12 feet tall?

Halloween costume, 2013……Image

Uncle Sam at the 4rth of July parade.

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written by Ben Alexander

When I was a kid growing up in South Jersey I used to make stilts out of a 2X4, a wedge of wood and 2 construction bolts. All my neighbors would try it and fall down in a few steps, but I would stay out there in the yard practicing until it was second nature.

Walking on stilts is about as hard as ice skating or rollerblading, once you get the hang of it you never forget how to do it. You have to practice on low stilts before you try the higher ones, a good sense of balance helps as well.  

Fast forward to 2011, our Rotary club was doing a Freedom Festival at Wiregrass mall. I have a friend who worked as a professional stilt walker at Busch Gardens in Tampa, I borrowed his metal stilts and put together the Uncle Sam outfit in the photo…   

In the last 2 years I’ve done Uncle Sam, Honest Abe and a Scary Ghoul this past Halloween for the Zephyr Hills Halloween parade. The Ghoul costume scared the tar out of a bunch of kids, especially because of the mask and the extreme height of the costume.

I use drywall stilts, commonly used in construction, and purchased my pair for $70 out of a pawn shop over in West Pasco county. There are also spring stilts, but they only add about 3 feet of height, so they are not as dramatic when you see someone wearing them.

As Uncle Sam or Abe Lincoln lots of people will come up to me and request a picture, or in some cases little boys will jump up and give me a (really) high five!

On February 15th, 2014, I’ll be dressed as Lincoln for the Honest Abe 5K in Wesley Chapel hosted by my rotary club. It’s for a good cause, if you see me there take a pic with me and post it on the “Book of Faces”…..  

 

Now money vs. FUTURE money.

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Written by Ben Alexander

When you trade dollars for hours you are working NOW for income NOW.

You are limited to 24 hours per day, so your income is limited as well in this scenario.

If you build a business you will not be paid hourly, and you may not see a profit or payback for weeks or even months…. but IF you design your business the right way it will create income for you far into the future.

As long as your business uses a TEAM you are building FUTURE money that will be generated when you are asleep, out of the country, drunk, or on a date with your spouse.

( Or any of those four combined !)

Of course, if you spend all your time on FUTURE money you may not have enough to pay your bills today, so there has to be a smart balance.

When you are young and broke you need to spend enough time on NOW money to meet your basic needs, but should also spend some time on FUTURE money that will pay off down the line. IF you earn more than you spend you can invest the extra and turn NOW money into FUTURE money.

If you take on debt you are deducting funds from your FUTURE money.

Getting a decent college education is all about FUTURE money, dropping out of high school at 15 years old to work at Taco Bell is all about NOW money.

Poor folks work for NOW money, usually because that is what they have learned from the other poor people they have lived and interacted with over the years. 

When I started Balloon Distractions in 2003 I needed to earn at least $300 a week in tips, so I went out to restaurants in Tampa and filled gigs a couple of nights per week. During the day I would sell new clients and train new balloon artists. Within a year the tips became a much smaller percentage of my overall income.

If you spend time to train someone in your business you are creating Future money, if you do the job yourself because “no one can do it better than me” you are working for NOW money.

At Balloon Distractions we’ve designed an online training interface so that our team can learn how to grow the company without my presence.  If I go into a coma today my company has the systems in place so that when I wake up in 2020 it will be larger by a magnitude of 4 or 5.

At this point in my life all my expenses are covered and I spend almost 99% of my work time on building FUTURE money.

Mainly this involves working to recruit new Regional Partners in order to place Balloon Distractions crews in every city in North America with over 100,000 people.

277 cities in the USA meet this criteria…. and we only do business in less than 35 of those. 

Even taking time to write this essay may result in FUTURE money because someone online  might read it, get interested in my business, and decide to join my team, you never know! 

My personal goal is to be worth $10 million by my 50th birthday….. and I’ll only reach that by focusing like a laser beam on FUTURE money.

Even if I don’t get to 10, I might get to 6 or 7 million, and that would not be too bad.

