The Tension Podcast
#18: Justin Ricklefs — Being Transactional vs. Being Relational

#18: Justin Ricklefs — Being Transactional vs. Being Relational

The Power of a Human-First Approach

"People don't buy facts and figures. We buy stories or connect,” says Justin. “We're hardwired... from the beginning of time, we were hardwired to tell stories and to remember stories, and stories have the power to transform and change us."

About Justin Ricklefs

Justin is the Founder and CEO of Guild Collective. He launched Guild in 2017 after spending 13 years in various sales and leadership roles at the Kansas City Chiefs, Learfield Sports, and ECCO Select. After stumbling into a passion for writing, Justin wrote personal pieces for large publications like Huffington Post, The TODAY Show, and Yahoo. While he enjoys writing on personal topics, Guild was formed with the awareness that many brands struggle to connect to the souls of their audience, and Justin believed he could help bridge that gap. Justin is responsible for the Visionary role in the agency, which most often looks like charting the company’s strategy, driving new revenue, developing leaders within the business, and hoping one of his many ideas end up being halfway decent.

Justin is married to his high school sweetheart, Brooke (she was slower to the realization). They live in Liberty, MO and have been married 20 years and have five children: Kamden, 19; Addi, 17; Rowan, 15; Silas, 13; Henley, 11. He and Brooke love traveling when they can. Justin enjoys writing, running, watching his kids’ activities, and sitting in his cabin where it’s quiet.

Key Themes

  1. Importance of Storytelling in Business: Justin emphasizes the power of storytelling as a tool for connecting with customers. Instead of focusing solely on products or services, he suggests that businesses should engage customers through stories and experiences that resonate with them on a personal level.

  2. Transition from Transactional to Relational Approach: He advocates for a shift in business mindset from being purely transactional to building genuine, long-term relationships with customers. This approach involves understanding and addressing the real needs and emotions of customers, rather than just selling a product or service.

  3. Learning from Mistakes and Experiences: Justin reflects on his career path, acknowledging the highs and lows he encountered. He stresses the importance of learning from both successes and failures, and how these experiences have been instrumental in shaping his approach to business and life.

  4. Personal Development through Discipline: Discussing his experience with the 75 Hard program, Justin highlights the value of personal discipline and routine. He notes that such practices not only improve physical and mental health but also help in finding a sense of balance and appreciation for life's simpler aspects.

  5. Family and Work-Life Balance: Throughout the podcast, Justin touches on the challenges of balancing a demanding career with family life. He shares personal anecdotes, like attending a Taylor Swift concert with his daughters (see Long Live Love: Essay by Justin), to illustrate the importance of making time for family and cherishing moments together.

Links Mentioned

  1. Justin Ricklefs

  2. Guild Content

  3. Kansas City Chiefs

  4. 75 Hard Program

  5. Andy Frisella

  6. Donald Miller - StoryBrand

  7. Will Guidara

  8. Brent Beshore

  9. 'Unreasonable Hospitality' by Will Guidara

  10. Taylor Swift

  11. Long Live Love: Essay by Justin


The Tension Podcast
The Tension Podcast is for those of us who’ve read every single leadership book and article that gives us just only one way to do things — but we’re ready to hold opposing ideas at once. It’s an exploration of where curiosity and wonder can take us.