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

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The 4 levels of #Leadership.

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These 4 levels of Leadership can be applied to any organization, whether its a church, a business or a local civic organization.

Level 1: Self-Mastery, becoming an Entertainer and a Performer.

The Entertainers on our team go through an extensive orientation process but ultimately they have to emerge as a self-starter, our people buy their own materials and log on each week to choose their own work. This requires a higher level of independence and discipline than most traditional employees in a traditional job. As an Entertainer on our team you do not need to ever talk to a supervisor unless you make a mistake or need to change your schedule.

In many ways self-mastery is the hardest skill to achieve for most people, it is the ultimate expression of self reliance. Once you have mastered yourself you KNOW what you need to do and you take action, no one needs to look over your shoulder or give you direction on a daily basis.

A child needs to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. A child must be constantly watched. To reach self-mastery is to become an true adult, one who is comfortable with responsibility and ready to grow as a leader.

Level 2: Building a Crew.   

Once you develop enough self discipline to order your own materials and show up for your bookings you must perform on a consistent basis over the course of a few months to prove that you can be reliable over the long term. Self-mastery is not something you do for a day or a week, it is a positive habit that you develop as a tool for the rest of your life.  

In our company you have to prove that you are consistent and reliable over 30 or 40 bookings before you become a Crew Leader. The reward in holding this position is that you can earn a commission each time your crew fills a gig.

Crew Leaders earn income from the wider organization, not just their own limited efforts. There are only 24 hours in a day, but when you have a crew out there working you are creating income for yourself, even if you are not personally working that day.    

A Crew Leader must learn several new skills: posting want ads, holding a professional interview, onboarding new Entertainers and making sure each new person goes through our online as well as in person orientation.  

Once you have gotten your new Entertainers started you must follow up and encourage them, our best Crew Leaders will ask their team to text them how much they earned at the end of each shift. If an Entertainer is averaging less that $25 per hour this is a clear indicator that they need further training and counsel.    

Level 3: Developing a Region.

Balloon Distractions never could have “gone national” without a team of Regional Leaders in place. This role requires you to not only become adept at developing Entertainers, but now you have to expand that out to developing Crew Leaders.

This role also requires mastery of a several new skill sets: making sure you have balanced growth in your area by selling this concept to the general managers of local restaurants and bowling centers. As the founder of Balloon Distractions I ran the Tampa Bay region as a Regional Leader from 2003 until 2009, during that time I filled gigs, developed Crew Leaders and sold enough clients to get the region up to 45 bookings per week.

As the Tampa Bay RL I was hands-on with my team, helping my Crew Leaders train new people and also showing them how to sell new clients.

Level 4: Developing other Leaders.

As the company grew I realized that I needed to take the Tampa management role off my desk and delegate that position out to my best Crew Leader. This was hard to do, I had gotten used to running Tampa Bay for 6 years!

With 20 Regional Leaders in the company back in 2009 it was time to focus on our leadership team, not just one region that represented a single digit percentage of our overall business.

I had to become a Level 4 leader myself by looking at the wider picture, how do we put this concept in every city in North America?

My role now is to make sure our operations can support that growth and that we are continuing to develop our own internal Entertainers into Crew Leaders, and helping the Crew Leaders step up into a Regional Leader role. Making it onto season 5 of Shark Tank gave us a huge dose of national media exposure and we are leveraging that into finding and recruiting as many Regional Leaders as possible.

Ben Alexander May 26th, 2014.  

The Light on the other side of the Door….

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As I write this I am listening to some utterly gorgeous choral works on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Femr6-OMEM&list=RD5dn7HgiT2QY

Back in my first two years of college I studied opera and sang in an awesome little chamber choir that toured Europe and sang sacred choral works in ancient cathedrals such as St. Paul’s in London, Notre Dame in Paris, and St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

To be around such beautiful music in my formative years was a great blessing.

As I approach 40 years on this planet I’ve grown in my own personal Faith and find myself reconnecting with that which is sacred, that which is beautiful, and the miracles that we find all around us yet choose to ignore sometimes, to our detriment.

I’m convinced that things which are beautiful are synonymous with Light, which is also synonymous with God and the abiding LOVE and beauty which underpins the entire universe.