Which type of money are you focusing on today, this week, right now?

 

The Seasons of your Life

Hanging out in North Carolina with Todd Barrow.Image

written by Ben Alexander, founder of BalloonDistractions.com

Todd started with us as an entertainer filling gigs part time and now runs one of the largest regions in our organization. I got to spend some time with him during the summer of 2013 and we had some great conversations about work, life, and all the BIG questions.

Todd and I are both knocking on 40, and we’ve both had all kinds of varied and weird jobs. Todd was in the military, counseled young people for drug addiction, and even installed water filters!

One of things that Todd and I discussed (over a beer or three) were the “seasons of life” that we all go through along this journey, and how certain types of work fit better at certain points in your life.

Case is point is the college student that joins us and fills gigs as an Independent Contractor, they log on, choose where and how often they want to work, and the flexibility of this works in their favor.

Then you have the stay at home Mom, she might have kids in elementary school, but she doesn’t want the hassle of a typical 9-5 job, so she learns to twist and uses our company to get out of the house 2 nights a week and earn a couple hundred $$$.

The third example might be a retired military veteran who gets out of the military in their 40’s with a small pension and joins our team as a Regional Partner and earns 40K per year by organizing the team, selling new clients and occasionally filling a gig to keep the schedule populated.  

Each of these three examples represent someone in a different season of their life, with different perspectives and goals, along with varied levels of life experience.

As a company we respect whatever season of life you happen to be in, and we’re grateful that people from various backgrounds, ages and experience have joined our team.

So what season are YOU in?

Are you happy with where you are in life, or do you want to make a change and do something different? We are looking for Regional Partners in 200 metro markets throughout the United States, check out our website at BalloonDistractions.com!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balloons for Adults!

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written by Ben Alexander

Don’t get the wrong idea, all of the stuff we twist in a public place is G rated!

The guy in the pic was a customer at a restaurant in Bradenton, FL. We made him a really cool alligator balloon hat, and he is not a little kid anymore.

Of course, our priority when we twist is always the kids in the restaurant or event, but what do you do when the entire place is full of adults?

You entertain them, of course!

When I was a college kid twisting at the TGIF in Marlton NJ I would come in at 5PM, entertain the families until about 9 o’clock, then after a short break I’d twist cool stuff for the couples and drinkers until 11PM.

I made $800 twisting balloons in one week way back in 1997!

As a guy I find it easier to approach a table with the ladies, people like attention from the opposite gender as long as you do so in a respectful and fun way. If I see a group of ladies older than me I might go to their table and say:

“Hello beautiful ladies, they told me that this was the most out of control table in the entire restaurant, who would like to go to the Prom with me?” 

If someone responds or laughs I ask her what her favorite color is then make her a simple flower bracelet. If you keep it innocent and fun (and the table is outgoing) most groups will go with it and include you in the party.

 

 

Balloon Jams from Seattle to Schenectady!

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Balloon Jam in DFW, August 2013.

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Balloon Jam in Seattle, November 2013.

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Balloon Jam in Los Angeles, September 2013.

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Balloon Jam in upstate NY, July 2013.

written by Ben Alexander

Between April and October of 2013 I was fortunate enough to visit every single region that we do business with across the United States.

I did not get a pic at every jam (maybe in 2014?) but I got a few that really captured some great moments with our teams. Traveling around and training our Regional Partners and meeting their amazing teams is a big part of what I do as the owner of the company, and a great joy for me as well.

Our teams are a great mix of college kids, stay at home Moms and military veterans who have joined us to make great part time money and have a ton of fun as well.   

 

Get out of your comfort Zone!

