The concept of the "Master Mind" was formally introduced by Napoleon Hill in his first book "The Law of Success". The book was complied after 20 years of research interviewing the top 500 leaders and wealthiest men in the United States. It has been claimed that the introduction, The Master Mind chapter, was practically written by Alexander Graham Bell. The Law of Success was out of print soon after being first published, reputedly because it revealed the most guarded secrets of the rich and famous, at the time. The book has recently been republished.
One hundred and ten years prior, Benjamin Franklin formed a Junto, a club of twelve of his friends for the mutual improvement of Philadelphia. One of the purposes of the Junto was to exchange knowledge of business affairs. Franklin's Junto met every Friday night for a happy hour and discussion. The members of the Junto came from many walks of life and developed volunteer fire-fighting clubs and a public hospital for Philadelphia.
Fast forward now back to 1937. Napoleon Hill defined the Master Mind as "Coordination of knowledge and effort, in the spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose." Regarding forming a group, Hill's only advice is
1) "Ally yourself with a group of as many people as you may need for the creation and carrying out of your plan . . ."
2) "Before forming your 'Master Mind' alliance, decide what advantages, and benefits, you may offer the individual members of your group, in return for their cooperation."
3) "Maintain PERFECT HARMONY (Hill's emphasis) between yourself and every member of your 'Master Mind' group." And finally,
4) "Use discrimination in the selection of your 'Master Mind' group."
If I may be so bold as to augment the above suggestions, 1) limit your group to two to four people. The larger the group, the more difficult it will be to coordinate schedules and stay within the allotted time frame; 2) ensure a high level of trust and commitment within the group. This is a group where macho(a) is out and vulnerability is high. Master Mind groups should not be a chore, but a celebration of ideas and successes with your BFFs.
Do you need a Master Mind group? Probably, especially if you are a solopreneur. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. When you are involved in a Master Mind group there is a magic that ignites confidence, inspiration, commitment and accomplishment. There is synergy of energy, dedication, challenge, trust, honesty, respect, compassion and excitement that participants bring to a Master Mind group. A Master Mind group offers a combination of brainstorming, contagious development and spiritual support in a group setting. A Master Mind group is not a class. Nor is it group coaching.
The benefits of a Master Mind group are numerous and you will probably add onto this list:
- Increase your knowledge and self-confidence
- Sharpen your problem solving skills
- Create accelerated personal and professional growth
- Hang with your peeps and BFFs
- Get sincere feedback and advice
- Leverage the experience and skills of the other members
- Formulate action plans and be held accountable for your success
- Receive necessary feedback into yourself
- Transition from the one person J.O.B. to a successful business owner
There are many different ways of conducting a group. There are no leaders. It's a small group. You're all pals. Rule by consensus. The recommended duration is 60-90 minutes, every week. Most meetings are conducted in person. However, many successful meetings are conducted over the phone, conference call style, if necessary. It's your group, do what you want.
The agenda is up to you as well. Take a few minutes to check-in with each other before the meeting formally begins. Respecting everyone's time, start on time and end on time. Keep the meetings on task, centered on the problem solving, goal setting issues at hand. Each participant should be prepared with the following:
1. An announcement of a success they had last week. - One, only one, big or small.
2. A succinctly worded goal or blocking issue in a "How do I . . .?" type question. - You need to spend time on this so you are crystal clear about what you want.
3. To listen carefully and participate fully. - You will get as much as you put in.
4. Be a supporting partner -The power of the Master Mind is in the supportive relationships.
Determine how long you will spend on each round to process and discuss each person's issue. Divide your allotted time by the number of participants. Example: one hour and four people means each round is fifteen minutes each. Each group member will in turn will take the "hot seat" and state their goal or "How do I . . . ?" question.
I recommend a combination of brain-writing and brainstorming. Once the goal or question is out there, everyone, including the person in the hot seat, writes their own ideas for about a minute or two. All those pages of ideas go to the person in the hot seat and discussion and clarification can begin. Try to stay on task and move onto the next round when the time is up. Respecting everyone's time, stay on time; or since it's your group, do what you want. The person in the hot seat now must decide on three action steps to take in the next week. One other person in the group will volunteer to check in with him/her on their progress at week's end.
The most important thing to remember is, "It's your group, do what you want."
Have fun with it.