This week we are going to join the world of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Napoleon Hill, Franklin Roosevelt's and his "Brain Trusts", Andrew Carnegie and the Steel Mill Group, Theodore Roosevelt the Tennis Cabinet Benjamin Franklin and the Junto, and the Vagabonds: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Warren G. Harding, Harvey Firestone. What do all these groups have in common? They are all "mastermind" groups! They all owe their success, in some part, to the mastermind advantage.
What is a Mastermind group and why do you need one?
Masterminds, for all intents and purposes, are peer-to-peer gatherings that are often facilitated by thought-leaders and industry titans.
Although new to many of us, the concept of the "master mind alliance" was introduced by Napoleon Hill in his book from the 1920s, The Law of Success, and expanded upon in his 1930s book, Think and Grow Rich. While Napoleon Hill called it a "master mind alliance," it's been shortened and modernized to "mastermind group."
Mastermind groups have been around since the beginning of time. Even Benjamin Franklin belonged to such a group, which he called a Junto. But it was Napoleon Hill who explained it clearly and encouraged people to gather together in a structured, repeatable environment for the success of all.
Napoleon Hill wrote about the mastermind group principle as: "The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony. No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind [the master mind]."
The perils of business are self-evident. The entrepreneurial fray is such that eight of every 10 businesses flop within the first 18 months of operations. Extend that figure out to 10 years and only 4 percent of businesses survive - that is 4 in 100. Clearly, the odds are stacked up against us in this constant and never-ending struggle to build and scale a company over time without ending up as just another statistic.
Oftentimes, most entrepreneurs are left in the dark. Feeling hopeless, lost and without a sliver of a chance to survive, they give up and throw in that proverbial towel. However, for those that know better, masterminds offer a solace from the torrential onslaught of a cataclysmic financial death. They're a safe haven for those that are looking to learn and expand their skill set, while networking with some of the most influential marketing minds in the world.
Today, mastermind groups offer up a unique reprieve from the norm, a chance to learn from the decades-long successes and experience of their founders, who are more than willing to help put theory into practice for those that have a sense of urgency to take massive action and who are able to pony up a hefty sum. And by hefty sum, I don't say that lightly. Some of the world's best masterminds can run upwards of six figures. Yes, six figures. That's a hard number to swallow for most.
I have been part of a mastermind group, and have run mastermind groups, since 1999. They have profoundly shaped my life and my business, and I'm a successful in business and life because of my participation in mastermind groups.
So, what is a mastermind group exactly?
Mastermind groups offer a combination of brainstorming, education, think tank, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills. A mastermind group helps you and your mastermind group members achieve success. Participants challenge each other to set powerful goals, and more importantly, to accomplish them.
Through a mastermind group process, first you create a goal, then a plan to achieve it. The group helps you with creative ideas and wise decisions-making. Then, as you begin to implement your plan, you bring both success stories and problems to the group. Success stories are applauded, and problems are solved through peer brainstorming and collective, creative thinking.
The group requires commitment, confidentiality, willingness to both give and receive advice and ideas, and support each other with total honesty, respect and compassion. Mastermind group members act as catalysts for growth, devil's advocates and supportive colleagues. This is the essence and value of mastermind groups.
Each meeting has a mastermind group agenda, so that conversations stay on course. The Facilitator is tasked with making sure that conversations are deep and balanced, and that all mastermind group meeting agenda items are covered in the time allotted.
What a mastermind group is NOT
It's not a class. While your group can vote to bring in guest speakers and teachers occasionally, the main focus of a mastermind group is the brainstorming and accountability support among the group members.
It's not group coaching. Mastermind groups are about the MEMBERS sharing with each other, not about the Facilitator coaching individuals in a group setting.
You get everyone's feedback, advice and support. Yes, if the Facilitator is an expert on the topic, by all means chime in. But keep the conversation balanced between all members.
It's not a networking group. While you may share leads and resources with each other, it is not the primary focus of the meetings. However, through your connections with other members, you will find plenty of joint venture opportunities, lead sharing, and professional networking.
Why did I join a mastermind group?
When I was in corporate America, I had a large group of peers and superiors to use as mentors and brainstorm. When I became an entrepreneur, I felt alone in a vast sea of fear. I had no peers with which to discuss ideas, problems and opportunities. Everyone around me day-to-day was my employee or relative. I could not discuss some of my issues as I did not want to alarm my staff or my spouse. When I discussed these things with my "advisors" (lawyer, financial planner, insurance broker, etc) I felt like their answers were prejudiced by weather they could make money on that idea or situation.
