Every Wednesday evening I attend a mastermind, and it’s one of the highlights of my week. Although the word makes me sound like I belong to a dark secret society, I can assure you no cloak and daggers are being swished and swashed.
Never heard of it?
No, neither had I until a few years ago, all will be revealed by the end of this post and there’s also links to fantastic resources for further reading on how you can set up your own.
The big picture first, let’s focus on what it is, what it’s not and what are the benefits.
What is Masterminding?
The most popular definition is from Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich he described masterminding as “the coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” (Read: two brains are better than one. )
Sounds a little clunky? Try this…
A mastermind is when a group of individuals come together on a regular basis to help one other, support one another, grow in the specific area of the mastermind.
Do you think it sounds a bit technical? Too much geared towards business? Try and pop that aside in your head, it may be popular in business however it’s not solely reserved for it.
You can create a mastermind around whatever area of life you want. Crochet, careers, confidence, parenting, fundraising, projects, marketing, health…the focus of the mastermind is the choice of the group.
Let me help you out by making it real and explain how we do it.
“Three-ish hours of laughter, support, being exposed, vulnerable, connected, working on our business and being thankful for each other”.
Because we all live in different parts of the world, we hangout on Google+ (so we can see each other), but Masterminds can be in person, on the phone: really whatever is the best method for everyone. We meet weekly, some masterminds are monthly, again the group decides what the timetable is.
We cover a lot of the ‘business’, which I’ll describe in a minute and to prove to you it’s not too technical and heavy, we shoot the breeze like you would not believe, on such lovely topics such as: dogs licking bottoms, American and Scottish words, camping, leaving mayonnaise on the bus, we’ve even Google Earthed each other’s homes, not to mention the fact one of us (not me!) attended from the comfort of their own bed.
What are the benefits?
Because the relationship is authentic and real the rest of the mastermind group have no hesitation in questioning an idea, a thought, a plan, a goal, a piece of work I’m doing, and vice versa. For me, the mastermind supports me, my business and calls me to task on all my (business) crap.
No, not at all, not if the relationships within your mastermind are built on respect, trust, honesty, support and genuineness from the start.
Do you need an agenda?
Well, when The Ladies and I first got together we were very “business-busy”. For us, it’s laughable now, but we even had a written agenda (which some masterminds always have but for us it didn’t work, again the choice of the group) and before we started we created a survey answering why the hell we want to hook up every week without fail.
The official agenda no longer exists, yet we still cover:
- What we’re struggling with and where we need input
- Where we need help, ideas, suggestions
- What’s working and what’s not
- What we’re working on
- What are our goals
- What we’ve learned
- Complete nonsense and rants
Our mastermind carries on throughout the week, quick check-ins and how are you doings. It’s not just those hours sitting with wee headphones on looking like an ex-employees for the Starship Enterprise, the support is there all the time.
The Right Mix
On that last point, the people you mastermind with have to be the ‘right’ group of people for you. Starting a group with people that just don’t ‘feel’ right is not such a great idea, people hold back because they don’t feel safe.
You don’t have to be best-buddies, nor do you all have to be in the same field or at the same level of competence, a mix can be good.
How do you find people? That’s coming in the resources below.
What’s In It For You?
We work in very different fields, which is a massive plus. All too often we small and solo business owners aren’t willing to step out from our own field, have a nosey and learn from other areas, then perhaps apply what’s working over there in our own business.
Whatever the focus of the mastermind, there is always the opportunity to learn from ‘how others do it’.
Getting over stopped:
We’ve all been there, being too close to our own work we can’t see alternatives. When sharing with others they can hear what you are saying, pick up what you’re not saying and then ask you powerful questions you have forgotten to ask yourself.
We all don’t think in the same way, so on a mastermind someone may have the suggestion or idea that for some reason you weren’t seeing yourself.
The support, relationship and connection:
Vital to all of us, especially solo business owners. Before my masterminds (I’ve been in three) this was a real concern of mine. Sure connection was happening via social media and live networking events, but a great mastermind goes much deeper.
When the initial ‘norming and forming’ was done the real truths came out, to know ‘you’re not alone out there’ is priceless.
Each week, we state what we will be working on for the week ahead and we set ourselves short term goals. To turn up the next week and say, ‘I didn’t do it’, urgh.
When we work alone, one of the biggest lessons I think we have to learn and maintain is to hold ourselves accountable, to take ownership and control of what we are doing, when we are going to do it by and get it done. Telling people you’re going to do something by a certain date adds to the urgency. See, we’re growing together, I sure as hell don’t want to be the one to let the side down.
Other ways of doing things:
I believe, what a mastermind shouldn’t be is a group coaching call, a mastermind is a collection of brains, not one brain coaching 4/5/6 other brains.
Imagine the power of all the ideas, suggestions, advice and tips coming from all those brains? If you need a coach, don’t substitute a mastermind in it’s place, as they are very different.
You may have great friends, a loving family, a supportive significant other, the cat doesn’t count (they rule you) and the dog couldn’t care less. But, do you have someone who has no secret agenda?
I have a supportive partner, no question about it. But they have a secret agenda, and rightly so: we agreed to share our lives, if I’m struggling with an idea or a thought, they will (because they love me) try and fix it.
My family is supportive, but they haven’t really got a clue what I do for a living, their secret agenda is they just want me to be happy.
With the ‘right’ people in your mastermind genuine support with no secret agenda is on tap. They care about you enough to not wrap you in cotton wool. They care about you enough to call you on your stuff.
Does that mean you need a thick skin? No, however my advice is be willing to share honestly and openly, that does require bravery because sometimes you have to expose all those vulnerabilities and fears.
How to Set Up Your Mastermind Group
I’m sending you away now around the web because there are great resources to be had.
She has a great free ebook over on The Success Alliance on How To Create and Run a Mastermind Group (you’ll need to give an email address), can I say that I do recommend Karyn and trusted her with mine.
Karyn also runs classes for Starting Up Your Mastermind Group.
I shot her an email before publishing this post (mainly to warn her I was linking to her website and to double check she still runs the workshops) the classes are for small and solo business owners, personal groups, non-profits and corporations.
If you want to head over there, here’s a few popular posts that Karyn (thank you Karyn) put together for you (and me):
2. Although the contest is over, there is a great video over on Jennifer Loudens website (it’s an interview with Danielle La Porte) on masterminding, or ‘Brain Trusts’ as Jennifer calls them.
The biggest takeaway from the video I got was ‘connecting with people who meet you on a soul level‘, agree the love has to be there. Here’s the link to the video on Jennifer Loudens website or watch it on Danielle’s
3. Over on Jack Canfields website The Success Principles download the Mastermind Planning Guide, no sign up required, click the link and the workbook will open in a pdf. Personally I prefer Karyns, there’s a lot more information and detail, but Canfields includes a nice template.
4. Join meetup.com and search for groups in your area.
Not technically a ‘mastermind’, however you never know who you’re going to meet and where relationships can take you.
Meetup is free to join, but some groups may charge, or heck, start your own (fees are about £80 for the year to have your own group) and bring together you’re own masterminds.
Are you part of a mastermind group? What’s the biggest positive? Have you any questions, just pop them below and I’ll try answer them for you. What area of your life would you love to create a mastermind around?