How does a company become a No. 1 distributor through generosity?

Joining me today is a guy who has a belief that he’s been acting on for years: if you want to grow your business, you need to be more generous.

I want to understand how he does it in a way that doesn’t make him or his customers look like suckers.

John Ruhlin is the founder of Ruhlin Group. They are the experts on how to build and access relationships through gift giving.

If you buy into the belief that you can grow your business by being generous to people and you need help doing that, you can call on the Ruhlin Group. They will help you find the perfect gift and you could buy it through them.

John Rulin

John Rulin

Ruhlin Group

John Ruhlin is the founder of the Ruhlin Group which is the #1 all-time distributor of Cutco.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. By the way, if you want to know what that means, go to Mixergy.com/About, you’ll get to hear the whole story of how I built this up and why we’re here. Short version is I’m here to learn from successful entrepreneurs so you and I can build better businesses. That’s my mission here at Mixergy.

Joining me today is a guy who has this belief that he’s been acting on for years that if you want to grow your business, you need to be more generous. I want to understand how he does it in a way that doesn’t make him and frankly his customers look like suckers. I don’t want to be a sucker, John. I want to help people. I care for them. But I also want to grow my business and ditto for my audience.

John: Yes. You came to the right place.

Andrew: Good. The guy whose voice you’re hearing is John Ruhlin. He is the founder of Ruhlin Group. They are the experts on how to build and access relationships through gift giving. Frankly, that’s a phrase that he gave me. Let me tell you guys what that means.

If you buy into his belief that you can grow your business by caring about people, by being generous to people and you need help doing that, then you can call on the Ruhlin Group. They will help you find the perfect gift and yes, you could buy it through them. That’s their business. We’ll find out more about it. He’s also the author of an upcoming book called “The Appreciative Leader.” What a good title for a book by you, John. It’s about how to use radical generosity to stand out, be memorable and grow your business.

This interview is sponsored by HostGator. Later on I’ll tell you why if you need a hosting company, you should go to HostGator. And it’s sponsored by Toptal. If you need a developer you’ve got to go to Toptal.com. But I’ll tell you more about them later. First, John, good to see you.

John: Good to be here.

Andrew: I told you before we got started that I want to not be a sucker here. I want to do it right. You gave me an example of what could happen. It had to do with an engineering firm that you worked with. What was this engineering firm trying to do?

John: They were like any other firm. They were calling on professional service firms. They were a smaller company calling on a larger company trying to stand out, be memorable. They get maybe ten percent of an architect’s business. They do all the prints and stuff when it comes to HVAC. So, they wanted to stand out. So, they could call and annoy people or send emails or check in or they could do something a little different.

So, they decided they would engage us and so they pick their top 30 architect firms and a specific person at each one. So, it wasn’t like blindly just sent out to anybody. It was somebody they’re already getting 10 percent of their business. And we put together in their case a monthly program, where every month something different was going out to each decision maker with a clever theme.

In this case, one of our top lines that we work with–I like gifts that get used every day and that get into the home and the significant other’s hands. It was cutlery. It was handmade cutlery and it was branded with the person’s name that was receiving it. It might say, “Hey carve out five minutes for us. I think we might be able to help you,” or, “Hey, I think we can help cut your costs on this next bid.”

Because of that, a couple months later, they were able to generate an extra $350,000 proposal that they landed just because of staying top of mind and being pleasantly persistent in how they were pursuing those client relationships.

Andrew: I see. I can see how it stands out but I can also see how it’s really expensive to send out cutlery. We’re talking about Cutco knives, which are really expensive knives, not super expensive, but they’re not cheap. We’re not talking about the cheap stuff that you can get at Target.

John: No.

Andrew: So, what was it about it that worked, that made them feel so confident that they were willing to invest the money to send out this cutlery to their potential customers.

John: One I think after almost every meeting I take, I send out to our clients, prospects, people I meet on an airplane I send out probably a quarter-million dollars a year worth of gifts. So, the owner of the company received a couple of gifts from us after taking a lunch and meeting. He’s an EO. I’m an EO.

So, I think he saw it, saw the way it was packaged and then he saw his wife’s responded. He said, “Holy crap, if I respond this way, maybe my top clients would respond this way.” He put a gamble on it and said, “I’ll spend $10,000 or $20,000 to try something if it could result in a 10 or 20 or 50x return.”

So, it wasn’t like he spent $500,000 for the first test. It was him investing $20,000, which is not insignificant, but I think he’s probably spent $20,000 on a tradeshow and have it produce nothing. Here at least you’re saying, “I’m taking my top 30 relationships I already have.” What’s worst case scenario? That they love you a little bit more and that they like you? The risk/reward was pretty insignificant.

Andrew: I see. EO is the entrepreneur organization that you have to qualify to be a part of and once you’re there, you get to network with other entrepreneurs. We actually asked you before we started the interview, our producer did, what’s your revenue and you said, “I’m not telling you, but I’ve been in EO for…” You said six year?

John: Seven years.

Andrew: EO requires that you make seven figures, $1 million plus in sales, right?

John: Correct.

Andrew: But are you profitable?

John: Yes.

Andrew: You’ve got to be profitable. You’re not a tech company working on some venture capitalist’s dime. So, I get it. You mentioned how Hal, one of my past interviews, a guy who I talked to about how he sold Cutco Knives, sent me a knife, sent me several knives home.

I had never gotten anything that actually fits within my home because I’m a tech guy. Most guys who I interview don’t know anything about the home. They’re always out. It really does make an impression. Even guests who come over and will like look through my drawers looking for a knife for dinner or for a fork or something, they’ll notice it. It stands out because it’s got Mixergy on it. It’s got my name on it. My wife noticed it. I get it.

I want to know how you got to this and I want to know more about your gift giving process. One of the reasons you got to this was you were in school working for Time Warner, making about $40. You fell off a ladder twice, which has got to hurt. You quit and you decided there’s a better opportunity for this and the better opportunity was what? Better opportunity than climbing ladders and falling–what was the new opportunity?

John: Well, it was more I painted myself into a corner. I was getting ready for med school. I was undergrad. If you want to get out of school with no debt, there aren’t a whole lot of options. You can go work at Gap for $6 and you have to work 1,000 hours a week or you look for other things.

So, I was fortunate to have a friend, high school buddy. They weren’t sales people at all. They were interning with Cutco. So, I said if those two jokers can do this, I can at least interview and try. So, I was a farm boy. So, I was pretty scared. I didn’t consider myself a sales person. It wasn’t like a master plan of like, “I’ll do my Time Warner thing and if that doesn’t work I’ll do my plan B.” It was just kind of like I didn’t know what else to do.

