EPISODE 599: How Being Charitable will Make You More Successful in Sales with Rennie Gabriel

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RENNIE’S TIP:  “Go through an exercise to determine what their values are and operate based on their values. That’s what wealthy people do. It’s not about the external. It’s not competing against the Joneses. It’s what are my values, and operating on that.”


Fred Diamond: We’re talking with Rennie Gabriel today, wealthonanyincome.com. We’re going to be talking about something that we talk around, that we have addressed, the whole concept of charity and the whole concept of how that should play and can play for sales professionals and to take them to the next level and be more successful. You and I are in a networking organization called JVMM. I’ve listened to a bunch of your shows. I think what you’re doing with wealthonanyincome.com is absolutely fabulous. I’m going to give you a chance to talk about that, then we’re going to go into the whole concept. The reason why we’re doing this show, which we’ve never done before, is the world is what the world is. We talk a lot about how you need to be a player in your community and with various causes and how you could use that, obviously from a networking perspective, but how it can add value to your life as the great sales professionals that we talked to are all about service. Good to see you. Why don’t you give us a little bit of an introduction to what you do, and then we’re going to get deep into the topic?

Rennie Gabriel: Thank you for having me on the show, Fred. I appreciate that, and the opportunity to talk about philanthropic thinks that I’m doing. I think John Templeton, a well-known investor, said it really best when he was asked what his best investment was, and his reply was tithing. That confused the person who was asking the question and he said, “Well, what I found is the more that I give, the more that comes in.” When we’re talking about sales professionals, I’ve seen study after study that says, people want to work with those who are doing something good besides what they’re selling. That’s the bottom line. That isn’t the reason I’m doing it. It’s not like I’m donating to various animal or veteran causes so that I can make more money in my business. That’s not the purpose for the donations.

When Vietnam was going on, I was in the Naval Reserve. I got to sit on a ship and eat meals at a table. I got to take showers. I had friends from high school, unfortunately, crawling through rice patties, coming home with maybe a colostomy bag or in a body bag. I was very fortunate in terms of my military service. That’s why a lot of the donations go to various military organizations or those that support veterans.

Let me talk about one of my favorites. One of my favorites is called Shelter to Soldier. If someone goes to my wealthonanyincome.com website, they’ll see a link to a donation page right at the top. People who make donations, I give them free stuff. The point being, this is an organization that goes to shelters and rescues dogs that would’ve been euthanized, and trains them as service animals for soldiers who’ve come back with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries who might otherwise have committed suicide. Every dollar to this organization saves two lives, a dog that would’ve been killed, and a soldier that could have committed suicide. It started when I just donated $1,000 to them. I found out about them through my wife. I donated some money. I found out it cost $15,000 to take care of the medical bills, and the food, and the dog training, housing the soldier during their training. It’s a year and a half process. The 15,000 doesn’t come from some government organization, it comes from donations. When I wrote a $15,000 check, I was just overwhelmed with the feeling of gratitude that I was able to do this, and I wanted to do more. My wife and I have done tens of thousands of dollars more since then, besides other animal and veteran organizations.

Fred Diamond: A lot of the people who are listening to today’s Sales Game Changers Podcast, since I’m based in the Northern Virginia, Washington DC area, a lot of the people who are listening, and it’s typically sales professionals at B2B organizations, sales leaders as well, many of them have sold to the government, and many of them have made quite a lot of money selling to Department of Defense. People always ask me, “Fred, if I want to be super successful in sales, what’s a strategy I could use?” I always say, be the guy who sells anything to the Navy. Be the Dell computer guy to the Navy, or be the guy who sells screws to the Army. Huge entity. A lot of money. There’s always going to be budget. The government ain’t going to go away. But there’s a tie to the community.

A lot of people who’ve made a lot of money selling valuable stuff to secure the country, to serve the military as well have made a lot of money in that and they do want to be tied to the service professionals. You’re absolutely right, most of them come back in a very, very difficult stage, suicide. I get emails every day about suicide prevention for the military, for servicemen who’ve come back who are just in a bad shape, and that’s one way to go.

Rennie Gabriel: It’s a simple situation. The suicide rate is almost one an hour. It’s like 22 a day from service members. Take into consideration that if I’m making sales and I’m giving back to an organization like that, I’m giving back to the people who are on the front lines that allow me the freedoms in this country to make the sales, to do what I do. Without them being on foreign soil protecting us here, we wouldn’t have the level of freedoms that we have.

