acre garden, so I basically knew what I didn’t wanna do the rest of my life, that was kinda the motivation of I do not wanna be hoeing a garden when I’m 45. And so I got good grades, I was an overachiever. And I thought when you’re poor and you get good grades, I thought I was gonna go be a doctor or lawyer. I didn’t really know what an entrepreneur was. But I went into school, fortunately I interned with Cutco, the knife company, which is, you know, they’ve worked with a million and a half college kids, amazing sales training program. And I thought maybe I could make some money. I had a buddy who was the antithesis of a sales person, he was selling these thousand dollar knife sets. I’m like if frickin’ Steve Wiggers can do it, I can at least try.
So I wore the glasses to look smarter in the interview. I wore the one tie I had. Got hired, but the turning point for me was I was dating a girl at the time and her dad was an attorney, he was on the board of the school, and he seemed to be involved in every deal in town and he never seemed to be stressed. Like he would take three hour lunches, and I’m like, how did he get the piece of land that became the Wal-Mart. How did he become owners in the bank and the oil wells and all this other stuff. And when you’re poor, you notice when people are generous. So he was always giving things away. Like not once a year, like 24/7, 365. He’d find a deal on noodles, he would buy a semi-load of noodles because they were a good deal, and everybody at church the next Sunday, like 200 people would walk out with ten cases of noodles. And I’m like Paul, that was 20G’s of noodles, are you crazy? And he’s like I know, but did you see the smiles on their faces? I’m like, yeah, you gave them a year’s supply of noodles, who’s not gonna smile?
So one of the big turning points was I pitched some of the idea, I thought he has all these clients he’s always giving things away to, and they’re like CEO’s of insurance companies and lumber yards. They’re burly guys in Ohio. Down in Amish country. You know where it’s at. So i thought, maybe he would give away pocket knives. They’re all into the outdoors and hunting, fishing. And so I’m like Paul, what do you think? I’m nervous, I’m like sweating. I’m pitching my girlfriend’s dad on giving away knives. And he got this little twinkle in his eye. He never made you feel uncomfortable, he was always sweet. Just really calm, but when he spoke you listened, because you knew it was wise. And he said John, what about paring knives? Could I engrave those? And I’m like you’re gonna give paring knives away to these grown men. Like, you’re in business, why would you give a kitchen item?
And he’s like here’s why. He’s like I’ve found that in business in the last 30, 40 years, if you take care of the whole family, we now call it the inner circle. But if you take care of the whole family, everything else in business seems to kinda take care of itself. And so for me, it was like that lightening bolt moment. I realized it wasn’t about the knife, it was about … Paul understood the psychology. Robert Cialdini, Influence, Reciprocity. He understood that when you pour into people’s inner circle, the assistant, the employees around them, the spouse, often times a wife in certain industries. Kids. Those become your sales advocates. And you wanna stay top of mind. Most deals don’t happen or don’t happen based upon somebody being like, you know what, you need to talk to so-and-so. Like referrals happen spontaneously on the golf course or at dinner. You have to be top of mind, you have to be liked to be relevant.
And Paul was always relevant because he was constantly in front of people with these cool things. So I started to teach this concept. I’m a 20 year old college kid. So I’d invest like $200 in a carving set, I’d engrave the CEO’s name, his wife’s name, his family name, his logo. Not mine, theirs. And I’d put a little handwritten note inside that said “Carve out five minutes for me, I promise it’ll be worth your time”. I’d send it off, and a week later I’d get a phone call, it’s the CEO, he wants to sit down with me. And I walk into the board room. I’m 20, he’s expecting somebody in their 50’s to walk in. And he’s like I’m really confused, are you here to sell me knives? This is weird, what’s up. And I’m like no, I’m here to help your thousand sales reps do exactly what I did to you to your top 1000 relationships. And he’s like that’s brilliant. So I don’t have to spend money on golf outings and trinkets and advertise … I can just go directly after the client. I’m like yeah, that’s the point. He’s like let’s go shoot with a rifle versus this mass crap that everybody does.