So, I ended up wearing my glasses to look smarter, going into the interview. I got hired. I didn’t realize it wasn’t that difficult to get into the internship program.

Andrew: It’s an internship program, meaning you’re not getting paid?

John: No, you get paid, but a number of colleges like Purdue and a number of universities, you can get–and I did–I got college credit for working at the company based upon the things I was doing.

Andrew: I see. So, you both get to sell these knives and get a commission and in addition to that, you also get college credit. The reason schools do this is Cutco’s sales training program is so good that they feel it’s worth giving some credit to the students who go through it.

John: Yeah. There are some colleges that have made it a requirement to graduate in certain degrees. Like a sales degree, that’s part of the semester is that you need to sell Cutco. So, yeah, that wasn’t why I was doing it. It wasn’t for the internship. I was doing it to freaking pay for college.

So, I went in, got hired and did 40 appointments my first 10 days. I’m driving all over Ohio. I was dating a girl at the time. We’ve all had these mentors in our lives or at least most successful people have. I was dating this girl. Her dad’s name was Paul. He was on the board of directors. I noticed when you’re a poor college kid I noticed he was always giving things away, like super generous. He was an attorney but he owned oil wells, he owned the bank in town. He owned like everything.

And everybody that had an idea called Paul. He would do crazy–he would find a deal of noodles and buy like a semi-load of noodles and everybody at church the next Sunday–there were like 200 people at the church–would end up with a year’s supply on noodles. So, when I was selling these knives, he bought a set for himself and his three daughters that aren’t even married probably the first week. I went back to him nervously, sheepishly saying, “Hey, Paul, would you want to buy some pocket knives?”

That’s when I kind of got hit by a bus with this idea. He came back to me and said, “John, I’ll buy pocket knives, but really what I’d like to buy is paring knives.” I looked at him all bewildered like deer in a headlights. He said, “Here’s why–I have all these clients that are men. Yes, they would use a pocket knife. But I’ve found in my 30 years of being an attorney that if I take care of the inner circle and the family, everything else seems to take care of itself.”

So, I started to apply the principles that I saw Paul doing and the questions I saw him asking himself to Cutco. That’s when things blew up. I started to land professional sports teams and crazy opportunity.

Andrew: Walk me through this process. You became one of the top sellers of Cutco Knives really fast, within months, it sounds like one of the reasons you were able to do it was Paul turned you on to not selling individual knives, not selling enough for a full family’s drawer, but for a business’ clients. So, you were selling in bulk, right?

John: Yes.

Andrew: The reason he wanted knives is to give to the wives of the people he was working with or the husbands to have at home because if you have it in the home, then you’ve broken through the office and you’ve gotten really personal with your potential customer.

John: Yes.

Andrew: What else did he teach you that allowed you to break records?

John: I think a lot of things. Paul was all about personalization. He would make the gift all about the person. I think in our Western culture, we get tied into the brand and, “Hey, I’m spending this money.” Paul was all about the other person. There were no strings attached and it wasn’t brand-centric.

I think he made me understand that there’s a difference between a gift and a promotional item. Most people try to blend the two together. So, they put their logo as big as possible on it and pass it out to as many people as possible. And then they wonder why nobody says thank you. So, Paul would always ask himself, “Is it personalized?”

So, when I’d send out a gift, I’d find out the CEO of an insurance company. I found out his wife’s name. I would never put my name on anything. I would say, “Handcrafted for the Andrew Smith family,” or, “Andrew and Susie Smith,” and put their name on it and their logo. That personalization made them internalize what it was like to receive a real gift, not a promotional item. It made that bridge and connection. When I’d get the meeting, I’d put on the note, “Carve out five minutes for me. I promise it will be worth your time.”

The 55-year old CEO is expecting somebody like 45 years old to come in and talk to them about some business solution and in walks me at 21 to come in and talk to them about relationship building and strategies and how I could help their 100 sales people open up doors and how they could take care of their top 1,000 clients. The guy was just like… They would buy. They would say, “Sounds like a better idea than giving out honey baked hams every year. Okay. We’ll give you a shot.”

So, I think the personalization was big. I think the fact that Paul, whatever he would give, most people, they say, “I’ve got this great idea. I want to give a watch.” They say, “Okay, what’s a nice watch? I don’t know, Fossil? It’s $100. $100–we’re being generous.” So, they buy 1,000 Fossil watches and they pass them out to all their clients. Meanwhile, their clients all have freaking Rolex’s on. So, you spend $100 on a watch. What happens to the watch?

Andrew: Gets tossed in a drawer or goes on to…

John: Goes to Goodwill or gets tossed in a drawer. So, Paul would find something random like a knife or noodles or a mug. If he would give out a mug, it would be like a $40 mug. It would be best in class and it would represent the brand really well. So, it was a lot of really simple things that inherently all business people know, but we kind of view gifting very soft and view it as a nice to not a have to. So, we kind of half-ass it at the last minute on December 15th and we say, “Oh my gosh, we made money this year, I guess we check a box.”

Most guys are the ones making those decisions. We’re very linear. We just want to, “Hey, Susie, how many clients we have?” They talk to their assistant. “Here’s $10,000, take care of everybody will you?” So, she divides $1,000 by 10,000 and says, “Well, I guess I have $10 a person to spend on everybody.” There’s not a whole lot of–what I’ve found is we’re playing in this pool where nobody else is playing and a lot of what Paul–he was an Amish attorney.

Andrew: He was Amish?

John: He grew up Amish. He was one of ten kids. He was Amish until he was 7 years old. They left the Amish church. So, he literally went to college. He had to go get his GED. He’s a super smart guy, then went to undergrad, then went to law school.

Andrew: Let me make sure I understand. Here’s what I can take away from it–look for opportunities to sell in bulk, not one-off, right?

John: Yeah.

Andrew: Open doors with gifts. Don’t put your logo on a gift because if you do, people are going to want to toss it in the trash. But if you put their logo or their name on it, it’s personalized to them and they’re going to want to hold on to it. Be more thoughtful in your gift giving. That’s basically it, right?

Oh, here’s another one. Don’t sell the product. Sell the philosophy behind the product. If you’re walking in and saying, “I have all these knives for you to give out or to sell,” no, “I have all these knives for you to give out to your people.” It would feel like you’re just a knife salesman, but you had this philosophy–you’re smiling as I say that. Why are you smiling?

John: If I called up–I found out very quickly if I called up and said, “Hey, I have these great knives to show you.” It’s like click. Who the heck has time to talk about knives? But if you call up and say, “Hey, would you like to have ten times more referrals attracted to you?”

