In a recent episode of Focused, my co-host David Spark & I interviewed Laura McClellan (a.k.a. The Productive Woman). It was a fun conversation, and one of the things we hit on was the topic of mastermind groups. I’m a big fan of mastermind groups, and a member of one myself. But for someone new to the idea I can see how the idea would be pretty intimidating, so I wanted to share some thoughts on how you can get your own mastermind group started.
Who should I invite to my mastermind group?
This is the first obvious question you’ll need to answer. And the truth is, a mastermind group is not for everybody. Just one person who isn’t a good fit can drain the life from the entire group. In order for your group to be successful, you need the right kind & mix of people.
Here’s my short list of things to look for in the people you invite to your mastermind group:
- Growth Mindset – This is a MUST. The whole purpose for the mastermind group is to challenge each other to get better and hold each other accountable. If the people in your mastermind group are not looking to improve themselves, a mastermind group is a waste of their time (and ultimately a waste of everyone else’s time that’s involved).
- Committed – The people you invite to your mastermind group must be all in with the idea. The goal of a mastermind group is to push you towards achieving your personal or professional goals, so if you have people who aren’t committed in your mastermind group they won’t follow through on what they say they will do (and pretty soon no one else will, either).
- Relatable – You don’t have to be BFFs with everyone in your mastermind group, but you do need to be able to relate to them. Can you see yourself spending non-work time with them? Do you have similar interests, passions, hobbies, or experiences?
The people you invite to your mastermind group do NOT have to be just like you! While many mastermind groups do center a specific topic (like Laura’s writing mastermind), the more diverse your group is the broader the perspective you’re able to get will be. I’ve benefitted immensely from older members of my mastermind group sharing their insight & wisdom into my situation based on their experience.
Should we meet in person or virtually?
A mastermind group can be held either in-person or virtually. Not being able to meet in person is a common excuse for people to not join a mastermind group. But the truth is that a virtual mastermind group can be just as effective. My mastermind group meets in-person about once a month, although I often wish we were able to connect more often and technology like Zoom makes that pretty easy.
One advantage of going with a virtual group is that it is easier to connect with people who would be good mastermind group members because you’re not limited by physical location. In fact, in the episode David and I shared briefly about how cool it would be if Focused listeners started connecting on the forum to start their own mastermind groups. You really just need 4-7 people who are looking to improve themselves and are willing to hold each other accountable to what they say they are going to do.
How do I run my mastermind?
Running a mastermind doesn’t need to be complicated. Here’s what the meetings typically look like for my mastermind group:
- Check In (25m) – Each person in the group (we have 5) gets around 5 minutes to share how they’re doing and any big news around things that have happened since the last meeting. Since our group is focused on implementing the 12 Week Year, we use this time to share if we’re still on track or where we’ve fallen off the wagon.
- Deep Dive (30m) – There are also a couple of slots set aside (around 15 minutes each) for mastermind members to claim ahead of time. These Deep Dive slots can be used to either share a specific problem they’re having and solicit feedback from the group, or to teach something cool that they believe the group would be interested in. For example, I used one of these sessions to explain what I learned from my Kolbe assessment results.
- Schedule Next Meeting (5m) – We don’t always get to schedule the next meeting before everyone leaves, but when we do it makes it much simpler.
We’re all pretty busy, so we try to keep our meetings to roughly an hour in length. You could obviously go longer if you wanted (which would give you more time to dive into specific issues), but you don’t have to. You also don’t have to do the tradition “hot seat” method where one person shares and then everyone else speaks to them for the next 20 minutes. Although a lot of value can come from these hot seat sessions, they can be intimidating – especially for people who are new to mastermind groups.
Here are a couple other things you should keep in mind when setting up your mastermind group:
- Keep your group fairly small. – Many people say the ideal size of a mastermind group is about 4-7 people. You want your group small enough to be close and personal, but large enough to solicit a variety of perspectives and opinions.
- Set the ground rules early. – These don’t have to be complicated, but it is important that you set the expectations at the very beginning. For example, when and where will you meet? How long will your meetings last? People need to know what they are signing up for.
- Have a clear agenda for each meeting. – You don’t have to follow the agenda I shared exactly, but it is important that the agenda is agreed upon and shared publicly. This makes it much easier for the members to provide value to each other because the know the parameters and boundaries for the meeting.
- Be open and honest. – It can be intimidating to share personal details with a mastermind group, but remember that everyone in the group is there to help you. And they can’t do that effectively if you hold back. Ultimately, you will get out of your mastermind group what you put into it.
- Give more than you take. – One of the major advantages of joining a mastermind group is to get help in overcoming your own challenges, but it is just as important that you selflessly try to help your other mastermind group members do the same.
Joining a mastermind group was one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made. More than once the people in my mastermind group have been a huge help in a time of crisis. They allowed me to see my situation clearly by pointing out my blind spots and giving me great advice on how to navigate difficult situations. I can’t recommend mastermind groups enough, and I hope this post helps you get started with your own.