And so I’d walk out with a thousand set order of knives, and by the time I was a senior in college, I was their largest international distributor, cos I was using gifting as a competitive advantage to stay top of mind, to open doors, to drive referrals, to build relationships. All the things that everybody says they wanna do, but most people are like, I have million dollar budgets, and it’s on a trade show, which is a pissing match with all their competitors in the same building. They take you out to a steak dinner and spend hundreds of dollars or more, thousands of dollars on wine, when their competitor is gonna do the exact same thing the following night. So nobody stands out because everybody’s following the same playbook. And so that’s how an eight person firm out of … we’re still based in Ohio. I live in St. Louis because my wife’s family farm’s 4000 acres and they’re not moving any time soon and I got three girls that wanna be near Grandma, and my wife wants to be near her family. But I get asked to speak at Google. Not because we’re the biggest company on the planet, but because we gift like a king, we get treated like a king.
There’s a right way to do it, the wrong way to do it. You can do it very sleazy and manipulative, or you can do it the right way. And so that’s really what Giftology, our book is. What we’ve been doing the last 17 years to land the Cubs. That’s, I mean, I can dive into all kinds of stuff, but that’s the essence. That’s the core. That’s where we got started. Farm boy in Ohio needs to pay for college, and I put med school on hold and said this whole entrepreneur thing seems kind of interesting. I don’t have to go in debt a half a million dollars and I can just start a business? I’m gonna go this direction.
Josh Felber: That’s awesome. I know one of the key points you mentioned too was when you were carving the knives, you said I didn’t put my information on there. I put theirs. And I know we talked a little bit about this when we were first chatting a month or so back and I think that’s really key, because I think one of the components I think you talked about in your speech was most people put their logo on it. Their branding, not who they’re potentially trying to bring on as a client.
John Ruhlin: Yeah, whether it’s the client, the prospect, the employee, most of the time when you add a brand to something, unless you’re Under Armour or Nike or Rolex, your logo takes value away from the gift. It doesn’t add value. Nobody’s like ABC accounting firm’s logo’s on it, that’ makes it more valuable. No, they’re like I don’t even wanna take this home to my wife or my husband. It ends up at Goodwill, or in the trash. And so there’s companies that literally spend, if you add in all the corporate gifts and swag and crap, they spend billions of dollars having negative impact on their most important relationships or prospects. And what I mean by that is they get it and in their head they’re thinking there’s no freaking way I’m gonna wear that jacket, that Polo shirt, that whatever. Wine glass. Name the item. Portfolio. Number one, most of them are crap. They give middle of the road quality to people … it’s like giving a Fossil watch to somebody wearing a Rolex. You spent $100 on the watch, but I’m not taking my Rolex off to put a Fossil on, I’m sorry. I don’t care if it has my name on it, I don’t care if it has my logo on it. That’s just cheesy.
So there’s certain things that people just don’t understand when it comes to … like they do things in their business they’d never do personally. Like they’d never go to a wedding and engrave compliments of Josh Felber on the Tiffany’s vase you’re giving to the couple. That’d be tacky. But in business we call it Marketing and Advertising. Which is total crap. It’s basically pissing away thousands, millions, billions of dollars and nobody’s every called it out. Because when’s the last time you got a handwritten note saying “Dear Josh, I got your gift. It had your logo on it, made me actually think less of you as a person and I’m less likely to do business”. Like that’s a mean note, but we’ve talked to people, CEO’s, who have actually had that thought. I do a million dollars of business with this person and they sent me a bar of chocolate with their logo on it. They think that’s appreciation, that’s gratitude? That makes me feel VIP or special? Frick no. It makes them feel the opposite.
So our book really, none of it’s rocket science. A lot of the concepts are biblical. They’re from like 3000 years ago, but nobody is willing to put a spotlight on it because most people don’t think gifts matter cos we got a bunch of Type A men that suck at gifting anyway, most of the time. In their personal life, their wife or their significant other takes care of the gifting, and then in business it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. They think it doesn’t matter. They don’t put any time or energy or strategy into it, they delegate it to an assistant with an unrealistic budget. And then a bunch of crap goes out and they’re like yeah, see, I told you it didn’t work. And I’m like it doesn’t make any sense.
