Save your marriage today.

Let me start by saying that if this post prevents just ONE divorce it will be worth it, if you pass it onto a friend (who is having marital challenges) they will benefit from this knowledge and you will make a difference in their marriage as well as the lives of any children who get to see their parents resolve their conflict and stay together.

A few months ago my wife Rachel introduced me to an amazing website:

http://www.MarriageBuilders.com

We began listening and reading TOGETHER and this material has SAVED our marriage!

We bought the books (used paperbacks) on Amazon for less than $10 and listened to the website for free, on my computer as well as on our smartphones. I’m not paid by these folks to promote their website, but I want to pass it along to help out other couples who are facing similar challenges.

We had already read other books like The Five Love Languages and Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus…..    but Dr. Harley’s material gave us a comprehensive understanding of what we needed to do to strengthen our marriage and stay together for the long haul.

Don’t get me wrong, if there is abuse or a substance addiction in your marriage staying together may NOT be an option, but what if you just have internal conflicts in your marriage that is driving you away from your spouse?  What if you just need some fundamental issues resolved?

Marriage Builders will help you fix these issues.

Our society makes it far too EASY to just get a divorce and abandon the most fundamental relationship in your life.

You see divorce on TV and in the movies, and it seems like every famous person in Hollywood has been married 6 or 7 times. When the negative impact of divorce is marginalized in the media it suddenly becomes a viable option, even if divorce is disastrous to our lives on so many levels.

IT is WORTH IT to look at this website and gain a better understanding of what it takes to stay happy in your marriage.

Any long term couple could benefit from the concepts taught on the Marriage Builders website, your marriage is worth saving, especially if you have children involved. Your children need you in their lives, even if you get an amicable divorce you will see your children LESS because they will live under a separate roof.

Divorce is NOT worth it especially if you can “work it out”.

Check out the website, show it to your spouse, if the website helps your marriage please leave a comment here!

-Ben Alexander

A Gift, really.

Image

To whom much is given, much is expected…..

When I was a 22 year old kid finishing up the last 50 credits of my Economics degree I did what most busy (and broke) college students do; went to a local restaurant and got hired as a waiter.

A balloon artist named Ray started coming into the restaurant on a regular basis, he would make amazing shapes and people would tip him really well. Ray was a law student at the Rutgers Camden campus. Balloon Twisting in restaurants was a lucrative side business for him.

As a waiter with 5 tables in my section I was limited to THOSE 5 tables, but Ray the Balloon Guy had the ability to work all 120 tables throughout the restaurant, so if one table stiffed him he could go on to the other 119 that would hand him a $1, a $5 and in some cases a $10 bill!

A week later I was at the Ray’s house in Blackwood, I paid him $100 to teach me 15 shapes, the following week I made $800 in tips by working 6 nights in a row at the TGIF in Marlton, NJ.

In the year following that I finished my degree, got married and became a father. Since my wife had just emigrated from Taiwan she did not have a driver’s license or the easy ability to get a job, so the financial responsibility of my little family rested squarely on my young shoulders.

I sold insurance 40 hours a week, and twisted balloons in restaurants another 25.

Because of the SKILL that Ray taught me I had enough cash for food on the table, rent on our apartment and gas in my car. When I had a dry month in insurance sales balloon twisting saved my bacon.

Ray probably does not know that a few years later I started Balloon Distractions in Tampa. If it weren’t for Ray and his creative idea I never would have appeared on Shark Tank!

Over 2,300 Independent Contractors have come through our system in the past decade.

2,300 people who have used BALLOON TWISTING to pay for college tuition, car notes and mortgage payments.

Ray has indirectly passed his skill onto an entire Army of balloon twisting Entertainers!

If you are on our team please consider becoming a Crew Leader / Trainer.

You can pass this skill onto other people and change their lives in a very positive way.

If you are a person of Faith consider the repercussions of teaching other people how to give JOY to children.

This is a GIFT, and if you are on our team you get to bestow that gift to many people.

Thank you for reading our blog,

Ben Alexander

February 20th, 2014

To connect with people is a great blessing, indeed.

Image

This is me and my sister Andrea in her kitchen in New Jersey, about 2 years ago.

We were joking around that day, I was talking about goofy stuff and making her laugh, probably because I had said something outrageous…. Andrea’s husband Jerry took the pic and it captured that specific moment perfectly.   

It’s important that we connect with other people, every day, in a non-social media way.

I spent this morning interviewing applicants for an admin position within Balloon Distractions, I met a bunch of nice folks, and in the process had some lively discussions with a pretty diverse group of people. One applicant had been a detective in London, who knew?

Social media has it’s place and it’s utility, but let’s not substitute this for REAL human interaction.

