A mastermind is a group of individuals who support and learn from each other. In the best mastermind groups, you’ll find exceptional, highly motivated leaders who solve problems together, share advice, and push each other to achieve massive success.
Masterminds are sometimes referred to as peer advisory boards, since members effectively serve as a personal board of advisors for each other. Members hold one another accountable, review each other’s work, serve as a sounding board, and help each other make the most out of business opportunities.
The term “mastermind” came from Napoleon Hill’s books in which he documented the rise of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie rose from poverty to become the richest man in the world. Carnegie said that his business was ruled by a “master mind,” which he defined as “the sum total of all these minds that I have gathered around me.” To Carnegie, he succeeded because he was able to operate his business with a group of minds rather than just his own. He credited the “master mind principle” as the #1 key to his success.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some famous masterminds, outline 12 key benefits of participating in a mastermind, provide information to help you decide whether a mastermind is a good fit for you, and then share details about the Deliberate Directions online mastermind and local mastermind programs.
The idea of pooling many minds into one “master mind” has a long history. Andrew Carnegie believed the idea is as old as the Bible. He pointed out that Jesus’s 12 disciples demonstrated how a group could coordinate their knowledge and effort to work toward a common purpose. From ancient times to present, masterminds have been a consistent theme among the world’s most successful people.
In 1727, 21-year-old Ben Franklin wanted to connect and learn from his friends in various fields as a group rather than meet them on an individual basis. With a group of 12 men, he formally started the Junto Club. The club met Friday evenings for the next 38 years. Franklin took it upon himself to lead meetings, at first in a tavern and later a house. To facilitate, he put together a series of provocative questions to encourage productive conversation. The club produced excellent results. Club members supported each other as members launched a volunteer fire-fighting force, the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Hospital, and the first prominent American library. Club members credited the support they received from each other as a major factor in their accomplishments.
In 1944, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and naturalist John Burroughs set out to improve the travel experience and safety on America’s road. The group began a series of annual road trips, which continued for over 10 years. The road trips usually lasted two weeks and provided a chance for the group to unwind and learn form each other. They called themselves “The Vagabonds.”
In a modern example, Pixar began an experiment in the 1990s to see if they could reinvent animated movies. For years, studio executives passed mandatory notes to directors. These notes were intended to ensure success, but they often resulted in bland formulas. Pixar threw out this traditional system, and instead formed an internal Brain Trust of writers and directors who gave notes on each other’s projects in a peer-to-peer format. Directors were free to pick and choose the advice to follow. They were, however, expected to iterate based on feedback and return on a regular basis with new drafts of their storyboards that resolved the issues the Brain Trust had identified. This system led the Pixar directors to create stories that were unconventional but that still resonated with a mass audience.
Key Benefits of Participating in a Mastermind
Think and Grow Rich states that a peer advisory board has both an economic and psychic advantage. Napoleon Hill writes, “This form of cooperative alliance has been the basis of nearly every great fortune. Your understanding of this great truth may definitely determine your financial status.”
Next, we’ll break down the 12 key benefits of participating in a mastermind to show how you can achieve the economic and psychic advantages that Napoleon Hill describes.
1. You’ll Share Challenges and Successes
It’s easier to overcome challenges when you have the support and council of people you respect. It’s also more rewarding to celebrate your wins with people who truly appreciate your milestones. Humans are wired to connect with a tight nit group, share our experiences, and serve each other. In Seth Godin’s words, we long to contribute our individual “gifts” with members of a “tribe.”
The benefits begin with the process of sharing. Sharing requires that we define what problems we want to solve, break them down into individual parts, find what parts are within our control, define what factors control those parts, and then identify what actions we need to take to create change. In the busyness of day-to-day business, it can be hard to find time to think through complex problems in this way!
While some are successful with journaling or talking over issues with a coach, the experience of sharing with a group can be even more productive since you’ll receive questions and feedback from 5-10 minds instead of just yourself or a single advisor. If you’ve ever wished for a group of supporters who you could talk to about your business in depth, look no further than a quality mastermind.
2. You’ll Get Instant, High-Value Feedback
Have you ever spent a year following a strategy, only to realize that there was a better approach all along? Have you ever been sold on a solution by a video or online recommendation, only to learn that the system had serious defects?
As a leader, it’s easy to get isolated in your business. No one is quite looking out for your interests like you are. Unfortunately, you pay a high price and an even higher opportunity cost to solve each problem in your business when you’re working alone.
You can minimize the time you spend working unproductively by listening to feedback on a regular basis. A good mastermind group allows you to get honest advice from accomplished business leaders. Over successive meetings, your mastermind group can help you refine each part of your personal and business strategy. Your advisory board can also give you personal feedback when you need it most to improve your energy, focus, and results. Well informed and well timed feedback will enable you to correct course much faster than you possibly could in isolation.