So we’re really just calling a spade a spade, in an area where nobody’s ever really said, wow, here’s an area where if we did it different it could actually make a difference.
Josh Felber: Definitely, and I think just even all the different companies that I’ve owned over the years, I remember anytime we’d send out gifts or anything it always had … cos your taught oh hey, your logo goes on it, it’s promoting you, your brand, not supporting the person you’re giving the gift to.
John Ruhlin: Yeah, and the ironic part is if you make the gift all about them, they make everything else all about you. So when you give a gift and make it all about them, what do they wanna do? They wanna reciprocate. They wanna talk about it. They wanna use it. They wanna tell their friends. When you make the gift all about yourself, everybody can read between the lines. This person is trying to disguise a gift and turn me into a billboard. And especially anybody of affluence is gonna be like, I’m not wearing their frickin’ brand. Now I may send them a token text or an email saying thank you just to be polite, cos we’re in 2017, everybody wants to be politically correct and be nice, but the bottom line is nine out of ten of those people … now you may get the one person who’s like they’ll take anything free. And they’re like everybody loves my gift. And I’m like the one out of ten that gave you the high five. The other nine are in the back alley making fun of you. But they’re never gonna say that to your face, because that’s mean.
We’re not trying to be mean, we’re just trying to be honest because in business, every dollar that you spend you want a return on your investment. You don’t give gifts just as a warm fuzzy nice … oh I’m Santa Claus once a year. No, relationships matter, then how you show gratitude. Like the tangible artifact matters. And it’s not like you can have a sucky business and give great gifts and all of a sudden magically your business is gonna go through the roof, but for companies that have their crap together, this is that one little lever that nobody’s doing that all of a sudden people are like holy crap, I thought I was good at referrals, I thought I was good at opening doors. And then they tweak this one little lever, this one little dial, and then they’re like oh my gosh, I wish I had been doing this 20 years ago. Because nobody does it. If everybody was a great gift-giver, then it wouldn’t work. It would just be part of the pissing-match noise.
Josh Felber: There’s no more mystique, no more “Oh wow, this is amazing, this person’s so thoughtful”. It’s just like okay, cool.
John Ruhlin: Yeah.
Josh Felber: Put it on the shelf with everything else.
John Ruhlin: Yeah, but that’s not the case.
Josh Felber: Awesome. So tell me what’s the most crazy gift that you ever gave to try to get into a company or to connect with somebody?
John Ruhlin: I mean, I’ve done some fun ones. I would say the one that’s kind of our signature story that some people have heard, The Cameron Herald, one of the top business coaches in the world, the short version of the story is he was coming to Cleveland. I found out that he wanted to go shopping at Brooks Brothers, it was his favorite store. I found out what his shirt size was, and I went to Brooks Brothers, bought everything in the new fall collection, shirts, jackets, pants, sweaters, belts, shoes, everything. I was totally freaked out cos my business partner thought it was like insane, it was $7,000 worth of clothes. We then went to the Ritz and merchandised his whole hotel room to look like a Brooks Brothers store and so when he got in and checked in, he went up to his room. Like you could tell … I invited him to the typical dinner and a ballgame, LeBron James, very good seats. And he didn’t give two rips about that, cos he’s like I’m gonna go … like most business people, dinner, ballgame, golf. Everybody does that. When he went to his room and saw that, he came down his eyes were like the size of silver dollars. He’s like whatever you wanna talk about for as long as you wanna talk about it, I’m all ears.
Now he’s become … he’s mentioned us in books and speeches, he’s opened up doors to the president of Starbucks. He’s done more than ten million dollars in advertising could do. And most people are like $7,000, I’d go broke doing $7,000. He ended up insisting that he pay for the clothes. Either he was gonna round up by 50%, or just tell us what the amount of clothes that he picked was. So the entire experience cost me nothing, and has reaped me seven figures. So that’s a crazy one.
