How to Form a Mastermind Group, and Why You’d Want to
“You are the average of the five people closest to you.” –Jim Rohn
The mastermind group, –It’s the latest buzz word today. If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, chances are high that you’ve heard the term. But what is a mastermind group, really? Often, when things become trendy or commercialized, they end up extremely watered down or twisted in some way, and mastermind groups are no different. A true mastermind group is simply a title we’ve tacked on to a type of purposeful association or friendship that is formed with other likeminded individuals. All of us can and should have these associations in our lives. They help us to nurture and flesh out new ideas, solve problems, and prevent stagnation from setting in where our goals and dreams are concerned.
Mastermind groups help to get things done, to motivate, solve problems, and offer solutions. It is often during mastermind group conversations that fledgling ideas, which were vague or sketchy at best, are shared, volleyed back and forth, and end up taking on a whole new life by the time the meeting has come to an end.
History of Mastermind Groups
Masterminds have been around since, –well, probably since the beginning of mankind itself. Jesus and His disciples were a mastermind group, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were a mastermind. The founding fathers of the United States were a mastermind.
One of the most well known mastermind groups is that of Andrew Carnegie, who began as a poor Scottish immigrant and rose to become the richest man in the world. His beginnings and his “training” are what I find most fascinating about Carnegie. As a teenager, he was offered a job with the O’Reilly Telegraph Company. This was back in 1849. This one opportunity (and you know I always talk about divine opportunities and what we choose to make of them) gave Carnegie a unique advantage in life. It offered him training that you just can’t get from even the best colleges of today.
As a messenger, Carnegie was privy to behind the scenes financial dealings of manufacturers, bankers, and business owners. Paying attention to every detail, Carnegie soon knew more about Pittsburgh’s commercial affairs than anyone. Because of the messages that passed through his hands, he basically read the stories of business success and failures. He could piece together what the cause and effect of every decision was. He knew the credit ratings, the prices and terms, and the orders for goods and services for every major Pittsburgh business. Imagine the wealth of knowledge he had running through his brain. It was like business school on steroids.
By the young age of 17, Carnegie began to surround himself with highly motivated, business minded people who were strong in areas he lacked. The roster of the most famous mastermind group Carnegie was involved in looked like this:
- William Wrigley Jr. (Founder of Wrigley Gum)
- Albert Lasker (Owner of the largest ad agency in the world, Lord & Thomas)
- John Hertz and William Ritchie (Owners of Yellow Cab)
- John Thompson (Owned a chain of lunch rooms)
- Charles Mcculloch (President of Parmalee Transfer Company)
None of these men had an advanced education, yet their combined annual income was equivalent to $269 million dollars in today’s value.
This was hardly Carnegie’s first mastermind group though. Even earlier, Carnegie organized friends into groups and networks that he not only called mastermind groups, but became travel and vacation companions as well.
Thomas Edison did much the same when he teamed up with Harvey Firestone, Henry Ford, Warren G. Harding and Thomas Burroughs. The group would meet regularly, but would also take road, camping trips each year where they would let the great outdoors along with their impromptu wood chopping contests and races naturally fuel their imaginations and inspire them.
C.S. Lewis regularly met (on Thursday or Friday evenings) with JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and Owen Barfield. As Lewis put it, “We meet, theoretically to discuss literature, but in fact nearly always end up talking about something better. What I owe to this group is incalculable.” During the meetings, the members would read passages from their writing while the others in the group would offer ideas and very frank criticism. For Lewis it became a way of life. He met with mastermind groups (especially with Tolkien) for over three decades.
Ingredients of a True Mastermind Group
There are many more groups I could mention, but instead, I want to explain what a mastermind group should look like and how it is formed.
Have you ever met someone who absolutely ignites your creativity when you are together? It’s a spark, a connection. Your conversations quite naturally lean towards ideas, whether they are business endeavors or ways to improve the community or solve a problem. When the two of you get together, it seems like ideas flow naturally and whatever you are lacking, the other person has an answer (and vice versa). You may not always agree, but you prod each other toward achievement. This is the type of person you can build a mastermind group around.
These connections evolve naturally and often come into our lives when we least expect them to.
Yes, mastermind groups can be formed through other means. You could literally place an advertisement for a mastermind group (many do) and call for those who would like to be a part. The only problem you have here is the fact that you will more often than not attract a large group of people who want to “receive” without having anything to “give”. True mastermind groups are win/win situations. They are a gathering of likeminded people whose personalities, talents, and giftings naturally gel together to form a powerful group when together. Most mastermind groups form accidentally. Two get together to work on a project or discuss an idea and they recognize the connection. They continue to meet because they recognize the clear benefit. Along the path of their lives, they may meet others who they know would fit in to this group. Others with that same spark and with knowledge or qualities that would benefit the group and help it to grow. Before you know it, –a mastermind group.
Can you be involved in more than one mastermind group? Of course! A single mother’s church group could be a mastermind group. Single mom’s could get together to share stories, ideas, and encourage each other in all things pertaining to living an abundant, full and healthy life. This same single mom may also be a business owner and regularly collaborate with a group of male and female entrepreneurs.
The size of the mastermind group is up to the dynamics of the group itself, but if you look back through history, the numbers 4 though 12 seem to be ideal and I tend to agree. A small group is more intimate and the members are more likely to share openly. An inventor wouldn’t likely share his ideas with a group of 50, but a tightly knit group of 4? Definitely.
How to Start Your Own Mastermind Group
Why would you want to start or be a part of a mastermind group? According to the great leaders, far more can be accomplished with a group than can ever be accomplished alone:
- Zig Ziglar tells us, “You can get everything you want in life, if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”
- Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, believed that you could examine any outstanding success in finance, business, or any other profession and without fail find the success attributed to an individual who formed a mastermind group.
In a mastermind group, the agenda belongs to the group, but each person’s participation is key. You receive feedback, brainstorm new possibilities, and set up an accountability system that keeps you on track. Your group consists of supportive colleagues who will help move the group to new heights.
Are your wheels turning yet? You could literally form a mastermind group for anything you want to accomplish, –a health and fitness goal, a business goal, an activity to benefit a cause or the community, –the possibilities are endless. Each person brings their own skill set, knowledge, and experience and everyone learns from the perspective of others.
In my own life, the friendships which have turned into mastermind connections have been invaluable. I’ve intentionally surrounded myself with individuals who are goal driven as I am, yet have experience in areas where I’m lacking.
If you’ve got an idea brewing in you or a goal that’s just not making progress, a mastermind group maybe the ideal path to your success. Not only does each individual offer assistance and ideas, but these groups almost always take on a form of “accountability”, whether spoken or unspoken, which is highly conducive to forward progress.
Have you or are you currently involved in a mastermind group? Let us in on your experience and how it’s helped shape the person you’ve become and the goals you’ve accomplished.
If you haven’t done it yet, create a group that other people dream of.
Surround yourself with people who light you on fire. You will fuel one another and the world will be a better place because of it!
Bryan Binkholder is a business advisor, radio personality (The Financial Coach Show), author of The 401K Conspiracy and advocate for change and awareness in the financial services industry. For resources and information on business success and prudent investment practices, we invite you to subscribe to our insightful blog posts. We also offer a full line of free resources, such as the 7 Deadly Traps of Investing on The Financial Coach Show website.