Acorns and #Entrepreneurs.

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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

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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

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Living YOUR life as an expression of love.

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If I had not met Rachel in Taiwan on June 25th, 1995 there is a good chance that my two daughters would never have existed. My wife and my daughters have become the cornerstone of my heart and the greatest blessing in my life. For this alone I am thankful.

I cross the doorway of 40 next week, quite possibly the midpoint in my life.. and during this time I’ve been reading many books on leadership, faith and our destiny and purpose here on this planet. I am seeking learning and understanding, the illumination of the heart as well as the mind.

In this fashion I have reached a very simple yet profound conclusion about the path I’m about to set upon for the rest of my mortal existence.

I want to live my life as an expression of love.

I want to channel love, kindness, patience, light and beauty, in EVERYTHING I do…. and everyone I come into contact with. In my small way I want to create more laughter and kindness in the universe.

For too long I neglected to do this, and my potential as a human being was limited. I made all the mistakes that sprout from the gnarly roots of ego and impatience. I loved some people around me, but not at the level they deserved, probably because I was incapable of fully loving myself in those moments.

The writer Dr. Wayne Dyer says that EGO is “Edging God Out”. I love that.

If you truly allow God to come into your heart there is no further room for ego, anger, frustration or resentment. In discovering my own Faith in 2012 I cried many times as I asked God to come into my heart and wash out the mud and the muck, rinse out all the accumulated debris of a life that was NOT lived in Faith, a life that was lived far below the potential that He has ALWAYS had in store for me.

Everything in your life stems from the intentions in your heart, from being a parent, to running a business, to the marriage that you choose to have.

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As I wrote this I was listening to this music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7ch7uottHU&list=RD5dn7HgiT2QY

Enjoy!

Benjamin T. Alexander

March 1rst, 2014

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

 

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”…..  

 

Silent Night.

There I stood, a third grade child onstage at the VFW hall, alone in the hot spotlight at the Christmas Concert for Alice Costello Elementary School in Brooklawn, New Jersey. My music teacher Mrs. Monihan looked up from the piano and began to play the introduction to Silent Night. I took a deep breath and began to sing the first verse, in the clear soprano voice that I inherited from my mother:

Silent Night, Holy Night, All is Calm, all is Bright….

As I sang the rest of the third grade class stood behind me and used ASL to sign the lyrics with their hands. The only sound was my voice over the microphone and the piano. Mrs. Monihan, our music teacher with perfectly coiffed hair and impeccable red nails, had chosen me to sing in front of the 1,000 or so folks that always packed her amazing Christmas concerts.

Holy Infant so tender and mild…..

Even at the tender age of 8 I had already sung this beautiful song countless times, my family attended the Methodist church in Brooklawn, the very same church that my parents had been married in many years earlier. When Mrs. Monihan heard my voice piping up above the others in our 3rd grade music class she knew I’d be a good fit for the solo.

Mrs. Monihan was the type of teacher who poured her entire being into her work, she had a wicked laugh and she played the piano at breakneck speed. She would take a bunch of kids from our blue-collar town and teach us to sing and play instruments and feel the wonder of music in our hearts. Many years later, after I was in college on a scholarship to study vocal opera I would think back on Mrs. Monihan’s tremendous influence on my life and the wonderful gift inside me that she unwrapped with her boundless enthusiasm.

As I stood there singing in the bright circle of light on the stage I only had a very vague understanding of the evil out there in the world, I was very blessed to have loving parents who took care of me and made sure I was safe, fed hot meals and taken care of with a roof over my head. Other than the usual mischief that little kids get into at that age I was innocent to the horrors of the world.

In that moment, at the crowded VFW hall, I was able to sing a beautiful song and move the hearts of the people in the audience.

When the song was over there was a moment of silence, and then the audience erupted and clapped and went bonkers. It was a great moment.

Fast forward 30 years…….

December of 2012 was a really busy month for me, I was running Balloon Distractions and also doing consulting work for a company headquartered in Philadelphia. I was constantly on flights between Philadelphia and Tampa. It was one of those rare days when I was home in Tampa and able to work from my home office.

I was doing some admin work when I took a break and clicked over to Slate to check out the news. I saw a story about a shooting unfolding at an elementary school in Massachusetts. I got up from my desk and walked out to my living room to watch CNN on the TV.

As the details about Newtown unfolded on my TV screen I sat there on my couch and began to cry. I wept in that profound way that empties the caverns of the heart and makes sorrow easier to carry. This tragedy, more than any others, shook my faith and stirred something deep inside me. As the owner of a business that makes children HAPPY the Newtown massacre brought me down for a long time after, and even now represents a permanent shadow on my heart.

I wept because we were so close to Christmas, a holiday that’s about love for children, a holiday that celebrates the BIRTH of a child. I wept because of the love I have for my own daughters… I could only imagine the pain those parents were going through when they learned the news.

Any mass shooting is a horrible tragedy, but the Newtown massacre extinguished the lives of 22 children who woke up that morning with an expectation that the world around them was a safe place in which they were loved, well cared for, and kept away from any evil OUT THERE in the world.

My only consolation is that the children from Newtown all went to heaven as a group, and I’m positive that there were many people “up there” to greet them, comfort them, and hold them close. If you are not a person of Faith then I suppose you believe that those innocent souls are truly gone, snuffed out like a flame from a small candle, but I sincerely hope that is not the case.

Sometimes it takes two extremes to really understand and appreciate what is out there in the universe. After Newtown many people lamented that the world is a bad and evil place, but that is only because the Adam Lanza’s of the world get more attention than 100,000 good people like Mrs. Monihan.

Every day, in small towns and large cities all over the world, there are good people who wake up in the morning and then go out to work hard and do an excellent job. Some of these jobs might be high profile, like the mayor of a city, or they might be very humble jobs, a janitor mopping a floor in a high school, or a domestic changing sheets in a hotel.

Sometimes no one notices the good job that they are doing, but they do it anyway because they have pride and abiding respect with themselves and THEY know whether they did a good job or not.

Good work is a counterbalance to anyone out there doing BAD work, and doing something to make a child smile counteracts (in a small way) the bad things that are happening  to children elsewhere.

Bad things happen, but I choose to believe in the good that is out there, the people like Mrs. Monihan who choose to be a beacon of light.

-Ben Alexander

2015