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1 + 1 = 86 or the collective brainpower of a mastermind group

Imagine surrounding yourself with a small group of trusted advisors whose main purpose is to help you in every aspect of your business. A group that is dedicated to assist each member raise their own bar, address their business challenges, brainstorm new ideas and discuss topics in areas such as leadership, marketing, technology, entrepreneurship, legal, financial and others. That group is probably easier to assemble then you ever thought possible.

I formed my first mastermind group with two successful, talented and bright individuals that I met at the Million Dollar Consulting College held in Boston last year. We’ve been working together for over a year, sharing and solving challenges while focusing on helping each other. We hold a phone conference about once per month and even had the chance to get together in person several times for a full day’s brainstorming session. The critical point is to find the individuals who create the “right mix” of intelligence, profession and experience. You may consider attracting individuals that are in your line of expertise, a group of experts that focus on: technology or marketing or strategy or perhaps a mastermind group of CEOs in one particular vertical distribution market such as restaurant supply. On the other hand, you may consider attracting individuals whose professional focus is quite different from yours.

To create or join a mastermind group, send an email or preferably call the person you would like to join your group. You may have heard of them, read their articles or books, have seen them on TV, heard them on the radio, found them on the web, or met them in person in one of your industry conferences. When contacting them, introduce the concept of forming an elite mastermind group devoted to help its members, and explain why you have selected them to join your group. Suggest a trial period of perhaps one to three sessions to decide whether or not this group generates great value for all attending members.

As far as the optimum size of your mastermind group, my advice is to aim for three and six participants. Keep in mind that the more participants, the more possible exchange of ideas from various members, yet coordinating efforts and giving each member enough time to discuss their issues and provide their feedback, may be quite challenging. Once you have assembled your group, schedule your conference calls at times that are acceptable and honored by all members. Ours have been on the average of one per month and at times more frequent as necessary. Once trusting relationships have been created, members will probably solicit personal help from one another.

When showing up for the meeting, there are two discussion formats you may want to consider. The first format, which may be slightly more rigid, is allocating an equal time for each participant. As an example, if you have three total participants in your group and you have scheduled one hour, each member gets exactly 20 minutes to discuss their issues. As they discuss their challenges and successes, the others may provide their honest feedback as they see fit which will probably generate additional creative thoughts for discussion ideas. The second format allows each member to “jump in” whenever they want and discuss their ideas. I’ve used both formats and personally prefer the second more flexible approach although both have been very successful for me.

For initiating the phone conference, I use “Totally Free Conference Calls” Phone: 218-936-1100 which allows each one of us
to call this number for free. I have no financial interest in this service which allows you to setup your own account very easily.

Additional points for consideration:

  • Be on time for all conferences. Your group will get quite irritated showing up for the phone conference and having to wait for others to show up.
  • Elect one member as the group administrator who coordinates meetings and sends email reminders.
  • Acceptance and rejection of future participants. What are the requirements and how will that decision be made.
  • Expelling members. What must happen to consider such action and how will it be done.
  • Consider creating and sharing an agenda prior to the call which will stimulate ideas before your conference starts.
  • After the conference call, email each other your biggest take-away items from the call. This will recap the discussions and will further stimulate ideas.

If you are interested in creating an environment that enables you to get the gift of answering your tough business challenges, stimulating your mind with new ideas, helping others while creating close relationships with smart trusted advisors that hold each other accountable, mastermind group is a vehicle you ought to consider. For me, as long as the feedback I get pushes me outside my comfort zone or
gives me good ideas I have not thought about, I am delighted to show up. When that stops, I am out of there.

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