Good feedback isn’t always easy to come by. Advice from a spouse, boss, or co-worker can be clouded with judgement, undue negativity, self-interest, lack of interest, or blind support. In contrast, advice from your mastermind “board of advisors” will generally focus on productively and positively moving you forward toward your goals.
3. You’ll Get New Ideas and Insights.
When you need to brainstorm, your mastermind can help you generate ideas. Each group member will approach a brainstorming session with a unique perspective and set of past experiences. This diversity of thought enables you to explore angles you otherwise might miss.
You can expect to learn specialized information from leaders within your group, find opportunities to improve your company’s systems, get ideas that will help you tap into new revenue opportunities, and gain insights that will help you become a better leader.
In the brief minutes when you receive critical feedback, you can benefit from skills and specialized knowledge that other group members took years to acquire! To ensure this happens, most mastermind facilitators will aim to group people with similar experience levels but diverging areas of expertise. Before joining any group you should determine how the facilitator chooses group members. Make sure it’s a process that is conducive to collecting individuals with diverse backgrounds and skillsets.
4. You’ll Get Help Making Timely Decisions.
Your advisory board support structure is particularly valuable when you need to make a timely decision.
Most mastermind groups include a dedicated portion of each meeting where members can bring up any matter that they could use input on. During this time you can get advice on anything from a new logo to a new hire, new goal or new investment.
5. You’ll Collaborate and Synergize
Often business owners in a mastermind group will find some opportunities to work together and support each others’ business goals.
A mastermind group is an opportunity to:
- Leverage the talents of people in your group.
- Find mutually beneficial business opportunities.
- Share resources to reduce business expenses.
- Exchange referrals.
- Collaborate on joint ventures.
You don’t want to go into a mastermind group expecting a referral or collaboration. The point of an advisory board is not to create a referral network. The point is to exchange advice and form a “master mind” that is more powerful than any single mind in the group. Still, as you build mutual understanding and appreciation for your group members and their businesses, finding opportunities to support each other can be a natural outcome.
Most mastermind facilitators will aim to group people in businesses that are sufficiently close so that members can relate to and help one another, but not so close that any members will feel that they are in competition. At Deliberate Directions we take precautions to make sure we find this fit among group members, and we’re particularly proud to have seen numerous collaborations and synergies come out of our mastermind groups.
6. You’ll Improve Your Business by Thinking Bigger
For many business executives, a mastermind group doesn’t just help them achieve their current business goals. It leads them to expand their vision for the future!
A good mastermind group should help you focus on the “big picture” of your business and career. If you’re an entrepreneur, your group’s outside perspectives can be a tremendous asset. Their viewpoints and suggestions can help you design a more efficient, profitable, and valuable business that you could ultimately sell if you choose.
7. You’ll Get Ahead of Your Competition
Will Rogers said that a person learns in two ways, “one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.”
With rapid technological change, effective strategies can appear and disappear in a few years time. Tactics can change from working to not working even faster. By the time something has been blogged about or documented in a book, it might no longer work.
A mastermind group can help you stay ahead of your competition. When your group members share their experiences, it’s an opportunity for you to get insights into what is working, what isn’t working, and why. You can leverage this information to make wiser decisions for your own company. In some cases you might realize that a tactic just doesn’t deliver a great return on investment, and you can save yourself the trouble of investing your time in it. In other cases, you might identify an opportunity that is working in someone else’s niche that might also work in yours.
8. You’ll Create New Opportunities by Growing Your Network
A mastermind can give you access to people you otherwise would not have access to.
People in mastermind groups take networking very seriously. They’re likely to have a strong rolodex of contacts and resources, and a habit of providing value where they can to serve people in their network. This combination makes for powerful business allies!
Be generous about sharing your contacts during your mastermind sessions, and you’ll soon find that your group members are also open to doing the same for you.
9. You’ll Achieve Goals and Solve Problems in Your Business
It’s common to experience fear, anxiety, and procrastination when budding problems are left unsolved. A mastermind will help you get ahead of situations like this before they become stumbling blocks. By verbalizing challenges you face, dissecting them, and talking them through with your group members, you’ll confront issues before they can induce serious anxiety.
A mastermind group typically allows you to discuss the top challenges in your business on a regular basis. In our Whetstone High Performance group, our members meet weekly and are encouraged to discuss challenges they see on the horizon.
To get the most out of your mastermind group, write down a set of goals you want to accomplish in the quarter or year ahead, as well as a list of problems you want to solve. This will help you get clear on what you want to accomplish and it will help your group members understand how they can best support you. Your mastermind facilitator should engage with you to understand your list so that the mastermind can help you achieve your goals.
10. You’ll Accelerate Growth Through Accountability
People who are attracted to mastermind groups care deeply about helping other motivated people to succeed at their goals. This results in a high level of support and accountability.