Andrew: Ah, and the results. So, you’re selling the results which are the referrals, but you’re also selling the philosophy. Everyone else can sell results, or at least they can try to sell results, right? I can call up a client and say, “I’ve got all these leads for you.” Am I overstating it to say it’s a philosophy of gift giving they could buy into?

John: I think at a core level, most people–I shouldn’t say most–there are a lot of people out there that are very generous in their personal life with their kids or their wife or their husband or their church, but most people don’t know how to bring that into business without looking soft or fluffy or being taken advantage of.

I think when I come out and say, “You’re being generous in your personal life. Imagine if you’re able to take that same core belief and put a process to it in your business life and attract people the same way you build relationships in your personal world in your business life.” I think a lot of people resonate with that that are already givers or already generous or already like, “Hey, I’m that kind of person. I’m already doing that. I just don’t know how to do it in business.”

Andrew: “I don’t how to do it right.” All right. I want to get back into how you continued on with this business and how you built it up. But let me ask you this about gift giving. A lot of your gifts seem very expensive. These Cutco Knives are not cheap knives, right?

John: Yeah.

Andrew: Is there a cheaper way to do this, to give out gifts that are meaningful but don’t cost, what did you say, $20,000 for an experiment?

John: Yeah. So, here’s our rule of thumb–going back to Paul, what I teach on is about 18 different things that I saw Paul did. I shared a few of those with you. What I saw Paul do was most of what he gave was practical luxuries. What was interesting, even for a small company, we’ll go and take somebody out to dinner and spend $100 or $200 or $300 on a dinner or round of golf or a ballgame and we don’t even think twice about it.

Even though it’s only an hour or two hour or five hour experience, it’s consumable. It’s gone. So, we’ll drop $500 without thinking about it. And then when it comes time to buy something that’s tangible that literally could be the artifact of the relationship, that’s the trigger, all of a sudden we want to go super cheap on it.

Our rule of thumb is whatever you’d be willing to spend–I don’t know what size company you are–on a round of golf, a dinner or a ballgame, you should be willing to spend on something that’s tangible and could last the next 20 or 30 years.

So, our sweet spot per gift is between $100 and $1,000. That’s where 90 percent of what we sell falls into that category, whether it’s knives or leather goods or wine openers. It doesn’t matter what we sell, that’s the sweet spot. We go as low as probably $40 or $50 per gift and we go as high as $25,000 per gift.

But 90 percent of the time we’re playing in that sweet spot of just redirect some of your travel or entertaining budget or your tradeshow budget or advertising budget–how about you redirect that to the people that you already have relationships with or the people you know you want to have the relationship with. Versus doing the math, let’s narrow it down and shoot with a laser. It sounds like it’s expensive, but we could get Luis Vuitton bags and crazy things that are $5,000 each, but that’s not really what we’re in the business of.

Andrew: All right. Paul, you and his daughter eventually broke up. Was it awkward with him after you guys broke up?

John: Yeah. It was a little bit. Him and I still continued to get together and grab an occasional lunch. I tried to thank him with gifts. I realized, like as you look back on it, like if I hadn’t dated her and met him and if he hadn’t taken a gamble on buying these crazy knives for people, what would I be doing right now? Would I have gone to medical school and become a doctor?

It was a little awkward. It was more like sad because I loved the family and I loved–my dad wasn’t super involved growing up. So, it was kind of like he became like another father to me in many ways. I have other mentors that are like that to this day. But I think that it was just kind of sad because I wanted to continue to be mentored by him more than anything.

Andrew: Were you or was it too awkward to continue?

John: Loosely yes, but it definitely continue at the same level now that I was no longer with his…

Andrew: You mentioned growing up. You had a couple of stories that I could relate to from your childhood and one I can’t. The one I can’t has to do with sheep in the middle of the night. What did you do with sheep and why do you have to take care of sheep in the middle of the night?

John: Talk about a random question. So, I grew up one of six kids on a farm, 50 acres and even though it was a small farm, it was very much a working farm.

Andrew: And your dad was part of your life at that point?

John: Step dad.

Andrew: But not your dad, I see. Okay.

John: Yeah. I’d see my father probably two or three times a year.

Andrew: Is it too much of a jerky thing for me to ask you why? I’m a dad now. I’m wondering how does this guy not spend more time.

John: We were a couple hours away and he was always working. After the divorce, he never really got back on his feet, to be honest.

Andrew: I see.

John: He did end up eventually coming and working for me for a number of years. So, I got to kind of spend time with him then. But in general, he was always out hustling working and it didn’t…

Andrew: Do you feel like you wanted to work hard and make money so that what happened to him wouldn’t happen to you, that that was a warning sign at an early age?

John: I think I’ve always been an overachiever and wanted to avoid the pain that I saw in his life and the pain I maybe felt. Pain is a powerful motivator and incentivizer. I think there’s a certain amount of, “Yeah, I never want to go down that,” or do everything I can to avoid going down that path.

Andrew: I know we had that period in my family’s life where we didn’t have insurance because it was too expensive. I remember if we fell or if we wanted to go play, my dad would say, “Don’t play too hard. We don’t have insurance.” I remember saying, “I’m going to work so hard that’s never going to be an issue for me. I don’t want that to be a deciding factor whether I have fun or not whether my kids have fun or not.” Those things do shape you. The sheep–what happened in the middle of the night?

John: So, the word entrepreneur wasn’t in my vocabulary, but I was always looking for ways to make money. One of them was when you live on a farm, you buy animals, you raise them, you sell them. So, we were taking the thing called 4H. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it or not, but it’s kind of a national organization.

Andrew: Strangely they have one in Los Angeles even though it’s much more of a rural organization, right?

John: Yeah. They’ve gone in to the cities. It’s a pretty big organization. So, we were raising sheep to sell and show at the fair and that sort of thing. So, it was the winter time. Sheep don’t–it’s not like they’re scheduling a delivery so when the baby’s come, they’re coming whenever. So, we had a heat lamp out there and had to go out and check on them.

Unfortunately, we lost a few of them and one in particular, it got a bladder stone and blocked the kidney to the point where it started to fill up with urine. We’re backwoods farm people. It’s not like you could take it to eh vet for one sheep. It’s not like a $1 million horse that you’re going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on. So, it continued to fill up with urine to the point where it was like leaking through its skin and all its appendages.

Andrew: Wow, that could happen?

John: We had to take it out. I’m like 10 or 12 years old and I have to go take it out and dig the hole and literally shoot it in the head to put it out of its misery because it was in pain. Talk about suffering. It was suffering.

Andrew: Yeah. And you did that on your own?

John: Yeah. I did that on my own by myself.

Andrew: Buying sheep, was that something you did on your own or your family bought him?

