Ep 018

The Art & Science of Radical Generosity


John Ruhlin

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Inside This Episode

Raise your hand if you’ve ever sent or received a corporate gift? It’s pretty common practice in our industry to receive branded swag as a “thank you for doing business with us.

The problem is, most of the time, it’s meaningless junk. I don’t know about you, but a key chain or mug with a big company logo on it, doesn’t really make me feel appreciated.

While sending gifts like this is a well-intentioned act, it’s actually doing you and your business more harm than good.

If this has been your approach to loving on your clients, team, and the people in your life who matter most, I’m here to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. And btw, I’m not here to judge… I’m totally guilty of giving gifts like this too!

It was only after meeting today’s guest, John Ruhlin, that I started honing my skills in the art of gift giving.

If you’re unfamiliar, John is a Gifting Expert and author of Giftology, a methodology that’s been used by some of the largest companies and pro sports teams in the world.

In this episode, he’s going to share how you can use his system to cut through the noise, increase referrals, and strengthen relationships with the people who matter the most. If you want to win the hearts and minds of influential people, attract your ideal clients, and enjoy the benefits of a growing business and meaningful relationships, both personally and professionally, this episode is for you!

3 of the biggest insights from John Ruhlin

  • #1 Why price tags have nothing to do with effective gift-giving — and how to craft a personalized gift that will move your relationships forward and leave a presence in your absence for years to come.

  • #2 Could sending golf balls and polos have a negative effect on developing relationships with key prospects? Learn why company-branded items can reduce your status in the eyes of the recipient — and what to send instead.

  • #3 Statistically, only 10%-20% of widows stick with their financial advisor after a spouse passes away. The data illustrates a key point — doing business with someone means doing business with their inner circle, too. Hear how you can use gift-giving to turn close relationships of key clients into your biggest allies.


  • 00:00 How John applied the 80/20 principle to reduce his travel and spend more time with his family without harming his business.
  • 08:39 How investing in relationships can lead to life-changing introductions, business ventures and outcomes.
  • 17:35 Going the extra mile with birthday wishes to leave a lasting impression on people.
  • 21:49 The important nuance of gift-giving that John didn’t realize for “10-15 years” — and how missing it can make thousand-dollar gifts fall short.
  • 27:04 Why financial advisors who send company-branded gifts may actually be hurting key relationships.
  • 31:43 How to use gift-giving to get rainmakers to look at you as a peer as opposed to a pawn.
  • 41:51 Why taking care of a client’s inner circle can give you “a thousand times more impact” while spending less money.
  • 50:17 Where to start if you want to overhaul your approach to gift-giving.
  • 55:22 How to structure networking introductions as a gift as opposed to an obligation for both parties.
  • 59:51 Integrating your home life, business life and personal life into the same structure as a means of “Do Business. Do Life.”





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  • If the relationship is at zero and you multiply it times a million, you’re still at zero.” – John Ruhlin

  • “I just try to be faithful with the relationships that have been given to me and not hold back 5% or 10%. I try to go above and beyond and let the chips fall where they are and over time, over decades, some insane things have happened.”  – John Ruhlin

  • “If the gift you send has your company’s logo on it … That is a marketing item, not necessarily a gift.” – Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson: Welcome back to another episode of Do Business Do Life. This is fun. I’ve got a friend, John Ruhlin, here with me this morning. So, John, welcome to the show.

John Ruhlin: Dude, thanks for having me. This is long overdue to come back and visit and hang out, man. Thanks for your friendship and belief in what we do.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. We were reminiscing before we hit the record button here and you were one of the early guests on my original show, The Elite Advisor Blueprint, and Joey Coleman, a mutual friend, was one of the guys that I think he might have been Episode three or four. He was super early on and he’s like, “Hey, I got a guy you got to meet. His name’s John Ruhlin: and I think a lot of his playbook on the first 100 days that became Never Lose a Customer Again, a lot of the Giftology kind of frameworks were woven into that. And then you came on the show, you crushed it. I think then you came out to one of the events we were doing back in the day and crushed that. And then a friendship was formed. That was the cool part. Just got to know each other, went to some events, MastermindTalks, together. So, this conversation, number one, I feel like it’s good to have a friend back because, I mean, we’ve been running so fast, each of us, we haven’t had a chance to connect. So, hopefully, we don’t go too far down the path of just talking life here and add some value to the audience. So, catch me up, John. What have you been up to, my man?

John Ruhlin: Yeah. Well, I mean, I’ve been focusing more on family. I mean, yeah, we both are part of Front Row Dads and Vroman’s group, which I think is one of the first gatherings outside of business that we kind of got together at. And it’s one thing to say like families first, it’s another thing to walk it. And so, I cut my travel back by 80%. You wouldn’t know that from social media. I’ll take one stage and slice it into 40 clips so it looks like I’m on 40 stages when really I’m on just one massive stage speaking-wise. So, we bought 40 acres, you know, Hal and Tucker and all those guys, the 40-acre club. So, Ruhlin Ranch. We looked in Austin. We end up buying that just up to 20 minutes outside of Saint Louis. So, we just got chickens delivered by the post office. I didn’t know they can deliver chickens yesterday. We got 20 chickens, little peeps. But I read a book within the last year called Becoming a King. A mentor of mine challenged me to read it, one of the most… His name is John Marsh. Just kind of a cool story. He’s buying up dead towns and bringing them back to life with hospitality and excellence and renewing people spiritually, emotionally, financially.

But he’s like, “You got to read this book,” and part of it is like we’ve outsourced everything as men and getting our hands dirty and going back to like understanding where your food comes from and can you kill your own food and all that kind of stuff, which a lot of people are into that like end of the world homestead stuff but just from a spiritual perspective. And so, I’ve been trying to slow down. Not trying. I’ve been slowing down. Got the chainsaw out. I’ve been going back to the farm boy roots of Ohio. Not milking goats yet, but we’re talking about cows. I’m on the John Deere tractor for four or five hours at a time. My girls are sitting on my lap and it doesn’t always make sense financially when you talk about trading out time but from a soul perspective, for me, that investment and slowing down, but I’m still like business-wise like our speaking fees are up domestically at 50K. So, when I do leave the house, I’m able to go like do some big things and then go back and slow down and spend time with my four girls. And so, yeah, that’s a mini snapshot of kind of what’s up.

Brad Johnson: Cool, man. Well, being mutual farm boys, I remember that was one of the ways that we connected. I didn’t have goats, so we didn’t have that going on but chickens, pigs, cows, definitely a lot of time on a John Deere tractor. 4640, for those of you that know what that number means. That will tell you that you’ve grown up on a farm. But yeah, man, I think COVID, it’s interesting you look at the societal effects of that. It forced me to slow down. I mean, I was on the road 70, 80 nights a year at one point, and I’ve seen this trend following very similar to what you’re talking about, where people are like buying up some acreage. Jayson Gaignard, mutual friend. He’s got cows now, right? And I’m like, “Man, dad, did you know that farming is cool again? Like, people are going back to the farm.”