We just recently sent somebody a sauna. That melted their … I guess, kinda pun intended, that melted their face off. They’re like I can’t believe a sauna’s on it’s way to me. That blew them away. So yeah, I mean, those are the over the top ones. Those aren’t necessarily the everyday gifts. And I tell people that you need to budget 80% of your budget for things you can do consistently. And that’s really what our company does, we execute those programs for companies because they can’t do it on their own. They could, but they have good intentions that never get done. But you need to budget 20% for when you find out something for a client or a prospect or an employee, you have the money set aside and the opportunity arises, $7,000 is already worked into the budget. Or $700, or whatever the number is, we have money set aside so when the opportunity arises we’re like let’s do it.
Josh Felber: Awesome. So tell me what, cos it sounds like these gifts are pretty personable or pretty close, what kind of research do you guys do, or what kind of research could somebody watching do to say like hey, I wanna connect with X-Y-Z to make sure that it’s the right, it’s not just another iPad or a Kindle that shows up.
John Ruhlin: Yeah, I mean we actually put a list together of the top then things not to give and so your listeners and watchers can go down … if you go to Giftologybook.com/bank they can go online and download the top ten worst gifts. And Apple is actually ironically one of them because you could go test drive a car, a Chevy Cavalier, and get an iPad. It’s lost it’s cache. That’s not a good gift at that point. So the top ten worst gifts, you can download and that gives you at least some guidelines of what not to do.
What’s interesting is we still do the knives and things like that because I can take that same gift, say a chef knife, $150. I can personalize it to the person, their spouse, their family, their logo, package it well, and since most people are either cooking at their house, entertaining, have kids, have company over, I pick things that they’ve never received in business, typically, that are unique, kind of off the wall, but still useful. Are best in class. The knives that we use are Cutco, they’re handmade in New York. But I can send that same gift to 1,000 people on the same day, and everybody that gets it though has got a handwritten notes, it’s personalized to me, it’s useful. It meets all of our criteria.
So I look at things that I can … and I used to make fun of mugs. People are like really you give mugs? I used to make fun of them but then somebody took a mug, a $250 mug, that basically was hand-carved and told my whole life story. And the guy drove from Atlanta to hand deliver that to me. One for me, one for my wife. And when I got those mugs, I was like … I mean he’s an artist. They were unbelievable. I was like in tears, I took it to my wife. She didn’t even know the guy and she’s like “Well he’s gotta stay at our house”. A $250 … because most people spend $5 on a mug. He spends $250 on a mug. So a lot of times you can take a common item, as long as you do it world class and follow our program, kind of like our proven process, you can take what doesn’t’ seem like a very sexy gift but if you do all the details right, timing, make it a surprise, all these other things, it allows you to gift the same thing over and over again to people but because of all the details, it feels … because it is. You did some thought, and you did all the details, right now it feels like an artifact. A gift. A representation of the relationship.
Now we do, like the $7,000 Brooks Brothers, that was a special personalized gift. We had to do some research. But that’s not executable when you have hundreds or thousands of people, necessarily. And so there’s a balance. It’s like how can you do the mass personalization. And so there is extra energy and effort in there, and that’s what our team does, but we know the go-to gifts that work, and we know how to do them, and that’s really what Giftology is. The playbook of like questions to ask yourself as you’re trying to put together this plan. Otherwise you have to hire somebody on your team full time that all they do is go buy gifts for people. We call them a Generosity Manager. And some people will do that, but that’s not the norm, and people can do it a lot more cost-effective with somebody like us if they want to. Or if they wanna do it on their own by just planning things out and being strategic with it, and so there’s a blend between the personalization and kinda the mass customization that allow you to … cos everybody’s looking for scale.
Like if you only have to buy one gift a year, you don’t outsource that. Like for your wife or your kids or your mom, you go do that yourself. You know, like you’re listening year-round for that thing. But in business, you might only have bits and pieces of information to go on, but you can still give an amazing gift if you follow our program.
