The story of Billy Vranish, in his own words.

This blog post was written by Billy Vranish, an outstanding  young man who joined our Tampa, FL team as a high school student and worked with us until his second year or college. We did not have to edit a single word, this is exactly what he wrote:

When I was sixteen, a friend of mine asked if I was interested in making some money and gaining some experience in the workplace. I knew she had been working for a local company in Tampa called Balloon Distractions, twisting balloons in local family-oriented restaurants for the patrons, and she was getting calls to perform for private parties as well.

Initially I was very skeptical. I enjoyed performing in front of people, as I had been in choir and multiple musicals throughout middle and high school. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try.

It turned out that I had a natural talent for balloon twisting, probably because I focus so much on following directions. Memorizing and perfecting twenty or so shapes took less than a week, and after a month, I had learned close to forty. My friend, officially my trainer, decided that I was probably ready to make it in the big time.

Before I could have my formal restaurant training Ben Alexander called me one afternoon and asked if I would be interested in filling a “gig” that Saturday. He said that he had heard good things about me from my friend and that it was an emergency. I acquiesced, and on Saturday morning showed up to a Perkin’s in Tampa for what would be the first of many gigs to come.

I called Ben after my gig and told him how much money I had made and how the morning had gone. He congratulated me and welcomed me as a twister with all of the rights and privileges membership provided. I was put on the schedule and allowed to choose my own gigs.

Not having formal restaurant training was a huge advantage. As I explained earlier, I am adept at following directions, and formal training might have hindered the creative development of how I approached and entertained customers. My training as a twister was more organic. I enrolled in three to four gigs a week and learned on my own, and was successful from the very beginning.

That Perkin’s became a regular gig for me every Saturday and Sunday morning. Tuesdays were Beef O’Bradys. Wednesday I would work at either Chili’s or Sweet Tomatoes, and I would pick up random gigs throughout the Tampa Bay Area based on my availability and the quality of the gig.

The first formal training I received was when I brought in my girlfriend and another friend to the business. After training them according to my own experiences, we went to a local restaurant where we would both meet Ben for the first time. The people I brought in to meet him became a testament for my own work ethic and success, as I assured Ben that both of them were duly qualified and met the standards I had set for myself.

They would both go on to be successful twisters, and a few years later, I trained my sister to join Balloon Distractions as well.

My favorite part of the job was the clientele. The nature of the business is such that a twister is a very public figure within the restaurant. I enjoy meeting and getting to know people, and twisting balloons broke down barriers that I might have otherwise not challenged in another setting. I always said that it was easy to make a seven-year-old boy a helicopter in the colors of his soccer team, or a cute little four-year-old girl a pretty flower bracelet to match the dress she wore to church that morning but I succeeded in a key demographic- adults. I became talented at approaching people much older than I, overcoming the intimidation factor. One of my absolute most favorite places to work was a Bennigan’s at the Channel district in Tampa, famous for having yuppie and tourist crowds, including bachelorette parties, convention attendees, and local couples out for a night on the town.

The lessons and skills I learned twisting balloons have become an invaluable asset during my college career and beyond. One of the most important skills I honed was the ability to remember names and faces and be extremely friendly. I also discovered that I had a knack for getting to know people very quickly and establishing relationships. Furthermore, my leadership skills and self-discipline improved, as I was essentially my own boss.

The job also required a maturity well above my years, and I like to believe that I rose to the occasion. Skills aside, being a balloon artist still impacts my life to this day. Employers viewing my résumé inevitably ask about my high school job, and every once in a while, I enjoy taking out my balloons and entertaining my younger family members or the local kids at a community center while volunteering.

For a young, friendly, and driven person, becoming a balloon artist is a fantastic experience. It prepared me for life beyond college by illustrating the importance of personal relationships and communication and was an entertaining and fun way to make a little bit of money as well.

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Twisting balloonz in Honduras!

In April of 2014 I’ll return to Honduras on my third trip… this was written after our first trip in January of 2012: 

Last week I went to Honduras along with 4 other members of my local Rotary club to install clean water filters in a joint project with Pure Water for the World. The trip was paid for by our Rotary club aong with a $3,000 sponsorship from Wesley Chapel Toyota / Honda.

     

I packed my steel-toe boots, leather gloves, some heavy duty work clothes and a bag full of balloons. Our group of Rotarians were joined by a handful of other folks from around the country: a writer, an accountant, a dentist, 2 paralegals, a construction consultant and the CEO of an electronics company. Our base of operations was the town of Trojes (pronounced TRO-hayes).. a rag tag town with dirt roads near the Nicaraugan / Honduras border.

Pure Water for the World (PWW) has installed over 2,000 water filters and over 600 latrine facilities in the communities surrounding Trojes, and during our trip we added several water filters and 7 new latrines to that total. Another component of PWW’s mission is educating Hondurans about basic hygiene issues.