John Ruhlin: Seasons and cycles, man.

Brad Johnson: I need to get Brent. So, my dad, Brent, is one of a kind, so I don’t think you’ve ever had a chance to meet him yet but you would remember if you did. He could probably start a little mastermind on the farm and he would teach you all kinds of things that could help the farming cause for those entrepreneurs out there going back to the roots.

John Ruhlin: Yeah. No, I think we saw, at least for me, I realize that a lot of the dinners and a lot of the masterminds, a lot of things, nothing wrong with them but they didn’t like my time doesn’t scale. Like, if I’m having dinner with somebody, if I’m traveling on a plane to go somewhere, there’s like 99 or 900 other people I can’t be with, namely my family, but also my business and whatever else. And so, it’s kind of selfish like having a gifting agency and sending crazy stuff. That was the thing that did scale. I could hit 500 cities in one day and make an impact. It’s not the same as face-to-face. I think I used to like in my head say gifting was better than face-to-face. It’s not. But I get 80% to 90% of the way there. And so, I realized like a lot of these groups like they’re cool but I can get access to them in other ways. I built out a networking relationship and made investments, and so I just started saying no to things. I normally would have been like fear of missing out and my business hasn’t slowed down. It’s grown more like speaking, consulting, even I’ve been able to spend some time getting advisor shares and other companies based upon the influence and the platform that we built.

And I can say yes to those things because I’m not on a plane, because I’m not spending three days at a gathering and then coming back destroyed energy-wise. And so, I think, at least for me, it made me reevaluate a bunch of the things I was doing. And I realized I could cut out 80% of that stuff, pick the 20% that really mattered, and there are still times where I have a fear of missing out because I like to be around people and just hung out. Our mutual friend, Pete, just hosted a gathering talking about a vision that he has, and it was at Hobby Lobby’s headquarters with David Green, you know, the guy worth 15 billion, and John Maxwell is there. I did fly in for that but I left. Instead of staying for three days, I flew in for 12 hours and flew home the next morning at 5 a.m. so I could be home before the girls woke up and have a full day at home versus being away for three full days. In the past, five years ago, I never would have done that.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. I think the thing I’ve realized along those lines is as your kids get older, because, man, like all of the cliches are coming true. It goes by in the blink of an eye. Like, I’ve got a 13-year-old now and I know your… Do you have a teenager yet? I know you’re pretty dang close if you don’t.

John Ruhlin: Yeah. She’s actually in the room here with me. This morning I played basketball and then we took her to her first volleyball camp and Reagan is 12 but I would say that intellectually, emotionally, she’s beyond her years.

Brad Johnson: If she wants to, she can come over and say hi.

John Ruhlin: But yeah, it’s crazy to think that like I remember…

Brad Johnson: Come on over, Reagan. Come on over here. Say hello to a bunch of financial advisors out there. There you go.

Reagan Ruhlin Hello.

John Ruhlin: So, you can’t tell because I’m closer to the camera but she’s as tall as my wife. She wears size 11 shoes, so she has bigger shoes. But, yeah, I mean, when you see like your daughter who was like, you remember like being four years old and like on your lap and now like going into being a young adult, you’re like, dude, like 12 to 18 is going to go even faster.

Brad Johnson: Yeah.

John Ruhlin: So, it made, you know, having kids creates stricter boundaries, which makes you I think more effective with the time that you have. You don’t waste it.

Brad Johnson: Hundred percent.

John Ruhlin: Thanks for being with me.

Reagan Ruhlin Thanks.

Brad Johnson: On that note, John, yeah, and I missed the point earlier that I want to go back because our time is limited and I want those that didn’t catch our first interview, it was literally right at your I believe it was your first book. Had you written a book before Giftology?

John Ruhlin: With Berghoff and those guys, we did one of those books where everybody wrote a chapter, but I don’t really think that’s writing a book. That’s more of like the gathering of essays.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Okay. Cool. So, your first solo official book, you basically came on there, had essentially just dropped the book, Giftology. And so, I do want to go back and recap some core takeaways because I’ll tell you, it was a skinny book, which, by the way, financial advisors love because it doesn’t take long to read it and we’ve got short attention spans, right? But with some really, really core principles in it that I still operate from today. I didn’t feel like I was a bad gift giver before that, but it was a different lens to look through when giving gifts. But I want to start with the gift that you gave me because it was like this butterfly effect. And so, these are kind of fun when you look at like these little decisions in life and how they work. So, Brad starts a podcast back in 2015-ish based on advice from Michael Hyatt of like, “Hey, I can’t get all these successful financial advisors together in one place.” Michael’s like, “Hey, maybe you should start a podcast.” So, okay, let’s figure it out. Talk to Charlie up in Canada. Boom. It’s live. Start having conversations via Zoom.

Joey Coleman’s like, I think you’re Episode 5 or 6, maybe 7, John. Talk to my guy, John. Immediately we connected and you’re just one of those guys. You walk in a room. It’s like you just are kind of natural with human relationships. But also, we have this shared core, small-town upbringing, grew up on a farm. So, there were a lot of commonalities there. But then I remember we did a podcast and we kind of understood the family dynamic. I think you had three kiddos at the time, the fourth one hadn’t been born. I had three kiddos. Actually, I might only had two at the time now that I think about it. Now, I just had my third. And the next thing I know you say, “Hey,” I think it was literally this simple. You go, “I’m a dad, you’re a dad. My buddy, Jon Vroman, is running a Front Row Dads retreat up in Philly. I’ll buy your ticket to the event. Just come along with me. I think you’ll enjoy it. Good group of guys up there.” So, fast forward, we go up there. Jon, who runs Front Row Dads, who’s been a guest and who’s influenced me a ton, that was the very first Front Row Dads experience ever. It was heavy in Cutco Mafia, all of which were named John by sheer coincidence.

John Ruhlin: Yeah.

Brad Johnson: Then there was also a Keller Williams group, Mike McCarthy and that crew. And then there was a few random guys sprinkled in like me. But at that event, Jim Sheils was there. And that was my first introduction to the Family Board Meeting. Jim and Jamie were literally just on, you know, there were a few episodes back by the time this goes live but that family board meeting concept literally completely changed the dynamic of how I connect with my kids as a dad. That was the intro. And that was like, now here we stand a decade later having this conversation and these little micro-decisions that put me in rooms with guys like you surrounding myself with guys that have aligned values and we’re going and living life on their terms. I just share that because I was putting that all together. I’m like, “Dang,” Michael Hyatt’s advice. Joey Coleman’s intro. You saying it being kind enough to say, “Hey, just come with me, let’s level up this dads,” and that trajectory, how it’s impacted my life to this point it’s like these little decisions have such monumental shifts and in the direction in life. And so, I don’t know if you want to share any of that on your side or your perspective because I know that’s kind of how you live life with relationships. But, yeah, man. What are your thoughts? Because it’s just been a really cool journey that brought you and I together.

