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

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

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.

The Unlimited Creativity of the Ballooniverse.

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Famous balloon artist Jason Szabo and his amazing Yoda….

Balloon art really took off in the 1990’s when people started sharing pics on this website:

http://balloonhq.com/

Previous to that there were a few basic books and some small conventions around the world, but once the folks in the Ballooniverse started to collaborate there was an explosion of new ideas.

Balloon Distractions has had over 4,000 people learn balloon twisting in our organization since 2003, so we’ve been a small part of the expansion of the Ballooniverse, no pun intended!  

Twisting balloons in restaurants is a great way to get very fluent at the art  and earn some decent cash as well, the CEO of our company worked in restaurants during his last 2 years of college and graduated with no student debt!

There is also the added benefit of bringing joy to people through balloon twisting…

Balloons represent a colorful medium for creativity all over the world, and we are proud to be a part of it!  

12 feet tall?

Halloween costume, 2013……Image

Uncle Sam at the 4rth of July parade.

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written by Ben Alexander

When I was a kid growing up in South Jersey I used to make stilts out of a 2X4, a wedge of wood and 2 construction bolts. All my neighbors would try it and fall down in a few steps, but I would stay out there in the yard practicing until it was second nature.

Walking on stilts is about as hard as ice skating or rollerblading, once you get the hang of it you never forget how to do it. You have to practice on low stilts before you try the higher ones, a good sense of balance helps as well.  

Fast forward to 2011, our Rotary club was doing a Freedom Festival at Wiregrass mall. I have a friend who worked as a professional stilt walker at Busch Gardens in Tampa, I borrowed his metal stilts and put together the Uncle Sam outfit in the photo…   

In the last 2 years I’ve done Uncle Sam, Honest Abe and a Scary Ghoul this past Halloween for the Zephyr Hills Halloween parade. The Ghoul costume scared the tar out of a bunch of kids, especially because of the mask and the extreme height of the costume.

I use drywall stilts, commonly used in construction, and purchased my pair for $70 out of a pawn shop over in West Pasco county. There are also spring stilts, but they only add about 3 feet of height, so they are not as dramatic when you see someone wearing them.

As Uncle Sam or Abe Lincoln lots of people will come up to me and request a picture, or in some cases little boys will jump up and give me a (really) high five!

On February 15th, 2014, I’ll be dressed as Lincoln for the Honest Abe 5K in Wesley Chapel hosted by my rotary club. It’s for a good cause, if you see me there take a pic with me and post it on the “Book of Faces”…..  

 

Now money vs. FUTURE money.

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Written by Ben Alexander

When you trade dollars for hours you are working NOW for income NOW.

You are limited to 24 hours per day, so your income is limited as well in this scenario.

If you build a business you will not be paid hourly, and you may not see a profit or payback for weeks or even months…. but IF you design your business the right way it will create income for you far into the future.

As long as your business uses a TEAM you are building FUTURE money that will be generated when you are asleep, out of the country, drunk, or on a date with your spouse.

( Or any of those four combined !)

Of course, if you spend all your time on FUTURE money you may not have enough to pay your bills today, so there has to be a smart balance.

When you are young and broke you need to spend enough time on NOW money to meet your basic needs, but should also spend some time on FUTURE money that will pay off down the line. IF you earn more than you spend you can invest the extra and turn NOW money into FUTURE money.

If you take on debt you are deducting funds from your FUTURE money.

Getting a decent college education is all about FUTURE money, dropping out of high school at 15 years old to work at Taco Bell is all about NOW money.

Poor folks work for NOW money, usually because that is what they have learned from the other poor people they have lived and interacted with over the years. 

When I started Balloon Distractions in 2003 I needed to earn at least $300 a week in tips, so I went out to restaurants in Tampa and filled gigs a couple of nights per week. During the day I would sell new clients and train new balloon artists. Within a year the tips became a much smaller percentage of my overall income.

If you spend time to train someone in your business you are creating Future money, if you do the job yourself because “no one can do it better than me” you are working for NOW money.