John: I bought him with my own money.

Andrew: Really?

John: Yeah. I started working for money actually for my step dad. He had a tree business, trimming trees and splitting wood and all that kind of stuff. So, we were able to earn money that way and a few other ways. I bought it with my own money that I saved up, bought animals, raised them and all that kind of stuff.

Andrew: I grew up in New York. I had no idea this stuff even went on. What I could relate to was what you did with Lemonheads growing up.

John: Yeah, the candy man.

Andrew: What did you do then?

John: So, a lot of kids have done this. But I started in elementary school and then continued–I’d go to the Five and Dime shop and buy Lemonhead packages–I’d buy a whole case of them and get them for $0.05 or $0.10 and I’d be able to flip them for a quarter at school. I upgraded to Blow Pops. In middle school, during study hall and wherever else, I got shut down. I started counting my money in study hall. One week I think I made like $200 and had stacks of $1s and all this change. The teacher is like, “Where did you get all that money?” And she told the principal and they shut down the candy operation

Andrew: So many entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed have gone through that. If anyone out there is a student who is experiencing this, you’ve got to contact me. I’ve got to know about you and I’ve got to help you out if your teachers are doing this to you. We should be encouraging entrepreneurship, not shutting it down.

Speaking of encouraging entrepreneurship, let me talk about my sponsor, HostGator. Have you had any experience with HostGator, John?

John: I have not. I heard the name, but that’s it.

Andrew: I’m about to blow your mind then. Maybe not blow your mind. I’m about to give you some comfort and anyone else who has a website that’s gone down in the middle of the night. I know when I started out, my website would go down for some reason at 4:00. That’s just when I was getting ready to go home or do one last interview before going home.

There was no one to contact. I remember I would try emailing. Nothing worked. I would tweet. That’s the thing that worked. Someone in my audience would help me out and they would basically say, “You’re with a bad hosting company.”

If you’re suffering with a bad hosting company, you don’t have to. HostGator has incredible up time and they don’t make you go to Twitter if you need support. They have a phone number you can call and they’ll help you out. If you’re with a company you’re not happy with, they’ll help migrate you and in many cases, they’ll do the migration for you. All you have to do is go to HostGator.com/Mixergy.

If you have an idea for a business, maybe this interview is giving you an idea for something you should be building, with HostGator, within minutes, you can be up and running, test it out, see if it works, if it doesn’t work, if you’re not happy with HostGator, they have a 45-day money back guarantee. So many people have signed up because it’s such a great deal.

John, let me ask you this country that I’ve asked other interviewees–if you had to start over today, 21 years old, no money, all you have is a HostGator account, do you have an idea for what you would build? You could do anything–blogs, online shopping, a landing page that invites people to call you up for business.

John: Yeah. I think right now we’re talking about podcasting, ironically enough, is a big mechanism. So, I’m realizing with the book and some of the interviews we’re doing, we need to be the thought leader in the space.

Andrew: Ah, yes. You could use a HostGator account to put up a page for your podcast. It could be something like the GiftGivingPodcast.com. You probably want a better name than that, but that’s probably what I can come up with on the fly like this. They’ll give you unmetered disc space, unmetered bandwidth. That means you have enough resources to actually get your podcast up and running. Yes, you could eventually shift it over, shift the content over to another podcast provider, but your website could still live on with HostGator.

John: Actually, when you pick up the phone and call them, there are real people that answer the phone.

Andrew: Yes. You know what? I’ve actually done it in past interviews where I would call up in the interview and they pick up within like 90 seconds, but it’s kind of odd while you and I are sitting here for someone to pick up. If you’re at home, 90 seconds will fly by like it’s nothing.

John: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. HostGator.com/Mixergy–if you go directly to that URL, they’ll give you 30 percent off. I’m grateful to them for sponsoring.

I’ve waited too long to do that first sponsorship message. That means the second one is coming up pretty fast. So, we’ll move on with the story. Once you met Paul and he opened you up to these bulk sales, did you go just to corporate sales after that or did you stick with individual sales?

John: I stuck with individual sales for a couple of different reasons. One is I realized really quickly when I started to present the idea, I focused more on the knives. My next corporate sale took another year before that happened. So, I was like, “Oh, maybe it’s just the girlfriend’s father effect. Maybe Paul is just crazy and wants to help me out.” So, I was motivated. I needed to make money.

I think the other thing I realized the best way to get someone interested and engaging with me was to meet them at their house. They’re relaxed, sell them on Cutco and the knives, and then if I presented, “Hey, you love Cutco. You just bought the knives from me.” Then come back six months later and say, “What are you going to be for your clients for this next event you’re doing or the holidays or whatever.” So, it was an easier lead in. They liked me. They trusted me. They loved the product. So, I would show up at their house with a custom gift with their logo, their name on it or whatever. So, I sold a crap load of knives.

But I got good at the asking for referrals to business owners. So, all I was seeing was business owners–one, they liked quality products. One, they had disposable income. Three, they were able to hopefully become a corporate client at some point in time. So, I continued to sell a lot of knives individually for probably a good two years.

Andrew: You told Jeremy a story of an appointment you had with a church member. They were on the phone with you and they said, “We don’t want to buy.” Do you remember this?

John: Yeah.

Andrew: You did what?

John: Eli and Clara. I remember them well. So, word gets around in a small community. I’m out selling these knives. Of course they find out how much they’re costing. You call up. They’re just very up front. They’re like, “You can come over, but we’re not buying anything.” They were very cut and dry. They were just not real nice. But they did let me come over.

So, it was my last appointment. I probably had six or seven appointments that day. I’m getting calls and whatever else and, “Hey, let’s go out and have a drink.” I said, “No, I’ve got this last appointment.” So, I went in and I’m like, “I’m just going to rock this. I’m going to at least have fun. I’m going to have fun. Maybe they’ll have fun.” But we got to the end of the appointment. It was a two-hour appointment. They started asking good questions and they seemed to actually like have fun. But they ended up buying a couple thousand dollars’ worth of knives afterwards.

The fun part was when I went back six months later. I looked in their house. They were a homebuilder. I was going to pitch them an idea of giving a set with every home they built, which is something we do a lot of. Clara was like, “Come on in.” It was like I was part of the family.

I look over at their set. Their set is normally like a 32-piece knife set and I looked over and it was like 90 percent gone. I said, “Clara, did you just cook? Are they all in the dishwasher?” She’s like, “I gave them all my daughter.” I said, “You realize there are smaller sets. Why did you buy a 32-piece knife set if you were going to give away 90 percent of it?”

