Teaching #Leadership to our young people, adding value to their lives.

In the picture above my daughter Claire is the young lady on the right, training her first new entertainer, Haley. Claire and I will be in a restaurant with Haley this Friday afternoon, showing her how to approach tables and getting her ready to fill her first gig.

Claire has been by my side as I’ve built Balloon Distractions since she was in kindergarten, she is helping me train new staff here in Wesley Chapel, and in the process Claire’s becoming a better entertainer herself and learning what it takes to develop and motivate a team.

Being an entertainer with our company takes a certain level of personal mastery, Claire has demonstrated that she can successfully fill bookings and garner compliments from restaurant managers. Proving yourself as an entertainer is the FIRST step. As a trainer Claire must recruit a team and influence her team by teaching them a skill and showing them how to earn an excellent income.

In this manner Claire is learning Basic Leadership 101, as she builds her crew her income will increase as she gets better at influencing her team in a positive direction.

Since the beginning of 2014 I have been taking the Life Leadership course, a system of monthly books and audio CDs that teach the dynamics of leadership in an organization as well as the importance of character and integrity in all aspects of your business. The lead authors of the series are Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, I read the books every morning and listen to the audio CDs in my vehicle.

Our Regional Leader Randy Crain introduced me to this system and my only regret is that I did not get this training ten years ago when I started my business!

Balloon Distractions has very specific training regarding balloon art, recruiting a crew and selling restaurants, but we did not have comprehensive leadership training, until now.

As a company we are paying half of the monthly cost for any of our trainers or regionals who want to take advantage of the monthly training. We want our people to pay for at least 50% of the cost because we feel that people value what they buy more than that which they are merely given.

As the leader of my organization I’m seeking to influence our people in a positive way by teaching them leadership and getting them involved in ongoing professional development.

In this way I wish to ADD VALUE to the lives of all the people on our team, including my daughter!

Happy Twisting!

-Ben Alexander

August 6, 2014

Acorns and #Entrepreneurs.

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As the founder of Balloon Distractions I have one simple goal that will probably take me another decade to achieve: get a team of twisters going in every city in the United States…. a couple thousand restaurants, and over a thousand balloon twisters.

No company has ever done this before in our little entertainment niche, but with existing teams in over 40 cities we have a good foundation and all the online systems in place to reach our goal.

During the work week I’m on the phone every day, talking to entrepreneurs in target cities and coaching all the new Regional Leaders that we’ve recruited since we appeared on Shark Tank earlier this year. Developing a Regional Leader is like planting an acorn, it takes time to grow but eventually you’ll grow a forest if you plant a new acorn every day, consistently and over a number of years.

During the weekends I’m out there filling balloon twisting gigs in our client restaurants, earning cash and staying in touch with the very basics of our business. Developing new leaders and then going out to entertain children keeps me grounded. I find tremendous in satisfaction in filling a gig, making kids laugh, and then driving home at the end of the shift tired, but with a pocketful of cash.

I used to think that it would be awful to be out twisting balloons at 40 years old, as if I had failed in some way…. but if we get this company to 200 cities and 3,000 bookings each week I’ll still be out there filling gigs. A child doesn’t care how big your business is, or even what you’ve achieved, they are in the moment and as an entertainer I’m bringing them a small memory of joy.

Nothing wrong with that.

If you are reading our blog and you would like to start a team with us take a look at this link:

http://balloondistractions.com/build-a-region.html

Have a GREAT weekend!

Benjamin T. Alexander

#SharkTank forced me to #Learn:

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When I filmed Balloon Distraction’s Shark Tank segment back in September of 2013 and FAILED in HORRIFIC fashion I came back to Florida and took an honest look in the mirror and realized that I was the problem.

I needed more work, more learning, more improvement as a business owner and also as a human being. I needed to improve MYSELF before I went out and found the team we needed to move forward.   

So I began to read, all the time, over the last 4 months.  

I’m currently reading ALL of the books in the picture during my downtime, at the same time.

Turn off the TV, stop looking at silly gossip on social media, and just READ A BOOK.

Garbage in, garbage out, GOOD stuff in? Positive results.

We all have flaws, we ALL have stuff we need to work on. For about $3 per book I bought a whole bevy of used paperbacks on Amazon, almost a mini library.

(I can not believe that it took me THIS LONG to finally read all of Dave Ramsey’s stuff, awesome!)

Amazon.com made this easy, for a few bucks you can buy used books and they arrive in a week.

Using the least expensive shipping each used paperback will set you back about 8 bucks.

Of course, you can also read this stuff off the internet, and reading actual BOOKS is kinda old school… but I love the feel of a book, and I write notes in the margins as well. Hard to do that on a Kindle or Ipad.

You can also Google all these writers and watch YouTube clips (except for the Bible).

So, if you are not happy with WHERE you are and WHO you are please start reading, learning, growing and then DOING!