At Balloon Distractions we’ve designed an online training interface so that our team can learn how to grow the company without my presence.  If I go into a coma today my company has the systems in place so that when I wake up in 2020 it will be larger by a magnitude of 4 or 5.

At this point in my life all my expenses are covered and I spend almost 99% of my work time on building FUTURE money.

Mainly this involves working to recruit new Regional Partners in order to place Balloon Distractions crews in every city in North America with over 100,000 people.

277 cities in the USA meet this criteria…. and we only do business in less than 35 of those. 

Even taking time to write this essay may result in FUTURE money because someone online  might read it, get interested in my business, and decide to join my team, you never know! 

My personal goal is to be worth $10 million by my 50th birthday….. and I’ll only reach that by focusing like a laser beam on FUTURE money.

Even if I don’t get to 10, I might get to 6 or 7 million, and that would not be too bad.

Which type of money are you focusing on today, this week, right now?

 

Really cold water.

Written by Ben Alexander in 2011

Some people are born with a genius-level IQ, these rare folks can fathom college-level calculus and play the violin while still in grade school. Not me. I’m stuck with the dull gray matter I was born with, so I’m doing my best to maximize my mental effectiveness.

Every morning around 8AM I’ll hit the pool for a cold swim… the pool in our development is NOT heated.

For the swim all I’ll need is earplugs, goggles, a swimsuit and a Timex watch to measure my time in the water… and a bunch of crazy determination. The water was a tad colder a few weeks ago when I started doing this, about 50 degrees. It will be just over 60 degrees tomorrow, and I’ll stay in the water about 30 minutes.

There is a strange relativity to exercise that reflects back upon your everyday life: when you conquer a physical challenge early in the morning it seems as if everything ELSE that you have to tackle that day feels easier.

You really never know how much you can do until you just go out and try it. 

Swimming in cold water does many things at once: burns tons of calories quickly, gets the blood pumping and focuses the mind on a singular task. It takes a certain level of personal discipline to get in cold water in the first place, yet once you get in and start swimming it feels pretty good.    

I have a very ambitious agenda on the table for the expansion of Balloon Distractions and I need to be at the top of my game as we implement these big changes. My crazy exercise routine grants me clarity, and I need it now more than ever. 

 

Tools of the trade...

Balloon Jams from Seattle to Schenectady!

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Balloon Jam in DFW, August 2013.

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Balloon Jam in Seattle, November 2013.

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Balloon Jam in Los Angeles, September 2013.

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Balloon Jam in upstate NY, July 2013.

written by Ben Alexander

Between April and October of 2013 I was fortunate enough to visit every single region that we do business with across the United States.

I did not get a pic at every jam (maybe in 2014?) but I got a few that really captured some great moments with our teams. Traveling around and training our Regional Partners and meeting their amazing teams is a big part of what I do as the owner of the company, and a great joy for me as well.

Our teams are a great mix of college kids, stay at home Moms and military veterans who have joined us to make great part time money and have a ton of fun as well.   

 

Get out of your comfort Zone!

Many  eclectic jobs  led me to where I am today:

Here is a short list, in no logical order:

