PDCA will solve 99% of the problems you are facing.

PDCA stands for: Plan, Do, Check and Adjust.

For the last year I’ve been using these 4 simple letters to intentionally change the things in my life that I was not happy with. I first heard about PDCA on a Life Leadership audio CD, and I’m using it to fix stuff in my life.

PDCA can be used to fix your marriage, your finances, even your health.

I wasn’t happy with my weight, so each day I began tracking everything I ate as well as my overall body weight. In doing so I’m searching for the lowest calorie number to lose weight and when I hit that goal weight the lowest number to stay at that weight.

My goal is 170 pounds, using PDCA I’ll get there in the next few months.

The simple act of writing down every blasted calorie made me much more mindful of what I ate.

You don’t need a fancy gym membership, expensive equipment or exotic foods, you just need to monitor the energy in and the results. My weight started to drop right away. All I did was jot down everything I ate with an approximate calorie count next to it.

How much does a pen and a piece of paper cost?

It only takes a few seconds to read labels and learn basic calorie counts. An egg is 70 calories, a glass of milk is 120, a handful of nuts is 150. The cursed Bloomin’ Onion at Outback is 800 calories, not including the dipping sauce.

You can google calorie counts on everything. I drank a 16 ounce IPA yesterday, but when I googled it I was horrified to learn that there were almost 500 calories in one glass! Knowing this I reduced the other calories later in the day and still kept under 1,600 calories.

I used PDCA to create a plan to go debt free.

About a year ago I cut up my credit cards and began reducing my business debt as well as my personal debt. Part of this was about increasing my income, so I actively went out and created some additional residual income as well as more cash income by filling restaurant gigs here in Tampa.

In December I earned an additional $1,500 filling balloon gigs in Tampa. I’m also seeing monthly Amazon commissions come in from e-book downloads of We Twist for Tips. I spent 300 hours writing in the summer of 2014, that investment of time has created a modest residual income.

I canceled my landline and cable channels, and my family stopped eating out in restaurants because cooking at home is less expensive. If you have mounting credit card debt you need to stop eating out, especially in sit-down restaurants.

My goal is to pay off my home mortgage by my 43rd birthday. Every single month I write down my debt balances in my planner (check) and every month that number gets smaller. I might not hit my goal soon, but I can always look at where I’m at and adjust accordingly.

Losing the weight also goes towards going debt free because I can wear all the nice clothes that fit me at 170 pounds, instead of wasting money on a new suit because I got fat.

PDCA can even be applied to relationships. If you are not happy with your marriage, or any other relationship in your life you can start to read relationship books (plan) then change your actions towards that person (do) then see if the relationship gets better (check). I’ve found that it takes time for other people to come around, so this may take a while.

In my marriage I began investing daily time in my wife and focusing on her. This gave us the time we needed to find alignment, we also created our plan for going debt free together. Finances are a big source of stress in most marriages, so when you and your spouse start to fix the money side of things other parts of your marriage begin to improve as well.

The first part of PDCA is “Plan”, so if you identify your challenge and you don’t know where to start you’ll need to find an information source to go to. In my case I learned new techniques from Life Leadership audio training in my car.

Life Leadership has comprehensive audio training and books on all the various challenges we face as human beings; from relationships to health to finance to faith. I’ve been a student for the past year now and my results in life have changed for the better.

More info on Life Leadership:     http://www.lifeleadership.com/61414939

-Ben Alexander

HOW to get your company on Shark Tank!

In our new book we share with you the specific strategy we employed to get Balloon Distractions on the ABC hit show Shark Tank!

From our initial online application, to our insane audition video, to actually filming the show in Hollywood!

Learn why NOT getting a deal actually INCREASES your shot at getting air time!  

You can download our book, We Twist for Tips, from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1502546671/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me

This book is a fun read for anyone who has ever wanted to start their own business, and especially for any of the ambitious entrepreneurs who want to appear on Shark Tank.

Happy Reading!

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

#Success advice for any #startup interested in #Sharktank!

1. Make sure you know who your competitors are, if any. Tons of great product ideas pitch on Shark Tank and then Lori says “Yeah, I’ve seen this before, we just sold 10,000 of these last week on QVC.” This same idea goes for smartphone apps, you have to create something really unique in the app space and make sure no one else has already thought of it and did it better.

2. Make sure it has a WIDE application. The Scrub Daddy did $14 million in sales right after Shark Tank because it was a product that anyone on the planet (with a kitchen sink) could easily buy and use.

3. Don’t make your pricing insane. Who remembers the marital confrontation Stuffed Elephant in a Box that was a plush toy in a plastic box for $60? It might make for a fun gag gift, but not for $60.

4. Don’t ever mention “I’m going on the show for national exposure” anywhere in your application,  phone interview and certainly not during your actual televised pitch. With 7 million viewers per show that is one of those blatantly obvious things that the producers hate to hear. It seems that there is a culture within Shark Tank in which the entire “free exposure” concept is taboo to talk about.  

5. Be entertaining. Shark Tank is about 90% viewer share and only 10% real business. The brilliant producers who handled my segment rigged a balloon drop to coincide with the moment when I said “Balloon Distractions”. This would never happen in a dry business meeting with venture capitalists. I feel that some entrepreneurs get on simply because they are entertaining, not because they have a decent business idea. We are both; Balloon Distractions has done $5 million in sales and booked entertainers into restaurants 100,000 times, but I feel that we got on the show because I own a BALLOON business and the producers felt it would make for a fun segment.

