29: John Ruhlin: Innovative Ways to Build Meaningful Relationships in Business and Life

John Ruhlin began selling world famous Cutco Cutlery while attending Malone University. He founded Ruhlin Promotion Group to provide innovative ways to build relationships and acquire new clients using Cutco and other high end gifts. In five short years, John broke nearly every sales record for Cutco distributors and landed in a different hall of fame – the Cutco Hall of Fame. He did it all before graduating and is now Cutco’s No. 1 distributor of all time out of over 1,000,000 distributors in the company’s 60 year history.  Total sales of Cutco Corporation over the last 10 years have grown to exceed over $250 million a year.

He is currently the co-owner of Ruhlin Partners, a small private equity firm with interests in various companies (including Ruhlin Promotion Group) and resides just outside of St Louis with his wife Lindsay and two kids. He is the co-author of the best-selling book Cutting Edge Sales and is a sought after speaker on the topic of C level selling, relationship development and strategic gifting.

Favorite Success Quote

“Give more than is reasonable” – John Ruhlin

Key Points

1. Learn How to Build Real Value in Relationships

The key to success in any relationship whether it is platonic, romantic, or professional is to learn how to build real value for other people.

Not just the cliches either.

I mean real value.

When you can figure out what another person truly wants and adores and find a way to give it to them, you can create such a high level of value and impact on their life that they will never be able to forget you.

One of John’s favorite examples is when he was seeking to connect with a mentor who he knew would be in town for a conference.

He knew that this mentor loved Brooks Brothers clothes and so he went to the store and bought over $7,000 of their products.

He then paid the hotel concierge to help turn his mentor’s room into a walk in Brooks Brothers store.

The man in question was so impressed with John’s efforts that he paid him back for items in the collection and immediately began mentoring him.

When you can learn to create value like this the sky is truly the limit for how far your relationships and connections can take you.

2. When Problems Arise Take the Focus Off Yourself 

Life is full of problems and trying situations.

When issues arise it is imperative that you take the focus off of yourself.

Instead of whining and moaning about how terrible something is, figure out a way to take the focus off yourself and put it towards the solution and ways that you can help others.

If you are having an argument with your spouse, remove the focus from yourself.

Put yourself in their shoes and think about how the issue is making them feel.

Approach the problem by focusing on a solution, not whose fault it is.

If you are in the middle of a business crisis and your partners are exacerbating the situation, pause and reflect before you start fighting with them.

Focus on their world and their problems and you will quickly find an expedient solution to the problems.

3. Humility is the Key to Sustainable Success

Reaching “success” is relatively easy, but sustaining success over a long period of time is much more difficult and requires a high level of humility.

Just because you have made your first six or seven figures does not mean that you have made it.

You need to be humble and ensure that you are constantly learning and growing after you have reached a milestone on your journey.

Arrogance and the “know it all” attitude is one of the quickest ways to sabotage your success and doom your plans to failure.

Stay humble stay hungry.

4. There is Redemption in Failure 

Every failure comes with an opportunity for redemption.

It gives you a chance to learn from your mistakes, take the moral high ground, and grow your character as you pick yourself back up.

In each failure you have a chance to achieve redemption whether this comes in the form of an apology, a new business, or the conclusion of one relationship that you can start a new one.

Failure is never the end.

It is just the beginning.

5. You Need to Develop a Strong Group of Men 

We live in a disconnected society that discourages men from spending quality time with one another.

But if you really want to level up your life, then you need to develop a strong circle of men who you can trust and on whom you can rely.

Build a strong social circle of other men who you can talk to about your struggles, who can advise you in tough times, and who can be there to celebrate with you when things are going great.

The quality of your life is directly correlated to the quality of your relationships.

So build your tribe today.

Nothing will have a bigger impact on your success and happiness then the people that you surround yourself with.

Influential Books

Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

Give and Take by Adam Grant


Connect with John Ruhlin


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