In Trojes we stayed in the Hotel Moderno ( I think it rates NEGATIVE 3 stars in the Michelin guide). Every morning about 200 roosters would promptly wake us up at 5AM. My first morning I climbed up to the roof of the hotel and was amazed at how you could hear roosters crowing and dogs barking from every point on the compass. From my vantage point I could see the entire town and the tropical mountains beyond…

Everyday after a decent breakfast at a local outdoor restaurant we would climb into the back of several 4X4 pick-ups and head up to the homes far up into the mountains. Sometimes it would take almost 2 hours to reach our destination, and as we climbed the mountains on muddy, slippery roads we were always about 8 inches from plunging off the side and falling several hundred feet into the jungle below. Once we got off the truck we had to hike a couple hundred yards down a steep muddy path to get to the target household.

The people living up in the mountains lived in adobe shacks with dirt floors, no electric, no sewer system, windows that were just a hole in the wall and a wood burning stove. One family that we helped grew coffee, beans and rice right there on the side of the mountain. Every home had one or 2 half starved dogs wandering around along with a gaggle of chickens and curious barefoot children everywhere you looked.    

The Honduran people have a different attitude about danger and child rearing, I would see little kids right on the edge of the roads all over the country, and many times you would see a child totally alone with nary an adult in sight. Up in the mountains these little children would run up and down the muddy footpaths like it was nothing… I got the feeling that any child who reached adulthood must be one tough son of an onion….   

This trip gave me a new perspective and made me thankful for all the things we take for granted here in the United States.

Mike’s Story

Micheal is an entertainer on the Seattle team, this is his story:

“I was twisting at a restaurant the other day, spotted a table with a mom and son, about 8 years old. The boy was being difficult, holding his head down, with a sullen expression on his face, basically refusing to co-operate with anything mom wanted.

I approached the table, gave a big cheery HELLO, and preceded to ask if I could make something for either one of them.  The boy just ignored me – but not without first glancing at all the balloons in my apron. Mom said she wasn’t sure, as they were having difficulties even ordering their food.

I commented, “Yeah! Sometimes it’s really hard to decide, it’s all so good!”

We chatted for a few more seconds, and the little guy kept sneaking glances over my direction.

I finally asked mom what his favorite color was, (blue) and inflated a balloon, making a big production out of it. Then I asked if I could sit for a moment (next to the kid) “… ’cause my feet were sore…” (with a wink at mom). She said “Sure!” and I plopped down, and started waving the balloon like a wand. By now the kid was more staring at the balloon than down.

I continued talking to mom, telling her about Balloon Distractions, and that I twist all sorts of shapes, and I’m not sure what to make with this beautiful blue balloon.

This caused the kid to whisper ‘… a Dog…”

I sat there, slowly shaping a Sitting Dog, and explaining what I was doing as I went. The boy’s eyes were now riveted on the action. By the time I got to making it’s ears the kid was fascinated, and totally into it. I got him to tell me a joke, even got the mom to laugh at my exaggerated mistakes When I’d finished the shape (He chose the color for the eyes), the kid was smiling and laughing, and had decided he was hungry and happy. 

I got a $10 tip from a grateful Mom.”

Pennies and Dollars.

I only go out to sell if there is someone to watch and learn from me, in that way I train someone and sell new business at the same time, a very productive use of my time because most of the people I train will then go out and sell business when I am NOT there. 

In most JOBS you work 8 hours and get paid for 8 hours of work and that’s it. 

I have not had a job since 2003 and I probably never will for the rest of my life. I know now that I’ll be an entrepreneur for the rest of my life, no doubt. 

You can work at a job for 20 years, then one day you get fired and you have….. nothing. Lots of people are learning that painful lesson right now. 

If you build a business for 20 years you can turn around and sell it for double the current yearly revenue. That means that my little entertainment company is now worth 400 to 500K if I were to sell it today. 

You can’t sell your job….

The trick is to find a business that will earn you a residual income and allow you to duplicate your effort many times over.  That’s exactly what Balloon Distractions does, train a crew, send them out to restaurants, and make income while you are asleep. 

We all have the same 24 hours a day to live in, from Bill Gates to a homeless guy. Bill Gates is a billionaire because he built a huge business that sold a product to millions of consumers. 

How much are you WORTH?

If you die today what worth did you hold in the universe?

I’m not talking about money or wealth, we just accumulate money during our lives and then is gets dispersed again after we die. Money is fluid and temporary, if I take $10,000 and disperse it outward to relatives, charity, taxes, etc… pretty soon that money is gone. 

Like water in a 10 gallon bucket that’s been poured out onto the lawn on a hot summer day, if I come back the next day there is zero proof that the water ever existed! Money is so temporary, more of a symbol than a tangible thing.   