Fred Diamond: Rennie, you’re an expert on helping people manage the wealth, what type of debt to possibly carry, how to go about that type of a wealth achievement strategy. You’ve told your story many times, and we can touch on it a little bit today, but talk to younger sales professionals. We have a lot of junior sales professionals, talk to them about why we’re having today’s show. Because a lot of them are figuring out how do they start to earn their wealth? How do they start making money? What do they want to sell? To whom do they want to sell? Talk a little bit about forward thinking, why this is important to think about now on how it’s going to affect you 20 years down the road, if you will, from a wealth perspective, and also from a charitable perspective.

Rennie Gabriel: One of the things that I was confronted with personally, because I was in sales for many years, whether it was selling clothes pressing machines, or life insurance, or mutual funds, or pension plans, it didn’t make any difference. One of the things that I noticed was that I had a volatile income. I make some large sales one month and the next month it would be weak. That drove me absolutely crazy. There are keys that I’m sure that you cover in terms of the prospecting, and you can’t stop your marketing just because you made a sale and all of the rest of that. For me, one of the things that I did, I recognized that I need to create some stable income outside of my sales career. That was when I started investing and investing in various things, whether it was real estate, or stocks, things that would give me a return. To quote another famous investor, Warren Buffet, says, if you haven’t learned how to make money while you sleep, you will work for the rest of your life. What I like to do is provide people the opportunity to see they can have work as a choice and not as a requirement.

I remember when if I was desperate for a sale, the person I was talking to could sense it. When I came from a place of, if I’m here to serve you, and I’m here to support you, they sense that as well. That comes from a position of, whether I make this sale or I don’t, it doesn’t change my life. For a young professional coming into a situation, if they feel desperate, the prospect they’re talking to is going to smell it. When you know that you’ve got some financial stability behind you, you’ve got some assets, you don’t have to fight for next month’s rent, or car payment, or mortgage payment, you’re coming from a position of strength. You’re able to come from a position of serving someone, and therefore you will be more successful.

Fred Diamond: How do you pick? There’s plenty of charities out there, there’s plenty of them. You mentioned supporting the servicemen and women who served in our military. As you know, I wrote a book recently on Lyme disease awareness. I didn’t know much about the Lyme world prior to 18 months ago. Again, we’re doing today’s interview in January of 2023. I now know of a thousand Lyme disease organizations. Some bring in 50,000 a year, some bring in millions. I’ve decided because of the epidemic that is Lyme, that needs awareness, et cetera. It played a personal thing to me. Someone in my life was affected by Lyme.

How do you make a decision? Give some advice to the sales professionals out there, because there’s plenty of charities out there that are dying to meet you. Especially if you’re in sales, the odds are you’re making, like you just said, when you get to a point, you’re at an abundance level, you could afford to do things without having to worry about the rent, or the car, or whatever it might be. Give some advice on how do you pick.

Rennie Gabriel: It’s simple. It’s what you’ve done. It’s what I’ve done. I have a personal connection to military. I have an amazing regard for dogs. I think they’re the most wonderful thing on the planet. We have four rescue dogs at various times in our house, and you ended up being involved in Lyme because of the personal connection with your wife. What I have found is when people look inside their own heart, they find the causes that are important to them, and it’s usually because of something personal. It could be that you’re living in a place where they’re tearing down the trees and you’re finding that obnoxious, and the trees provide the oxygen, and you want to donate to the Sierra Club or whatever. That’s what I’ve seen. The people who are involved in various charities in one way or another have been affected by it, either directly or tangentially. That’s how you pick.

Fred Diamond: I was on the board of a couple charities, and someone once said to me, there’s the three Ws of support. There’s wealth, wisdom, and work. Wealth, obviously, you write a check, and if you’re in a good position, you could write as many checks as you want. Then there’s the wisdom, which is providing advice and guidance. A lot of these charities, they’re run from an altruistic perspective. We’ve had some people over the years who do business development, who do that type of work, trying to find more donors, if you will. Then there’s, of course, the work where you can volunteer. Give us some of your thoughts on what could you be doing from a, obviously we talked about wealth, you write a check, you create a program, you donate from your foundation if you’re at that level, but talk about the other two angles, the wisdom level or the work level.

