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.  

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The Simplest Business in the Ballooniverse.

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This is all the equipment you need to run a BD region with 10, 20, even 50 artists.

You can earn an excellent income with the simple objects in the photo.  

An apron, a hand pump and a few balloons to do tryouts and land new clients.

A phone to close deals and contact your team.

A laptop to access our online orientation and online X-scheduler. Here at HQ we handle the billing, payroll, licensing, background checks on new artists and all the other back office functions crucial to the smooth operation of a national company.

Of course, you also need a mode of transportation to get around, which was not included in the picture. Our Regional Partner in Los Angeles gets around on a motorcycle with his balloon apron in a backpack, you don’t even need 4 wheels to make this work!

Back in 2011 we entertained the idea of branching out into Balloon Décor. At our company HQ we bought heavy helium tanks, shelves of balloons, PVC, and all the other equipment you need to do balloon arches, columns, balloon drops, etc. We did a handful of jobs, but we realized that scaling a décor business nationwide would require tens of thousands of dollars in equipment that could be lost, stolen, damaged etc.   

By keeping this concept light and simple, with online tools that organize people and clients we have an enterprise that can scale anywhere there are restaurants and families.

We can scale this globally, the internet knows no borders.

If you are reading this blog from somewhere else in the world and you have a business background please reach out to us:

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

If you live in a city anywhere in the USA and you want to have a business that is super simple and efficient we would like to talk with you. You can go through our Online Orientation in under a week and start earning cash within about 10 days.  

There is no financial investment to join us other than balloons (which you can buy anywhere) the gas in your vehicle and your time spent building a team.

You will be a 1099 Independent Contractor, so you determine your schedule, the pace of your work, and the size of your income.

You determine the SIZE of your success.

Shark Tank made us BETTER!

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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?        

Everyone has value.

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Today I went out with 3 other members of my Rotary and we took shoes, socks, warm sleeping bags and few other sundry items to the men living in camps in the woods around Wesley Chapel.

The fellow in the picture is Will, a Vietnam veteran and an artist who told me he has sketched this beautiful lady many times and he has no idea who she is, but occasionally he dreams about her! Will has been homeless for a few years now, and when we brought him the supplies he invited us to sit on some plastic milk crates next to his tent and we talked for awhile.

He told us how children occasionally mistook him for Santa Claus, but he would smile and tell them he was one of Santa’s elves….

We had met many of these men during Thanksgiving when our club gave out hot turkey dinners, they live illegally in tents in the woods on pieces of land owned by anonymous developers. Will told us that the police would occasionally come by and kick him off a parcel of land, but that only forces him to move to another place where he is trespassing again.

There is no easy solution for people in Will’s situation, many times they are unemployable due to alcohol addiction, appearance (like missing teeth) or a lack of skills and reliability…..

… but they are still human beings; worthy of our compassion and worthy of our time.

You can’t make an alcoholic go to meetings, or force someone to show up for work on time, but you can give them a warm pair of shoes, a sleeping bag, or that camping tent in your garage that’s you haven’t used in years.

Benjamin T. Alexander

December 2013

 

The Seasons of your Life

Hanging out in North Carolina with Todd Barrow.Image

written by Ben Alexander, founder of BalloonDistractions.com

Todd started with us as an entertainer filling gigs part time and now runs one of the largest regions in our organization. I got to spend some time with him during the summer of 2013 and we had some great conversations about work, life, and all the BIG questions.

Todd and I are both knocking on 40, and we’ve both had all kinds of varied and weird jobs. Todd was in the military, counseled young people for drug addiction, and even installed water filters!

One of things that Todd and I discussed (over a beer or three) were the “seasons of life” that we all go through along this journey, and how certain types of work fit better at certain points in your life.

Case is point is the college student that joins us and fills gigs as an Independent Contractor, they log on, choose where and how often they want to work, and the flexibility of this works in their favor.

Then you have the stay at home Mom, she might have kids in elementary school, but she doesn’t want the hassle of a typical 9-5 job, so she learns to twist and uses our company to get out of the house 2 nights a week and earn a couple hundred $$$.

