7 tips to start your first mastermind

I’ve been running a Mastermind for the last 6 months now and I spent the Christmas break trying to become a better Mastermind facilitator.

Here are 7 tips I’ve gleaned through my reading and experience with running an effective Mastermind Group.

Mastermind Purpose

Mastermind’s can be started for any purpose. Want to loose weight? A mastermind can help you stay on track (since you’d be reporting progress and setbacks regularly).

The important part is to clearly define the purpose of your mastermind so you can keep things on track. Spending an hour talking about fitness in the middle of your business mastermind group wastes the time of the other members.

It’s not respectful of their time at all.

Of course you’re going to end up talking about some things that aren’t directly related to the group and that’s okay. A bit of banter about things you enjoy in common will help bring the group closer as you get to know each other better.

Having a specific purpose gives the meeting focus.

Interview the mastermind members

Your mastermind shouldn’t just be open for all comers. First off if you have 20 people that want in you’re going to end up with all day meetings. Few people will be willing to actually devote a full day to a mastermind meeting.

More importantly than limiting the number of people is to make sure that they all match up with the mastermind’s purpose. If you’re looking to grow businesses, do you really want to bring someone in that is employed full-time and wants to get out and run their own business?

You may very well want to include a ‘beginner’ that is just starting but you need to be sure that they are actually going to work hard at starting their new business and not just talk about getting out freelancing.

You also probably want to make sure that there is some decent diversity in the mastermind group. Do you only want designers? You might but it’s likely that you will have a bias in ideas.

Maybe make sure that if you have a group of designers that some specialize in print work and some in mobile phone/tablet apps and some in web design.

You can even take the diversity further. How about making sure that you have a designer and developer and someone great at marketing and strategy even a dentist.

Each person is going to approach the issue with a different view and those different views together are going to help you crack the problems in the best way possible.

Three good questions to ask during an interview of potential mastermind members are:

  1. What do you expect to get out of the group?
  2. What do you bring to the group?
  3. What do you see as the purpose of a mastermind group?

Goal oriented

A mastermind is not a time to whine and complain about pitfalls with your clients. You can do that on your own time, and your business will suffer for your negative attitude.

An attitude of complaint will break the group down.

Yes you might have some complaints now and again, but the focus should be informing the group of the struggle of the week with the intent of finding a solution to avoid the issue with future clients.

When there are struggles talk them out and define some goals or sign posts to make sure that you flag projects that show issues early.

You should also be setting goals to accomplish for the next meeting. In my current mastermind group that means setting weekly goals (since we meet weekly).

When we get back together after a week apart we address the goals that were accomplished and were not accomplished. This continued reporting on what’s going on is a great way to stay on task.

Who wants to keep going to a group of peers and continually have nothing done? I certainly don’t and I’ve put in some extra hustle so I could say that my goals were accomplished.

If your mastermind has someone that just keeps not accomplishing their goals I’d suggest putting their feet to the fire. Are they really defining proper goals or just vague wishes? Are the goals really huge items and should they be broken down in to little items that can properly be accomplished for the following week?

If goals continue to get missed, take a hard look at whether the person is really a good fit. Missed goals just slow the momentum of the rest of the group.

Set attendance requirements

Things come up for all of us. I’ve got a baby coming sometime this month so I’ll randomly drop my whole schedule for a day to be a good husband and father.

If someone in your mastermind continues to miss meetings or seems to always book their ‘appointments’ during the mastermind meetings you need to ask if they are really invested in the group.

Maybe they want to be invested but the group isn’t a good fit for them? Maybe they need to move onto a different group.

If you’re meeting weekly setting a 3 of 4 attendance requirement is totally reasonable. If you miss more than that you’re going weeks without getting and giving any feedback.

Missing feedback on your business is one thing, but you’re also short changing others since they can’t get your feedback on their items during the week.

Making room for someone else in the mastermind group could be the best thing you do for your group, even if you are the one that is missing meetings.

Go find a group that meets at a better time for you with a group of people that you feel has better input into your business.

I don’t believe that “it’s just business don’t take it personally” but if your mastermind group truly cares about you then they should want you to find the best place to help your business get better.

Encourage ‘break out’ meetings

Just because 5 or 6 of you have decided to be in a mastermind group together doesn’t mean that you all must meet for anything to be discussed. Yes you should be at the main meeting, but if some of the group wants to meet to talk more in depth about an issue then it should be encouraged.

If one member has a particularly hard programming issue, why would you spend an hour talking about it in the group when you can break out into a pair and tackle the issue at a different time.

It can be helpful to bring a quick summary about the issues you addressed next time the whole group meets but there is no need for everyone to be around anytime the group members interact.

Breaking out into small groups around some specific items is respectful of the time of other people in the mastermind group.

Time limits

Can you talk for hours about nothing? I know that I can when it comes to business topics or programming.

Is it fair to the rest of the group to have a whole afternoon meeting?

Only if you decided that you wanted a whole afternoon meeting.

My mastermind hasn’t actually set a time limit for members or the whole meeting length but we are generally done in 60 – 90 minutes.

For this year I’m proposing that we make 90 minutes our hard stop and ‘time’ each person accordingly.

I know that if we go longer than 90 minutes I end up having the rest of my day thrown off and then don’t get to some of the things that are my most important mental rest items for the week.

Confidential

Masterminds should be confidential. The mastermind should be a place where you can share your business ideas and financial goals…without fear of who may find out.

While that may seem obvious it should still be stated. For mine I state that it’s likely I’ll talk a bit with my wife about what goes on. She is a part of my business and she has a really good business head on her shoulders.

Does she get the same level of details as if she attended the meeting? No way.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that some of my key insights come from her thoughts.

I anticipate that spouses/partners will hear a bit about the meetings. Some groups may not be comfortable with that so establish the ground rules of confidentiality up front.

Everyone should be comfortable sharing.

Any questions about getting involved in a mastermind group?

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3 Comments

  1. Matt January 13, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    That core investment to the group is crucial. I’ve been in one that I could tell people were there to just soak up everything people were saying with 0 contribution from their end.

    Good mastermind leaders will spot this and pull them aside. Great advice all around!

    • Curtis McHale January 14, 2014 at 8:03 am #

      I’d think that the interview process could weed out the people that just want to suck things up.

      You could also do a 1 month trial run of new people. That would let you see them in action and see if they are really a good fit for the group.

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