What I was searching for was someone who understood the life of an entrepreneur, but could give me an objective opinion not tainted by doing business with them or the future of their paycheck. A friend recommended a peer style mastermind group. I took a look, and my first reaction was "wow, that is expensive". It was a group that met for 6 hours once a month for 10 months of the year. The fee was $10,000 a year. That was steep when I still had times I worried about making payroll.
I thought about it for a couple of weeks, then took the leap. I put the fee on my credit card and hoped I had made the right decision. That ended up being the best $10,000 I have ever spent. It was transformative to my business! I finally had people to talk to about my exit strategy, ideas to morph my business, seek advice on issues I was facing. All from people who cared about me as fellow professionals with absolutely no skin in the game of my business.
But after two years with that group I was looking for something more. I wanted a group that was more like a mentor than a peer. So I began the search for a new mastermind to join. It took about 6 months, but I found a group that was more mature in the lifecycle of their businesses and could act as a mentor group for me. With a more seasoned group, there was also a higher price tag.
I was also with this particular group for two years and they really helped me propel my business. They gave me ideas and suggestions that I would have never thought of on my own. They also pre-cautioned me on some things I was thinking about trying with real world advice on the outcomes when they tried similar things.
I found in these two groups that just one idea or suggestion was worth at least $25,000 to $100,000 to me. Far more than I was spending on my annual membership fee.
But again, after a few years I was looking for something more. I found a group that behaved more like a think-tank than a peer group or mentor group. It met three times a year for three days in various cities around the country. It was a big commitment in both time (3 work weeks a year with travel time) and money. The membership fee was quite high plus the travel expense. I thought about that one for almost a year.
When I finally decided that this was the right group for me I jumped in and was completely changed. Jim Rohn says "you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with" and my new group was smart, cutting edge and real futurists. They looked at business in a way I never dreamed of - and I has always thought I was pretty savvy.
At that point in my life, I was seeking revolutionary change. I was looking to accomplish monumental goals and to take things to the next level. And as I thought about it, all dramatic change distills down into four parts. If you address each of the four parts, you can achieve revolutionary results in any area of your life or business.
Step 1. Where are you?
All change starts with honesty. Where are you right now. You have to be honest. If you're not honest, you're not ready or willing for the change you crave. How can you expect to get to where you're looking to go if you can't be honest with where you are today? Even if this disturbs you, write it down. Be honest. Allow it to upset you if you must. Because, that can create the push or the momentum you need. Remember, even with GPS, you need a starting point.
Step 2. Where do you want to be?
The second step to change is to decide where you want to be. Where are you going? Where do you want your business to be? The problem that I find is that most people are clear on what they don't have, yet lack a crystal-clear vision on where they want to go. Best way to achieve this is to pretend it is one year from today and it was the best financial year of your life. Then, write down what that looks like to you. That'll help create your vision and the direction you need to go.
Step 3. Why do you want it?
No change, whether it be in a mastermind group or on your own, is possible without knowing why you want what you want on the deepest level possible. Your "why" can be more powerful than you can imagine when it comes from your heart and it can be the driving force behind hard days and disappointments. Get clear on why you want something and be sure that it's not just something superficial.
Step 4. How will you get there?
If you know where you are and where you want to go, then what's left is gaining the capabilities to take you there. If you can't outline that, then you'll have a difficult time following through. Make a clear and detailed plan if you're serious about success. Any good mastermind is designed to deliver you the "how" and create your plan for your startup, growth and for scaling profits. Capabilities from those playing at your level or higher is key.
Our meeting really drill down into each of these quadrants. We have speakers and presenters that really make me think about how I can ensure my business remains relevant in today's world. The group is far more diverse that any other I have belonged to and, with that, comes discussion that is both stimulating and thought provoking. I find myself energized and excited each time we meet.
This ultra-exclusive group offers me a rare opportunity for gaining a competitive edge in a marketplace that's constantly expanding. Without understanding the overall mechanics of marketing in today's constantly evolving world, and without having the right tools to implement advanced sales strategies and tactics, most entrepreneurs would remain lost and suffer a slow and steady eventual demise. But now that I know better, these groups give me a chance to exponentially rise above the noise and catapult to the front of the line.
In this, along with the other groups, I have gotten ideas that I use in my own business and my clients business that have netted me more that 5x what the annual fee is each year.
