100,000 bookings, #DONE.

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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

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

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I’m taking the SHARKS advice !!!

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When the members of my local Rotary club here in Wesley Chapel learned that we were appearing on Shark Tank they arranged a viewing party at a local restaurant. My fellow Rotarians also promoted the heck out of it and gave me a ton of LOVE and encouragement. If you own a business I would strongly encourage you to find a dynamic Rotary club in your area and check it out, Rotary made me a better human being as well as a better entrepreneur.

EVERYONE showed up, there were 200 people there, we packed the place.

This morning as I write this I am so darn grateful, it was an AWESOME night.

I filmed the episode in LA back in September, on the flight home I filled 3 pages of notes with feedback from the sharks, I was in front of them for over an HOUR, so they gave me far more advice than you saw on the show.

Valuable advice, from super successful people.

We’ve been doing EVERYTHING the sharks recommended, I brought on a great CFO (who is in Rotary) and formed an advisory board (again, all Rotarians). We’ve been recruiting business majors from local colleges, exactly what Mark Cuban suggested when I pitched him 4 months ago. 

Balloon Distractions needed better organization, and an organized leadership team that we have now has been working hard to make this a BETTER run company, and a BETTER opportunity for those who join us in the future. Our mistakes in the past were a function of my lack of organization, and I take full ownership of that.

The work is just beginning. There are people out there who are looking for a great opportunity and we have that. The leadership team is ready, the publicity is there, now we’re getting to work we’re really gonna GROW this thing!    

Ben Alexander January 18, 2014.

2 easy ways to Stay Happy.

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written by Ben Alexander

#1. Be useful and DO something every day.

Do something every single day that is measurable and productive. It could be exercise, a chore around the house, gardening, etc. I work from home 99% of the time, today I was closing new clients over the phone and talking with my database expert about changes to one of our systems. I also did the dishes and went food shopping.

One of the roots of depression is the feeling that you are worthless, but if you DO something you can draw satisfaction from that, at least for that day.

This is why I take care of my own yard, at the end of the day it feels great to sit on my back porch in sweaty clothes and drink a beer while the sprinklers run over my freshly cut lawn.

If you work hard every day, and get stuff DONE you will sleep well and have a great sense of daily satisfaction.  

#2. Serve others.

This does not mean you have to go out and solve the homeless issue, this can be as simple as cooking a nice meal for your family or cleaning up your home. When you are focused outward you gain perspective on your own life.

This upcoming April I’m going on my third trip to Honduras to install water filters with my fellow Rotary club members and Pure Water for the World. Going there, and seeing how people struggle with everyday life makes me tremendously grateful for what we have here in the United States.

Serving others also translates into my business, by making Balloon Distractions BETTER I am serving the independent contractor Artists and Regional Partners who make our concept possible.

The flip side of serving others is doing NOTHING for anyone but yourself.
We all know people like this, they never lift a finger to do anything… and then they wonder why they have no friends and are wracked with depression. If you are a business owner and you don’t serve your clients and your team you will be OUT of business pretty fast!

Serving others can be as simple as going to a local nursing home and just spending time with the people who live there. You can volunteer to mentor a youth group in church each week, or volunteer to frame out a house with Habitat for Humanity. During the recession there were several empty houses on my street with knee-high weeds, I started cutting all those lawns on a regular basis, which kept my street looking decent until those empty houses eventually found buyers.

As a member of the local Rotary club here in Wesley Chapel I was fortunate to serve as the president of the club 2 years ago, my goal during my year of leadership was to grow the membership of the club and we were very successful.    

There are so may ways to serve others if you just look around….

So, if you are feeling down try my 2 suggestions for the next few weeks, let me know if it helped you feel better about life!

 

Chiropractic WORKS!

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On the adjustment table at Dr. Pablo Rivera’s office @ Core Chiropractic. 

 

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Written by Ben Alexander

A few years ago I was taking a corner on my ’78 Honda and hit a patch of sand. I went down pretty hard, scraped my leg and broke a turn signal on my motorcycle, I thought I was fine….

… but I wasn’t.  

Two days later my lower back was totally tweaked, I could barely stand, twist, walk or do anything. I felt like a cripple.

Many people in this dilemma would go to a General Practitioner and get pumped full of dangerous pain killers or take muscle relaxants that zonk you out. I went to a Chiropractor and he adjusted my spine, I was fine a few days later.

Chiropractic WORKS!

My dad had been having difficulty walking because of an issue with his hip when he was 60 years old. I took him for an chiropractic adjustment and he left the treatment feeling better instantly. He had never been to a Chiro before that day, now he goes about once a month and he can walk pain free again!  

