As I think back on the last year, I am most grateful for the community of people around me…. Specifically, the mastermind group that I’ve been part of.
At any given time, I can pick up the phone and call at least a few dozen people and ask for their opinion or help — and I know that their opinions will come from a genuine, caring place.
There was a time that I was terrified of sharing my goals with anyone for fear of being judged. Through lots of self-development reading and events, I started to understand how important it was to share my ideas with and learn from other people.
When we really got focused on self-development with Millennial Empire Builders, it was amazing to see how many people felt the same way — they had goals that they were too afraid to share because they didn’t want to be judged for them. Through our regular meetings, we all started to open up and think bigger.
I’m not talking about surrounding yourself with a bunch of ‘yes men’.
You know what I’m talking about… The people who just agree with everything you say because they’re afraid of conflict and never give you any real insight.
While the yes men in your life might feed your ego and make your feel all warm and fuzzy, they’ll never push you to grow.
So today, I wanted to share a few tips for organizing your own mastermind group.
If you’re unfamiliar with the the idea of mastermind groups, simply put, they’re basically groups of people who get together to share ideas, push and inspire each other, and hold each other accountable.
1. Structure Your Mastermind Group
The first and most important part of a mastermind group is to determine a structure. Forget about the people right now — you need to decide how you want this mastermind group to run. Once you have the foundation set, it’ll be a million times easier to get everyone else on board. The more that you can make concrete for the group, the more people can envision what it will be like and why they need to be part of it. Don’t make them think too hard… Get the basics organized and if the group decides to change it later, that’s fine too.
In my experience, if you commit to running the mastermind group for a quarter, it’ll be easier to get other people to commit to it too and you’ll only need to come up with seven topics. Each person in the group should be expected to lead one of the topics. It’s important to have an actual structure to your meetings — a designated start and end time and an agenda.
- What type of mastermind will this be – Exchanging referrals, personal growth, accountability or all three?
- How will you meet? – phone calls? Video chat? In person?
- How often will you meet? – weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly?
2. Organize Your Topics
Decide on some topics that you want to discuss. Since you’re the one who’s putting this together, you get to be the visionary here. If you select your topics before you select the people, you’ll get more value out of the mastermind group because you’ll know that you have the right people in place.
Earlier, we talked about how I always do 3-6 months for my mastermind groups. Within each session, I like to have a theme. Our themes go along with our success series and monthly workshops. We’re in our IMPACT series right now which is all about making a difference in the community, so all of the calls are about vision, leadership and time management in the context of being involved in the community.
Make sure that your topics have a logical order to them so that they build on top of each other. You don’t have to get all fancy because the participants will be the ones to take ownership of these, you just want to lay the foundation.
3. Find Your People
Next up, is finding the right people. Once you have a structure and topics, it’ll be easier to sell the idea to other people and they’ll see that you’re serious. I like to keep the masterminds around 6-8 people including me (I like even numbers because you can have accountability partners, which we’ll talk about in just a little bit).
Before you have your first meeting, you need to be really clear on what’s expected of them and how their lack of attendance affects the group. You should also put an attendance policy in place at the beginning. Don’t wait until someone has missed five sessions to try to kick them out… You’ll ruin the integrity of the group and the person will likely get defensive. One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned is “if you tell them before it’s an explanation. If you tell them after, it’s an excuse.”
Make sure the standards are clear up front and hold everyone accountable to them — including you. If you let one person off the hook, it becomes the new standard and everyone slacks off here and there.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your friends may not be the best people for you to invite to the group. Just because you like them doesn’t mean they’re the right people. Up to this point, we’ve spent some time thinking of topics and structure so if you know that your friend is wishy-washy, isn’t coachable, can’t contribute value on the topics you’ll be talking about or is at a lower level than everyone else in the group, it’s not going to work.
You should build an ‘avatar’ or make a list of qualities that you’re looking for in participants and invite people who fit that criteria. If your list isn’t big enough, that’s perfectly ok. Start smaller and ask the people who do fit your criteria who else would be a good fit. That will help you build your community and you’ll be maintaining a high standard for the group.
Never sacrifice your standards…. It never ends well.
When you work backwards, everyone in the group will have a better experience.
4. Lead the Group
When I run my mastermind groups, they’re usually 45 minutes and we make it a mission to start and end on time. If you start slacking off and starting or ending whenever you feel like it, you’ll find that people start to get frustrated and the usually-on-time start to show up late too.
I recommend that you have your group do some sort of pre-call (or meeting) questions prior to the session so that everyone is already in the mindset of whatever you’re talking about. One of the e-courses in the Empire Builder Academy, called Community Builder, will walk you through the entire process of leading this group with examples, systems and tools to use. You can go check it out and get enrolled in the academy for just $1.
During the first 5 minutes, each person shares one of their successes since the last call (and the successes should be related to your commitments from the last call). Next, we’ll talk about the challenges we’ve faced since while pursuing our commitments from the last call. Because these groups should be about 4-6 people, it’s easy for everyone to share theirs in less than 5 minutes.
Next, the presenter will facilitate the conversation since everyone in the mastermind group leads at least one of the calls. The best way to learn is to teach, so make sure that everyone facilitates at least one. They are not making a presentation per say, they’re just directing the conversation by asking good questions and starting the conversation
At the end, we always close the calls with ‘what are you committed to doing in the next two weeks as a result of this meeting/call?’ Everyone shares and that’s what our successes and challenges will be related to during the next call.
I highly recommend that you assign (or let the participants pick) accountability partners. It’s easy to forget what you talked about on the call so having an accountability partner to remind you, keep you on track and keep your head in the right place will add a ton of value to the group.
Lastly, leadership can feel like teaching a pre-school class sometimes. You’ll need to give constant reminders to your members so that you can run an effective group. It’s annoying but it’s necessary. People get busy and they forget.
Since we run our groups on a biweekly basis, our groups have a group chat via text so that they can keep up with each other. The group’s leader (you) are responsible for sending out a reminder about 5 days before the call to the person who’s responsible for leading the call and to send out a reminder to the members the evening before or the morning of so that you don’t have to worry about people forgetting and then having to facilitate the call for them. I learned a lot of this the hard way so don’t cut corners. It’s not worth it.