Are you part of a mastermind group?
Are you feeling that you’re not getting as much out of it as you could – or as you had hoped?
Benefits of “Masterminding”
(Masterminding?! Yes, I just made mastermind into a verb. And with due time, likely so will you.)
But let’s put aside breaking the basics of grammar from middle school and move on to some of the great benefits of masterminding. A well-run, productive mastermind can have many benefits.
It can point you in the right direction. Make better decisions. Make decisions more quickly so you progress and grow your business, career and/or life faster. It can help you get more customers. Therefore it can make you more money.
It can help you be more productive. It can help you focus on what matters – so that you have time for business and for a personal life.
But it can also help you with your own overall well-being by connecting and sharing with others who are also facing challenges in their lives and businesses.
The Problem with Most Masterminds
In this article I would like to assert that most masterminds are leaving quite a bit of value on the table.
What does this mean? Simply put, they are not run as effectively as they could and you, as a participant, are not getting nearly as much benefit as you could.
But before you go further, it’s probably worthwhile to take a step back and ask:
What the heck is a Mastermind?
Just in case you stumbled across this article and you have yet to familiarize yourself with masterminds, I’ll provide a brief explanation.
Simply put, a mastermind is a meeting with your peers in which you discuss ideas while ideally working toward the goal of helping each other address, clarify and solve challenges that arise.
These challenges don’t need to be related to business; however in this article I’m making the assumption that the mastermind is a group of entrepreneurs or business owners. However, it could be for just about anything.
For example, I’ve been a part of men’s groups that simply talk about anything that comes up in life. Thus, when I discuss anything in this article specific to business, feel free to replace that in your mind with any other topic. In the broadest application, you can simply replace it with “life”.
Where do masterminds meet?
The meetings can take place at a physical location if everyone lives in the same area. Or, the trend is increasingly favoring so-called online / remote / virtual meetings that are conducted over the phone and/or video. This can be a good option when people are in remote locations or simply don’t want to have to go somewhere to meet.
So, once again you might be wondering:
What’s the problem again?
I stated above that the problem with masterminds is that there is a lot of value – which often equates to more money, better health, happiness and more – left on the table.
Some of the challenges I’ve seen masterminds face include setting expectations, scheduling, attendance, participation and structure.
It’s likely that mastermind groups are formed with good intentions in mind. However, more often than not, people’s intentions and expectations are not explicitly and clearly stated. These include things like schedule, attendance and structure.
Sometimes scheduling is a problem. If people have conflicts on their calendar then they often will make the mastermind less of a priority – which leads to the next problem.
People simply don’t show up to the mastermind. In today’s world of instant communication, it’s easy to flake at the last minute. You can simply message your group just before a meeting that you’re not going to make it. Worse, you can skip out without notice.
Or people show up late which is problematic because now they are in the dark in terms of what has been discussed during the meeting. Thus, in order to get their valuable input, someone has to reiterate what’s already been said. Or you simply move forward keeping that person in the dark.
Finally, there’s the problem of structure. What I mean here is that there is no specific agenda set for meetings in general, nor during the meetings. This leads to a general lack of focus…
…which, as I mentioned earlier can lead to leaving value “on the table” – in terms of problem-solving ideas that generate more money, better health, happiness, and more.
Of course by now you’re asking:
What, then, is the solution (for better masterminds)?
As you can see from the problems, the solutions will involve setting expectations, scheduling, attendance and structure. But that’s easier said than done.
There is no one right way to go about operating a mastermind. So there are many options. Rather than go over all of the options, I’ll discuss the things you can do to ensure you get a boost in value out of your masterminds.
1 – Set a schedule
Will you meet weekly, fortnightly or monthly? Make sure that everyone agrees to a time (and place, if applicable) that works. What I prefer and think that works well is to meet weekly. That way it becomes more of a habit – vs meeting fortnightly or monthly where it’s easy to forget about meetings.
2 – Set expectations
What does everyone want to get out of the mastermind? It’s worthwhile to ask before things really get going. Here are some questions to ask:
- What makes you interested in joining a mastermind?