This is one reason why I enjoy volunteering in local community events, it gets you out there meeting people and interacting with real human beings, not staring at a computer screen.

Commenting to a post on Facebook is nice, but sharing a laugh with someone in person is far more powerful.

Those are my thoughts for this afternoon….

Ben Alexander

Tuesday afternoon, February 11, 2014.

Building the Catcher’s Mitt.

Image

As we roll into 2014 the leadership team here at Balloon Distractions has made many incremental improvements to our operational systems that encompass everything from our internet scheduling software to our compensation plan to our public image online.

Several members of our Advisory Board recommended that we implement a blog that is then cross linked to all of our social media platforms: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

This blog was started in December of 2013, to date we have several thousand views and over 50 blog posts. WordPress has a stats page that shows a global map of WHERE people are looking at our blog.

When we posted about Robert Herjavek there was a spike of views from Canada! 

We have yet to start a Pinterest account, that’s on the 2014 “to do” list.

If you scroll to the top of this blog it cross-links to all our other platforms, as soon as we write a new blog we post it on these other platforms right away. On Facebook we’ve put up several group pages for each region we’re in, with a mix of local content from that region as well as content from our HQ.  

Most of the traffic to this blog was driven here by Facebook, with about 15% coming from our website and various other search engines. The Shark Tank exposure will juice views to all of our online content, which will raise our relevance ranking on the search engines.

Success builds success.  

When Shark Tank airs January 17th we want people to have plenty of content to look at and learn all about us, from written blogs to videos to digital pics. In many ways these blogs are a catcher’s mitt for those folks who are curious about WHO we are and WHAT we do. Our company culture revolves around creativity, a love for children, and a sense of humility and hard work. 

This philosophy in regards to the Ballooniverse is clearly spelled out on our website. We want to develop leaders who take this concept into every metro market with over 50,000 people. With 308 million people in the United States we know that potential leaders are out there, we just need to reach out to them and get them involved in our business!

By writing these essays we hope to find MORE people who are CONGRUENT with that philosophy who join us as we expand all over the United States, and (in a few years) the entire globe.  

This is not to say that everyone who joins us will be a hard core intellectual, but if you ARE a hard core intellectual willing to WORK and build a large team there is an opportunity for you within this organization.

Here is the link:

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

Have a GREAT 2014!   

10 reasons we love Robert Herjavec.

Image

#1. “Don’t mistake kindness for weakness.”

#2.  He not afraid to try all food on air, even the dicey stuff.

#3.  The whole dog thing.

#4.  Always a gentleman, no matter how silly the idea in front of him.

#5.  He grew up poor, and forged his own path.

#6.  He likes fast stuff, from Italian supercars to motorcycles.

#7.  He has tried every piece of exercise equipment ever presented on Shark Tank.

#8. Chord Buddy. He is going to make that guy a millionaire if he hasn’t already.

#9.  He’s a great counter balance to Mark Cuban.

Last but not least…..  

#10. Infectious Enthusiasm!     

Shark Tank made us BETTER!

Image

written by Ben Alexander

Soon after we filmed our segment for ABC’s Shark Tank back in September I got together with our team and we talked about what we needed to do to prepare for the potential exposure (and rapid growth) we’d get in the months after the episode aired.

In September the Shark Tank producers made no guarantees about WHEN the episode would air, if at all, so we had to prepare for the exposure within a possible window of December 2013 to May 2014.

This meant that we had to upgrade our servers at a significant cost without being sure the episode would even air! We didn’t want to drag our tail on the upgrades and then watch our website crash when the episode finally aired.

Thankfully we got the call from ABC that our segment will air January 17th of 2014.  

There are several changes that we made in the last 3 months:

1. We brought on a CFO to look at our entire operation and prepare the organization for fast growth.

2. We upgraded our servers and website to focus on recruiting more Regional Partners, and handle more website views at one shot.

3. We partnered with the largest balloon distributor in the country to sell our Balloon Distractions Balloon Basics kit. When Shark Tank airs we might sell 5, or we might sell 5,000!

4. Right now we are drafting a new comprehensive Independent Contractor agreement that encompasses all the levels within the company, from Artist to Regional Partner.

5. We’ve modified the sales compensation to heavily incentivize recruiting and better training for our Independent Contractors.

6. We formed up an Advisory Board of successful business owners who meet once a month and look at this business with a fresh perspective. One of the recommendations of the board was to solidify our online footprint, hence the content in this blog.

….. Shark Tank forced me to look at my company in a new light, and take some steps that I probably should have taken years ago. 

These improvements made the company stronger not only for new people looking to join us but for all the Independent Contractors already working with us.

You live and you learn, right?        

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!