CNLP 453: John Ruhlin on Why Almost Every Leader Gives the Wrong Gifts to Clients and Colleagues, How to Give Great Gifts and How to Give Gifts that Open Doors Even on a Tiny Budget

John Ruhlin, founder of Giftology, specializes in helping leaders give gifts to top clients, donors and colleagues that they’ll remember for years to come. He explains why most leaders get gift giving wrong, what not to give, and how to give gifts that build relationships and open doors, even on a small budget.

Welcome to Episode 453 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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Insights From John

1. SWAG is manipulation

SWAG – “Stuff We All Get” – if you’re a company owner, you’ve likely purchased items with your company logo and given them as gifts. But, as John said, you’d never go to your best friend’s wedding and add on the Tiffany’s vase, “Compliments of Re/Max.” It just feels tacky. If we’d never do this in our personal lives, why do we do it in business?

John says, what we’re really trying to do is manipulate the situation. We’re trying to turn that other person into a billboard for us. We’re trying to get them to advertise for us, which is not a gift, it’s manipulation. Instead, personalize it.

If you really want somebody to value something, it needs to be best in class, it needs to be quality. Give a functional, practical gift and personalize it. The recipient will realize the thoughtful gift was made just for them.

2. Get creative, get a donor and include a handwritten note

You can still be an incredible gift-giver, even on a small budget. John offers three ways:

  1. Get creative
    Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask, “What would they never do for themselves?” When John started his company eight years ago, they paid for house cleaning for every employee they had. While it cost around $2,000 per employee, the value was closer to $50,000, because the employees would likely never do that for themselves. It also gave them time back with their kids, their hobbies and their spouse.
  2. Ask a donor for support
    If you have a small budget, ask one of your donors to consider underwriting a something special. Maybe you want to honor and celebrate your volunteers. As an entrepreneur, John loves to put a dollar in and get 10X back out.
  3. Give a handwritten note
    When somebody hires John’s agency to do their gifting for them, one of the prerequisites of the recipe is a handwritten note. If a client refuses to give this, John refuses to work with them. He says, “The handwritten note is important if not more important than what you’re giving, because the handwritten note is what provides the meaning, and the thoughtfulness, the context of the appreciation.” He even suggests, saving your money and taking an hour to write the nicest, most thoughtful handwritten note that you can write to that person. And if you want them to cry, go read it to them in person.

3. ABC gifting—no anniversaries, no birthdays, no Christmas

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially in Western society, we’re overloaded with gifts from clients and partners in business. John thinks this is unnecessary and has a rule he calls ABC gifting:

A – no Anniversaries
B – no Birthdays
C – no Christmas

He suggests that if you want to make a greater impression, send a gift during an unexpected time of year, even if it’s not a great gift. When you show up for people just because, and not for a specific reason, it offers a more meaningful relationship-building statement.

Quotes from Episode 453

In business, the most powerful thing that eats ROI for breakfast is ROR—return on relationship. @ruhlin Click To Tweet When you pour into relationships, they flourish. @ruhlin Click To Tweet You never call a relationship a token relationship, why would you call it a token of your appreciation? @ruhlin Click To Tweet When you show up for people because you wanted to, not because you had to, it shows your true colors. @ruhlin Click To Tweet How we love on people, how we show up for people matters. @ruhlin Click To Tweet In business, we're all trying to be liked, trusted and top of mind. @ruhlin Click To Tweet A gift, by its fair nature, is recipient-focused. @ruhlin Click To Tweet

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Next Episode: Scott O’Neil

Scott O’Neil is the former CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils and author of Be Where Your Feet Are. Scott talks about why he stepped back as CEO of a massive sports franchise, how to build a winning culture, why ego is a killer, high standards, recruiting top talent and the future of sports.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 454.

CNLP 453: John Ruhlin on Why Almost Every Leader Gives the Wrong Gifts to Clients and Colleagues, How to Give Great Gifts and How to Give Gifts that Open Doors Even on a Tiny Budget

1 Comment

  1. Sebastian Samuel on October 30, 2021 at 11:28 pm

    John is a master networker, keynote speaker, sales and marketing expert, and entrepreneur who has built an entire business around. There is a right, and wrong, way to give.John Ruhlin has gifted on behalf of everyone. This time we did not read a portion from the Bible, but we looked at all the little pictures!

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