The 4 levels of #Leadership.

Image

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.  

From #Idea to #SharkTank, and the obstacles in between…….

Image

I’ve always kept a journal, writing in it occasionally when I found a free moment, normally when on the road while building my company.

Back in 2003, about a month after I started Balloon Distractions I wrote:

“Someday we will have this idea in 1,000 bookings per week!”

We’re not at 1,000 weekly bookings YET, but we are well on our way.  

The challenge in my business has been finding Regional Leaders, people who have an entrepreneurial mindset who could sell restaurants on the concept and train enough entertainers to fill the weekly bookings. By necessity the RL position has to be held by someone local, and finding the “right someone” has been our greatest challenge.  

Going on Shark Tank last January helped, we have 32 new Regional Leaders in development since the beginning of this year.

Running a region is not for everyone, you have to be friendly enough to go out and fill bookings yourself, but also feel comfortable interviewing potential new staff and pitching this concept to restaurant managers.

We’ve also reached out to the Entertainers who were on our team as college students many years ago, they are now in a different season of their life, with more bills to pay, many of these past Entertainers have joined us again to help us build new regions. 

When you have an embryonic idea it is impossible to predict what it will take to effectively implement it, there is a huge amount of trial and error that you will have to endure before you find the best way to create growth, revenue and profits from your idea.

Going on Shark Tank is neither the end nor the beginning of any business, just one more milestone along the continuum from start up to that billion $$ buyout from Google.  

-Ben Alexander

May 1rst, 2014