Giftology – Book Review

By: John Ruhlin

John Ruhlin’s Giftology Journey:

From an Ohio farm to becoming the foremost authority on corporate gift giving, John Ruhlin’s path unfolded unexpectedly. Initially a Cutco distributor, Ruhlin applied principles of generosity, leading him to achieve record-breaking deals and eventually founding The Ruhlin Group. His strategy focuses on gifting “practical luxury” items to open doors, show appreciation, and yield a remarkable ROI.

The Power of Giftology Done Right:

Ruhlin exemplifies his gift-giving philosophy by sharing a memorable encounter with Cameron Herold, former COO of 1-800-Got-Junk?. Ruhlin’s extravagant and thoughtful gift, setting up Herold’s room as a Brooks Brothers showroom, created a unique experience. This extraordinary strategy not only cost him nothing, but it also became a powerful tool for relationship-building, mentorship, and advocacy.

Why Giftology Works:

Giftology stands out amid digital clutter, signaling a willingness to go above and beyond for the recipient. Beyond the initial impression, strategic gifting fulfills a primal need for importance, fostering appreciation and reciprocity. Ruhlin’s stories highlight how personalized and unique gifts, when done correctly, result in long-lasting relationships and even business opportunities.

What Not to Give: 

Ruhlin advises against gifts with company logos, emphasizing that a gift should focus on the recipient, not the giver. Timing matters, and sending gifts during traditional occasions may diminish their impact.

What to Give:

Ruhlin advocates for “practical luxuries,” gifts that are best in class, unique, practical, visible, lasting, and universal. Examples include leather laptop bags, golfer’s accessories pouches, and custom-fitted clothing. These items, when chosen thoughtfully, create a lasting impact.

A Systematic Plan for Gifting:

Establishing a systematic gifting plan involves determining whether to handle it internally, setting a budget (2-10% of net profits), and identifying key stakeholders. The concept of “planned randomness” entails surprising recipients with strategically chosen gifts throughout the year. Questions about timing, frequency, and continuity guide the development of an effective gifting strategy.


Strategic gifting, or Giftology, emerges as a potent tool for business growth, building relationships, and leaving a lasting impression. Ruhlin’s insights, exemplified through real-life stories, underscore the importance of thoughtful, personalized, and unexpected gifts. Whether sending gifts to clients or prospects, the key lies in creating unique experiences that go beyond traditional expectations, fostering genuine connections and long-term success.

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