I now lead my own mastermind groups at each level - peer, mentor and think- tank. Each one has a personality of its own. At every level -together we create magic!
What are you looking for? What can a mastermind do for you?
The beauty of masterminds lives in their ability to help its members learn from the collective experience of the group. Not only do the influential leaders help to guide those that are involved, but so do fellow members, who've also struggled and overcome things that other members might be going through at that very moment. It's a rare opportunity for networking and getting one-on-one help at the highest level with the exact people who can deliver the fastest and most proven systems.
Your own trial and error is the old way to succeed and masterminds seem to be eclipsing that at record speed. In fact, many of the leaders of the most successful entrepreneurs today have themselves invested heavily in masterminds before ever starting on their own path. And for good reason. Masterminds offer tremendous results. And some mastermind leaders, l have invested upwards of a million dollars or more over the course of a decade because they realized that it provided a huge platform for growth.
How do you find the right mastermind group?
Mastermind groups are a dime a dozen these days. They seem to have sprouted up all over the place. But, not all of these groups are created equally. While some newcomers to the entrepreneurial world have taken the plunge into creating their own masterminds, not all of them are effective. So, how do you go about finding the right group to fit your needs?
That really depends on where you are in business and in life. Some of the best groups are run by well-respected titans of industry. But, if you don't have the financial wherewithal to join a group like that, then you could simply just find really smart people that are playing the game at a higher level. That's what it takes. But don't simply join a group where you're the smartest person in the room. Rather, join a mastermind where everyone is getting smarter together.
Done right, your own mastermind group is like having an objective board of directors, a success team, and a peer advisory group, all rolled into one.
Whether you find an existing mastermind group to join, or start a group of your own, you'll love what this group process can help you accomplish.
So, how does a mastermind work? What can you expect for your money?
A group of smart people meet quarterly, weekly, monthly, or daily even if it makes sense, to tackle challenges and problems together. They lean on each other, give advice, share connections and do business with each other when appropriate. It's very much peer-to-peer mentoring and if you are lucky enough to get invited to one, you will most likely see a marked change in yourself and your business. In a mastermind group, the agenda belongs to the group and each person's participation and commitment is key. Your mastermind partners give you feedback, help you brainstorm new possibilities, and set up accountability structures that keep you focused and on track. You create a community of supportive colleagues who brainstorm together to move the members to new heights. You'll gain tremendous insights which improve your business and personal life.
Here are some reasons why a mastermind might be right for you:
You'll be part of an exclusive community. Joining a mastermind typically involves you being invited by the members or going through an application process. The other members need you just as much as you need them, so quality of experience and knowledge is crucial to all involved.
Advisement. Once you are involved in a mastermind, that feeling of "being alone" while running your business is gone. The other members of the group turn into business advisors of sorts and vice versa.
Collaboration is the name of the game. You may find someone in the group that is a perfect fit to work on a project with you. Or, you may be the perfect person to help another member as well. The group works together collaboratively, to achieve more together.
Extend your network. Joining a mastermind expands your network exponentially and rapidly. If you are in business, you know how important your network is. By joining a mastermind, you instantly add to your network and typically gain the networks of those in the group with you.
New learning. Everyone in the mastermind is unique in skill, experience and connections. By interacting and sharing your challenges, it's almost certain that someone in your mastermind will have a solution for you and you may also be able to offer a solution, connection or tactic to help another in the group.
Cross-promotion. When you join a mastermind, you will most likely find ways to help each other by utilizing cross promotion. Finding ways to help each other through promoting to your respective networks.
Think bigger. Being in a mastermind will truly give you a Master Mind! You can't help but think bigger and stretch beyond your boundaries when surrounded by amazing people doing amazing things.
Masterminds are incredible and can do wonders for your business as well as for you, personally. Growing in a group is not only more effective, it's quite a bit more fun. So weather you find a group of your own, or contact me to ask about my groups, just find like-minded people to help make you the bet you ever!
Until next week,
April 24, 2018
Join me every Wednesday on my podcast “Unlocking the Secret to Living Rich”. If you have questions or comments you can contact me at my email email@example.com or find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @cindybbrown777
Who is Cindy B. Brown? Cindy is a CPA, MBA, CFO, and board member of public and private companies, business consultant,
entrepreneur coach and a foremost expert in the field of business mastery. Cindy’s purpose is to motivate, educate and inspire people to live their richest life. She is the host of “Unlocking the Secret to Living Rich”.