STARTING YOUR OWN MASTERMIND GROUP
What’s the old saying, “Two heads are better than one?” Well then, what about ten or even fifty? Mastermind groups aren’t new but they’re gaining in greater popularity and influence in our fast-paced, high-tech modern culture. They are a fantastic organizational vehicle for individuals to organize reaching personal, career, and/or business goals. This article is for those who have a basic understanding of modern Mastermind Groups and likely have participated in them but is considering and interested in starting their own.
SHORT LESSON TO FIND A MASTERMIND GROUP
In one form or another, business Mastermind groups are as old as humankind. The idea of gathering in a group to focus on a particular objective, challenge, or goal, has been a part of the human spirit since the beginning of time. By the seventeenth century, there was Benjamin Furley’s Heretics of the Lantern club. Likewise, his friend John Locke, the great English philosopher known as the “Father of Liberalism,” was a founding member of the Dry Club.
Each of these social clubs were organized as gatherings dedicated to questioning absolutely everything. More than barroom banter or beer hall soapbox speeches, the members abounded in employing deep intellectual and philosophical rhetoric to the great questions of their day.
Even the Pilgrims had their own Mastermind styled groups called, “Neighborhood Benefit Societies.” In thefollowing century, Benjamin Franklin launched the famous Leather Apron Club, officially named Junto. It consisted of twelve close friends of various craft and business backgrounds assembled to promote mutual assistance and personal improvement.
Finally, coming into the 20th Century—from the 1937 classic, Think and Grow Rich, the modern concept of what is a Mastermind Group was crystallized by Napoleon Hill. He suggested that every two minds which unite create an invisible third mind, much like the idea of blue and yellow making green. Two minds working in tandem on the same problem unveil an insight that solves problems.
It should go without saying, but congregating with friends, associates, and/or colleagues in an effort to brainstorm is one of the most powerful applications of groups. Sharing ideas can lift everyone’s boat. Instead of racking your own brain, maybe it’s time to start a mastermind group. Let’s dive right in with six points to consider.
- WHO TO INVITE?
What type of people should you invite to your Mastermind Group?
– Invite those in the same profession, executive level or skill set. Choose something in common everyone will have.
– Invite naturally enthusiastic individuals who feel comfortable in groups.
– Invite those looking to inspire and be inspired. – Invite those seeking to go beyond their present level of success or comfort.
– Invite those passionate about their business or profession.
– Invite those who think a Mastermind Group near me would be beneficial for them.
– Invite those who want support and to be supportive.
– Invite those facing a business challenge.
Pro-tip: If it’s the beginning of the year, maybe have New Year Mastermind Group. Invite everyone determined to
have the best professional year of their career!
- SCREENING APPLICANTS
From the above paragraph, you might think you already know who to invite. Not so fast. A Mastermind Group isn’t a mixer. You want to have has many high-minded and serious members as possible. For the sake of this article, I am assuming this is your first group, though you may have participated in someone else’s Mastermind Group. Here are pointers to screening applicants.
– First, how big or small do you want the group to be? Four, five, seven, nine people? I recommend 5-8.
– Second, only choose those with clear business goals. – Three, select individuals whose goals and business values match yours. You don’t want to brainstorm with someone who doesn’t share your business approach and values.
– Four, confirm that whomever you invite and accept is able to make the commitment.
– Five, do a soft interview, even if you’re considering a friend. Ask them why they should belong to the group.
Inquire what they think they bring to the conversation.
A word of caution. No matter how well you’ve screened your applicants, invariably there will be a few flakes or those who join the group and don’t contribute as much as expected. If this is the case, politely weed out the weak and continue screening for strong and valuable participants.
- DOES IT HAVE TO BE FREE?
Should you charge? Really, that’s all up to you. However, in the Mastermind Group community, those that charge find a higher rate of commitment and follow-through. Mastermind Groups that require paying in compared to strictly volunteer groups are likely to have members who take the group and its objectives much more seriously. So, don’t be afraid to charge. In many respects, charging suggests the worth of the group. Furthermore, paying members will naturally have greater respect for the group. The latter point is important. You want everyone to arrive with a measured appreciation for the opportunity to participate.
Lastly, if your facilitator is a true expert, being able to honor him/her with an honorarium is standard practice. My rule of thumb—if the Mastermind Group is more an extra ordinary occasion of friends or acquaintances, then don’t charge. Conversely, if the Mastermind Group is comprised of a highly professional set with a dedicated calendar of dates, then charge for the privilege of attending.
There was a time when meeting in a single location was the only option. However, today, there are many flexible ways to facilitate the group. However, first and foremost, make sure your group has three or four core members that are consistently present. A strong level of commitment is required for a group to be successful. Consistency plays a big factor in members feeling comfortable, being able to listen to advice, and feeling free to give advice.
Virtual meetings are also okay. Maybe you have a meeting at your home or office and someone can’t make it but they can video conference in. That’s wonderful! Technology permitting, there is nothing wrong with an entire meeting being a video conference. However, I recommend face-to-face as much as possible.
Now, never forget that all meetings must begin with an established agenda that all members are aware of and have received beforehand. Never allow a meeting to start without a structured outline. The framework of the agenda is crucial to keeping the meeting flowing, democratic, and everyone focused. Without structure, any meeting and get quickly out-of-hand. In time, chaotic meetings will lead to defections.
At least a week before every meeting, send out the upcoming meeting’s agenda to all members. At the end of every the meeting, schedule or restate the date of the next meeting and likely topics.
Pro-tip: Set aside a half-hour before and after the meeting for everyone to mix with drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
- WHAT BENEFITS WILL YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR OWN MASTERMIND GROUP?
I don’t think the benefits of organizing your own Mastermind Group can be understated. There are the obvious benefits from the group itself, everything that any Mastermind Group NYC offers. However, I believe there are added
benefits to inaugurating your own. For example:
– Organization practice.
– Sense of accomplishment.
– Steering topics that directly assist your business or endeavors.
– Being seen by others as a leader. – Networking.
– Rewarding friendships.
– Positive energy.
It’s one thing to join a group, it’s another to establish one. To anyone who feels these groups benefit them greatly, I suggest that at some point in their careers that it would behoove them to coordinate their own.
THE BIG QUESTION! WHO FACILITATES?
The number one question that I get from Mastermind Group members intending to start their own group is, “Should I be the facilitator?” I always ask them if they have kids and if they love playing referee and parental military general?
The same for middle managers. The bottom line is that the Facilitator needs to be skilled people-person. The facilitator doesn’t have to be an expert, though that’s wonderful.
What the position requires is the ability to keep the conversation flowing, ideas coming, holding everyone accountable to participating at their fullest capacity, and instinctually knowing how to deal with any personality conflicts that inevitably arise in groups. If you’re talented in those areas, then being the facilitator is better than allowing someone else to run your group. I recommend that the person who forms the group be the facilitator. You don’t want to end up feeling as though your ship is being steered into the rocks. If it’s possible to have an experienced expert in the said field available, then, by all means, allow them to facilitate or guest facilitate. However, if possible, be the leader of your band.
Mastermind Groups are an excellent way to utilize the power of the objective mind. Sometimes our problems seempersonally impossible that to another in a Mastermind Group—they’re able to see the solution clearly. I highly recommend them to small business owners and professionals who put a lot of emotion and thought into their careers. Two heads are often better than one. And besides, it’s only hopefully big ideas being shared. All final decisions are up to you.