How To Set Up A Kick-Ass Mastermind Group

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Mastermind groups are designed to be the best growth hacking tools around. My experience with masterminds has been incredible. I've been in three masterminds over the last four years and I have found them to be powerful tools for growing my business. They have added jet fuel to my growth as an entrepreneur. 

Masterminds have helped me move from running a YouTube channel with my siblings and wife as subscribers to having over 180k dedicated followers and a catalog of branding videos with over 3.5M views. They helped me grow my email list of zero to 15k - now I’m publishing an industry-recognized newsletter, brand•muse, for over 3 years. I was named by the entrepreneurship guru Chris Ducker as "Youpreneur of the Year" last year in London. I could never have done all this on my own. 

You can leverage the power of the group to step up your business too.

The agendas in a mastermind setting are highly organized and the roles are very clear, so each member can get the most out of each meeting. The roles and agenda can seem rigid and complicated, but it’s really very simple to get started with a mastermind group. You just need to know the basics.

So what are the basics?

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Step 1: Find An Existing Mastermind Group Or Create Your Own?

You can find a group that’s right for you by looking at your LinkedIn Groups or Facebook special interest groups. Also, research relevant professional organizations. For example, designers might search the AIGA for suggestions on masterminds they could join. Or in other industries, when you attend conferences, trade shows, or events, ask if anyone is involved in a mastermind. This is an easy way to get introduced to an existing group. 

You can also consider larger-scale paid mastermind communities. Many communities charge an annual fee to join a group as small as 5 people or as large as 400 or more. The advantage of these groups is that they are led by a facilitator who has an area of expertise that is particularly helpful to the group. 

Once you get going with a paid mastermind, you can form a breakout group; curate your own advisory board of like-minded people. I did exactly that (started with Chris Ducker’s Youpreneur group, then formed breakout groups including other Youpreneur members) and it worked very well for me. 

If you can’t find an existing group that’s right for you, start your own. 

Begin with your professional network first. Reach out on social media, especially Linkedin, to survey your network connections. If you belong to any specialized Facebook groups (e.g. one for creative professionals, business owners in your category, a resource-sharing group, etc.), start there. Poll the group to see if there is interest. Email past coworkers or classmates to gauge their interest. 

Step Two: Who Are The Right People For Your Mastermind Group?

It’s human nature to go with what you know, but stepping out of your comfort zone right from the start can really pay off. A great tip is to resist the urge to pick members who you know very well; your strong professional ties. “Weak ties,” or connections you keep in touch with once or twice a year are likely to be better mastermind partners. They can more easily help you expand your sphere of influence and widen your horizons with fresh resources, ideas, and connections. 

Be sure to choose some people who are in your industry so you can share ideas, ask them for feedback on your work, and see how they're progressing in their work. It’s also great to have entrepreneurs in other industries or categories who are doing the same kind of marketing and branding activities. Those in other industries will add even more scope on your problem-solving. A graphic designer for packaged goods, for example, will have experience that will benefit others in a mastermind for publishing designers. This will add different and valuable perspectives, and bring a particular level of expertise and application of that knowledge to the group. 

The people in your group will need to be ambitious, engaged, and driven. They need to be serious about what they're doing because you will be asking them to make an earnest commitment to attend and actively participate in meetings over a long time. The long timeline, about 6 months to start, helps you develop relationships within a mastermind group. These relationships directly relate to achieving your goals; the support you get from your group is going to help you accomplish your mission.

I suggest keeping the group size to 8 to 10. This size will give you enough time to share a variety of brainstorming ideas and input from everyone while allowing enough time to discuss and react to ideas.

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Step Three: Where Will You Meet?

You can meet in person or online. If your group decides to meet in person, there are many options. You could rent a conference room in a co-working space or hotel, or you can meet in someone's conference room in their office. You can even meet if it's convenient in someone's home. 

More often than not masterminds happen in the virtual world. Zoom conferences or Google Hangouts or group Skype calls. This makes it easy for participants to be across the country or even across the globe. Developing international business relationships and getting international perspectives are a significant added benefit of masterminds that use virtual meeting technology.

Step Four: What Are The Key Roles And Formats In A Mastermind?

Generally, there's a leader or a facilitator who starts the meeting. This can be the same person every week or you can switch periodically. The timekeeper is watching the clock to make sure everyone is sticking to the agenda and nothing runs too long. A good timekeeper will make sure everyone gets their turn and the meeting ends on time. This role can rotate as well.

Most mastermind meetings start with 5 or 10 minutes of "quick wins;" everyone briefly shares their successes since the last meeting. This gets the group focused and realigned with each person’s current goals. 

Next is the "hot seat," which takes up most of the meeting time. The member on the hot seat gets to put a spotlight on their business issues. They can present a business problem, workshop an idea, or surface a particular topic that everyone will share about and offer ideas around. 

The last 5 or 10 minutes of the meeting each member states the goals they will accomplish before the next meeting.

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Take it slow

If masterminds are so great (and they are) you may be tempted to join more than one. I suggest taking it slowly and try only one to start. It takes a lot of commitment and focus to be part of a mastermind and it may be difficult to develop deep relationships with a broad group of people too quickly. Start with one and if you feel like you have the bandwidth or you really need a wider range of input, then get involved in another one after a few months. 

Tangible results

I have met people who are supportive, driven and highly talented. Their perspectives have helped me go farther and faster in my business - perspectives I never would have known any other way. Masterminds have introduced me to more specialists, including writers, coaches, software developers, strategists, and researchers. I've broadened my network significantly which has led to new business opportunities. 

Even though business building is not the focus of a mastermind, I have found that masterminds have been the most powerful thing in my business hands down since I have started my entrepreneurial journey. My interactions and participation in masterminds have accounted for an estimated 20% of my new clients over the last 3 years. What would you do to create a 20% bump in sales with an investment of a couple of hours a week? 

Sounds like a good deal, right? Believe me, it is. 

I encourage you to start your journey today.