Josh Felber: For example, my wife owns a big skincare company, so everything’s handmade, and we ship everything right from here and all that. So we’re working on this year going into retail. So going after the retailers and everything else, and I fortunately have owned other companies so we kinda know the whole process and just all the grind that it takes to get in front of somebody at Whole Foods.
John Ruhlin: The buyers and all that stuff.
Josh Felber: Right, all the buyers and everything. So moving in that direction, what do you think a good gift would be to send somebody in that position for that?
John Ruhlin: I mean, I think the knives work because everybody eats. I think the mug works because everybody either drinks tea or coffee. I like things in the kitchen, because it’s kind of like, it’s the reason you still go out to dinner with people, because breaking bread is like the Last Supper in the Bible, it’s very by our nature, we’re communal people, we like community, we like breaking bread and so I love things that are focused around the kitchen. There’s a set of glasses that we work with that are made from reclaimed wine bottles, so they’re really green, they’re repurposed, there’s an entrepreneur that we work with out of Arizona that does them and they’re amazing. They’re not super expensive but they’re useful and they’re things that people when they get them, they’re like I didn’t even know this existed.
So I think that sometimes people are like “Well we’re in the food business, so we have to give a food related item”. Well, think of the person like a human being. And I want a gift that’s not used once a year, I want a gift that’s used every single day. So I’ll take something un-sexy like a portfolio, for instance. Most people spend $20 on a portfolio. When I send a portfolio, it’s a $200 portfolio. And it’s personalized, handmade leather, made in the US. So when somebody gets it and I say hey I’d love for you to see our portfolio products, it ties in thematically but now they have something that they’re using everyday with their name on it, nothing about me, but subconsciously every single day, whether they’ve called me back or not, they’re thinking about me, my generosity, the reciprocity, and the likelihood of them returning your phone call, taking your phone call or taking a meeting goes through the roof because you gave them something that was really thoughtful and practical, but still universal.
And so I’d pick out your top 20, top 50, top 100 and find something like that that doesn’t necessarily have to do with … so people will send portfolios with their company logo colors, and it’s like does somebody really want a pink and paisley blah blah blah portfolio. Maybe not. So maybe give something that they would be like not just that’s cool, I’m never gonna use that, make them say oh wow, that’s really thoughtful. And then maybe two weeks go by, a month goes by, and sometimes we’ll send people a drip campaign where every … like Jeffery Gitomer, the number one sales author in the world. I wanted him as a client, an advocate. I sent him 18 gifts in a row over the course of 18 months before he finally invited me over to his house. He’s like you’re the most pleasantly persistent … and then threw some other expletives that he used, you know Gitomer, he’s over the top. From Jersey.
But it landed because of the pleasant persistence of those touch points and by the time he got the 18th one, his wife was talking about it, he was like I don’t know if this is gonna go anywhere, but let’s hang out for an afternoon and see what happens. Which is all you can ask for. A warm introduction, a cracked door. It’s not like if you have a sucky product the gift’s gonna get you in the door and get you the deal, but getting noticed and getting the opportunity to even get face time with a buyer is really difficult. And some gifts, you may send out 20, and you may get five back. Oh, I can’t take this. People are like oh, I’m not gonna do that again. I’m like what about the fifteen that kept it. 75% of people, now you’ve got something in their hands that they think about you every single day. Like what the heck is that worth to you? I don’t care about market share, I care about mind share of the people I actually care about. So it could be 50 people, 100 people, 500 people. Those are the things that … so I can’t necessarily say specifically for your wife, but those are the kind of things that I would walk through and think about.
And I also am big on reverse engineering and saying if I sent this to … let’s say I’m gonna pick a $200 item and I’m gonna send it to 100 people. That’s a $20,000 investment. How many deals do I need to land at a minimum level to make that $20,000 investment either break even or 5x, 10x, what’s the number? And then you can reverse engineer and say I’m thinking about this with metrics, not with hope and dreams. Like what are the numbers need to really be and what can I invest in each person, and sometimes people will say you know what, I can’t do 100 really well, so let’s back it down to do 50 really well, versus doing 100 or 1000 mediocre. But most people don’t do that, they just take their entire list or they say aww, we can never do that, or they do something mediocre for a small list and they don’t even give themselves a chance to succeed with it because people get some … I hear people send shoes, and they’re sending like Wal-Mart variety shoes saying they want to get their foot in the door. I’m like that might have worked like 30 years ago, but like somebody gets a velcroed miter shoe and you’re saying you’re world class, and you’re sending them a $20 Wal-Mart special, like in their head they’re thinking this is not congruent, this guy’s a cheeseball.