Rennie Gabriel: When you’re dealing with the wisdom, and one of the things that I do is I provide free counseling to soldiers who are going through the Shelter to Soldier program. How to handle money effectively, how to set up a spending plan, not a budget, but a spending plan. The attitudes that wealthy people have and that kind of stuff. That’s the wisdom component. That can be done with any organization, whether it’s a church, whether it’s a hospital. It doesn’t make any difference. You’re donating the skills that you have. As a salesperson, you could do some fundraising for an organization. You don’t have to write a check.

When I was young and my children were young, we didn’t have a lot of money. We were struggling. It was oftentimes paycheck to paycheck, or commission to commission, however you want to phrase it. But one of the things that we could do is we could go to a food kitchen and serve the people who were hungry. We could donate blankets, we could donate clothing. That’s what we did. The funniest part about it is, I forgot all about it. My youngest daughter is 48 years of age. She was the one who reminded me that’s what we used to do when they were young. That’s the work part. You’re working at a homeless shelter, you’re working at a food bank, you’re working at a soup kitchen. You’re doing those kinds of things and it costs nothing. I’m glad you brought up the three Ws, because the point is, you could be a donor at any one of those levels.

Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about time investment. If you have 168 hours in the week, how much of your time, for the young professionals out there listening, and also for people who are senior in their career, what do you recommend that they devote, from an energetic type perspective, to the various charities that they’re supporting?

Rennie Gabriel: I’ll go back to the John Templeton quote. He said his best investment was tithing. If you look at the Mormon church, they say 10% of what you’re earning, it’s locked in. That’s a reasonable number. Whether it’s talking about dollars or you’re talking about time, and you’re not talking about your sleeping hours as well. I would subtract that from the equation. But if you’ve got 2,000 hours a year, in terms of most people’s working 40 hour weeks and two weeks off, well fine. Then you’re talking about donating 200 hours a year, or about 16 hours a month, or approximately a couple of hours a week.

Fred Diamond: When we talk about sales, we often talk about relationships, meeting people that are going to help you in your sales career, possible partners, referral partners, people that you might do some collaborations, joint ventures, et cetera. One thing that you find when you get involved with certain charitable type organizations is that you’re dealing with like-minded people. Talk a little bit about the, again, this isn’t the main reason why you do it, of course, but talk about the social aspect of getting involved with various charities and how that can help you in your sales career, but also how can it help you as you go about life?

Rennie Gabriel: I’ll give you a good example. One of my clients was a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch, and he was doing relatively well and he was philanthropic minded, and he joined the board of a charity. This is many years ago, I can’t remember the name of the charity, but most people who are on the board of a charity are well to do. He was a stockbroker, so he was looking for well-to-do clients. Well, as the people on the board got to know him as he worked in the charity, there were people who said, “John, we really like what you’re doing. Tell me more about what you do as a stockbroker. You know what? I’ve got a million bucks that I’m not sure what to do with. I’ve got a lot of it with this stockbroker. Let me see what you can do with this million.” It’s from his relationship with other people on the board of a charity, that’s what worked for him.

Fred Diamond: Let’s talk again a little more about how you can use your participation. Now, not everybody listening has a million dollars to spend, but let’s say you’re a junior sales professional, you’re in your late 20s or something like that, talk a little bit about some other ways you can start developing relationships through your active participation in various charities.

Rennie Gabriel: It’s funny, I guess it’s because it’s just so easy for me to see it, I just think everybody knows. It’s like it’s not true. It’s like, I can watch someone play the piano, and it’s so easy for them. I can’t make both hands operate separately on the key. I am aware that it isn’t as easy for other people to see it. We’re Jewish. My son was a member of a temple for his children, and he is a chartered financial analyst. The temple said, “You should join our board.” They’re always looking for volunteers. He joined the board, he became their treasurer. Out of that activity, he got involved in a national religious organization. They asked him to be on their board, and he moved from being in his local religious organization to being active on a national level. People are involved in things and they don’t even see the opportunities that are in front of them. Like you go to a church, get involved with that church on a higher volunteer level, and it grows from there.