John Ruhlin: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s fun. I don’t think enough people connect the dots backwards and say like, “Wow. That person did this, that turned into this, that turned into this.” I think, yeah, we’re moving so fast. But when you do and you start to realize the power of like it’s cool to have 10 million followers on Instagram, but a lot of times there might be a few dozen relationships that, literally, like alter all areas of our life. And for me, one of the mentors, Paul, who inspired me to write Giftology, he was a law firm owner and that was one guy for me. But there’s been a number of pillars. And so, a lot of times I think that sort of thinking strategically about relationships, it’s like, “Oh, I want to be a part of Strategic Coach.” “That’s 25 grand.” “No problem.” “Hey, I want to be part of this mastermind.” “50 grand.” “No problem.” Like, we’ll make all these investments but we oftentimes like, that’s cool to be in the right room with those people, but a lot of times like they’re not investing and taking the time to invest in the relationships that actually can really pour into us that could shift the decision or open the door or do the different things.

And so, for me, I’ve realized like a handful of relationships that I could invest tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, it still wouldn’t be enough based upon the impact that they’ve had on my life. It’s literally like added zeros to the bank account. And it’s so crazy how the right people out there being an ambassador for you when you’re not in the room and like willing to go. I would spend time with Rory Vaden, like realize like a lot of people think they have loyalty with relationships and what they have is passive loyalty. Like, they say, “God, this client stays with me, this employee stays with me.” And what they have is somebody that’s collecting a paycheck where if like somebody asks, “Hey, who’s your plumber?” They’ll give the name but like what I’ve realized is like having people like you in my life or Michael Hyatt where they’re fully bought in and are looking for opportunities for me to win, to open the door, to shift, to bring me to a gathering, to say, “I want you there so bad, I’m going to buy your ticket for you.” Like, I’ve had people do that for me. And the power of that, like that belief and that commitment to want me to win, to be there and say, “I’m going to pay for not just your ticket, I’m going to buy your plane ticket too.”

And I think so many times people, they wonder like, well, how did that person get that door open or get in that circle of influence or, you know, connect with the Joey Colemans or the Gary Vaynerchuks or whoever they think is doing something significant. And a lot of times it’s all of the little stacked decisions and investments that you make into those people that are the difference maker of like that person was top of mind and I wanted to see them win or, “Hey, I like them, they’re a nice guy,” but I have hundreds of nice people in my life and I think people think, “Well, I’m likable.” Like, cool but are you memorable? Do people, like, want to see you win? And I think you’ve been that for me and I hope I’m that for you because I remember Pete saying, dude, when you’re in somebody’s corner, like, it’s not like a casual loyalty. You’re like banging the door down for other people, not for yourself. And I think that when you are able to be known for somebody that’s like, dude, it’s one thing to say, “I got your back.” It’s another thing to actually like with your time, energy, resources, social capital, money, everything to actually like put all of that together. And that’s unusual when you feel that like, A, you want to reciprocate, B, you want to lock arms to that person.

And so, Joey’s been that for me. I didn’t meet Jayson Gaignard without Joey and MastermindTalks and Jim Sheils and Cameron Herold and like all those people, yeah, it’s been the difference maker and the book being successful, the speaking being successful, the business being successful. Talking to my mentor, John Marsh, I’m like, “We both agreed we’re not that smart. We’re not that cool. But we have applied simple principles of investment and relationships and had some of God’s favor.” Whether you believe in a God or not, like for me, that’s been a big deal of like I couldn’t have orchestrated some of the things that have happened. I just try to be faithful with the relationships that have been given to me and not hold back 5% or 10%. Like, I try to go above and beyond and let the chips fall where they are and over time, over decades, some insane things have happened.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. You said a couple of things there, but investing in relationships. One of the things and I’m going to open up some of your playbook because I think what’s kind of fun is it’s one thing to show up on a podcast and have a 60-minute conversation and like you can have a lot of fun there. You can really get to know people, but sometimes it’s what happens after the podcast, right? And to your point of like going to these mastermind groups, you meet 60 people. We’ve all been there and it’s like a really good two or three days, and then that’s the end of the relationship. It’s like, “Hey, that was a good conversation.” You don’t hear anything. There’s not really that ongoing connection. It’s like kind of the shallow versus going deep. And when you say invest, here’s a couple of things that happened when I first met you. I felt like you were in the Brad Johnson: fan club. And what I mean by that is obviously the Cutco playbook. You’re very humble but the all-time highest-selling Cutco rep of all time is you and that’s because you looked at that business differently, more relationship building versus selling cutlery.

But this high-end Cutco knife set shows up at my house after the podcast and I already know your dang playbook, bro, like I know the playbook. But I will tell you still, every time to this day, they’re sitting right on our counter. We use them about every family meal. There’s this little underlying like, “Man, Ruhlin’s a good dude.” And I know you talk about artifacts and ongoing use versus send a bottle of wine. Yeah, that’s great, dude, but then a year later that’s gone, right? But there’s a few things you did that became part of my playbook. Number one, you started making and I know you got to vet relationships. You don’t want to just like open up your playbook and like, here’s my whole network. There’s a lot of trust when you open up relationships. But I think there was an early belief of like, “Wow, Brad’s doing kind of a cool podcast. It’s helping financial advisors.” Intro to Cameron Herold. He came on the show, but you didn’t make like, “Hey, Cameron, meet Brad,” text. It was like your text intro was literally a little mini-biography of like, “Here’s why I love what this guy’s doing, Here’s why I love what this guy is doing. You guys are both doing cool things. You should connect. I think not only will it serve you there, but I could see you guys forming a friendship too.” And they were like the warmest intros.

And because of that, you taught me how to do intros properly. Birthday, I’m going to I’m going to hit this too because I’ve used this playbook and it’s impacted my personal relationships. If you’re lucky enough on your birthday to get a text message, a Facebook message, a LinkedIn message, you should feel very blessed. There’s people out there that think about you and love you and appreciate you. But what I will say, social media has created like LinkedIn, specifically. It’s click a button, “Happy birthday,” and now there’s like 40 like happy birthdays all written the same way, right? They thought of me enough to click a button so that’s cool. I can’t like think that that’s a negative. But I will tell you, my friend, Anthony Pellegrino, he calls it putting a scratch in the record. And how you have wished me happy birthday puts a scratch on the record, even a bunch of texts. Happy birthday. Happy birthday, Happy birthday. And then I get a text from John, and it’s a selfie iPhone video. I remember one of them specifically. You were in the back of an Uber somewhere and you go, “Brad, what’s up, man? John here. Saw it was your birthday today. I was thinking of you. Here’s what I appreciate about you, man.” And like you went into like something that was authentic, that was real, that was a conversation we’d had or how I’d shown up. And it was like maybe 30 seconds a minute, nothing too long.

