Act As If You Have Been There Before

My Journey from Sweeping Floors to Flying in a Private Jet

By: Ben Riehle, CEO/Co-Founder Apex Real Estate Network

Act as if… Act as if you have been there before. Act as if you belong in the room. Act as if you already accomplished the goals laid out in front of you. I am not sure when I fully embraced this mentality as a guiding principle in my life, but I know it came at a young age, and am confident it is the result of attempting to emulate my father, a 28-year career military officer. Regardless of the situation, he was able to portray a level of confidence that would reassure those around him that he had the situation under control.
The ‘Act as if’ mentality is what triggered me to drive onto a new-build construction site at 16 years old looking for a job. I was convinced I would become a real estate investor and figured a job in construction would be a great place to start. As I got out of my truck and asked for the person in charge, a worker pointed me to the trailer at the end of the cul-de-sac. I confidently walked over to the trailer and knocked on the door. The idea that I had no business being there never occurred to me. It never even crossed my mind that I had no construction background and there was no way I would get hired. It was a mixture of ‘acting as if I belonged’ and young dumb arrogance which allowed me to confidently yell through the door “My name is Ben Riehle and I am looking for a job.” when a shout from the other side asked, “Who is it and what do you want?”
When the 60-year-old general contractor opened the door and found a 16-year-old kid, he wasn’t really sure how to respond. Was this some kind of joke? I remember him asking, “Who put you up to this?” and at the time not realizing what he meant. I simply responded, “I am looking to get into real estate and stopped to see if you had any jobs available.” It was about then he realized I was serious. He told me that there was nothing available and he appreciated me stopping by.

Fast-forward 13 years to this past week, I was picked up in a private plane and flown to California to meet with a very wealthy family to discuss a real estate investment opportunity. As I spent time reflecting on the actions and activities that led me to that meeting, I realized “Acting as if” played a significant role. Looking back over the past 13 years, “Acting as if” has played a major role in my journey.
However, “Acting as if” is two-sided. Everyone talks about how you have to show up and act like you have been there before. They talk about how you have to act as though everything is under control, even when you have no idea how you are going to accomplish your goals. What is often overlooked and seldom discussed is that you must also act as if you are not too good to be there. You have to act as if no task is beneath you. My father lived this principal, and I witnessed it regularly growing up.
I didn’t leave the construction site 13 years ago after I was told that there were no jobs available. After the door was slammed in my face I knocked again. I told the contractor I would sweep floors and pick up trash for free. I acted as if I was not owed a thing. As a result of “Acting as if” I was given a chance. I showed up every day (seven days a week) that summer ecstatic to sweep the floors. I acted as if taking out the trash was exactly what I should be doing and when opportunity presented itself I acted as if I could handle more responsibility. Once I was promoted from floor-sweeper to assistant, I acted as if I was the best assistant on the planet. When you act as if, and remove the ego, you become exposed to opportunities beyond your wildest dreams.
Let me be clear, my role in the trip to California was very minor. I flew out in a private jet and came home on a commercial flight. I was grateful to be in the room and acted as if I had worked my ass off the past 13 years to put myself in a position to get there. At the same time acted as if I was not owed a thing, and plan to work even harder the next 13 years to earn a real seat at the table.
It is extremely easy to “Act as if” when you are jumping on the private jet. The question is, are you still willing to continue with the same intensity and passion when you are asked to sweep the floors?
Stay purposeful and Act as if, you never know where you will end up.

Best,
Benjamin A. Riehle.

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