-Ben Alexander

Jan 30, 2014.

   

 

 

 

I’m taking the SHARKS advice !!!

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When the members of my local Rotary club here in Wesley Chapel learned that we were appearing on Shark Tank they arranged a viewing party at a local restaurant. My fellow Rotarians also promoted the heck out of it and gave me a ton of LOVE and encouragement. If you own a business I would strongly encourage you to find a dynamic Rotary club in your area and check it out, Rotary made me a better human being as well as a better entrepreneur.

EVERYONE showed up, there were 200 people there, we packed the place.

This morning as I write this I am so darn grateful, it was an AWESOME night.

I filmed the episode in LA back in September, on the flight home I filled 3 pages of notes with feedback from the sharks, I was in front of them for over an HOUR, so they gave me far more advice than you saw on the show.

Valuable advice, from super successful people.

We’ve been doing EVERYTHING the sharks recommended, I brought on a great CFO (who is in Rotary) and formed an advisory board (again, all Rotarians). We’ve been recruiting business majors from local colleges, exactly what Mark Cuban suggested when I pitched him 4 months ago. 

Balloon Distractions needed better organization, and an organized leadership team that we have now has been working hard to make this a BETTER run company, and a BETTER opportunity for those who join us in the future. Our mistakes in the past were a function of my lack of organization, and I take full ownership of that.

The work is just beginning. There are people out there who are looking for a great opportunity and we have that. The leadership team is ready, the publicity is there, now we’re getting to work we’re really gonna GROW this thing!    

Ben Alexander January 18, 2014.

A Construct of the Mind.

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written by Ben Alexander, January 2014

The only physical manifestation of our company is a balloon artist in a restaurant making a balloon for a child. After the customer goes home with a cool balloon there is no evidence that we were ever there other than our promo poster on the door.

We don’t have any storefronts or billboards next to the highways, no trucks or warehouses filled with product, no lasting “widget” that will be sold at yard sales and later discarded in landfills and left to rust.

We are a memory in the minds of children everywhere, something they will recall with vague fondness when they become adults….  

Balloon Distractions is a virtual business, a business of information, ideas and memories.

It all started as a rough idea in my mind in 2003, through training systems that idea has been multiplied in the minds of hundreds of people across the United States, as well as information stored in the ones and zeros of our software in order to organize tens of thousands of bookings each year.  

The most expensive component of our business has been our online scheduling program and our training / orientation interface. Both of these are the most effective way to spread information across time and distance, across 4 time zones, to pursue a common goal.  

With the ongoing evolution of technology there will be more businesses that have little to no physical assets, with software that is parked on servers that are rented on an as-needed basis.

Is there a limit to these “constructs of the mind”? 

As a student of economics I’m going to theorize that there are NO limits to how many different ways we will find to monetize the movement of information in the global economy. Just as Twitter, Facebook and E-harmony started as ideas there will be hundreds and thousands of “mental constructs” that create wealth in the future.    

Lynch Mobs, Seduction and Balloon Twisting.

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Recent advances in brain science have revealed that when we watch another person do something there are complementary, or “mirror neurons” in our brain that fire off in parallel with whatever we’re watching, even if we don’t actually move from our armchair.

If you are sitting and watching your friend bounce a ball off the sidewalk there is a part of your brain doing exactly the same thing, even if your arm is not moving, weird, eh?

This is why if one person in a room starts yawning everyone else will start yawning.

This is why you are more likely to feel like dancing when you see other people dance, cry when other people are crying, and laugh when everyone in the room is already laughing, etc.

When I used to lead sales meetings in my previous career I would nod my head at the other people in the room, invariably the people watching me would start doing the same thing without even realizing it. Mirror Neurons at work.

If you are on a date and trying to look more desirable to a member of the opposite gender you can sit in the same posture, and adopt the same cadence and tone of voice to put them at ease.

Con men use body posture to establish rapport with a potential rip off victim.

Mirror neurons explain why angry people in a lynch mob will riot, murder and cause property damage in a way they would never do if they were acting alone.

Humans are highly social primates, and this weird mammalian quirk helps us blend in, and ostensibly survive. Since our brains (and our neurons) are more active when we’re younger it seems that people under the age of 25 are much more susceptible to the group activities surrounding them, whether in a church, a cult, or even in boot camp for the Marine Corp.

If the Marines tried to indoctrinate 50 year-old recruits they would have a much harder job building a cohesive platoon willing to take orders without question.

So how does this tie into making balloons for folks in restaurants?

If you smile at the customer they are more likely to respond back in the same manner.

If you have an awful attitude the customer will reflect that back to you.

I found that when I had a great attitude, my restaurant tips went through the roof, but if let myself get frustrated I would not do well.

Children respond very well to positive energy and a sincere smile, even as young as a few months old.

-Benjamin T. Alexander

written in 2012