Direct Marketing Article
Create a Mastermind Group that Works for You
By Joelle Jay, Ph.D.
You know the scenario all too well: You're facing a stressful challenge at
work, and you're struggling to come up with new, fresh, and creative ideas
to solve the issue. Nothing you think of on your own seems right. You're too
close to your own challenge to create an innovative solution. Frustrated by
your lack of creativity, you decide to sleep on the problem yet another
night, hoping the answer will come to you tomorrow.
Now imagine that same scenario, but this time you have two or three other
people dedicated to helping you work it out. They listen to your questions,
they offer their advice, and they help you find solutions. Then, when your
problem is resolved, you turn and listen to theirs. This is the essence of a
A mastermind is a small group, usually three to five people, of dedicated
peers who share and support each other through the challenges of life and
leadership. It provides a mutually beneficial source of inspiration,
information, and collaboration for all of its members. Far more than a
typical network, a mastermind is your inner circle-your "A" team.
Realize that a mastermind is very different from a networking group, a
professional association, or a common interest group. While these types of
groups serve important purposes for leaders, that's not the focus of a
mastermind. Rather, a mastermind is a group so cohesive that the members
operate as one, focusing exclusively on the needs of one member at a time,
and then another, and then another.
Masterminds can be as varied and extraordinary as the leaders themselves.
For example, one group might consist of three consultants who meet once a
week for an hour to grow their businesses, while another group might include
six investors who meet once a month for an hour to make investment
decisions. Another could involve seven small-business CEOs who meet once a
quarter for two hours to set goals, or five executive officers who meet
twice a year for a full day to strategize, or even eight
former-businesswomen-turned-"mompreneurs" who meet on an ongoing basis via
phone and email to answer questions and share resources.
Many leaders thrive with the support of their masterminds. They discuss
business results, leadership challenges, goals and visions, individual and
organizational strategy, and more. The support is practical, personal, and
tailored to each member's unique characteristics and concerns.
If creating a mastermind sounds like just what you need to take your
business or career to the next level, consider the following six steps of
1. Mindmap It.
Brainstorm. What do you hope a mastermind will help you do? Provide
objective advice? Be a sounding board? Hold you accountable? Having a good
sense of what you want from the group will help you create it. Put your
ideas onto the page in any order-a mindmap-just to explore the
2. Arrange It.
Who will help you achieve your purpose? The most important element of a
mastermind is the people. Arrange the mastermind so it's made up of the most
powerful team. As you consider the possibilities, remember to look for
people who are different from you. Diversity is one of the advantages to a
mastermind. Your mastermind will help best if their perspective is different
3. Suggest It.
Once you have some names, extend the invitation. A phone call, an email, a
meeting, a conversation over lunch-however is most comfortable for you,
share your idea about the mastermind and see who's interested. Not everyone
understands what a mastermind is, and not everyone wants to join one. That's
okay. You're not looking to strong-arm anyone; you're looking for people who
are drawn to the idea. A mastermind that doesn't form naturally can be
difficult to sustain. Take it easy. Float the idea. See what the response is
and move forward with the partners who emerge.
4. Try It Out.
Once you have found people interested in joining your mastermind, get
together. Hold an informal meeting to get to know more about each other and
what your mastermind could be. To get the meeting started, reiterate what a
mastermind is, how you envision it unfolding, what you would hope to get out
of it, and why the people you've invited seem to be a good fit. Then go
around the room one person at a time and see what they think. Here are some
questions to ask:
What interests you about forming a mastermind?
What characteristics would be important to you in this group?
What would you be hoping to achieve?
By the end of the meeting, your goal should be to determine who,
specifically, is interested in formally committing to your mastermind group
at this time. Then you can set a date for your first meeting.
5. Establish It.
The first time your mastermind meets as a group is an important day. You
will be establishing the tone for your time as a team. You will get off to a
good start if you take the time in the first meeting to do it well.
Following a formal agenda will help. Some things to include in your agenda
A welcome message
Who are you, what do you do, and what brought you to this group?
How can this group support you in the best way possible?
What gifts and talents do you bring to this group?
What ground rules would to make our time together worthwhile?
What else do you want us to know?
How often will we meet?
What will the format be?
However you structure your meetings, make sure each member has the
opportunity to discuss their goals, needs, and next steps. With these three
elements, each member is sure to move swiftly in the direction in their
6. Regulate It.
When a mastermind group is planned thoughtfully by people who are dedicated
to each other and their goals, it can be one of the most beneficial forms of
support a leader can get. But masterminds can also get off track. You will
protect the effectiveness of your mastermind by keeping your finger on the
pulse of the value it provides each member with a little self-initiated
At the end of every mastermind-or at least occasionally-go around the table
and ask this question: "On a scale of one to ten, 'one' being low and 'ten'
high, what was the value of today's meeting for you? Why?" Then talk about
it. What would the group have to change to make it a "ten?" What would you
personally have to change?
Assessing your mastermind this way gives members the chance to ask for what
they need from the group and to take personal responsibility for anything
they're doing to hold back the mastermind (and themselves). It also gives
the group the chance to grow and evolve to become the best possible
opportunity for all of the members to get the support they need.
Gain Your Edge
Regardless of your industry, business, or profession, you shouldn't have to
go it alone. Many talented and competent leaders share similar struggles as
you, and they can offer a unique and objective perspective to whatever
challenge you're facing. After all, when it comes to problem solving, two
(or more) heads are always better than one. Ultimately, your mastermind will
help you become a better leader and enhance your quality of life by making
you feel connected to other leaders. When you avail yourself to other people
and think about how you can help them, you will naturally help yourself.
About the Author:
Dr. Joelle K. Jay, Ph. D., is an executive coach and the senior managing
partner of the leadership development firm, Pillar Consulting. She
strategizes with business leaders to enhance their performance and maximize
business results. Her clients include presidents, vice presidents, and
C-level executives in Fortune 500 companies. Joelle is the author of "The
Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership." For a free Sample
Chapter, go to
www.TheInnerEdge.com or email