143: Brilliance in the Basics, with John Ballenger

Welcome to the Managing CRE Risk podcast with Jeremy Goodrich. You’re in for a treat today as we have a remarkable guest, John Ballenger, joining us. John is not just a CRE developer but also a former Marine Corps member who served as one of the select seven individuals responsible for flying Presidents around the country. In this episode, John shares his insights on his 20-year journey in the Marine Corps and the concept of “brilliance in the basics” that he’s applied in his real estate career. He also dives into the secrets of building a high-performing real estate team that can make all the difference in your success.

Learn more about John and his story at shineinsurance.com/managing-commercial-real-estate-risk!

“How you do the small things will eventually compound and that’s what will get you to the goals that you set down the road.”


John’s journey began two decades ago when he joined the Marine Corps. Over the course of his career, he rose through the ranks to become one of just seven elite individuals entrusted with the monumental responsibility of flying Presidents.

John’s outstanding success can be attributed to his commitment to a powerful concept called “brilliance in the basics.” It’s a theory that by doing something down to the smallest action you get good at it.

Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, John pivoted to the real estate industry and established himself as a CRE developer and coach. His team operates in multiple states, including Colorado, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.

“I had been around highly effective teams long enough to know that it’s better to form a team of individuals that are proficient in a few things, then find people that are okay at a lot of things.”


John shares insights on managing risk from his military and real estate experience, emphasizing the importance of mitigating risk to an acceptable level. He advises focusing on the small things that can be controlled and ensuring they are done well to make risk manageable.

Around 5 years ago, John became a passive investor in syndications and recognized the value of collaborative teamwork towards achieving ambitious goals. Inspired, he partnered with an investor in Pennsylvania and learned real estate development.

“One thing I learned in marine aviation is the OODA loopthe idea of constantly adapting and modifying your actions based on how others respond or the situation unfolds, and reengaging with a different strategy.”


John shares his best piece of advice on how to find the right individuals to do syndications with.

  • Remember that even highly efficient and successful individuals are still people. Be humble and willing to help and ask questions.
  • Trust is a crucial factor, so prioritize reliability when selecting business partners.
  • Don’t hesitate to follow up with potential partners, but do so thoughtfully to engage them effectively.

About our guest, John Ballenger

John Ballenger was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he later attended and graduated from Oral Roberts University in 2002 with a B.S. Degree in Marketing and minor in Management. After graduation, he departed for Officers Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia where he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps before starting a successful 20-year career as a Naval Aviator. Over his career, he was deployed on four different occasions to locations including Eastern Africa, the Pacific, Iraq, and Afghanistan. John finished his career back in the Washington D.C. area where he had the privilege of flying Marine One over the last 5 years for both the Trump and Biden Presidential administrations. 

John has recently retired from the Marine Corps and relocated to Colorado Springs, CO with his two boys Lincoln and Hudson, and the love of his life Riann. Transitioning from the military, John started success consulting focusing on “Brilliance in the Basics” which leverages his experience from his time in the military, multiple combat deployments, and the loss of his daughter Brooklyn. John is a partner in the commercial real estate development company Aspire Development Group which focuses on the Oklahoma and Colorado markets.

Mentioned in the show:

  1. https://aspiredevgroup.com
  2. His LinkedIn
  3. Shineinsurance.com
  4. www.shineinsurance.com/managing-commercial-real-estate-risk
  5. Jeremy’s LinkedIn

Need an instant insurance ballpark for your next Multifamily deal?! Answer 9 simple questions and we’ll give you a sense of what insurance should be. Visit us here for everything you need to know: https://www.shineinsurance.com/ballpark/ 

Special thanks to John Ballenger for taking the time to share so many great insights with us

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Until the next time, We truly appreciate you listening.

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