strategic gifts with John Ruhlin

The Art of Giftology: Energize Your Business and Personal Life With Strategic Gifts with John Ruhlin

Strategic Gifts are what we call “Thoughtful Thoughts.”  Giftology author John Ruhlin tells us about the science of strategic gift giving and how it can galvanize your business and personal relationships for years to come.

About John Ruhlin

John Ruhlin is the founder of The Ruhlin Group, a gift logistics company that helps clients like the Chicago Cubs, Wells Fargo, Caesar’s Entertainment, Miami Dolphins, Morgan Stanley, and The John Maxwell Company execute year-round gifting strategies.

John’s unique approach to relationships led him to become the #1 salesman for a $250 Million direct sales company. He now speaks widely about strategic gifting and relationship building and helps CEOs and sales teams drive referrals and open doors to elusive decision makers.

John Ruhlin’s Story

John Ruhlin grew up on an Ohio farm milking goats. An overachiever all his life, John didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do. All he did know was that he didn’t want to be working on a farm for the rest of his life.

John Ruhlin says it only takes one mentor to change your life. As a young man, his mentor was his girlfriend’s dad who showed him what happens with acts of radical generosity. When John got an internship with the Cutco knife company, he achieved great success, not by selling knives, but by applying the psychology of deepening relationships by giving strategic gifts.

Now John Ruhlin sends out $250,000 a year in gifts, spending $200-500 per gift. This may sound crazy, but he says that his prospects’ time is worth that much. His small eight-person firm has landed monstrous companies by radical generosity, and when you take into account how much you might spend on restaurants and events entertaining prospects, Ruhlin’s gift expenditures are not so out of proportion. Colleagues, associates, and clients may not remember the steak they ate or the wine they drank, but a treasured gift will make them remember you again and again. It may be mind-blowing, but it’s actually smarter to reallocate resources for generous gifts instead of spending on trade shows or expensive dinners.

The Philosophy of Giftology

Did you know that giving strategic gifts can make a huge difference in your work and family life? For most men, trying to think of thoughtful gifts feels awkward. This is why guys usually ask wives to choose the gifts. So how can you choose a gift that will leave a meaningful impression that lasts?

The last thing people need is more crap. Most of us are overwhelmed by stuff we don’t need or want. But we all have room in our lives for more artifacts – the types of gifts you would save from a fire or pass down as an heirloom. This type of gifting is not a new idea. It’s old school. Our grandfathers and fathers did it. We’ve just forgotten.

Gifting Fundamentals

  • Get the spouse and family in on it – Knives are used every day in a family’s home to prepare food. This is a very intimate ritual and that is why John has had such success in selling engraved knives. His gifts became part of people’s lives. He says “try to find a gift that becomes part of the fabric of the being of that person.”
  • Make everyone look better – Giving gifts that make an executive look like a hero in front of his wife will win you extra points. Likewise, giving your wife an extraordinary surprise in front of one of her friends will amplify the effect of the gift that much more
  • No logo or promotional slogans – Adding branding or contact info to a gift defaces it.
  • No strings attached – Don’t cheapen the thought be hinting at getting something in return. Make it about the other person and they’ll put the spotlight on you.

More Strategic Gift Tips

  • Personalize the gift with the recipient’s and the spouse’s or family’s name.
  • Make sure the gift is accompanied by a handwritten note.
  • Make sure the gift is the best in its class and will last a lifetime or more.

Gifting your family

It’s more difficult to gift on a personal side, and John Ruhlin admits that he was horrible at gifting his wife, but he also says that men don’t really suck at gifting. They just suck at putting time and attention towards it.

Strategic Gift Tips for Family

  • Gift according to love language – Does your spouse appreciate your time, experiences, time for herself? What are those things your kids always want to do that you never have time for?
  • Gift outside normal times – Giving a gift on Christmas and birthdays is expected. Giving gifts on a random day has more impact because it’s not obligatory.
  • Take notes throughout the year – John Ruhlin listens to his wife and kids whenever they mention things they might like and uses Evernote to save gift ideas for later.

Parting wisdom on being a good dad

John Ruhlin is a traveling entrepreneur and a husband, but he also has three little girls all under the age of 5. As a family, they devote a lot of time and attention to cultivating faith.

He, like many parents, sometimes wondered if it’s sticking, but he has seen the power of pouring in core values at a super early age. His advice is that children’s minds can process much more complex concepts than we give them credit for. “Don’t treat them like they can’t understand.”



