No matter where you’re leading or what you’re building, a Mastermind group can be the reason you crush every goal you set out to accomplish. A special kind of magic happens when a small group of highly motivated and deeply committed people come together to defy odds and win.
What Is a Mastermind Group?
Glad you asked! The idea was popularized—though not originated—by best-selling author Napoleon Hill in his books The Law of Success and Think and Grow Rich.
In his words, a Mastermind group is, “A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.”1
In our words, a Mastermind group consists of a small group of people who want to grow in some capacity at an accelerated rate. Because of this, they commit to getting together regularly—online or in person—to discuss goals, get support and advice for their challenges, and build a network of like-minded professionals who keep them accountable.
The group will typically come together around a similar vision. For example, at EntreLeadership, we curate Mastermind groups for business owners who want to learn from and be challenged by other entrepreneurs. Because, many times, you have struggles only other business owners understand.
What Happens in a Typical Mastermind Group Meeting?
At EntreLeadership, our Mastermind groups meet once a month for an hour and a half. The coach leads the conversation and ensures each member of the group has enough time to answer four key questions:
- Check-in. What’s a highlight or win you’ve had in the last 30 days?
- Accountability. Did you do what you said you were going to do at our last session? Are you ahead, behind or on pace with your number one strategic priority?
- Perspective. What progress do you need to make on your strategic priority in the next 30 days? What has to happen for that progress to occur? Do you have any blockers?
- Action items. Based on the perspective you received today, what are you going to do and when will you get it done by?
That’s right. All of that is covered in 90 minutes.
What Are the Benefits of Joining a Mastermind Group?
There are too many to list! But we’ll try. Here are just a few:
- A trusted board of advisors. When you experience a challenge in your business, career goals or personal life, don’t you wish you had a tight-knit group of people who have walked a similar path? Who speak from experience and can provide trusted guidance? That’s exactly what a Mastermind group offers. It’s like a board of advisors who know where you’re coming from, realize your potential, and desire to see you succeed.
- Wisdom from the trenches. Your spouse, best friend or pastor can certainly encourage you in your journey. But if they haven’t been in the same weeds you live in day after day, there’s only so much wisdom they can share.
Because a Mastermind group is made up of people on a similar journey, you can be confident you’re getting advice from someone who has been there and done that. They know exactly what you’re going through, which makes their feedback that much more valuable.
- Accountability. Rarely do you succeed when the only person you have to answer to is yourself. There is power in speaking your dreams and goals out loud to a group of people who believe in you and want to see you grow. It’s like a new level of drive bubbles up in you.
When you have to face this group next week and give an update on how much closer you’ve gotten to your goal, you better believe you’re going to knock down every freakin’ door until you’ve done the thing. Accountability alone is worth the investment of joining a Mastermind group.
- A network of the right people. Proverbs 13:20 (NKJV) says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” You can network all you want, but if your circle is full of successful jerks, you’re just going to become another successful jerk.
In a Mastermind group, not only do you widen your circle of connections, but you can be sure your fellow group members are committed to bettering themselves, their community and their teams—just like you.
- Faster growth. Fast growth is the result of tapping into every benefit listed above. Because when you have a trusted board of advisors who provide wisdom from the trenches and accountability, you’re bound to take off faster than you ever thought possible.
If you think this is all just theory we made up, think again. Successful people—across every industry—have been turning to Mastermind groups for centuries to increase their capacity and reach their potential. Let’s break down a few of them.
Influential Mastermind Groups
What do Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade and Chris Rock have in common? Yes, they all starred in the hit comedy film Grown Ups. But their connection goes deeper than that.
This is a group of comedians who are serious about their craft. They are intentional about getting together to challenge, inspire and critique one another’s jokes. In a 2013 interview with The Independent, Sandler said, “Here’s how I think of my scripts. I sit in my room and think up an idea. Then I call up all my friends and they say: ‘That’s awesome! You are the best.’ No, what really happens is that a group of us come up with an idea and work on it.”2
Then there’s prolific and imaginative writer C.S. Lewis, who wrote more than 30 popular books like The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity. His fictional series, The Chronicles of Narnia, has sold more than 100 million copies and has even been adapted for film.3 While his wild success and influence is evident, like most successful people, he didn’t get there on his own.
Lewis was a part of a writer’s group named the Inklings. J.R.R. Tolkien was also a part of the group along with 17 other writers. They’d gather every week to share manuscripts, poems, or a new chapter of a book in progress and receive critique, encouragement, advice and more. It was in this regular meeting that Tolkien gradually shared each chapter of The Lord of The Rings and Lewis received feedback on works like Miracles.4
And finally, there was Benjamin Franklin, who gathered the same group of friends every Friday night to discuss topics like morals, politics and natural philosophy.5 They called the group the Junto Club, and it’s where many public projects like the lending library were launched.6
Think of any successful person in any industry, and you’re likely to find a group of people who have walked alongside them and played a role in their fame. That’s the beauty of a Mastermind group.
What Are the Requirements to Join a Mastermind Group?
Mastermind requirements and qualifications vary widely based on who’s running them.
There are those who start their own Mastermind groups with people they already know—making the requirements simply who you know. Other organizations require an application process and interview, while others may base it on your industry and years of experience.