She’s like, “Well, John, you were so excited and so energetic.” She’s like, “We felt like we were missing out if we didn’t buy the whole thing.” I’m like, “You spent $2,000 on knives because of my energy?” It solidified in my mind that people do buy from another person if they’re excited about the product and genuinely like that energy.

Andrew: How do you get to stay that excited when they turn you down? How do you walk into a place feeling psyched up after on the phone they tell you they don’t want to see you, after you’ve already talked to so many other people and you’re getting close to the end of the day, how do you do it?

John: I think one thing is I hung out with a number of top performers and people that have a tendency to buy or help people out or whatever else, they have defense mechanisms. So, you come to find out that they’ll say that because they’re afraid of actually buying and their tendency is to say that as kind of a defense, but really they’re tendency is to buy. So, you recognize the psychology of it. I don’t know if I recognize it at that point in time, but over time I started to recognize there are certain buying signs, which is ironic that somebody would say that.

I think the other thing is I was in a sales contest and I wanted to break some records and I was like, “These guys own a home building company, so if they want to buy they could buy.” I think there’s a part of it reputationally. They go to church with me. I don’t want them to be like, “John is the most boring guy on the planet.” I wanted them to at least have fun even if they didn’t buy from me. So, I think I wanted people to enjoy the time that they spent, not like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to sit through this…”

Andrew: What do you do to make a knife sales experience fun?

John: You tell cheesy jokes. I cut a ton of food. This wasn’t the case, but in general, if I could I’d schedule it around dinner time and I’d make them diner. You have people over at your house, a lot of times there’s wine and food out and that’s a bonding experience. So, I think that I would look for ways like that. I’d bring the kids toys or I’d bring the dog snacks or I’d find out what their favorite ice cream was and I’d show up with it. I would just do goofy stuff that, I don’t know, if I was having somebody over at my house that I would hope somebody would do.

Andrew: All right. So, you made that sale. You started to build up to get other sales. It seems like Paul taught you a lot of good stuff, but also because he was diversified, you said earlier that any time someone had an idea, they’d come to Paul. He was in lots of different businesses. Is that why you also got into so many different businesses?

John: That’s a great question. There are probably two reasons I got into so many different businesses. One is I get bored quickly. So the idea of doing the same thing over and over and over again, I have ideas and I want to challenge them. I enjoy learning from people. One of my skills or abilities or sometimes weaknesses is I see opportunity in everything. I could figure out the angle of where I could do this or make money. It’s like the candy thing. I can’t help myself. So, I think there’s that element.

I think there’s another element of feeling insecure and feeling like maybe the knife thing or the gift thing wasn’t enough. It’s like a company that has to have 1,000 employees or a big building before they’re a company. I think there was an element early on in that first five or ten years that was like, “Yeah, I do the gift thing and yeah I do the knife thing.” But that’s not enough. I need to be investing in other companies. I need to be in venture capital or I need to own real estate. I think there was an insecurity element of like if I want to be this icon or something, I have to do more than just this simple knife thing.

Andrew: What’s the furthest that you got away from your gift giving business?

John: That’s a great question. Probably the commercial real estate doesn’t sound crazy, but that was pretty crazy. I invested in a retail operation, which in hindsight I’m like, “I hate retail. That’s not my business at all. I would never want to be in retail.” But for some reason I kind of got locked in, “This is an amazing opportunity,” and the real estate that was with it.

I think those are probably two of the more–there have been some other things I’ve pursued that didn’t have anything to do with what I was doing. We had this Bubble Banks company which helps charities raise money, which has really never made us a ton of money, but it fits my core values, so even though it’s a weird thing to throw out there, it’s kind of been a labor of love, even though it hasn’t been a great financial move.

Andrew: So, then you had this four-hour lunch with someone who you were talking about all your financial difficulties, right?

John: Well, I had a four-hour lunch, but it wasn’t the financial difficulties, it was actually the opposite, it was the growth. I was talking about growth and here’s what you’re doing. You’re talking about Rod, I’m assuming. He was talking–his passion of wanting to run a company and he’s a CEO consultant at this top 100 accounting firm. We were finishing each other’s sentences but realized his skill set and my skill set were like the perfect blend.

So, that four-hour lunch turned into a weekly lunch, which turned into when he got recruited to be CEO of a couple of other companies, we stayed in touch. Eventually we said, “Why don’t we start looking for companies to invest in together.” Your skill set of running them, my skill set of growing them, that would be awesome. So, we tried to buy a couple of business. That ended up not working out.

Eventually I just said, “You know what? I know operationally we’re not as efficient as we should be. There’s money that’s probably leaking through the company.” I’m focused on the back end. Why don’t you just buy half of this business and we’ll treat it like a little holding company. So, that’s what we did back in 2007.

Andrew: And now you guys are partners?

John: Yeah. 50/50 partners, which as you know, without him over the next two years, I would have lost the business.

Andrew: Why? That’s why thought maybe at the time you first started talking to him, you were in financial trouble.

John: No.

Andrew: Why would you have lost the business?

John: So, everything was going up like a rocket ship. Everything was great. Then when he came in, he started to poke around the books and poke around on things and realized some numbers weren’t adding up. I come to find out that my assistant who’s also my CPA is stealing. So, I was like, “Oh, crap. Let’s get rid of her.” She knew every client. She had every client file at our house. She was working remotely.

So, that was an awkward situation like, “Okay, we’ll recover.” And then two, three, four weeks later, I forget what it was. But then you get the ominous IRS audit paperwork, which then we started looking into the numbers even more. It was like, “Oh my gosh, we’ve been doing everything wrong for years.” A lot of just not good.

And then I had met a girl. She moved to Ohio, which was awesome except for I started to realize that really what I thought was this great foundation–like, the commercial real estate I invested in was going down the tank. Other companies I invested in were going down the tank. I went from like living high in the hog and doing all these crazy gifting experiences and just doing crazy stuff to dating this girl who moved to Ohio and living on $1,000 a month take home, which was pretty humbling when you’re splitting a check with your–she’s now my wife, thank god.

She saw the worst of the worst of the worst of being an entrepreneur. I almost didn’t make it. With all of the different debts and different things I’d invested in, I’d spread myself so thin, without him navigating it, we wouldn’t have survived.

Andrew: What did he do to navigate it?

John: Well, one he brought a calmness to things. He had dealt with $30 million companies and companies that were being investigated with one of the partners like FBI with fraud–nothing really shook him. He really took everything that I was dealing with financially, even personal financial stuff. He took it off my plate. I didn’t get depressed or have to think about it. He took it and said, “You know what? If it’s coming, I got it.”

Andrew: “You go sell, I’ll pay your phone bill. You go sell. I’ll make sure that the rent for the office is paid.”

