Atlanta Real Estate Sign Installations Done Right!

I’m excited about my latest venture — We provide what we believe is by far the best sign & post installation service in the Metro Atlanta Area. Our mobile app makes it super-easy for real estate agents to order sign installs. Plus, the app allows us to notify agents instantly (with photos) upon service completion. We also allow you to see and manage your inventory of signs, toppers & riders within the app.

If you’d like to try our service, just download the app and sign up. As a bonus, here’s a discount / referral code, which will give you $25 (50%) off of your first installation order. We’re confident that once you try our service you won’t want to go back to the old way of doing things. There’s much more detail about the service on our website, including a gallery of our installations and our service area map.

Move to China, Become a Rapper & Make Millions!

I was reading an article in Business 2.0 about Americans who are making it big in China when I noticed a picture of a brotha with two Chinese girls next to him. (reminds me of that line from Digital Undergrounds ‘Sex Packets’, but I digress…) So of course I skipped right to that part of the story and what I read blew me away. This cat moved to China on a whim, had never done any ‘serious’ performing before and is now a huge star over there and making millions! See for yourself…


As in much of the world, Americans and American culture are often viewed in China with a mixture of repulsion and fascination. Andrew Ballen has ridden the second part of that equation to improbable heights.

Ballen arrived in China four years ago “on a whim,” he says. A native of New York, Ballen, now 32, had dropped out of Duke University’s law school, angering his father, a high-achieving Jamaican immigrant who is a physician in North Carolina. Ballen wanted to get far away from the scene of his failure, and China seemed about as far away as he could go. He didn’t know a soul in China. He didn’t speak a word of Chinese.

To cushion his landing, he took a job at one of China’s leading for-profit language schools. After a month, he realized two things. First, he’d never earn enough money as an English teacher to live well in China. Second, Chinese youth were mesmerized by hip-hop. “As an American black kid, I knew something about hip-hop,” Ballen says.

He’d never done serious performing in America, but Ballen quickly started his own weekly Thursday night hip-hop show in Shanghai, renting out a club, paying a flat fee to the Chinese owner, and keeping the $4 entrance fee and a slice of the bar take. He canvassed top universities, distributing fliers to students to announce his opening night. He did the same in expat neighborhoods, concentrating on women. “Get the hot women, and the hot men follow,” Ballen says, summarizing his marketing strategy.

Three hundred people turned out to hear Ballen rap and DJ on opening night, and kids keep coming back, in increasingly large numbers. On a recent Thursday night, Ballen takes in $3,200 from the gate, and the bar soaks up more than $10,000. In the four-year history of the show, Ballen has grossed nearly $2 million.

The rap gig launched a burgeoning multimedia empire. A few months after his debut in the club, Ballen started an English-language radio talk show where he spoke frankly about romance and the anxieties of youth. The talk show led to a deal with Motorola; Ballen became “the voice” for some cell-phone services. Next he started a popular TV travel program, striking an innovative deal with one of Shanghai’s leading stations that allowed him to sell advertising and keep the lion’s share of the take.

Andrew Ballen is now a star in China. He moves around the country with two Chinese assistants, one of them on hand simply to answer his mobile phone. The endorsement deals keep coming; even his old employer, the language school, pays him more than $1,000 a month to be a pitchman. He is frequently stopped on the street by Chinese who want to shake his hand or buy him a beer.

On a recent Friday, after staying up all night at the hip-hop club, Ballen snatches a few hours of sleep, then goes into a studio to do a radio commercial. Next he grabs a late breakfast and gulps down two cups of coffee before locking himself away to write a script for his next TV episode. Between paragraphs, he ponders how someone who never ran a business in the United States could launch so many, so quickly, in a country he still barely comprehends. “I have nothing,” he says, “but my imagination.”

Speaking of Documentaries…

A friend of mine just recommended ‘The Corporation‘.to me. After seeing the trailer its definitely on my list. Here’s what it’s about:

One hundred and fifty years ago, the corporation was a relatively insignificant entity. Today, it is a vivid, dramatic and pervasive presence in all our lives. Like the Church, the Monarchy and the Communist Party in other times and places, the corporation is today’s dominant institution. But history humbles dominant institutions. All have been crushed, belittled or absorbed into some new order. The corporation is unlikely to be the first to defy history. In this complex and highly entertaining documentary, Mark Achbar, co-director of the influential and inventive MANUFACTURING CONSENT: NOAM CHOMSKY AND THE MEDIA, teams up with co-director Jennifer Abbott and writer Joel Bakan to examine the far-reaching repercussions of the corporation’s increasing preeminence. Based on Bakan’s book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, the film is a timely, critical inquiry that invites CEOs, whistle-blowers, brokers, gurus, spies, players, pawns and pundits on a graphic and engaging quest to reveal the 4corporation’s inner workings, curious history, controversial impacts and possible futures. Featuring illuminating interviews with Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Howard Zinn and many others, THE CORPORATION charts the spectacular rise of an institution aimed at achieving specific economic goals as it also recounts victories against this apparently invincible force.

Update: William at Abstract Dynamics has some thoughts on the movie. It doesn’t open in Atlanta until Friday so I’ll give my opinion on the flick sometime after that.

‘Fahrenheit’ Sets Record for Documentaries

Fahrenheit 9/11‘ just broke the $100 million mark, setting a new record for a documentary. I just heard a report on CNN’s ‘The Biz’ which said that Michael Moore pointed out that ‘Fahrenheit’ has now made more than any Disney release this year. I wonder how Michael Eisner is feeling about refusing to distribute ‘Fahrenheit’ now (a couple of weeks ago he had no regrets). That can’t be a good feeling, especially for such an embattled CEO.

FrontLine: The Way the Music Died

Set your TiVos for FrontLine’s special report on the music industry, ‘The Way the Music Died’. Here’s what the show is about:

The modern music scene was created in 1969, at Woodstock. Half a million fans, dozens of artists, and the politics of the times came together as a big bang moment that eventually would generate billions of dollars. But over the last twenty years, MTV, compact discs, corporate consolidation, Internet piracy, and greed have contributed to a perfect storm for the recording industry. FRONTLINE examines how the business that has provided the soundtrack of the lives of a generation is on the verge of collapse.

The show airs May 27th.

Also be sure to check out “What’s Wrong with the Music Industry in One Long Sentence“.

Are Your Friends Causing You to Stagnate?

The Fast Company weblog has a couple of good posts about innovation and entrepreneurship. They are ‘Want To Innovate? Dump Your Friends‘ and ‘Want To Innovate? Dump Your Friends‘. The titles sound a bit more harsh than the actual articles are though. They simply raise the point that exposing yourself to new people, and thus new ideas, is critical to entrepreneurial success. Here’s the bottom line advice from a Stanford Business School assistant professor:

  • Cut the cord to the familiar faces around the water cooler.
  • Mix it up.
  • Take a class with strangers, seek out ideas from people you
    don’t ordinarily talk to, do anything to get out and mingle more with
    folks from other professions.
  • Broaden your social horizons.

I think I’ve been lucky in that I have a very diverse group of friends, many of whom are entrepreneurs. In fact two in particular gave me the encouragement to make me bail out of corporate America and go trade stocks for a living. And part of the reason I’ve been lax in posting here the last few days is due to another friend introducing me to a business venture. But I’m taking heed of the above advice & will look to expand my social circle even more. I hope you all will do the same.