Tips and techniques

What is a mastermind group (and how to start one)

Ben Crothers Ben Crothers • 25 May 2022

Genuine career boosts don't come along very often, but here's why joining a mastermind group has ticked all the boxes for me.

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Have you ever tried a mastermind group? 

I joined a mastermind group recently, and I've been blown away by how effective it is. I wish I'd found this group (and the mastermind format) years ago! It's turning into a vital part of my professional growth and business health.

What is a mastermind group?

A "mastermind' is essentially a forum where each person shares a challenge they are trying to tackle, and everybody else offers ideas and advice to solve that challenge. Trivia: the term was coined by Napoleon Hill back in 1937, in his book Think and Grow Rich. The most famous mastermind group is probably "The Inklings', an authors' group with members like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Owen Barfield. 

Sharing collective experience and genius is great. Growing in your own professional development is great. And the trust, safety, camaraderie and connection with like-minded people you build is greater still.

The group I'm in is all about helping each other grow and manage our own businesses in various ways. We tackle everything from which opportunities to focus on, to how to hire and grow employees, to how to sell more books.

We have each others' backs, and there are no political or power relationships going on. I love it!

How to do a mastermind group

Sounds great, right? Here's how to set one up:

  1. Choose the members wisely - not too many! I've found up to 6 works well (see why below). Make sure everyone is of roughly equal seniority level and experience, and relate on a professional and personal level.
  2. Set the expectations up front - decide a "social contract' together for how often to meet and for how long, and how to behave together
  3. Choose a leader - you'll need someone who will keep things organised, send out the invitations, remind everyone of the social contract, and keep everyone on time and on topic
  4. Choose a structure - there are lots of structures around, but an easy effective one is the Hot Seat format. Each person gets 1 minute to talk about a challenge they'd like help with, and then everyone else gets 8 minutes to share ideas and advice, before moving on to the next person. So, 6 people can comfortably all get value out a 1-hour session.

A picture describing the mastermind hot seat format

Where to find your mastermind group members

  • Think about the people you already know, who have lots of great advice and experience to share in areas you're interested in, who you trust
  • Ask them if they'd be interested in joining a mastermind group to meet for an hour, say, once a month
  • Ask them if they know of others who fit the same kind of criteria, and invite them

Your mastermind group could be internal to the organisation you work in, but I strongly suggest creating one where everyone is from different organisations. It's well worth giving it a go. As entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, "You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with".

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