I strongly recommend Dr. Pablo Rivera in Wesley Chapel, owner of Core Chiropractic:

http://www.corespineandrehab.com/

Pablo is not only a member of the Wesley Chapel Rotary, I’ve also gone to Honduras TWICE with Pablo to install water filters with Pure Water for the World.

Dr. Rivera is my good friend and a great guy as well, he’s married with two sons in elementary school.

Pablo really has a Rotarian philosophy of taking care of people, and I have no doubt that his practice in Wesley Chapel is going to grow like crazy once people get to know him and experience how beneficial chiropractic can be.

I like the idea of maintaining optimal health without drugs, I’ll continue to use chiropractic throughout my life…. especially since I still ride that darn motorcycle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 apple does not fall far from the tree….

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written by Ben Alexander

Next month my oldest daughter Claire turns 16. When I started Balloon Distractions she was only in kindergarten, she’s been there all along from Balloon Jams in our living room to expanding this across the entire country. Many times Claire and her sister Grace went with me to restaurants to train new artists, and they’ve been there all along when my wife and I have discussed business challenges across the dinner table.  

There are a handful of event gigs that I’ve been doing year after year, Claire has been going along with me as my “apprentice twister”. She’s wonderful with children and very good at handling people in general so I’m getting her ready to rock some restaurant gigs once she’s mastered a few more shapes.

My youngest daughter Grace has ZERO interest in doing this, so I’m glad Claire has stepped up to the plate. I don’t want to push them, I’m just glad to spend time with Claire, she is a joy to work with.

We’ve been in business 10 years already so it makes sense that we will still be around in another 20 or 30 years. I think Claire has some natural leadership talents that could lend themselves well to helping me lead this company, not just in the United States but internationally as well.  

At the same time I don’t want to be the type of business owner who promotes his child just because of blood, Claire will have to prove herself at every level.

As a parent I’m doing my level best to make sure both my daughters get a solid academic foundation that opens many doors to them, whether in business or elsewhere.  

 

Twisting balloonz in Honduras!

In April of 2014 I’ll return to Honduras on my third trip… this was written after our first trip in January of 2012: 

Last week I went to Honduras along with 4 other members of my local Rotary club to install clean water filters in a joint project with Pure Water for the World. The trip was paid for by our Rotary club aong with a $3,000 sponsorship from Wesley Chapel Toyota / Honda.

     

I packed my steel-toe boots, leather gloves, some heavy duty work clothes and a bag full of balloons. Our group of Rotarians were joined by a handful of other folks from around the country: a writer, an accountant, a dentist, 2 paralegals, a construction consultant and the CEO of an electronics company. Our base of operations was the town of Trojes (pronounced TRO-hayes).. a rag tag town with dirt roads near the Nicaraugan / Honduras border.

Pure Water for the World (PWW) has installed over 2,000 water filters and over 600 latrine facilities in the communities surrounding Trojes, and during our trip we added several water filters and 7 new latrines to that total. Another component of PWW’s mission is educating Hondurans about basic hygiene issues.

In Trojes we stayed in the Hotel Moderno ( I think it rates NEGATIVE 3 stars in the Michelin guide). Every morning about 200 roosters would promptly wake us up at 5AM. My first morning I climbed up to the roof of the hotel and was amazed at how you could hear roosters crowing and dogs barking from every point on the compass. From my vantage point I could see the entire town and the tropical mountains beyond…

Everyday after a decent breakfast at a local outdoor restaurant we would climb into the back of several 4X4 pick-ups and head up to the homes far up into the mountains. Sometimes it would take almost 2 hours to reach our destination, and as we climbed the mountains on muddy, slippery roads we were always about 8 inches from plunging off the side and falling several hundred feet into the jungle below. Once we got off the truck we had to hike a couple hundred yards down a steep muddy path to get to the target household.

The people living up in the mountains lived in adobe shacks with dirt floors, no electric, no sewer system, windows that were just a hole in the wall and a wood burning stove. One family that we helped grew coffee, beans and rice right there on the side of the mountain. Every home had one or 2 half starved dogs wandering around along with a gaggle of chickens and curious barefoot children everywhere you looked.    

The Honduran people have a different attitude about danger and child rearing, I would see little kids right on the edge of the roads all over the country, and many times you would see a child totally alone with nary an adult in sight. Up in the mountains these little children would run up and down the muddy footpaths like it was nothing… I got the feeling that any child who reached adulthood must be one tough son of an onion….   

This trip gave me a new perspective and made me thankful for all the things we take for granted here in the United States.