The third example might be a retired military veteran who gets out of the military in their 40’s with a small pension and joins our team as a Regional Partner and earns 40K per year by organizing the team, selling new clients and occasionally filling a gig to keep the schedule populated.  

Each of these three examples represent someone in a different season of their life, with different perspectives and goals, along with varied levels of life experience.

As a company we respect whatever season of life you happen to be in, and we’re grateful that people from various backgrounds, ages and experience have joined our team.

So what season are YOU in?

Are you happy with where you are in life, or do you want to make a change and do something different? We are looking for Regional Partners in 200 metro markets throughout the United States, check out our website at BalloonDistractions.com!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Walker recruits in Philadelphia

The next section was written by Mike Walker, our 20 year-old regional leader in Philadelphia. Mike is one of our youngest and most successful regional leaders, he knows his stuff !

Recruiting twisters is the same as selling restaurants.  As a recruiter you are selling the concept of working for balloon distractions to prospective twisters.  Confidence is key, and just like selling restaurants, it all hinges on belief in the product and the ability to convey that belief to the target audience. 

Establishing legitimacy is a very important aspect of overcoming the doubts prospective twisters may have concerning their work with Balloon Distractions.  Many prospective twisters fear that this business is a “scam” (nothing is farther from the truth). It sounds “too good to be true” for many people (it did to me) but I make sure to avoid negative language such as “scam”, “con”, or “rip off.” 

Concerning payment I say this to every prospective twister

“Payment is all in tips, what you make is what you keep, balloon distractions never sees a single dollar of what you earn.  If you make 100 dollars working on a Friday night, you keep all of that money no payments to balloon distractions.  Balloon Distractions serves as a talent agency that simply finds restaurants for Twisters. 

Where I find all my twisters: Restaurants

I cannot begin to stress the importance of restaurant recruiting, three quarters of all the twisters I have trained, I recruited in restaurants.  Recruiting in a restaurant is the easiest way to recruit new twisters.  Prospective twisters meet you face to face and see the company in action.  When somebody sees a flyer advertising fifteen dollars an hour they automatically suspect the legitimacy of the job, however at a restaurant there is no doubt that this is a legitimate business.  Patrons can see us at work, as well as see first hand the clean cut and articulate nature of those already working for the company.  The “wad of cash” is the greatest asset when approaching prospective twisters.  Show the patrons how much money you have made in your x hours of work and then tell them how much you will walk out of the restaurant with in “X” hours total work. 

There is another advantage to recruiting in restaurants.  Beyond legitimacy, you can get a feel for the caliber of each individual while you are making them balloon animals.  In conversation, note their personality and take that in consideration while interviewing them. 

At first for me, restaurant recruiting was a very difficult and awkward process.  I would go up to a table of my peers, make them a balloon animal and offer them a job.  It seemed weird. As opposed interjecting how well twisting balloons pays at the end of entertaining a table of people, I now weave aspects about the job into my conversation with patrons, and I am ALWAYS constantly looking for any interest that the patron has.  Normally questions such as “how did you get into this”, or “how does being a clown pay?” are great ways to begin to recruit patrons at the table.  I always stress that I wish I had come upon this job sooner (which is true) and that it is the perfect job for high school and college students, or whatever their age demographic may be. 

For every table that expresses minimal interest in becoming twister, I write “$15/hr” on the back of the business card that I leave at each table.  I tell them to call me when they are tired of making minimum wage working 20 hour weeks, when they can make the same money in two shifts in Balloon Distractions.

At every table I work, I search for any slight interest that the patron has in becoming a twister, or making more money.  I always find ways to tie into the conversation how I got started twisting and how much I make (without making the conversation awkward for the patrons). 

Every night I make it my goal to leave the restaurant with the phone number of at least one prospective twister.  If they have your number there is a very miniscule chance that they will end up working with balloon distractions, however if you have their number and you call and set up an interview, there is a very good chance they will end up working with us.