  1. Paid Baritone for a Presbyterian church.
  2. Insurance agent for Mutual of Omaha.
  3. Basic construction, ripping up sidewalks, building fences, etc.
  4. English teacher in Taiwan.
  5. Art model for my college’s life modeling class.
  6. Volunteer firefighter (no pay, but a unique experience)
  7. Balloon Twister 4 Tips in countless restaurants.
  8. Owner of a balloon twisting talent agency.
  9. Burger flipper at Dairy Queen.
  10. Waiter at many different restaurants.
  11. Lifeguard at several lakes and pools across South Jersey.
  12. Swim Instructor for children.
  13. Rollerblade instructor in Taiwan.
  14. Selling gold plating services to car dealerships.
  15. Selling deregulated energy door to door.
  16. Managing large door to door crews that sold deregulated energy.
  17. Selling underwater scuba camera equipment over the phone.
  18. Selling mortgages over the phone.
  19. Selling employment advertising over the phone.
  20. Selling solar and energy efficiency door to door, in NJ, PA and FL.
  21. Selling cars (mostly Toyota) in MD and FL.
  22. Mowing lawns and basic landscaping.
  23. Auctioneer’s assistant and go-to (when I was 12 years old)
  24. Delivery driver for Naple’s pizza in Mullica Hill.
  25. Substitute teacher all over South Jersey (my 3rd year in college)
  26. Package sorter on the midnight shift at UPS.
  27. Direct Sales with Amway and Life Leadership.
  28. Getting paid from sales of my first book on Amazon.
  29. Sales consulting for 2 marketing firms in Philadelphia.
  30. Goofed off with the EB-5 investment program in Taiwan, never made a dime.
  31. Imported Super Sonic Spheres from Taiwan, same result as #30.

I’ve tried so many unusual things in my life that nothing is that weird or unfamiliar.

In college every single time I got fired from one job (I had a big mouth and it got me in hot water) I would look around and try something different.

I feel bad for the person who turns 18, gets a job that he hates, then stays in that job for 40 years because he is hooked to a measly paycheck. How boring, right?

Be open to new ideas and experiences, and as you get older you will continually expand your comfort zone. When you stretch yourself you will learn how to be resilient and adjust to anything.

Trying many different things also teaches you to be resourceful, a great quality to develop whether you are an entrepreneur, teacher or any profession.

Once you’ve taken off every stitch of clothing in front of a room full of art students, or traveled 12 time zones away on a ONE WAY ticket to a foreign country to work, everything else is small potatoes.

I started Balloon Distractions (when I was 29) because I never found a job that I actually liked.

Previous to that I could never hold a job longer than 24 months.

When you move OUT, way OUT, from your comfort zone you will gain tremendous confidence and trust in yourself. After living in Taiwan and learning how to speak a bit of Mandarin Chinese I was not afraid to live somewhere very far from what I knew growing up.

Moving to Florida in 2003? No big deal, at least it’s still in the USA.

Consequently I feel at home everywhere I go here in the States. The entire USA is within my comfort zone. As I traveled around the United States building Balloon Distractions I always felt at home, whether in Seattle, Miami or Houston.

A little job or hobby that you try out in college can lead to something significant down the road. When I was twisting balloons in college I never would have guessed that it would lead to Balloon Distractions.

More recently I got involved in residential and commercial solar with Tampa Bay Solar. Here I was, learning a totally new industry at 43 years old! I’ve been making a great income and learning a ton. I feel like a million bucks.

Be thrilled by the potential of the unexpected, and don’t hesitate to get out of your own comfort zone! The only thing you risk by trying something new is loss of time.

Ben Alexander

blog was originally written in 2014, updated in May of 2017.

17 year locusts and Sacred Geometry.

The more I read and travel the more I run into the inherent strangeness that is out there in our everyday world. The UNIVERSE has ALWAYS been multi-faceted and bizarre, and the oddest things are not always that obvious at first glance.

Case in point, sacred geometry: www.soulsofdistortion.nl/soda_chapter5.html

Sacred Geometry can be applied to modern business in many ways…. it is used to influence and persuade the general public in such a manner that we do not realize we are being influenced.

Lots of weirdness also sits on the Internet, waiting to be discovered. If you get curious about Ch’an Buddhism you are 2 clicks away from digital pics, video and a few blogs about it as well.

With platforms like Facebook you can post a weird YouTube clip on your Wall and share it with the 8 bazillion people linked to your profile…  in many ways technology facilitates the rise of stuff that most people would never know about before the internet.

I work from a home office and when I glanced out of the window yesterday there were 2 lizards (brown anoles) getting funky on the windowsill overlooking the garden. I’ve lived in Florida since 2003, I’ve seen them procreate before, but I still stopped for a minute and watched. I’ve observed these little lizards hunt bugs for food, fight each other, get eaten by birds, and when they molt they will eat their own cast off skin!