And you’re like, “Hey, have a great birthday. Hope you enjoy your day.” I’m like. “Damn, this dude.” You know, I’m like, he took the time for a personal, heartfelt happy birthday wish. And because of that, I’m like, I’m not sending anymore happy birthday texts. That’s not how Brad is going to roll from now on. And so, I’ve replicated that and I send out birthday videos now. And actually, a lot of my friends now do because they’re like, they get mine and they’re like, “Dude, that hit way different. I’m going to start doing that too.” So, anyway, I just want to go into like a little bit behind the scenes. Yes, they send a gift but you go so authentic and deep and it’s why you build meaningful relationships and that’s why you have so much relationship equity. So, give me some of the thought process or playbook or things you’ve learned along the way, John, I don’t want this to be… I’m just sharing some of it because it’s so awesome how you do it and I think you can help a lot of advisors out there.

John Ruhlin: Yeah. Well, I think that you mentioned something. You don’t just open up your Rolodex to anybody and I don’t either but part of what makes what we do work and I didn’t realize this for the first probably 10 or 15 years is if you’re a douchebag and you give great gifts, all you do is magnify that you’re a douchebag. So, what I realized is who you are, who you’re being like matters the most. I used to think it was like I could like, “Dude, the great gifts,” and I started to understand that like these crazy $2,000 artifact mugs that made billionaires cry. If I give that to somebody cold and have no relationship with them or their wife or husband gives that to them, their spouse, the same thing given but whoever has the relational capital, now there’s a multiplication effect. If the relationship is at zero and you multiply it times a million, you’re still at zero. Now, if you have a relationship that’s a million, and then you give $1 million level and I kind of like this is kind of a Jesse Itzler concept of like a billionaire versus a spiritual billionaire. And you talked about like a lot of people just focus on the financial but if you multiply that times your spirit and your spirit is zero, a billion times zero is still zero.

And so, I started to recognize that who you are is part of the gift because it shows like if somebody that you love and respect and adore, it’s your hero, it’s your mentor, if they give you a Rolex that’s engraved with a certain quote versus like just some person that’s trying to buy your attention or trying to buy your loyalty, they’re the same thing but it communicates to who you’re being and who you are magnifies times the gift. And so, once I feel like, “John, I don’t care about gifts.” I’ll invest in dinners and rounds of golf. I’ll invest in this. I’ll invest in coaching to six figures. You know, they have the peanut brittle budget and I’m like, “That’s fine. Go on how to be an amazing human being, a business owner, whatever else.” But really, the thing is, all it is is like it shows somebody the physical gift. If you do it well, it should be a transfer of love and emotion. It should be a delivery vehicle for that connection of like, “I see you, you know, I took the time out of my busy day and use my relationship, my resources, my time, my energy, and here’s that transfer to you.” And if you have a tight relationship to that person, you do it well, there’s this multiplication effect.

And so, I started to recognize that, yeah, my recipe works universally in financial services, insurance, works in New York City, works in Africa. There is a missing ingredient and I didn’t realize that the person who’s giving it because I would see like people get like amazing results with the exact same recipe of dropping $100,000 and somebody else would drop $100,000 and get 1/10 results of referrals and deal flow and access, because those are the outcomes that we want, right? Like, nobody is like, “Man, I need a gifting budget.” You’re investing in the relationship hoping that your business grows. You’re hoping that revenues grow. You’re hoping that that person talks about you actively at the golf course or the board meeting or the dinner table or whatever like with their inner circle. You’re wanting some sort of outcome and I started to notice that like two people would do the exact same recipe in the same industry and one would get insane results and one wouldn’t. And so, it’s made me want to work more with world-class givers that are really good at what they do. And now it’s a genuine extension of who they are versus a manipulation of like maybe what they want to be or what they hope to be, but they aren’t there yet.

And so, anyway, like the whole Giftology stuff works and I see people it works with college students, it works in all industries. But that was an ingredient that I didn’t recognize. And so, whether you put a logo on something or not, if you’re a douche bag like not going to work but if you run a really good doubt in business and you start to realize, man, like I’ve been doing this wrong and logos, like, that’s a manipulation. That’s not an extension of who I really want to be. Like, that’s not excellence. That’s not a gift. That’s just a promotional product. And a handwritten note like your point of like the videos. Like, why does that matter? Because it makes the other person feel seen and like, wow, like this person, it’s like the five love languages. Like, if you can leverage any one of those five, great. If you can leverage all of them, even better. But like the video works because of like, man, Brad matters. John matters. And even if you’re a billionaire, like, we all want our legacy to have been like somebody who matters.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. I wrote down a few notes here just on the Giftology, and I want to kind of pull a few things out of that and maybe speak to those because, yeah, I know. Like, it’s almost a decade old now, the book. But there are some timeless principles in there that I think we can talk about. And then I want to definitely get into how that’s evolved because you’re moving in a direction of I believe you call it rich in relationships. I want to get there too. But the one you just hit. And by the way, listen in right here, financial advisors like this is our industry. If the gift you send has your company’s logo on it, one of the things in the book that I remember that just slapped me across the face is that is a marketing item, not necessarily a gift. And what I’ve seen with your gifts, they’re about the receiver, not about the company that sends them. And I know you’ve been in finance enough, I mean, I had a closet full of golf polos, right? Like, they were all the insurance carriers and all that. So, give me kind of your thoughts there or maybe we can riff on that one a little bit.

John Ruhlin: Yeah. I mean, I think that at a core level, like you never go to your best friend’s wedding and on the beautiful Tiffany’s vase or whatever you’re going to give them, you’d never put like, “Compliments of UBS,” or “Ernst and Young.” You just wouldn’t like that be the cheesiest thing in the world. And so, I think that what we forget is like you’re not in the insurance business. Like, most advisors that are at a world-class level were like, “We’re about relationships. We’re about legacy.” We’re about like think about the words that you use with that family that’s wealthy, that you’re engaged in to help either secure their wealth or mitigate their risk or all these different things. Like, you know you built a relationship with somebody when they invite you over to where? Not the office. To the home. What do you do? You gather in the kitchen, you bake bread, whether you’re, I don’t care if you’re worth a million dollars or billion dollars. And so, I think a lot of times we think in business, we’re like, “Man, I’m going to invest this money in this Patagonia,” whatever, or you’re like, “I’m world-class.” When you put your logo on it, now all of a sudden, it’s not about you. It’s not about them. It’s about you.