At EntreLeadership, we subscribe to three qualities that any interested Mastermind participant must commit to.
- Courage to seek help.
- Humility to accept it.
- Discipline to act on it.
If you’re committed to asking for help, accepting advice, and actually doing what you say you’re going to do, then you’re a great candidate for a Mastermind group. Beyond that, your background, industry, level of leadership or paycheck have no bearing on your “qualification.”
Should I Join a Mastermind Group of Professionals in My Specific Industry?
The short answer is it depends. The long answer is, well, long.
Let’s break it down.
We’ll start with three pros for joining a non-industry-specific Mastermind group:
- Creativity. When you’re a part of a team of people from diverse backgrounds and industries, you get access to creative problem solving. Imagine you’re a property manager who brings a challenge you’re facing to a group consisting of a software engineer, an attorney, a healthcare executive and a CEO of a nonprofit. The amount of creative approaches and perspectives that will ensue will give you multiple avenues for finding a solution to your blockers.
- Outside in. To go along with the benefit of creativity, oftentimes you—and others in your industry—are simply too close to the work. Because you live immersed in the same problems day after day, it’s hard to see beyond them. That’s why it’s so beneficial to have someone outside your bubble help you see the forest for the trees.
- Solutions-focused. “When folks are in an industry-specific Mastermind group, the conversation can spiral out of control where the attendees end up only discussing the problems that are in that industry. It can quickly become a gripe-fest,” says John Elder, business and leadership coach at EntreLeadership.
This regular meeting you’ve committed to is not the place to complain or vent. It’s simply not beneficial to your growth. On the flip side, when you’re getting together with professionals in different industries from your own, the conversations become solution-focused instead of industry-focused.
Pretty great, eh? Well, let’s flip the coin over and talk about three pros for joining an industry-specific Mastermind group:
- They just get it. When you’re in a Mastermind group of other professionals in the same industry, you’ll rarely have to go into deep-dive explanations of what you’re experiencing—they’ve been in your shoes! Not only does this save you time and energy, but you can be sure the advice is coming from someone who knows exactly what you’re going through and how you can overcome it.
- Everyone benefits. In a non-industry-specific group, when someone is receiving advice for a problem they’re facing, it won’t always apply to everyone else. But when the entire group works in that same industry, every piece of advice given is applicable to all the other members as well.
This allows for incredible efficiency within the group. Because when every member can benefit in one way or another from every conversation, no one gets bored or tunes you out.
- Stay ahead of the curve. This is probably one of the biggest benefits of being in a Mastermind group with others in your industry. In this day and age, where technology changes more quickly than we change our clothes, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of new trends so we can stay ahead of our competition.
When you’re meeting regularly with a group of people in your specific industry, you’re more likely to hear about new trends, share the pros and cons, and get a good understanding before trying something new in your own business.
I know! Both types of Mastermind groups have great pros to think about. Whichever one you end up choosing, just keep these three things in mind:
- Competition. If you choose an industry-specific Mastermind group, make sure everyone in the group lives and works in a completely different region. The last thing you want is to be in competition with one another to win the same customers.
- Generosity. Whichever type of group you choose, come with the mind-set of giving more than receiving. Yes, a Mastermind group will result in an endless amount of benefits for you and your business, but if everyone comes to the table simply to receive, no one wins.
- Don’t overthink it. Finally, keep in mind there’s no Mastermind rulebook that says you can only be in one Mastermind group at a time. If you’re not sure which type of Mastermind group is best for you, and you have the capacity, do both!
Is an Online Mastermind Group as Valuable as One That Meets in Person?
Absolutely! Remember how one of the benefits of joining a Mastermind group was the expansion of your network? Well, you make it even wider if you’re open to a Mastermind online.
Whether you live in New York City or on a farm in rural Wisconsin, you’ll find people valuable to your network who live many miles away. If you limit your Mastermind group to only those who live within a reasonable driving distance, you’ll severely limit who you can learn from.
Online groups also allow for a tremendous amount of flexibility, which increases commitment. You’ll remove barriers such as agreeing on a place to meet and dealing with traffic.
When you meet online, members:
- Are more likely to arrive on time.
- Can join from wherever is most convenient for them, even when they’re traveling.
- Don’t have to include travel time on their calendar, which saves time.
- Can watch a recording of the session if they have to miss.
With high-quality video conferencing technology like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype, there’s no reason a virtual group can’t be just as beneficial as an in-person one.
How Do You Find and Join a Mastermind Group?
There are countless ways to find and join a Mastermind group. It really just depends on what you’re looking for.
Like we mentioned earlier, some people start their own. They gather people in their community with shared values and goals and informally start meeting together regularly. Other groups will be curated by a Mastermind coach or facilitator, and sometimes there will be a cost to join—which is not a bad thing.
Like many things in life, commitment increases when you put skin in the game. It’s just like productivity expert Laura Vanderkam said, “If you’ve paid for it, you’re more likely to show up.”7
So there you have it: Everything you ever wanted to know about Mastermind groups.
We could talk for days about the never-ending list of benefits that happen as a result of joining a group. But you’ll never really understand until you’ve tried it.
Interested in finding out if a Mastermind group is the right fit for you? Take our free quiz and find out!