Disgusting, yes, but a bit fascinating as well. The entire lizard soap opera unfolds right in the rose garden, from procreation to death.

I’ve never seen a Cicada in North America with this interesting coloration.

When I visited Taiwan in July of 2010 I saw and heard plenty of stuff that one would not normally find here in Florida: tropical mountains, pet squirrels, cable cars that went high into the clouds, Hakka, Mandarin and Taiwanese spoken around me, bullet trains and snakes for sale as food at the night market.

One key to a dynamic life?

Stay curious and question stuff… and observe the world around you with fresh eyes.

Build the Lever.

Archimedes once said:

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” 

A small business can only give so much to the local community, but a national business that generates 10 or 50 or even 100 million dollars per year can do so much more. When I started BD it was just a concept in my imagination, a wild idea with which I had no idea whether it would work or not. As I write this today we provide a living for many of our Regional Partners and great part time income for the high school and college kids on our teams across 42 cities.

It all started with a crazy idea in 2003… a tiny seed that sprouted into a nationwide business. 

I have another crazy idea and I’d like to share it with you. If you are brand-new to our company this idea might have an impact on your life, as well as the people you bring on and train as you move up through our system.

Imagine for a moment that we have scaled up to 200 regions across the United States and we start opening day camps each summer that employ our balloon artists as counselors and teach children positive thinking, balloon twisting, face painting, comedy, magic and (maybe even) juggling. Our counselors would make a great hourly wage each summer and our camps would be a great training ground for our next generation of entertainers. Our summer camps will be unique, fun, and cater to that offbeat child who might not fit in at soccer, cheerleading or football camp.

To GIVE BACK we would offer 20% of the enrollment at a reduced rate (or free) to kids in the neighborhood who normally would not get to enjoy such a neat experience.

What kind of impact would BD have if we gave a child from a rough background the opportunity to learn something joyful like balloon art, magic or face painting?

What if we encouraged that child to get better each summer and brought them on as an entertainer when they turned 16 years old? … What IF when that child reached 18 they were awarded a Balloon Distractions scholarship to help them get through college?

Could we take a child “under our wing” so to speak and change that child’s trajectory into adulthood? 

Could a little BALLOON talent agency do ALL that? As I write this we are like a small lever that provides a modest income for 300 members of our team, but when we are in 200 cities with 10,000 children in summers camps we can do AMAZING things. Balloon Distractions then becomes a huge lever that can do great things and impact the lives of thousands of children in a positive way.  

Granting 100K in annual college scholarships is not possible at our current size, but is becomes tenable when we are in every city in North America.

If you are reading this as a new member of our team consider the impact that YOU can have in the life of a child. Perhaps your Faith called you to join on our team and to lend your talents to our mission.  

Balloon Distractions does AMAZING things in the lives of the children we entertain, the college students and Regional partners who earn an income from this business model and the lives we save through our clean water efforts in Central America. 

The bottom line profit is important in any business, but with Balloon Distractions you are a part of a higher purpose than just making money.

In my personal life I don’t need a bunch of fancy JUNK with which to impress people.  My greatest reward will be going to the college graduation of a young person who entered our summer camps as a  child with NO CHANCE in life, knowing that my company gave him that shot at success, an opportunity to learn, grow and work hard to see tangible results at the end of the day… or when I’m in Honduras and make a balloon for a child who is healthy and thriving because they have clean water to drink.

The summer camp concept will take a few years to fully develop, but if you are a Regional Partner right now consider the fact that you are already teaching your team a skill that enables them to go out and average over $20 an hour in income on a regular basis, and over $50 an hour when they perform at special events. That skill will also make your team well suited to working as camp counselors once the summer camp concept is launched in your region.  

As a Regional Partner you are making a positive difference in the lives of all the people you train and develop, and you can’t predict the end result of teaching just one person this new skill. I’m sure the guy who trained me back in the 1997 had no clue that I would go on to start a company, and that BD would go on to train over 4,000 balloon artists so far.