Many  eclectic jobs  led me to where I am today:

Here is a short list, in no logical order:

  1. Paid Baritone for a Presbyterian church.
  2. Insurance agent for Mutual of Omaha.
  3. Basic construction, ripping up sidewalks, building fences, etc.
  4. English teacher in Taiwan.
  5. Art model for my college’s life modeling class.
  6. Volunteer firefighter (no pay, but a unique experience)
  7. Balloon Twister 4 Tips in countless restaurants.
  8. Owner of a balloon twisting talent agency.
  9. Burger flipper at Dairy Queen.
  10. Waiter at many different restaurants.
  11. Lifeguard at several lakes and pools across South Jersey.
  12. Swim Instructor for children.
  13. Rollerblade instructor in Taiwan.
  14. Selling gold plating services to car dealerships.
  15. Selling deregulated energy door to door.
  16. Managing large door to door crews that sold deregulated energy.
  17. Selling underwater scuba camera equipment over the phone.
  18. Selling mortgages over the phone.
  19. Selling employment advertising over the phone.
  20. Selling solar and energy efficiency door to door, in NJ, PA and FL.
  21. Selling cars (mostly Toyota) in MD and FL.
  22. Mowing lawns and basic landscaping.
  23. Auctioneer’s assistant and go-to (when I was 12 years old)
  24. Delivery driver for Naple’s pizza in Mullica Hill.
  25. Substitute teacher all over South Jersey (my 3rd year in college)
  26. Package sorter on the midnight shift at UPS.
  27. Direct Sales with Amway and Life Leadership.
  28. Getting paid from sales of my first book on Amazon.
  29. Sales consulting for 2 marketing firms in Philadelphia.
  30. Goofed off with the EB-5 investment program in Taiwan, never made a dime.
  31. Imported Super Sonic Spheres from Taiwan, same result as #30.

I’ve tried so many unusual things in my life that nothing is that weird or unfamiliar.

In college every single time I got fired from one job (I had a big mouth and it got me in hot water) I would look around and try something different.

I feel bad for the person who turns 18, gets a job that he hates, then stays in that job for 40 years because he is hooked to a measly paycheck. How boring, right?

Be open to new ideas and experiences, and as you get older you will continually expand your comfort zone. When you stretch yourself you will learn how to be resilient and adjust to anything.

Trying many different things also teaches you to be resourceful, a great quality to develop whether you are an entrepreneur, teacher or any profession.

Once you’ve taken off every stitch of clothing in front of a room full of art students, or traveled 12 time zones away on a ONE WAY ticket to a foreign country to work, everything else is small potatoes.

I started Balloon Distractions (when I was 29) because I never found a job that I actually liked.

Previous to that I could never hold a job longer than 24 months.

When you move OUT, way OUT, from your comfort zone you will gain tremendous confidence and trust in yourself. After living in Taiwan and learning how to speak a bit of Mandarin Chinese I was not afraid to live somewhere very far from what I knew growing up.

Moving to Florida in 2003? No big deal, at least it’s still in the USA.

Consequently I feel at home everywhere I go here in the States. The entire USA is within my comfort zone. As I traveled around the United States building Balloon Distractions I always felt at home, whether in Seattle, Miami or Houston.

A little job or hobby that you try out in college can lead to something significant down the road. When I was twisting balloons in college I never would have guessed that it would lead to Balloon Distractions.

More recently I got involved in residential and commercial solar with Tampa Bay Solar. Here I was, learning a totally new industry at 43 years old! I’ve been making a great income and learning a ton. I feel like a million bucks.

Be thrilled by the potential of the unexpected, and don’t hesitate to get out of your own comfort zone! The only thing you risk by trying something new is loss of time.

Ben Alexander

blog was originally written in 2014, updated in May of 2017.

WhiteWater!

There is a great business book out there called “Predictable Success” that talks about the various stages that businesses go through as they scale from start-ups to fully mature companies.    

One of the stages of development is described as “Whitewater”. At this stage many companies flounder around  and struggle a bit as they put together needed systems in order to grow to the next level. The last 2 years have been a little turbulent as we sorted out BD’s finances and figured out that we were better off just focusing on what we are really good at: sending entertainers into restaurants, and booking parties and events.

In 2010 we were NOT running at full efficiency. Since then we’ve made dozens of small changes, like paying our people via direct deposit, and major changes as well, like a total rewrite of our compensation plan.       