What if all the most beautiful things we experience here on earth are merely a tiny bit of His light that has filtered out from behind the door of mortality?

The smile on a child, a radiant sunset, the most beautiful music you will ever experience here on Earth…. is merely the tiniest glimpse of the Light that awaits us…

Perhaps there is no place for darkness on the other side of that mortal curtain, no place for evil, no place for ignorance or ugliness. There is only Light, only that which is good and noble and lovely.

Perhaps this is WHY we are drawn to beauty here on earth, that which is sublime, that which is good….

And we do not have to merely observe that light, but we can become a source of beauty and love in the lives of those around us…

YOU can become a beacon of His light and love and Faith, today, right now!

O Magnum Mysterium, indeed!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeKvNxYMDxE&list=RD5dn7HgiT2QY

Benjamin T. Alexander

February 24, 2014

A Gift, really.

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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

A week after going on #SharkTank……

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My company was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank; episode 514 on January 17th.

In the following 3 days our website saw more traffic than it had seen in the previous FIVE YEARS.

This blog doubled in views within 2 days, and we got a ton of people filling out our Build a Region Form:    http://balloondistractions.com/build-a-region.html

Even though we did not get an investment on the show we got in front of people who NEVER would have known we exist if not for Shark Tank.

This afternoon I was talking to a lovely lady who told me that she had been praying for something than would allow her to earn an income, be there for her children and also serve her Faith.

The next day she saw our segment on Shark Tank!

We are so BLESSED by this national exposure, since January 17th the people who have sought us out have been very impressive, people devoted to their family and their community, people who have service in their heart and wish to work for the betterment of those around them.

As the Founder and CEO of Balloon Distractions I am well aware of my role as a humble servant to all the people who have come to us. I will do everything possible to help all of our Regional Partners build a strong business that demonstrates kindness towards children and helps college kids work their way through school.

Our leadership team has a solemn responsibility to be great stewards of this business, providing all the tools needed to guide and assist our Regional Partners.  

If you are a person of Faith please take a moment and pray for us, pray that we guide our team in His ways, with His wisdom, guidance and grace,

Amen!

-Ben Alexander

Jan 27, 2014   

 

 

 

NOTHING is Permanent.

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Written by Ben Alexander in 2008.

I was in New York during the spring of 2001 on business and I found myself in lower Manhattan.

I had never gone to the top of the World Trade Center, but when I pulled into the parking garage at the center the rate was exorbitant, about $15 an hour.

I had gotten a $50 parking ticket from NYPD the day before so I said to myself “To heck with it!  I’ll check it out the next time I’m in the Big Apple; it’s not worth the 15 bucks!!”

Of course, the next time I was in Manhattan the parking was not $15 anymore because there was NO garage, NO giant towers above—just a 10-foot tall cyclone fence surrounding a gargantuan hole in the ground.

Ground Zero, indeed.

The last time I was in Asia I bought some interesting books on Buddhism and read them while I was on the 14 hour flight home over the Pacific….

One of the concepts in Buddhism is: Nothing is permanent.

Back in the spring of 2001 I never would have imagined that those gargantuan buildings would be gone in the next hundred years, let along the next 6 months….and they fell in the same time that it takes to read the business section of the local newspaper.

If the Twin Towers are not permanent then neither is your marriage, your children, your career, your wealth, your house, your car…. anything that you can touch.

Failure is not permanent, but neither is success!

Our current economic doldrums are not permanent; it will pass and things will pick up again.

Even knowledge is not permanent; when humans disappear and our books disintegrate—the Bible, the Koran and the Talmud will all be gone, along with the religions upon they’ve been promulgated.

Even the people who want to BURN books will be long gone as well.

There will always be change; so if everything is always changing, how can anything be permanent?

Just as the World Trade Center looked solid, strong and immovable, that was merely an illusion quickly dispelled by a team of suicidal terrorists at the controls of two fully fueled jetliners.

If there is a negative situation in your life, you can gain perspective by realizing that whatever IT is, it is NOT permanent.

We are really tiny in the grand scheme of things.  Humbling, isn’t it?

Even the most famous person is just a speck of sand on a beach that stretches a thousand miles.

Depending on what you believe perhaps the only thing that is an exception to this rule is God, but while we are still alive there is no sure answer to that question as well.