So thinking through things to make sure that they’re congruent, and they’re actually based on real numbers and metrics, massively important when you’re going into a campaign like this. Like this isn’t Obama’s Hope campaign. These are based on real numbers. I don’t care if you’re a democrat or republican, I’m a capitalist and I want a return on my investment. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but more often than not I win because we’ve done the numbers.
Josh Felber: Cool. That’s awesome, I remember, I think I was just reading an article a week or two ago, and it was about the person that sent the boxes of doughnuts, and then their resume was wrapped inside and then sent them to all the potential employers that they wanted to go work for. And I think they landed like 90% of the interviews that people haven’t been able to get into. And it made me think of you.
John Ruhlin: For a box of doughnuts.
Josh Felber: Yeah.
John Ruhlin: Oh my gosh, even if you over-nighted them, like and gold-plated them. I mean, $100? People are like I could never spend $100, and I’m like you’re interviewing for a $100,000 position, or $50,000. Do the math. I mean, that’s a no-brainer.
Josh Felber: Yeah. I was like huh, that’s pretty cool. Just a whole nother avenue of something you don’t think about but it opened the door up, because people are like man, this is ingenious. And I think you’ve mentioned in your talks before, it’s Fed Exed there, so it gets passed right to that executive or that HR person or whoever’s the one that kinda controls their destiny to come and have the interview.
John Ruhlin: And it brings buzz. They’re like, hey Jim, come over and check this out. You’ve got a stack of resume’s that are 1000 deep and all of a sudden, there’s the only resume that anybody’s talking about.
Josh Felber: Right. And I think it got picked up, an article got written on it, it got picked up by some news, so way more than just getting in the door, he got some publicity or she got some publicity from it, so.
John Ruhlin: Fifteen minutes of fame. There’s probably other people that are like now tracking that person down wanting them to work for them. I mean, it’s crazy. Over a relatively small investment but it blows me away how cheap and the old saying, penny wise and pound foolish. It’s amazing that people will be like I gotta go buy a new suit. Okay, so spend $500 or $1000 on your suit, I get it. But it doesn’t really matter what your suit looks like if you’re not getting face time with anybody. So take that $500 or $1000 and invest it there and you know, not saying go in looking like a bum. But it’s amazing where people put their priorities, and most people are sheep. They’re followers. They’re like, what’s everybody else do. Oh, I gotta have my shoes shined, I gotta duh duh duh duh duh, okay great, I get it. But that’s not gonna make you stand out. So, anyway, I’m on my little soap box.
Josh Felber: No it’s awesome man.
John Ruhlin: You get me worked up Josh.
Josh Felber: We’ll cool, we got a couple minutes left. Where can people find out about ya.
John Ruhlin: Yeah, I mean, they can go to Giftology book to learn about the book. You can go to Amazon and buy it on Audible and Kindle and all that kinda stuff. Obviously they can get the free download if they wanna learn just the ten things not to give, ten categories. Very basic, kinda straight and to the point. Giftologybook.com/bank. They can also go to Ruhlin Group, so my last name, R-U-H-L-I-N group.com. That’s where the project we did for the Cubs, a couple of the projects there, and the Jaguars. That’s more about if you wanna learn about the execution of the gifting programs and hiring us. If you’re interested more in like the thought leadership and blog and more speaking, JohnRuhlin.com is on that side, and of course @Ruhlin for Twitter and Facebook. All the normal places, you type in John Ruhlin, you’ll find me.