6. If you have fun / attractive personalities in your business use them on the audition video. There are plenty of Shark Tank segments that have included good looking / sexy / pretty folks. This is TV after all, if you have a “looker” in your business include them in your pitch. In talking to the Nardo brothers at Nardo’s Naturals I’m convinced that Barbara invested in them because she thought the boys were sexy! I’ve watched every episode going back to Season 1, there has been no shortage of cleavage on the show….. case in point:

http://sharktankclips.com/season-3-episode-3-you-smell/

7. Before you pitch on the show go out and sell your product to PROVE there is some type of demand, even if your business is less than a year old. The sharks are impressed by hustle and moxie, if you go and work trade shows and state fairs for a few months and sell 50K in product you have proof that regular folks out there in the market can be converted to customers.

8. There is nothing wrong with taking something obvious and putting a new twist on it, grilled cheese sandwiches have been around for a thousand years, but Tom and Chee turned it into a successful restaurant franchise with proven sales and strong business systems.

9. Build your business big enough to support you full time. The Sharks hate part-time business owners. Your loyalties are divided if you make 70K as a pharmacist and 10K from your business. The Sharks know this, none of them became wealthy by building their companies 10 hours a week.

10. Last but not least, keep it very simple. Tom and Chee, Scrub Daddy, Chord Buddy, Wicked Good Cupcakes, etc. all of the successful pitches can be summed up in a short sentence. Our company sends balloon artists into restaurants to entertain the kids while they wait for the food to arrive at the table, that’s why we’re called Balloon Distractions!

Hope that helps, and Happy Twisting!

-Ben Alexander

Founder / CEO

http://www.BalloonDistractions.com

The secret to our success!

Image

Today my daughter Claire filled her first official gig as a Balloon Distractions Entertainer at a local restaurant. At the end of the booking I drove over to take her home. Claire is 16, she’s working with Balloon Distractions in order to save up enough income to buy a used car. I’m not buying her a car, I want her to EARN it.

In this pic she’s making a flower for one of the restaurant workers at the PDQ in Wesley Chapel, I took the picture at the end of the shift.

Claire made some neat shapes and did a great job engaging with the customers at each table. I got to watch her at 3 tables and she was doing what comes naturally to any talkative extrovert; smiling at the guests, having a conversation and just being friendly in general. I was very proud of my little girl!

We can teach anyone how to twist balloons, but you CAN’T teach personality. I’ve known that Claire would be well suited for this since she was five years old, her success today confirmed that.

Over the last few years we’ve had over 5,000 outgoing folks join our team and benefit from our business model across the United States. We’ve focused on finding engaging and charming people and THEN teaching them how to twist 30 clever and original balloon shapes before we send them out to a restaurant.

Filling a gig with excellence is 25% about the balloons, and 75% about the conversation with the guest and the personality of the entertainer. When we interview applicants we look for that native charisma and charm that has to already be there before we add them to the team.

If you are talkative and extroverted you might be a great fit for our team!

If you would like to join us as an entertainer please go to this link and fill out this form:

http://www.bdonlineschedule.com/forms/balloonArtistForm.aspx

Happy Twisting!

Ben Alexander

September, 2014

Acorns and #Entrepreneurs.

Image

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

100,000 bookings, #DONE.

Image

Balloon Distractions has now sent balloon artists into restaurants over 100,000 times, it took us just over a decade to reach that number.

What does it take to book 100,000 restaurant gigs? Over 4,000 people have been added into our entertainer orientation program since 2003, and these hard working folks filled gigs across four time zones, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to Miami to Minneapolis.

We had to design an online scheduler to organize all those entertainers and clients, it cost over $80K to build.

We paid out well over $4 million in payroll and billed out over $5 million to our restaurant clients.

I personally burned through 4 vehicles and traveled to every corner of the United States, I’ve sold restaurants and trained people in at least 20 states and counting.

We estimate that our team has twisted about 10 million Qualatex balloons since 2003.

So what does the 100,000 number mean? It means that we have a profound understanding of our unique niche, and the experience to make this concept work anywhere, from Miami to Rochester NY.

You see, 100,000 is just the very beginning. We’re going to hit the “1 million gig” mark in the next decade, maybe sooner. We have a specific plan and we’re working that plan every single day. 

We’ve had our share of critics, mostly folks who failed to grasp our business model….

…. the dogs will always bark, but the train is moving on.

If you want to start a business (and bring JOY to children) check out this page on our site:

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

God Bless!

Ben Alexander

May 30, 2014

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

I’ll bet you a #thousand bucks you do NOT know this about #Sharktank.

Image

The businesses that pitch on ST can negotiate the percentage ownership up and down, but once they name a dollar amount they are not allowed to go BELOW that amount.

When I pitched the sharks (episode #514) they were objecting to the dollar amount of my ask ($250,000) so I asked them if they would invest LESS for a smaller percentage. When I said this the producer interrupted the pitch and told me I was not allowed to do that.

Of course, this was edited out… I was in front of the sharks for an hour, they edited it down to just 8 minutes!

Thinking back I would have asked for a much smaller amount, like 50K for 10%, because the entrepreneurs that ask for smaller numbers seem to close more deals.

50K is pocket change to a billionaire like Mark Cuban, really.

My advice to any business that pitches in season 6?

Keep it small, below 100K, for at least 10% equity. There is tremendous value in going on the show even if you don’t get a deal, but there is additional value in partnering with the sharks.

Even if a shark investor only puts in 50K you get the additional PR of the updates later on… it seems that the producers only do updates on the small percentage of investments that actually got a deal.  

ALSO, if you are high energy already, like me, do NOT follow the producers advice and act even crazier. I feel that if my pitch were a bit more low-key (and ZERO caffeine) I would have had a better shot at getting a deal.

Oh well, I’m just glad that we got on and I’m thankful that the shows producers made the segment fun with the balloon drop.

-Ben Alexander

Founder of Balloon Distractions and Chief Twister!  

May 29, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.