John: Yeah. “We’ll find a way. I’ll let you know if it gets bad enough to ask somebody for a loan. But other than that, you go do your thing.” He didn’t take a salary for almost two years.

Andrew: And he did this part-time and then you guys became partners?

John: No, he was full-time.

Andrew: Full-time no salary?

John: Full-time no salary. So, sometimes we’re like, “Oh man, you’re the face of the company and you’re doing all these things. Does it make you sad when you see 50 percent of it go to Rod? He’s behind the scenes. Could you just hire a CFO?” I’m like, “Yeah, I definitely could hire a CFO. But you can’t hire somebody that’s willing to put everything on the line and willing to sacrifice and go to blows with you when you’re in the deepest, darkest pit.” To this day, he would have to like cut my right arm off. He’d have do something pretty crazy to not want to be loyal to the guy to the ends of the earth. He poured in so much. He’s the rock.

Andrew: What’s the biggest mistake that you made that he had to unwind? I want to know what to avoid?

John: Hiring an assistant that has check writing capabilities. That was a big mistake. But I think the biggest mistake was investing in things that you don’t understanding and not having cash and not having things set aside so you can weather storms. I always doubled down and said, “I’m going to double sales and things will be better”

I think the biggest mistake he unwound was this naiveté that you don’t need reserves or that you don’t need to plan for a rainy day or that everything is going to work out. Now we have a certain amount of cash to pay payroll for multiple months, even if we have no cash coming in. He’s put us in a position of stability that before I was just like, “That’s a great idea. Let’s throw $20,000 at it,” without saying, “Okay, can we afford to?” We’re like, “What are our reserves? What’s the worst that could go wrong here?”

Andrew: I see. Are you making more than $1 million in profits as a business?

John: No.

Andrew: Not yet.

John: No.

Andrew: More than $500,000?

John: Yes.

Andrew: You are. Does it bother you that your buddy Jayson Gaignard might hit $1 million in profits before you? The guy just came out of nowhere.

John: No. Not at all. If there’s a guy that’s on this planet that deserves–you talk about a guy that’s gone through crisis and then come back, not at all, man. Hal and those guys–I love my inner circle doing well. It raises my game. You know how it is.

Andrew: What is called? Mastermind Talks, the event–he’s a good gift giver too. I saw him on Facebook with a stack of tickets to some play. I don’t even know what the play is because I don’t care about plays that much. But I did see the stack of tickets.

John: It was the Michael Jackson show out in Vegas at Mandalay Bay.

Andrew: That’s what it was. Were you there with him?

John: I was not. We just had our third daughter about three weeks ago. So, I’m on travel lockdown right now. But I would love to be there. Joey Coleman who’s a good friend, personal IPO. But we actually–I think Jayson mentioned this on your show–we helped him with the more tangible gifting strategies he puts into place. We’re the silent people behind the scenes to make others look good.

Andrew: He told me about the knives. What other gifts did you help him give out?

John: Well, I’ve helped other people give him gifts. We did a 12-month series of gifts with crazy headphones and leather goods for his wife.

Andrew: Someone else wanted to give him that kind of gift.

John: Yeah. I just met Jayson, I went to the second event and then we helped him with the third event. I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to help him with his fourth Mastermind Talks. But he’s opened up so many doors for us. I hope he makes $1 million. He’s one of those guys that he has to put people around him because he could be too generous with giving that money away way.

Andrew: I can see that. He did do a great interview on Mixergy. Anyone should go check it out. It’s Jayson, J-A-Y-S-O-N. This interview is sponsored also by Toptal. John, before we started, you asked me, “What is Toptal?” So, I’ll tell you right now.

Here’s the deal. There is a crisis in hiring right now. When it comes to hiring developers, everybody is outbidding everyone else. Worse than that, it takes forever to find developers. So, many companies give up on finding the right one and they find the one that’s right here, right now. That’s really horrible if your whole business is creating software. You’re creating problems that will then cause bigger and bigger issues for your business in the future, maybe even take down your company if you have the wrong developers.

So, how do you find the right developers? Well, this company came along called Toptal that has this new idea. They said, “Instead of going to a headhunter, instead of going to a freelance site, what if we just get a team of the best developers that we can possibly find,” we’re talking about a really huge network of them. “And when someone wants to hire a developer, they can come to use and we’ll have these developers here.”

Unlike a regular dev shop does where they’ll build it for you, what Toptal said is, “No, we’ll give you the developers. You already have a team. You already have an idea. You already have a company. We’ll take our developers, slide them into your team and they can build whatever you need.”

We know that they can build whatever you need because before you bring on one of the Toptal developers, Toptal will talk to you and find out what’s your need. What software are you guys writing? What language is it in? How do you guys like to work? What do you use to communicate with each other? What are your weird company quirks? And then they’ll go and find within your network the person that fits in within your quirks and within your knees and can do the job that you’re looking for and then some. They’ll say “Here’s the person. Do you want to hire them?”

If you want to hire them, you just pay Toptal. Toptal will take care of payment to them. Toptal will take care of all the salary and everything else and the taxes that go along with it. Actually, I don’t know how that works. I don’t know what kind of tax situation they have. But I do know they introduce you. You pay Toptal. Toptal takes care of the rest. You just get to work with your developer that will code with you.

John: Wow.

Andrew: It’s Toptal. If you go to Toptal.com/Mixergy, they’ll give you 80 free developer hours when you pay for 80. We’re talking about 80 free top developer hours. And they’ll give you a really good guarantee. We’re talking about two weeks. If you’re not happy, you won’t pay. But don’t worry. The developer still gets paid. They’re not stiffing the developer. They just want to make sure that you’re not paying for anything you’re not happy with.

I’ll ask you a quick question, John. If you had a Toptal developer right now, what would do? What would you add to your business if you had a really good developer from Toptal?

John: We’ve actually talked a little bit about creating an app or some sort of technology that would make it easier on the fly to be able to appreciate and send out gifts to the people that you met with that day–take your call log and your meeting log, just automate the process of gifting. We don’t really have that technology to make that happen.

Andrew: Perfect. A lot of people have a good team but they don’t have the right person to do a development job that they’ve been wanting, that they’ve been putting off, that they’ve been thinking, “If I had a good development team then I’d do it.” You don’t have to put it off. You can go to Toptal. And if you already have a team and you need more people, you can go to Toptal. That’s one of the biggest reasons why people go to Toptal. They already have a development team and you need more.

All right. So, if you need someone, where are you going to go? Toptal.com, throw in a /Mixergy at the end and they’ll give you a really good deal. I’m grateful to them for sponsoring.