I joined an employee assistance organization locally, which had a group of primarily therapists and psychologists who provided various types of counseling to corporations. Within three years of my joining the local organization, which I was the only financial person among a group of therapists and psychologists, they asked me to be on the board of the national organization to help search for their new chief operating officer. Within three years from being in a local organization, I was in a national presence for this organization. Like I said, it’s easy for me to see it, but I forget, it’s not necessarily easy. All someone has to do is look for who do they want to support on a local level, become active, they become known if they’re doing a good job, and they can end up being exposed to larger organizations on a national level.

Fred Diamond: Which goes back to the other notion, which is there’s a couple of different ways to look at it. One is, what are you involved with? For example, you became involved with helping servicemen and women because of things that had arisen, and your love with dogs and the need to service it. But like you said, if you go to a church, there’s plenty of charities with Jewish, Catholic, whatever it might be. Second thing is seeing what’s around you, maybe your child. In the Lyme world, one thing I’ve discovered is a lot of people have gotten involved because their kids were bitten by ticks, Lyme is a tick borne illness, and there weren’t a whole lot of ways to learn about what they could be doing to help them. They created small charities, small foundations.

It’s very easy to create something from scratch. It requires work, but it also requires a degree of energy, finding someone else who’s supportive. But from a sales perspective, I like what you just said too, the more you get involved, like any type of entity, if you’re in your corporation, the better work you do, the more noticed you get, you rise up the levels. You’re dealing with a different type of person, someone who’s more committed to what you’re doing, to what you’re selling, to the community that you’re serving. Same thing with the various charities. The more you get involved, the more you raise, the more you earn, the higher you go. You’re dealing now with more successful people from a wealth type perspective. That could also help you with getting doors opened. Again, that’s not the reason why you’re doing it, but those opportunities are definitely provided to you.

From a tax perspective, talk a little bit about being involved in charity and donating, how that can tie back to, again, your physical wealth. Give us a little bit of insight from that perspective, how giving to charity can help you, if not just accumulate wealth, but also save on taxes, et cetera.

Rennie Gabriel: Well, it’s just simple. Every dollar that’s given to charity is deductible on a tax return. Time is not going to be a deduction, but dollars or products are. In other words, if I give a box of books to an organization, the books that I wrote, then that is a charitable deduction as well on the tax return. It’s funny, I think one of the things I really want to get to is what you said, you’re not doing it for the reason, I’m not doing it for the tax deductions. I’m doing it because it’s important to me, and it has to come from that place first. That’s the key.

One of the things I have looked at later in the year is, gosh, we’ve only donated let’s say $50,000 so far this year. We’re coming to the end of the year. We’ve got this much money. I know this much is going to be taxable. Let’s donate another $20,000, $30,000, $40,000. From that standpoint, I’ve done it, but it’s not because that’s the purpose from the beginning. From the beginning it’s how do I serve? How do I make the world a better place? Who is it I want to benefit that’s important to me personally? Yeah, there’s a tax advantage to it. At the year end when we’re doing our tax planning and I’m sitting with our CPA, I say, “You know what? I see that there’s going to be larger taxes to pay, let’s just donate more money.”

Fred Diamond: Rennie, before I ask you for your final action step, we like to end every Sales Game Changers Podcast. You’ve given so many great ideas, but I’ll be asking you for something specific people can do right now. I just want to acknowledge you for Wealth on Any Income and the education that you provide to a lot of people. Again, you’re donating 100% of the profits from your books, your online programs, to rescue dogs and soldiers. Again, your book, Wealth on Any Income, it’s been translated into eight or nine languages now?

Rennie Gabriel: Eight languages, yes.

Fred Diamond: Good for you. I just want to acknowledge you for what you’re doing in the world to help people understand how to accumulate wealth and how to utilize it in the right ways. Again, nothing wrong with spending money and buying nice things, but there’s also that component. Again, we talk about this all the time, especially as we’re, again, we’re doing today’s show in January of 2023, there’s so much of a need in the world. People who are struggling with mental health and mental illness, and people who are struggling with loss as it relates to things that have happened in the pandemic. We’ve learned about so many audiences that are definitely in need of service all around the globe. Not just in your neighborhood, but all around the globe. I just want to applaud you for the work you’ve done to educate people on how they could be, frankly, better citizens of the world. Give us your final action step, something specific people can do right now to take their sales career to the next level.

Rennie Gabriel: Go through an exercise to determine what their values are and operate based on their values. That’s what wealthy people do. It’s not about the external. It’s not competing against the Joneses. It’s what are my values, and operating on that.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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