And like you’d never do that to your wife or your husband. Like, “Hey, honey, I got you a beautiful shirt. It’s monogrammed with my name.” We’d never do that but somehow we’ve forgotten that like the best branding and marketing is like real relationship with people and making them feel special and inspiring them to want to see you win. And like John Kane, one of our mutual friends, like he’s beautiful at like putting the spotlight on everybody else. And guess what happens? It reflects back on you. When you’re not in the room, they’re talking about you. And so, that people want to be branding their marketing experts, the best branding marketing is going deep and making somebody like at a soul level feel so loyal to you that they can’t help but want to tell stories about you. And so, the logo, even subconsciously basically says, “I want you to be a billboard. I’m not sure if we have a good relationship so here’s something I hope that you’ll go like where and be a billboard for my brand’s other people,” and it feels icky. It feels gross. Even if they’re like, “Oh, cool,” maybe they wear it once a year at the golf tournament to make you feel better. And maybe even there a person who like swag. Sometimes be like people love my swag.

I’m like, “That’s cool but are they crying when they get it?” Because even if they like swag, I guarantee if their house is on fire, they’re not grabbing the polo shirt or the Patagonia vest. They’re grabbing the things that have the most meaning, the most story, the most that represent that are irreplaceable because of the story and the meaning behind them. And I’ve had people with the stupid knives and the mugs and whatever else, like literally, like people with nine figures, the guy that just sold his fifth-generation lumber business to a publicly traded company, he did one of the mugs for his wife and unfortunately, they have three kids. They’re away. They’re out of Georgia. The house got broken into, ransacked. When the wife got home, she didn’t go check her jewelry, although she had lots of jewelry. She went to the frickin kitchen and he told me this. I was like, “Dude, you have to say this on camera because nobody would ever believe you.” The first thing that she went to do is she went and checked to see if the mug was broken. Why? Because it’s so personal to her. Logos and all those kind of things just absolutely ruin the impact of what you could have with those affluent relationships.

Brad Johnson: So much there. I’m going to just let that set for a second. Couldn’t agree more. I think there’s like from the business perspective, I think what gets in the way because everything we’re talking about right now, the reason we’re here on this Zoom right now is there was a real relationship formed. I mean, a gift to me is should at the core be to strengthen a relationship, not to buy a result. And one of the things I see in business happen all the time is, “Oh, well, it’s not a write-off on taxes if it doesn’t have your logo because then we can classify it as a marketing expense,” all that. Here’s the thing. I think the other way to look at it, just straight business is, okay, I go out and I get a bunch of super high-end golf balls, which these days, $100, $150, depending on what ones you’re buying. And now I put my logo right here on the top left chest area or on the sleeve. The truth is, to your point, like you used the wedding example, when I go hang out and I want to just like go over to a friend’s, meet with some other couples, whatever, I’m actually not selecting that one and it’s because of the logo. Like, it could be a golf shirt that I would actually go wear over there but it’s almost like it works exactly the opposite of how it should.

And I’ve seen companies that actually think through this and I go, okay, I still want it to be a marketing expense but you can do very subtle like, hey, lower right-hand corner, same, white on white, black on black, where the logo is there but it’s not in your face like flashing like a billboard. And I think just sometimes there’s so much waste in our industry because, yes, you want to send nice things and them to get worn, but they actually don’t because of how it’s presented. So, I don’t know if I’m breaking a rule for you or not, John, but I’ve just seen it done the right way, subtle, and then wrong way like big.

John Ruhlin: There’s a handful of brands. Like, if you go to Harvard, you’d love the Harvard logo, right? There’s a connection to it. And even like some guys, like, we were down at Genius Network with Joe Polish and Chris Voss and some of these guys. And Joe’s built kind of a community where people are kind of honored to be a part of the Genius Network and they kind of like it. But even if your logo adds value, like even if somebody wears it, like my goal isn’t from a branding and marketing, like if I can invest like a Cameron like I invested $25,000 in that relationship over ten years. And most people in marketing would be like, “Man, if I could just get a 3:1 or 2:1 ratio on my dollar, put a dollar in, get $3 back out like that’s an amazing marketing machine. And what I found is if you can get to somebody’s heart and soul, you can put a dollar in and get $100 back out. When you strengthen the relationship and you hit them at that soul level, like now, you get them not just as a passive person. You get them as a sales rep, advocate, ambassador for your brand.

And I don’t care if somebody wears my logo on their chest. I want them speaking life and words out of their mouth to the people I could never get into the room with because when they’re speaking that to a peer, which you’re never going to get referred to ballers. If the person that you are is not a peer with who you’re connecting to as a client or as a center of influence, as a referral partner. And so, it’s like the people who constantly are taking selfies with somebody and athletes and whatever else, and don’t get me wrong, I love when I get a picture with a jock or Vaynerchuk or whatever else, but I try to make it so that’s not like a fanboy, where I’m like down here trying to just touch the cloak of the person. I want them to view me as a peer. And most advisors want them, they’re like, “Why am I not getting more referrals? I know they run in that country club. I know they serve on that board. I know they are part of that charity. I know that their brother-in-law runs this huge company. Why are they not talking about me?” And everything that you do, it’s like going into a restaurant. If you go into the restaurant, it’s an amazing place, amazing steaks, hundred-dollar steaks. And then the wine list is Two-Buck Chuck. In your head, you’re like, “What the hell? Like, something’s off here.” Because like every little detail, an investment either says, “I’m a peer, I don’t need you to go where my brand. I want to inspire you with a story, with a connection, with a relationship where you want to go talk about me and see me win.”

And when you’re at the dinner table or you’re at the board meeting and somebody says something about risk, not about like they’re not saying, “Hey, who’s your financial advisor?” No, they’re talking about something where like, “Man, there’s an opening here.” I need to figure out a way to say five words that make that other CEO, that make that other baller or chairman say, “I want to talk to your guy. I want to talk to your consultant, I want to talk to your advisor.” And that only happens when you make deposits in a relationship and there’s a trust when it’s peer-to-peer. You’re not just the insurance guy. Like, I never want to be just the knife guy. Like, people like to this day like really the knives thing, I’m like, “You don’t understand. We’re not in the knife business. We’re not even in the gift business. We’re in like, how do you inspire relationships to go out and advocate and then be an ambassador on your behalf?” Very different thing than, “Hey, I can sell cool gifts with things on it and send it out.” Like, no, that’s not going to get the CEO of a $1 billion company’s attention. But when I show them how to make investments in their key relationships and inspire them to go be loyal, actively loyal, and run through walls for them and take a dollar and turn it to $100, now all of a sudden they’re like, “I don’t care if you’re selling gerbils, John. Like, if you can help me recruit another 20 key engineers or to get a COO, we’ll send some gerbils. Like, whatever you say to do like if it’s going to get the results that we want to deepen relationships, we’re in.”