So, now you’re building up this business. You’re starting to–you’re partnering up with someone. At what point do you become–I hate the phrase thought leader–but you have become the “Gift Guy.” How did you make yourself into the “Gift Guy?”

John: I think that it wasn’t something I was necessarily seeking out. I think I’d get asked to speak at an event and realize, “Wow, that really resonated with people.” I’d get asked to speak at a conference and recognize, “Nobody else is talking about this.” It wasn’t something I had to elbow people past to get to the top. I think it was organic that the opportunities would happen and I’d realize, “Wow…”

I think I started to do some gift giving that was over the top that started to get a little bit of notoriety, like with Cameron Herold, with the Brooks Brothers and some of those sorts of things where people would start to blog about it or write about it.

Andrew: What did you do with Cameron Harold?

John: I met Cameron at my first EO university. I heard him speak. I was blown away. Probably like a lot of people that are listening, they have somebody that that person could be a client, they could be a mentor, they could be a referral source, they could be a game-changer. So, I went up to him afterwards. When I heard him speak, I’m like, “This guy made junk sexy.” He got 1-800-Got-Junk from $2 million to $120 million. Has he been on your show?

Andrew: Yeah. He’s great.

John: Yeah. Just amazing. I was like, “This guy is a game changer.” I went up afterwards, waited in line. This was in Vegas. I said, “I hear you’re coming to Cleveland to speak to our chapter.” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “What are you going to do in town? Are you coming in early?” He said, “Yeah. I’m coming in the night before.” I said, “What are you going to do?” He said, “I’m going to shop.” I said, “Where?” He said, “Brooks Brothers. That’s my favorite store. The dollar is weak. I’m from Canada. So, I’m going to buy a ton of Brooks Brothers.”

On the spot, I’m like, “Maybe this is my angle.” I don’t know why I thought this. But I said, “What’s your shirt size?” I’m a Joseph A. Bank guy. I’m going to send you a shirt. He looked at me like, “Does this dude have a man crush on me? This is weird. I’ve only been talking to him for two minutes.” But he gave me his shirt size.

I said, “What else are you going to do?” He said, “Nothing.” I said, “Well, I have Cavs tickets to LeBron. It’s opening night he night you’re in. You want to go grab dinner and watch the game?” You can tell you he’d been asked that probably 50 times a year, like, “Hey, dinner and a ball game, big whoop.”

As luck would have it, that day, he starts texted me. He’s like, “I almost missed my flight. Flights are delayed. Do you want to cancel?” I said, “No, take your time. We’ll just go to the second half of the game.” At that point I decided, “I’m going to pull the trigger.” I had just sold part of the business to Rod. He’s very conservative fiscally. And I’m going through some of these challenges but I’m like, “I need to do this.” He said, “Okay.”

I went to Brooks Brothers. I said, “Here’s the guy’s size. I want one of everything in the new fall collection–all the shirts, all the colors of jackets, sweaters, everything.” I’m shaking and I’m nervous. I’m sweating. The junior sales associate thought it was a joke. He’s like, “How can I really help you?” I’m like, “No, for real.” So, we rang everything up. It was $7,000 worth of clothes. I go to my Suburban. It fills me car.

We go to the Ritz. I asked for the GM. I said, “You have a VIP coming into town do you want to do something crazy and over the top and just wow him.” I said, “It’s one of the top business coaches in the world.” He said, “Of course.” So, we go to his room and we merchandise the whole room to look like a Brooks Brothers store.

Andrew: Wait. They let you into his room?

John: Yes.

Andrew: Wow.

John: They obviously when they saw $7,000 worth of clothes they realized I wasn’t up there to take anything. But we merchandised everything to look like a Brooks Brothers store–sweaters, jackets. When he came in, you could tell he’s like, “Why did I ever agree to go to dinner with this guy?” The worst day of travel ever. So, I said, just go change, freshen up. Come down in a half hour or whatever, no rush.

He comes down like 15 minutes later. He’s got a glow. His eyes are the size of silver dollars. He’s like, “John, whatever the frick you want to talk about for as long as you want to talk about it. I’m all ears. I thought the Four Seasons was on their A-game because they remembered my name because they had a towel and a bottle of water when I went out for a jog.” He’s like, “I’ve texted pictures to authors. This is unbelievable.”

So, you fast forward over the last eight years, he’s open doors to the president of Starbucks. Every client he now coaches–he now coaches presidents of countries. Anybody that is a client, he’s opening doors for. He’s sending them gifts, invited me to his wedding, his 50th birthday party. He’s become a friend, a mentor, an advocate that I couldn’t have paid for with $10 million.

Andrew: I see. I get that. I get it. I get how he would want to be a big customer after you just shocked him and showed what kind of impact this has. I hadn’t heard of that. I should say also that I made a mistake. I interviewed the other guy from 1-800-Got-Junk, Brian Scudamore.

John: Oh, yeah, the founder.

Andrew: The founder.

John: Yeah. Cameron was hit right-hand guy, the COO and took over when it was right amount $2 million and then grew in five years, just insane. He’d be an amazing guest. Cameron is speaking all over the world. He’s been at all three, I think, Mastermind Talks.

Andrew: I wonder if we did send out an invitation. Let me see. Pipedrive.com… So, by doing that, people started writing about you. How did anyone even know that you outfitted a guy’s room with Brooks Brothers?

John: Cameron blogged about it and sent it out to all his followers. They commented on it. Even to this day, he’ll take a picture of himself in the camel hair jacket and tweet about it and send a text saying, “Hey, I’m wearing the jacket you got me seven years ago.”

So, those kinds of experiences we started to do. I’d find out somebody was going on a hunting trip and I’d overnight, like have like couriered, it’s their 60th birthday and I’d overnight a hunting knife with their name engraved on it, say, “Hey, have an amazing time in the middle of nowhere.” I started to get more bold in the types of things I was doing. The results from that were we were selling a crazy amount of knives, but we were also selling other things.

It almost becomes addictive. When you see the results, when you see how people respond, I started to get more crazy about it but I also started to realize people didn’t care about the knives, but they did care about the cool stories and the results. So, we were like, “How could we put a spotlight on this a little bit more.” It’s just kind of evolved over time to what it is now.”

Andrew: You know, I’ve heard about you for years and I’ve gone to your website and your website doesn’t do you justice at all. You’ve got these candles, right? Am I in the right place, Ruhlin Group?

John: Yeah.

Andrew: What are you doing?

John: So, part of the challenge that we’ve run into is similar to what we were talking about before. I don’t want to be known as the Knife Guy. I also don’t want to be known as the Gift Guy. I haven’t figured out a great way to communicate and not get people locked into the gift. I want people to understand that it’s not manipulation. Amazon can send out a bunch of gifts really efficiently. It’s all the different behind the scenes points and the strategy and the why and the follow up.