- What do you want to get out of the mastermind?
- What value can you bring to the mastermind?
These questions can be asked before you start meetings – by email, e.g. – or they can be questions for your very first meeting.
If you don’t know everyone in the mastermind, it’s worthwhile to ask them who they are and what their purpose is in life.
3 – Create an agenda
This is where many masterminds lose value. Who out of the group will be the center of attention and the topic of conversation – and when? This is often called “being in the hot seat”. There are many ways to divide this up.
You can pick one person for each meeting to be in the hot seat so that you’re all working to address that one person; to hear his challenges; to clarify what he says; and to come up with possible solutions.
Or you can have multiple people in the hot seat during one meeting. That way everyone gets to share challenges they face during every meeting.
4 – Get specific
It’s often valuable to get specific about the agenda for each meeting. If you’re meeting for an hour, for example you could do the following:
- 10 minutes: Ask each person for a quick status update. What have you accomplished? Where are you stuck? And what will you do next?
- 40 minutes: One person goes into detail with his specific situation – ideally a challenge he faces. This can be further divided out:
- 10 minutes: The person in the hot seat answers: What challenge(s) do you want to work on (that we can help you with) today?
- 10 minutes: Everyone in the group goes around to ask questions to clarify the answers and the person in the hot seat can respond. NO SOLUTIONS OR PERSONAL STORIES ARE ALLOWED DURING THIS TIME.
- 10 minutes: Everyone in the group now offers solutions and/or advice to the person in the hot seat. OPTIONAL: The person in the hot seat cannot respond during this time.
- 10 minutes: The person in the hot seat responds and general, unstructured discussion follows
- 10 minutes: Confirm your next meeting with everyone: Date, time, location, who is in the hot seat, who is facilitator.
5 – Put someone in charge
Having someone to facilitate your meetings can be a huge value-add. You can have one person dedicated to the task; or you can rotate responsibilities.
6 – Add it to the schedule and your calendar
Create a “Mastermind Sprint” that incorporates all of the above by setting a meeting for each person in the group and adding it to your calendar.
For example, if you have four people in your mastermind group, you will schedule four meetings for your sprint.
Each meeting you assign someone to be in the hot seat. You also assign someone to facilitate the meeting.
Share this schedule with everyone and make sure everyone agrees.
7 – Don’t give advice or tell stories; Instead ask powerful questions
When someone shares something – especially some kind of challenge they face – often our first reaction is to either offer advice or tell a story related to what was shared.
If this is you then I beg and plead that you HOLD THAT THOUGHT. Instead, think of a question that allows the person in the hot seat to explore further.
Ideally you want the person in the hot seat to find their own solutions. This is far more powerful and effective than simply offering advice; or perhaps worse, telling a story.
You see, when you tell a related story or simply give advice to someone, it’s often out of context. To them it sounds like a good idea. However, the probability that they will actually act on your story or advice is quite small.
On the other hand, when the person in the hot seat comes up with his own solution, he is MUCH more likely to act upon it. Especially if you do your job to hold him accountable.
Here are just a few questions off the top of my head that you can ask:
- What went well that you’re proud of?
- What didn’t go so well?
- What’s getting in your way?
- What’s your biggest frustration with [x]?
- What does that mean to you?
- What will you do next?
- What action will you take?
- When, exactly, will you do that?
- What will that get you?
- How does that get you closer to your goal?
- What is your goal?
- When will you reach that goal?
- What resources – including people – do you have to help you?
- Who will keep you accountable?
- Do you want to hear about what I think you should do?
If the person in the hot seat answers yes to that very last question – or, better yet, asks directly for your unsolicited advice – then, by all means, give them some advice! Now your input should be better received because the person is open to it.
Where do you start?
Hopefully you gained some insight out of the info provided here in the article. But now what do you do? How do you apply this?
The simple answer is to talk with your mastermind group. Share this article with them and come up with a plan. Set a clear schedule and roles.
Ideally everyone in the group shares challenges they face. And everyone in the group has the opportunity to ask questions and share any advice or experience they want to offer.
What works well for your masterminds that you can share?