And so, that’s where people like, “John, I got a budget of $200.” I’m like, “This is a $2 million relationship. I’m not a mathematician. I’m just a farm kid. But if I could make $2 million, I’d be willing to invest $1 million, make 2 million. Like, just basic math, like double my money.” But most people don’t understand that from a relationship capital, they shortchange themselves, and they’re like, “What’s the least I can get away with?” They’re like, “That’s stupid.” Or what if I do that and it doesn’t work? Or what if I do that and they don’t respond?” They play this what-if game and they don’t realize that all the money they’re leaving on the table because everybody’s playing it safe this way. Most people are doing the experiences and the speakers in this summit at this level ten and then there are other physical deposits in these relationships. They’re not even at zero. They’re negative three. Like polo shirts, that’s your way to get brand out there. Like, you need to reevaluate the playing field that you’re on and say, “Damn, I want these guys to view me as a peer, not as a pawn or some like second junior varsity level. I better dial in those deposits and if I don’t, then somebody else will.” And that’s the person that they’re going to be talking about at the board meeting because they’re like, “I know this guy’s going to make me look good because every touchpoint that he does is at a world-class level.”

Brad Johnson: Yeah. So much there.

John Ruhlin: To your point, I feel like I’m in church.

Brad Johnson: Hey, you are kind of in church. We can do church here. So, a couple of things there. So, first off, and you know this because you worked with a lot of financial advisors or people in finance. Well, there is a limitation around gifting in finance, and it’s unfortunate, but it’s needed and that is gifting limitations depending on your licensing state, all of that. So, Shannon, I know you’re listening to this. We’ll cover that. We do have gifting limitation. But I think what’s cool is you talked about the mug. I remember Joey Coleman told a story about a harmonica that a dad played every night after dinner and that was the thing his kids were fighting. I mean, this was a very wealthy man and his kids were fighting over like probably a $10 harmonica over the estate because it was the artifact and the story and the relationships and the memories that were all attached to this actually, like very cheap harmonica that you could have gone and replaced for $10. And so, I think what you just nailed in a lot of what you just hit is that I also love the peer like look at the podcast right here. And I’ve seen this play out. Interviewing and having a conversation via podcast creates a level playing field, and it’s just two dudes having a chat about life or gifting or wherever this conversation goes. And so, I love that framework.

So, if you’re an advisor out there and you’re like, “Why isn’t this super well-connected estate planning attorney or CPA just shoveling me referrals?” They probably are not seeing you as a peer. And I remember you reminded me of a story Bo Eason told me. So, I know there’s many advisors that have benefited from Bo’s training and former NFL athlete, did his own Broadway show like a really gifted and incredible storyteller. He told me, John, a story when his son went to this was when Kobe was still living, went to a basketball camp with Kobe, and all these other kids were running out, parents running out selfie time. And he told his son this exact statement. He goes, “You are not a fan. When you’re on that basketball court, you’re a player just like Kobe is. And I want you to show up like a player, not be a fanboy.” And I remember hearing that and I’m like, as a 42-year-old man, it’s tough for me to think that way, right?

John Ruhlin: Yeah, of course.

Brad Johnson: But what immediately, as soon as you show up, can I get a selfie, you’ve now just taken yourself down from being a peer. And I think that is such a principle you just hit on right there but most people do it without even thinking about it. So, let’s go to your inner circle because that’s something kind of plays on this, the logos, the artifacts you gift. But you’ve shifted not only to the peer relationship in your gifting and how you connect and build relationships, but it’s also not just like if you were going to, you know, let’s use Michael Jordan, for example, because I know he’s still living and he would be very tough to connect with. Not only do you look at it of connecting with the individual but also who is their core inner circle and that’s a lot of your playbook, too. And so, can you share some of that playbook because you did that with my family. You gifted my dad and brother. I don’t know if you can remember this. They were like, “We’re going to Sweden.” And everybody that was going had these very nice leather passports, yeah, covers. So, you not only loved on Brad, you loved on my dad, my brother. You sent Sarah some stuff. So, let’s talk about that concept because that’s like even you want to get to Brad, like send Sarah something, not Brad something, or send my kids something. And I’ve just seen you use that quite a bit and how you connect and build deep relationships.

John Ruhlin: Yeah. Well, I think that whether it’s your employees, whether it’s your clients, centers of influence, like people are like, “Well, who’s the decision maker? Who do I need to influence?” And what they don’t understand is that the head of the household or, in fact, wealth management, it’s a lot of middle-aged married white dude selling to middle-aged married white dudes. And those guys, the advisors that are making seven figures and the clients that are making 7 to 10 figures they have everything that they want. Like, if they want something, they can go buy it. A tool, cigars, golf. And since everybody knows what their hobbies are, people are like, “Well, I love golf and this guy loves golf. I’m going to do golf stuff.” I’m like, “You’re dumb.” He’s got five pairs of shoes in the closet because he goes to charity golf events all the time. He gets them for free. You want to give him a nice bag. Well, he’s already got four of those. Oh, he’s into bourbon. Oh, great. You’re going to send him a $100 bottle of bourbon, and he has a cellar full of Pappy. And so, like, people like John like, “I got to spend a lot of money to get the stores attached.”

Let’s take the rules and regulations off the table just for a second because if you do experiences, you can take somebody to the Super Bowl. You can weave in your artifacts into a part of the experience so that’s part of the overall thing. And so, there are ways. If you want to be, it’s amazing how many times people are like, “John, I got these rules, regulations,” and then I handle that objection like, “Here’s how you can do it legally. Here’s how you do that.” And they’re like, “Maybe I’m just cheap,” because they’re like, you know, because it’s not unusual to drop $10,000 on a Super Bowl ticket, but to drop $10,000 on a relationship with a physical artifact feels weird and uncomfortable. And most guys suck at gifting their wife, let alone all that are clients and centers of influence. It’s just an uncomfortable place to be. They don’t want to look weird or uncomfortable or out of place or waste their money or just be silly. So, to me, if I want to get a guy’s attention or a decision maker’s attention and this goes for employees, man or female, they get stuff all the time. And so, what I realized is that most of the people around the people get the worst side of that person’s attention. It’s like, “Hey, I’m going to go play Pebble Beach or go to the Masters.” Guess who’s at home? The spouse. Guess who’s at home? The kids.