So, I haven’t figured out a great way. We’re getting more clarity as we write the book. The website is old and it sucks. I’m not going to disagree that it doesn’t do us justice. Our best way of somebody experiencing what we do, the reason we send out a $250,000 worth of gifts every year is that’s like our version of the website.

I want somebody to really feel personally what it’s like to receive a gift. That’s why somebody reaches out to us. Somebody like Hal sends out a bunch of gifts and those people become clients. Somebody like Cameron sends out a bunch of gifts and those people become clients. I don’t really have anybody to benchmark to say, “This is how we should communicate what we do other than to tell our stories and get other people to model the best practice.”

Andrew: The website would be a great place for you to tell your stories right now. If I click on “Happy Client List,” nothing happens. It’s an image without a hyperlink. If I click on “Articles,” I’m looking at your face to make sure this isn’t making you too uncomfortable. If I click on “Articles,” it says nothing found.

John: Nothing is popping up?

Andrew: Nothing is popping up if I go to RuhlinGroup.com/Articles, which is linked to of the sidebar of every page on your site, nothing comes up.

John: There should be a list of the Forbes and Inc. articles. That’s not showing up?

Andrew: It shows the candles. I never understood when I looked you up in the past. What are these candles? And then I just move on. Maybe this guy is big in the MLM community or something.

John: That’s hilarious. Hey, I’m here as much to share and teach, but I’m also here to learn.

Andrew: I would say a nice homepage with–sorry, I interrupted you as you were saying it. Go on.

John: No, no, no.

Andrew: I would like to see a nice homepage with a clear message about what you stand for. Like right now it says, “Strategic appreciation.” Even if it just said, strategic appreciation and a way to click over to case studies or examples of how you’ve done it or how other people have done it and then a way to contact you. We don’t even need more than that. In fact, it could all be on one page.

John: Yeah. It’s a great example of an opportunity for us to up our game.

Andrew: If I have someone in my audience who has an idea for this would you up to hearing it?

John: For sure.

Andrew: What’s a good way for them to contact you? If they have–I wouldn’t just say an idea. I’d like them to wow you the way you wow other people. At least show you a first version. Say, “John, here’s what I think your site should look like,” and win your business.

John: Yeah. John@RuhlinGroup.com.

Andrew: Are you going to be able to answer all the email that comes in now?

John: I’d like to think so. I have a team of three gals that help me field emails.

Andrew: That’s what I was going to get to. You have other people who check your email for you.

John: Yes.

Andrew: I do too. Is it weird to have people check your personal email too or have people check email that’s meant for you?

John: I don’t really have any secrets, like I live a pretty transparent life. There’s no mistresses on the side or anything like that that I’m worried about anybody seeing or vice versa, so no. It’s the only way I can have sanity and still have time with my family and travel and still do different things.

Andrew: Me too. I need help with my inbox. It took me forever to accept that I need it. Once I did, it helped a lot. I’m still not fully at sanity. I’m close to it.

John: I understand.

Andrew: Cool. What’s the best part of having done all this, building up this big business and getting the message out about gift giving?

John: So, my four and a half year old daughter, she said this about six months ago. I don’t know how it came up. But she described what I did and she said, “My dad helps people love on people.” I thought if I can instill that into my kids and inspire other people to do that well, not only in their business life, but I’ve seen people starting to apply it to how they treat their wives or their significant others or whatever else.

I think that’s a pretty deep and cool legacy to be able to leave. So, I think yes, it’s cool to run a business, but if it’s not doing something that’s more lasting than just selling a bunch of widgets or a bunch of stuff, frick, I won’t be doing it very much longer. That’s the core of what we do and why we do it.

Andrew: I get it. I’ve seen people who have been impacted by it. Usually at the end of the interview I tell people they should go check out the website of the person who I’ve been talking to. This time, you can go to RuhlinGroup.com. But instead of saying that, what I should actually say is go find a way to hear John. John, you’re a good speaker. I knew you would be a good guest because I’ve heard you. While we were connected I was still listening to another interview that you gave somewhere else because you’re so good. I couldn’t put it away.

John: I am speaking at more and more events and conferences. I really do–I want to get my message out there on bigger and bigger platforms. We got to speak at Google this summer. The goal is I do have a couple of videos that are being made that kind of encapsulate…

Andrew: Good. Where are we going to get to see that?

John: At Ruhlin Group. Actually, At Ruhlin Group and JohnRuhlin.com. We’re kind of positioning John Ruhlin as more the thought leader and the speaker and then Ruhlin Group as the executor fulfiller if someone wants to engage in a higher level fulfilling program.

Andrew: Let me go to that site right now. Our team has a typo in your name in some place. Ah, yeah, I saw that. This is the one that’s much better. Created by the same person it looks like, right?

John: Yes.

Andrew: Same theme, same design.

John: It’s still not what it should be.

Andrew: No.

John: So, we’re… Spent too much time sending out gifts and not enough time building good websites to explain what we do.

Andrew: I know people in my audience created these stunning sites because I’ve seen it. I’ve talked to them one on one and I’ve seen their work. Hopefully someone will contact you and say, “Here, this is what John Ruhlin and what the Ruhlin Group should look like,” and hopefully you guys get to work together.

John: Cool.

Andrew: All right. My sponsors are HostGator–remember, if you need a new or better hosting company, go to the gator, HostGator.com/Mixergy. If you need a developer, there’s a reason why Andreessen Horowitz invested in Toptal. These guys are the best, just like Andreessen Horwitz are the best. Go to Toptal.com/Mixergy.

If you like this interview, please go to iTunes and rate it five starts or fifty stars. You guys are hackers. Find a way to rate 50 stars and I will send you a Cutco knife. That’s probably bribery. They won’t allow that. They don’t have a sense of humor over at Apple. Rate it five stars.

Thanks, John.

John: Thanks, Andrew. This has been fun. Thanks for throwing me a few curveballs and keeping me on the edge of my seat. I appreciate it.

Andrew: Thanks for responding so well. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. Bye everyone.


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  • The ruhlingroup.com website just re-directs to John’s personal website? That’s a bit odd. Unless it’s currently being rebuilt I suppose? Which you would still think a lander with an email opt-in to be contacted would be a better option.

    In my opinion, why not own being the “gift guy”? It seems like you have a good thing going and you said that one no is talking about this stuff. This is a huge market and it would seem that if you were the go to guy there is serious potential.

  • Samir

    This is a cool interview. With all the hype around marketing automation, this proves that true personalization and care for others pays back in a big way. Thanks for sharing John. Now you got me thinking on what my next gift should be.

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