Accountability is the #1 way to push yourself to strategize your business, accomplish your daily tasks, and continue learning to further your growth.
There are three levels of commitment:
- a commitment you make to yourself
- a commitment you share with at least one person
- a commitment you share directly to a group you respect
A lot of people operate on commitments they make to themselves, or that they share with just one other person. Results are scattered since these commitments are easy to break.
When you make conscious commitments to a group you respect, you’re far more likely to meet your milestones. The stakes are simply higher when you want to continue winning the approval and respect of your peers. It can also be more fun! It’s inspiring to know that you have an advisory board rooting for you to succeed and willing to do what they can to position you for success.
11. You’ll Supercharge Your Energy
There’s no doubt that one of the best advantages to participating in a mastermind group is the energy that you can get from engaging with your group members. A great mastermind session can give you renewed focus and enthusiasm to face your week’s challenges and opportunities.
Many mastermind members look forward to sharing their weekly wins with their group. For some, it’s the highlight of their week! Just knowing that a community supports your achievements (and wants to hear about them) can be enough to help you create a positive frame of mind and enjoy a boost of energy.
Likewise, knowing that you can share difficulties with your group can stave off feelings of anxiety or isolation. Navigating challenges with an advisory board is a surefire way to make your problems seem smaller. At the very least, you’ll aways know your not alone.
It’s worth noting that entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and mood disorders than employees working 9-to-5 jobs. Running your own show can result in higher highs, but also lower lows. Every entrepreneur’s journey has rocky moments, and stress can easily undermine your performance if you don’t manage it.
A mastermind group should tap into the benefits of building community. Simply sharing with and supporting a group has enormous benefits for your mental health and energy levels. Sharing with others stimulates hormones that help us feel great (endorphins), positive (serotonin), motivated (dopamine), and connected (oxytocin). Of course, for bonds to be effective you need to relate to the other people in your group. This is one of the reasons a mastermind is so effective. A good facilitator should pair group members who are at a similar stage of business so that members can relate to each other as they face similar adversities in their businesses.
12. You’ll Develop Winning Habits
Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
A mastermind group is an excellent opportunity to develop both personally and professionally. You’ll intuit new habits simply by observing how your peers think, speak, and act.
Of course, people will have a mix of strengths and weaknesses. You might admire the way one member actively listens or the way another analyzes a problem. On the other hand, you might notice one member overworking one month only to burn out the next. Fortunately, both the positives and the negatives present valuable learning opportunities that you can use to fine tune your own approach to life and business.
Some of the most important habits you’re likely to develop are the habits of giving and sharing feedback. Mastering these will help you to be a more effective leader to the people in your organization.
Should You Invest in a Mastermind?
A mastermind is a time and financial commitment. Usually a group requires about 3 hours per month of time, and $250-1,000 per month in membership fees.
You can get around a financial commitment by putting together a group independently and choosing one member to facilitate meetings. This is a great option for college students or people who might need to use debt to afford membership fees.
Most of the time, people end up joining a paid group. They find that it is worth the investment for an experienced facilitator to vet applicants, put together a high quality group, lead meetings, and handle logistics. A professional facilitator frees up the group members to focus on their businesses rather than the mechanics of organizing and running meetings and maintaining an engaging atmosphere.
If a mastermind program you’re looking at costs $7,000/year, ask yourself what outcome would make the investment worth it to you. Would two extra clients be enough to give you a return on your investment? Would solving two headaches in your business be enough? Another way to look at this is to assess the cost of your biggest mistake in the last year. If having better counsel could have prevented that mistake, would it be worth the cost of the mastermind group you’re considering?
With a strong enough group, you’ll not only be able to grow your business and streamline your processes, you’ll also tap into the many other benefits outlined here.
Is Whetstone High Performance Right for You?
Apply today to join our quarterly online mastermind group.
We offer a 12-week mastermind group at a cost of $1,699/quarter. It’s a contract-free program with a money-back guarantee. If your experience is less than what you expected, you can get a full refund for the current quarter plus any future quarters that you might have prepaid.
Our groups use virtual meeting rooms through Zoom so that people anywhere in the world can join. Each group meets for 60 minutes once a week and is limited to just 5 business leaders. A Whetstone facilitator leads each session. As part of the group, you’ll get to participate in sounding board (“hot seat”) sessions, share regular progress updates, complete accountability checks to stay on track, and plan your quarterly and weekly goals with collaboration from your group and facilitator.
Learn more about our local mastermind group based in Boise, Idaho.
Deliberate Directions also offers in-person mastermind groups at our office in Boise, Idaho. If you’re located in Eagle, Meridian, Boise, or the Treasure Valley, this is a wonderful way to make connections with high-achieving local business owners and executives.