So, there’s this jealousy in almost every business where like the employee, the client, the partner, whatever it is, gets treated like gold, and their treatment of gold is actually like a negative effect for the inner circle, for the assistants that have to juggle the schedule and all the stuff, for the kids, for the pet. So, my original mentor, Paul, was this genius at this and this is who he was like he treated the receptionist like gold. He treated the spouse like he knew the spouse’s name. And in financial services, like what happens when most people die? The guy dies first, statistically many years before. How many widows stick with that financial advisor? What? 10%, 20%? Maybe. Like, it’s a small number. Why? Because there’s no relationship there. It was with the person. And so, before they die and not just as a manipulation, I’ve realized like that person is half the equation, if not more. Like, if I want a vacation with you, my wife better like you. If I would do business with you, my wife better like you. And so, the reason so many things that we do are home-focused, are hospitality-focused, are kitchen-focused is because most people have a significant other and they’re not included. And if I can start to honor them and say, “Hey, this isn’t about the person who’s making the money or the decisions. This is about you collectively, and I want to honor your relationships and I want to make you look good to your people, around to people.

And so, there’s where you could spend way less money and have a thousand times more impact. Because if I get the people around the people feeling love for our clients, then they become the internal advocate and salesperson that says, “Hey, we need to work with them.” And I had it happen with John Bowen. I met him at a mastermind. It was like $10,000, $20,000 or whatever it was and his response after spending an hour with me was like, “This is cute, but this will never work with these seven-figure financial guys.” I started to send them little mini heart bombs, knives, and leather goods, whatever else. His wife, Jan, started asking him before bedtime like, “Hey, you’ve done anything with John Ruhlin:?” He was like, “Dude, I feel like I’m sleeping with your sales rep. Like my wife’s never met you. I’ve been in business 35 years and she’s talking about you before dinner, before lunch. She’s brought your name up six times in the last six weeks.” And so, we did a program with him just to test it out. He fought me every like he didn’t want to follow the recipe at all, but we did. These are all seven-figured guys. The referrals went up 107% over anything he’s ever done.

And it wasn’t because the people couldn’t afford the thing. It was because we honored the spouses. We made him track down all of the names. Like, all of the little details communicated that, “Wow, this felt subconsciously different.” And when you can honor that inner circle, those four buckets, spouses or significant others, teen, pets, and kids, that’s where 80% to 90%. When people hire us to do a relationship plan, I don’t care that somebody likes golf or hunting or whatever else. Like, that’s cool. Maybe we touch on that occasionally. You want to get super deep and be really like surgeon-like and effective with your dollars like you take care of that inner circle, not the hobbies and the interests of the decision-maker.

Brad Johnson: Yeah, you did that. You ran that playbook, too. And what was cool so my prior life, one of the things I did too, influenced by you, you connect and you have a podcast interview with somebody that’s like super busy, has a lot going on, a lot of requests for their time. And then most podcasts I found because I’ve done obviously plenty on this side of the mic, but I’ve also done my fair share as a guest. It’s kind of like you show up, you do the interview, and then never hear from the person again. And I was like, “That’s not cool.” Honestly, like I’m having conversations with people that would charge $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 for an hour of their time. 50,000 if you’re on a stage, right? And so, I started saying, “Hey, thank you.” I know a novel idea, and I know you helped me with some gifting. And it’s crazy how I got so many responses back of like, man, I’ve been on a hundred shows and this is the first time I’ve gotten a legitimate thank you for the guest appearance. You actually thought through something that was personalized.

And because of that, like one of my biggest fears as a podcast host is, man, I’m going to start out and have five, ten incredible guests and then it’s going to be crickets from there. I’ve never had an issue. It’s like, oh, like you’ve been super kind and super gracious with a lot of interesting connections, but so have many of my other guests. And I like to think it’s because I actually said like, “Hey, thank you. Your time matters. It’s very valuable. I didn’t take that for granted. And hey, here’s a little something to say thanks for carving out the time and adding value to my audience.” And so, this stuff just it works. It’s not rocket science. It’s just the other people be grateful for other people and show them that gratitude in a meaningful way.

John Ruhlin: Yeah. The bar is low in podcasting. Like, I’ve gotten like Starbucks gift cards, whatever else. I’m like, “Did you not listen? I listed off the ten worst gifts to avoid giving in gift cards and alcohol and food rather.” “Yeah, I mean, my time was worth a lot.” “I was like, this is unbelievable.” Which by the way, I mean, if you guys want to go download like the worst gifts to avoid giving and just like have a baseline to talk to their teams or assistants about, The Givers with an S, TheGiversEdge.com is a place to start. And then we also send like our top ten articles that walk through. So, they have to go buy a Giftology. They can start to like assimilate. And if somebody would just follow some of these articles that not even the full playbook, like the bar is so low in this area, whether it’s podcast gifting, employee gifting, client gifting like people just suck at it and everybody sucks collectively and looks around and we all think like it’s like the anniversary thing, like, “Hey, you’ve been here for five years. Here’s a catalog of crap you don’t want that you could buy at Walmart or Target for $17 with our logo on it. Thanks for putting in 10,000 hours with us.” Like, how is that gratitude for an employee? It’s like the worst thing. Like, how is that even like showing as gratitude? It’s like it actually damages the relationships.

But to me, like if I had a podcast, which I don’t, yeah, we started to record a few episodes of like Patrick Bet-David and some of those like top tier people, just because we had access to them, we’re hanging out for the day. But I’m like I would be dreaming up crazy stuff because like some of these guys a keynote, like a James Clear, I just helped him book a keynote for somebody. He’s at $175,000 for an hour. You get him on your boat.

Brad Johnson: Hey, so, prime example, he came on the old show right as his book, Atomic Habits, was launching. So, I caught him in this phase of the upward trajectory.

John Ruhlin: Well done. Yeah.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. But that’s the thing like… As a podcast guest, that is a serious gift to time. Just like this. It’s like I don’t take this for granted even though we’re friends and like most people, just like literally it’s very one-sided. It’s like the person gave their time and then there’s no… But like you…

John Ruhlin: Here’s what people say, here’s what most podcast guests who I said, “Wait. Why don’t you do anything?” They’re like, “Well, I feel like I give them a platform. They should be paid. They should be sending me the gifts.” So, the ego gets involved, the egotistical like you should be thanking me. I’m exposing you to all these people. I’m not charging you for all these media, which on one hand I can as a business owner, I can say, “Cool. Yeah,” but like when you flip the script and you say like, “Yeah, I’m going to give you all this exposure,” but like you didn’t have to come on. And a lot of these people, like, they don’t need the exposure like a James Clear or a Ryan Holiday or like Ed Mylett. Look at all these people. They have plenty of exposure and the time is the one asset that nobody gets back. It’s like the most valuable thing on the planet. Somebody gives you 5 minutes of time, 5 hours of time, 50 minutes like that is so valuable. And when you can say like, “Yeah, I’m going to give you all this thing,” you’re not expecting anything, which is great. Like, that’s the time you should be showing up like I send nicer gifts to Cutco and my suppliers I buy millions of dollars of product from. And it’s because, like from an intellectual perspective, I don’t have a business. As much as I could say like, yeah, I’m the client, I’m buying from you, I don’t have a business without a lot of key relationships. I don’t have a business without like my key insurance provider. And I have some people that started sending stuff to their financial advisors and their attorneys that charge $1,000 an hour.