Josh Felber: Well yeah, I definitely wanna dive in more detail so have you back sometime or we’ll shoot a live interview in person would be fun and just dive into some more cool things that you’re doing and everything. And I know you have an awesome, a whole nother awesome story, I think it was about proposing to your wife, so I wanna–
John Ruhlin: Oh yeah, I almost died. FBI, FBI airport and almost death.
Josh Felber: Right, so we’ll save that for interview number two and keep everybody kinda hanging in suspense, for sure. But maybe one last thought or idea you wanna leave our audience with?
John Ruhlin: I think, I mean, I’ve kinda alluded to this, but I think that where everybody goes expensive, I cut out all together. So if it’s fancy brochures, if it’s trade shows, if it’s whatever. My steak dinner is not gonna be any better than your steak dinner. My golf isn’t gonna be any better than your golf. So when people go expensive, I cut it out. And I redirect that money into places where everybody’s going cheap, or not at all. And so our business cards, we spent $3 on it. Google thinks … like even Google thinks we’re gonna go broke, like we could never afford $3 business cards. I’m like you ever spend $3 on a cup of coffee? They’re like yeah, we do that every day. It’s all framework. And so a lot of what we do with gifting, the reason it works is because everybody’s gone so cheap. But I think you can do that with your brochures or like our business cards are $3, our letterhead is $9. I look for areas in my industry and in business in general where the standard is over here, to be really high and this to be really low, and I flip flop em.
Which I think is what any entrepreneur does, they look for an opening and they go to the exact opposite of what every body else does. Like my books, when I sent out my books originally, which, it got named by Forbes as top ten business book of 2016. I think one of the reasons is is we made like 50 versions of the book that were handmade with a linen box and a leather bag, they’re like $200 apiece. People are like you spent $200 on books? I’m like, let me think. This is 17 years of my life that I’ve put into this, and these are the most important relationships, mentors, friends, guys like Seth Godin. And there’s 30,000 books punished every week, worldwide, on Amazon and whatever else. So everybody focuses on spending like $2 on their book and getting it as cheap as possible, and I multiply that times 100 and spend $200, and guess what? The people that received the book were like this is the nicest book I’ve ever seen. Now, most people would say I’m gonna spend $20,000 on Facebook ads, I’m gonna spend $2,000 over here, and all these other numbers. And now you’re just playing in this red ocean. I wanna play in a blue ocean.
So in every area, as much as I can, I started and I bootstrapped the company, I don’t have any outside investors other than I sold half the business to a business partner about eight years ago. We’ve funded this ourself. So when I spend a dollar, I want to get a return on it. I don’t care what anybody else is doing, I want to do it in a way that nobody else is. So that would be the kinda wrap up. It’s not really about gifting. Gifting just happens to be an area which most people suck at so it’s a lever that can really stand out, but do that in every other part of your business, where everybody does it this way, go as far as you can the other direction because right now there’s a lot of noise and being top of mind and being memorable is a currency. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about it. I’m an attention broker. And frankly, with gifting, we’re the exact same frickin’ thing. We broker people’s attention, whether it’s with you clients or your prospects, we just do it a little bit differently then he does it. He does it with crazy TV shows and thought leadership and more F-bombs then I’ve said in my entire life in one hour, but it’s the same concept, it’s just using it a little bit differently.
Josh Felber: Cool. No, that’s awesome. And I know we kinda had that same mindset on the business cards, I have the black metal.
John Ruhlin: Yeah, you did it.
Josh Felber: Yeah, so that as our … and then the Ohio connection, it was like boom. Right on.
John Ruhlin: Cut from the same cloth, I mean.
Josh Felber: That’s right man. Make sure you check out John’s information if you wanna have them implement a gifting program for you, connect with him on that, as well as grab his book and you can do it own your own. You know, you don’t have to hire him. But if it takes your time and attention away from where you’re best skilled at, that’s what they’re there for. Again, John, I just wanna thank you for coming on the show today. It was an honor to have you, have your information out there and any way we can help you out, I’m glad to be here for that.
John Ruhlin: Thanks so much, this has been a lot of fun.
Josh Felber: I am Josh Felber, you are watching Making Bank. Get out and be extraordinary.