I’m talking about the changes that you created while you were here on earth. Did you change people’s lives? Did you create something that is generational and lasting?

Did you make life better for your family, the people you work with, the clients you serve?

Maybe this is what keeps me in Rotary, besides the social aspect of it all. Do the water filters we install in Honduras save children’s lives? Do the balloon art skills that we teach students help them pay for college?

I want to get my company into 100 regions not just for the profit, but because I feel that we have a positive impact on the lives of the people who work with us, even if they only do so for a few months.

It’s HARD to find the right people who are willing to build regions by training a crew and selling new clients. They have to start from ZERO and really build a business from the ground up. I know they’re out there; the salespeople, the school teachers, the folks who retired in their late 50’s yet they still have SO much to contribute and a lifetime of people skills under their belt to help them do it.

Whatever you do strive to make an impact, strive to do something positive that will outlast your short time here on earth.    

What it takes to Build a Region.

Balloon Distractions started with one client back in 2003, a Perkin’s restaurant on North Dale Mabry road in Tampa, FL.

From that humble beginning we grew to a nationwide team of entertainers that crosses four time zones and entertains children from Seattle to Miami to Los Angeles.

Each local team is led by a Regional Partner, and we are seeking additional Regional Partners in over 130 markets across the United States.

Our Regional Partners are independent contractors, they determine the pace and growth of their region. 

What in the world does a Regional Partner do?

–        They fill gigs and make sure the schedule is filled each week.

–        Introduce this idea to new clients.

–        Find and develop a crew of entertainers.

How does someone become a Regional Partner?

–        Fill out the Regional Partner form on our website.  

–        Submit to a background check and fill out our Independent Contractor agreement.

–        Work your way up through the levels in our program.

How much do Regional Partners earn?

Your pay is based upon a percentage of incoming revenue from clients that you have established in your region, in a major market working 30 plus hours per week you can earn over $100K per year.

In a smaller market (less than 100,000 people) you can do this part time and on weekends to earn an extra $1,000 to $3,000 per month.

Some of our Regional Partners in secondary markets earn $25K per year working less than 10 hours per week.

Where do successful Regional Partners come from?

From retired military to full time college students, our RP team varies in gender, race, age and work experience. Even across this diversity there are some common characteristics among them:

–        They are willing to fill gigs and make people happy.

–        Expressive, outgoing and friendly.

–        Humble. Even the founder and CEO of the company goes out to make balloons for children on a regular basis.      

–        Goal oriented, it is not EASY or FAST to get up to $100K in annual income. It takes consistent commitment over a long period of time.    

–        Persistent and TOUGH. People quit, clients cancel, that’s life… but as long as you keep going you will find success in this business.

How does Balloon Distractions support the Regional Partners?

We have an entire system that walks you through every facet of our business, from twisting your very first balloon to learning how to run a crew of 30 Independent Contractor Entertainers.

We’ve moved our entire operation online, you can run a huge team with a laptop and a smartphone. Balloon Distractions handles the  billing, payroll, quality control and 90% of the weekly scheduling.

We also have trainers who can come to your region and help you launch your region.

Does it cost anything to get started?

As an Independent Contractor you pay for all your supplies: a balloon pump, some balloons, an apron, etc. You can buy these items anywhere for less than $100. 

You will spend time and gas building your region, so you’ll need to own a well-maintained and reliable vehicle. 

Our revenue is derived from charging our clients a specific fee per booking, you are paid a percentage of all incoming revenue in your region twice per month. 

Why should I work with Balloon Distractions?

Why not just buy some balloons and do this on my own?

Why do people spend millions on a McDonald’s franchise?

Because McDonald’s corporation has the best SYSTEMS in the world.

Here at Balloon Distractions we’ve figured out the optimal way to develop and organize crews of 25 to 50 entertainers on a weekly basis.

Balloon Distractions is already an approved vendor with many of the national brands, from Chili’s to Applebee’s to IHOP.

As you grow your region you also are plugged into a national support network of Regional Partners who trade ideas and tips on a weekly basis.

Make $500 by helping us!

This might earn you $500 bucks, please repost / share.

Balloon Distractions is paying out a $500 FINDERS FEE to anyone who leads us to a NEW Regional Partner in any city in the United States. The new RP must build their region to 8 weekly bookings in order for you to get the fee.

Regional Partners fill bookings in restaurants, get new restaurants onboard and build the entertainer crew in their region.

They typically earn $2K per month part time, $4K a month working full time. We train them on EVERYTHING, all they need to start is a reliable vehicle, an outgoing personality, and a modicum of ambition.

Our current Regional Partners range in age from 18 to 68, and they come from all backgrounds; from college students to school teachers to retired military folks.

If you have a likely prospect get their contact info to: BenAlexander@BalloonDistractions.com

-Ben Alexander

Founder / CEO

www.BalloonDistractions.com