And these guys would reach back out crying or tears in their eyes or like saying like, “In 35 years of having a business,” this is the first time anybody’s ever like sent me a really thoughtful gift, not as a manipulation, just as like an acknowledgment that like they really value what I brought to the table as a part of their team. And so, I think that for me, if I could get more people to do a 360 review of all of the people over the last 10, 20, 30 years that have poured into them or given them the opportunity or been in their corner or supplied something or been something, mentors or coaches. Like, I’ve even gone back to like teachers and write notes and send a gift with a note and say, “Hey, like you impacted me. I’m grateful for that we crossed paths and that you invested in my life,” whatever that happened to be. And when you can take the time to do that, it’s just such an unlock of flourishing and opportunity, and it feels good. Selfishly, you love on people like that comes back like this avalanche of love and gratitude. For me, it’s become addictive. I’m addicted to anything like, it’s like I love that feeling of knowing I’m making people feel a certain way and it comes back tenfold.

Brad Johnson: I couldn’t agree more. It is addicting to show gratitude. And that’s the other thing I’ve seen. One of my favorite things to do and I know you’re the master of this, we talked about it a lot is I’ve got a lot of great people in my network. I’m very thankful for that. And then I cross new awesome people on my network. And the power of connecting great people in your network to where it starts out, as you know, this awkward like who’s this dude or who’s this girl? And then six months later you see him pop up on a podcast together. You’re like, “Oh, I planted the seed that grew into a real relationship that benefited both of them.”.

John Ruhlin: So, a gift.

Brad Johnson: Yes, absolutely.

John Ruhlin: And you talked about like the way we introduce and I do try to hold this up. How many times have you seen somebody get introduced and they don’t even connect?

Brad Johnson: Well, you make a really good point there because I’ve been on text intros. I mean, we’re all really busy and it’s like, “Hey, Joe, meet Brad.” Send. And then the other person doesn’t even respond because why would they? They don’t even know who this random stranger is, right? But the way you do an intro, you’re like putting each person up on a pedestal. You’re saying, here’s something they do that I believe can add value to you and vice versa. It’s not a one-way street and they always respond back. Part of it is probably because the relationship you’ve built and they trust you. But also the other part is, “Oh, here’s somebody that I think is worth connecting with.”

John Ruhlin: Well, Derek Coburn talks about it at CADRE. It’s double opt-in always. Even people already know. It’s like, “Hey, I want to make this introduction to you. Here’s why I think it’s awesome for you.” And then I go to the other person and like, “Hey, I want to make this introduction.” I already teed it up. “I think this is going to be amazing for you.” So, now they’re both leaning in and then you edify them both on a pedestal, not in a weird or like made-up way. It’s like no. I’m not taking the time to introduce like junior varsity people. This person is amazing. I think that this is going to be amazing for whatever. And like when you teed it up to be a win, that’s really like, that’s a Joe Polish. He’s been doing it for 30 years. The playbook of what’s in it for them? We’re always thinking about what’s in it for us and when you can take that away and get the double opt-in and provide context and meaning to where both of them are leaning in and then I’ll follow up, I will like oftentimes if I don’t see any chatter, I will likely be like, “Hey, guys, I know you’re busy. I want to make sure that you guys connect.” And then not 100% rate, but like I care enough.

If I’m going to take my time to make two introductions I know sparks are going to fly and they’re going to be like this crazy bonfire. And I think that’s like the extra time to ask like people are just like, “Oh, I know that this is good for them.” Well, they don’t know what’s good for them and they’re busy and they’re out playing. And so, it’s like those extra. It’s like anything else. Like, it’s always the extra steps that most people don’t think they have time for but really, you’re just wasting your social capital and you’re not making it a gift. It’s more of an obligation. And whether you’re giving gifts out of obligation, whether you’re making introductions out of obligation, that like who the hell likes obligation? Nobody. We have too many of them put on to us but you can like make it a gift that way. Like, man, look out.

Brad Johnson: Well, and to your point, one of the reasons people in your network connect openly is they know you’ll never take advantage of it. It’s not that, “Oh, I snagged this dude’s cell phone and now I’m leveraging him or her for my own personal gain.” So, the double opt-in which you’ve done that, you’re like, “Hey, I think I’ve got somebody that should come on the podcast. What are your thoughts?” And you will hit me up first. I’m like, “Absolutely, yes.” So, you’re always checking both sides so it’s never an awkward one-way intro. It’s always like, yes, both sides have given the thumbs up. And by the way, that simple step is one of the reasons all of your connections are so that are real. And there’s actually action that follows up from the intro versus just a random text that gets lost in the ether. Well, hey, my man, I know we’re towards the end here with the new show because you were on the old one and, in fact, you were like super generous with not only your own time on that but also you made a ton of intros to a lot of people that became guests on the show. So, thank you. I should have probably started out the conversation with that.

But the next chapter, Do Business Do Life, which is how I lived, how you’ve lived. Front Row Dads has been instrumental in that. A lot of the other different experiences we’ve both been a part of. But I want to hear John Ruhlin’s definition of what is do business do life to John.

John Ruhlin: Well, when I think about it, I think a lot of times people live in silos and they show up differently in one silo than the other. And to me, it means like have an integrated life where who you are at home, who you are on stage, who you are with your family, who you are with your clients. It’s like if you say you’re world-class, you’re world-class in all those areas, at least to the best of your ability. And so, do business do life means to me like you play full out, you show up powerfully. You’re all in and you’re integrated and you’re not siloing off and like, “Oh, I’m a complete d-bag over here but I’m amazing over here. It’s that integrated life. And whether it’s business or whatever else, it’s just like who you are as a human.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. And it means your daughter, Reagan, can just hop on and make guest appearances if you’re on a podcast, which I love. That’s do business, do life. So, Reagan, if you’re still in there, thanks for being patient and let me borrow some of your dad’s time. And by the way, my wife is a head volleyball coach, a pretty dang good one, and a four-time state champ. So, if you ever want some extra coaching on the volleyball side, come on over Silver Lake, Kansas. We’ll put you up for a few days.

Reagan Ruhlin Thank you so much.

Brad Johnson: You’re welcome.

John Ruhlin: Dude, she just dropped a little heart bomb on me right there. Like Reagan’s be like, “Hey, when are we going to Kansas, dad?”

Brad Johnson: Anytime. Always welcome. All right, y’all. Well, Reagan, John, thank you. It’s been an awesome conversation, as always. And until next time, John. We’ll see you, buddy.

John Ruhlin: Much love, brother.


These conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies, concepts and tools that could be incorporated into the advisory practice, advisors are responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed is in accordance with any and all regulatory and compliance responsibilities and obligations.


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