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Connect with John Ruhlin





Giftology on Amazon

powerfully present

8 Ways to Be Powerfully Present with Your Family

Powerfully Present are two words we hear a lot in our society.  However, being powerfully present in the moment has never been more difficult due to all the distractions that we are bombarded with every single moment of every single day.

Powerfully Present Tip #1:  Eye Contact

When you are talking to your partner or child, think to yourself, what color are their eyes? Lock-in the eye contact, and focus on every detail. This will pull your attention out of the fog created by your never-ending task lists, whether it’s the one from your desk or on the fridge. They may still call your out for not listening, but see what kind of response you get to, “I was distracted by your eyes. Those light specks of green in the brown around your pupils are amazing.” (Thanks Larry!)

Powerfully Present Tip #2: Start a Family-time Challenge

Challenge the family to a nominal amount of time with ZERO electronics. If possible start with 5 minutes, but don’t be afraid to start smaller.  The trick to this one, is that you need to keep everyone from watching the clock. “Ring Around the Rosy” is great with our two-year old. She loves the part where we all fall down. (Thanks Brett!)

Powerfully Present Tip #3:  Ask yourself a simple question

Which part of this moment will matter in a year, what I’m thinking or what’s in front of me? This is amazingly effective for me. I’ve been known to literally toss my phone to the other side of the room in response so it is out of reach. Glad I have a good case! (Thanks Paul!)

Powerfully Present Tip #4:  Get down on your child’s level

There are few things that will focus you in the moment like sitting on the floor with your child. If my mind starts to drift, I drop down to eye level and utilize tip #1.  (Thanks Robert!)

Powerfully Present Tip #5:  Ask them to hold your hand

When you are busy/focused on a task and your child approaches, ask them to hold your hand or leg while you wrap up. I tend to finish faster, and often I simply stop because I hear Paul’s question in my head. “Which one of these matter?” (Thanks Lenny!)

Powerfully Present Tip #6:  Learn with them 

Make their hobbies your hobbies, even if that means playing ball boy, packing away the nets, or learning about tendus and pirouettes. If you share common interests it is much easier to retain focus when you spend time together. This works great with children as well as and partners. My wife and I spend a lot of time together building our sites and photography skills. This provides us opportunities to grow together independent of our children. When Cecilia moves out one day, we will have other interests holding us together. (Thanks James!)

Powerfully Present Tip #7:  Share your gratitude 

This is more than saying thank you. It’s about appreciating the contribution your partner and children make to your life. If my mind is wandering, I will use this change it’s direction, and to Erin or Cecilia with me. “My favorite part of the week so far is when we sang songs while riding to daycare.” Or, “Do you remember stopping for coffee last Tuesday morning? That made my week.” Let them know you appreciate the little things you do together as a family.

Powerfully Present Tip #8:   Share a memory

Sometimes it can help to take a trip through time. Tell your children the first, funniest, or favorite memory you have from them growing up. Talk to your spouse about your first date, and what attracted you to the most to them.

How to Start

It’s not easy to juggle the responsibilities of parenting, marriage, and work. It is no wonder that we struggle to stay present. I trust that now you have at least one or two new tools to help you keep your focus during family-time. To help you start using them, and to reduce your distractions, I recommend these simple but effective strategies.

  1. Put your work phone / email on “Do Not Disturb” when you leave the office. This is your time to reset so you are in the right headspace when you arrive at the house.
  2. When you come home from work, pause at the door, think of your intention, and visualize how you want to show up on the other side.
  3. When you enter the home, assess the environment, and enter it where/how you will add the most value. If your partner is fried, grab the kids and let them take a walk. Don’t ask what’s for dinner.
  4. If your mind still begins to wonder, remember this list of focus hacks to pull you back into the present moment.

Surround yourself with positive, like-minded dads struggling and supporting each other. The ever-growing Dad’s Edge Facebook Group is a great source for these connections – look forward to seeing you there!



==>NEW!!<== Grab a copy of The Dad’s Edge AUDIOBOOK on iTunes or Audible


Check out our Dad Edge Group on Facebook Request Entry Here

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Checkout Unbeatable Mind Online HERE

We have new Dad Edge T-Shirts!  Grab one HERE

Check out a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS


Connect with John Zugelder

John is husband, father, writer, and member of the Dad’s Edge Mastermind. He and his wife are the creators of the free 45 Day Positive Mornings Challenge, and they currently live in Sydney, Australia with their toddler. You can also find them on their personal blog, Living EZ.

powerfully present