Three years ago Balloon Distractions was a little bit like an old rickety car going 90mph, we could do that speed for a while but it was pretty shaky; the engine was knocking, there was smoke coming out of the tailpipe, the wheels were about to fall off, etc.

8 engine, not only can we scale up to 100 mph and run at that pace all day, but we can also put our foot on the gas and speed up to 150 mph with steady confidence.    

To run a national company you need experienced admin staff, strong training programs, tightly managed and measured financials, a decent website,  robust IT, call checkers to maintain our quality control, and a compensation plan that can be scaled up as the company grows.

All of these tools cost money and time to create and maintain, just our IT and remote server costs us $12K a year, but our online scheduler is crucial to the day-to-day operation of a company with hundreds of entertainers working across 34 regions in 4 time zones.

With the structure we have in place right now we can triple the size of our gross revenue with no further structural changes or invested capital. The entire framework is there and ready to go.

If you know of someone who lives anywhere in the USA, and they want to work part time and develop an extra $3-5K per month in income please ask them to reach out to me. We are recruiting Regional Partners in cities all over the United States, we will train and mentor them to success, all they need is a great work ethic and a positive attitude to match!

17 year locusts and Sacred Geometry.

The more I read and travel the more I run into the inherent strangeness that is out there in our everyday world. The UNIVERSE has ALWAYS been multi-faceted and bizarre, and the oddest things are not always that obvious at first glance.

Case in point, sacred geometry: www.soulsofdistortion.nl/soda_chapter5.html

Sacred Geometry can be applied to modern business in many ways…. it is used to influence and persuade the general public in such a manner that we do not realize we are being influenced.

Lots of weirdness also sits on the Internet, waiting to be discovered. If you get curious about Ch’an Buddhism you are 2 clicks away from digital pics, video and a few blogs about it as well.

With platforms like Facebook you can post a weird YouTube clip on your Wall and share it with the 8 bazillion people linked to your profile…  in many ways technology facilitates the rise of stuff that most people would never know about before the internet.

I work from a home office and when I glanced out of the window yesterday there were 2 lizards (brown anoles) getting funky on the windowsill overlooking the garden. I’ve lived in Florida since 2003, I’ve seen them procreate before, but I still stopped for a minute and watched. I’ve observed these little lizards hunt bugs for food, fight each other, get eaten by birds, and when they molt they will eat their own cast off skin!

Disgusting, yes, but a bit fascinating as well. The entire lizard soap opera unfolds right in the rose garden, from procreation to death.

I’ve never seen a Cicada in North America with this interesting coloration.

When I visited Taiwan in July of 2010 I saw and heard plenty of stuff that one would not normally find here in Florida: tropical mountains, pet squirrels, cable cars that went high into the clouds, Hakka, Mandarin and Taiwanese spoken around me, bullet trains and snakes for sale as food at the night market.

One key to a dynamic life?

Stay curious and question stuff… and observe the world around you with fresh eyes.

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

Posture is important!

Maintain the correct posture when recruiting! No, I’m not talking about standing up straight, check it out:

A man is standing on a street corner with a tray of cookies. Every time a person walks by he says “Take a cookie, please, please, please, you gotta take a cookie, I NEED you to take a cookie…” Would everyone take a cookie? Some people would, but a lot of people would be put off and suspicious because of the man’s poor posture. Instead, the cookie man should only let a few select people have a cookie (like every tenth person). The nine that were left out would be begging and screaming for a cookie because people want whatever is denied them.

How does this apply to recruiting for Balloon Distractions? When you are talking to someone about the business let them know that there are only three (pick any low number) positions to fill and once the positions are filled their window to get in will be shut.

When someone resists my efforts to recruit them I’ll say something like “Hey, ya know, there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t mind making twenty bucks an hour, you’re obviously happy making six bucks an hour and my time is worth a lot….. You have my number, call me if you change your mind.” I said that to a skeptical guy once and hung up the phone. The next day he called me back and begged me to come on board and now he’s one of the best twisters in the company.