What is a mastermind group?
A mastermind group is a group of people who meet regularly to to share ideas, thoughts, information, feedback, contacts, and resources. The underlying philosophy of a successful mastermind groups is synergy - the idea that each member will accomplish more by pooling resources than any individual would alone.
From early philosophers in ancient Greece, to TikTok houses springing up around the world today the greatest individual achievements have always emerged from groups of passionate co-conspirators.
Patrick Collison curates a great list of examples where groups of people achieve outstanding results together.
Benefits of mastermind groups
Groups of like minded individuals drive societal progress but how will group membership contribute to your individual goals?
Your mastermind group will expose you to a whole new vista of opinions and stances on topics you care about. This is the fastest way to improve your thinking and spark your creativity.
Benjamin Franklin's Junto group, for instance, housed contentious debates on morals, politics and natural philosophy. Members of the Junto club were avid readers and intellectuals and their intellectual sparring matches spawned a number of innovative ideas for public projects. Among them were the creation of the first lending library, the Union Fire Company, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Accountability & Motivation
Mastermind group members will hold you accountable to your stated goals and intentions. The power of accountability is a result of a number of behavioral traits:
- Consistency & Commitment Bias: As humans, we're biased towards keeping prior commitments and staying consistent with our past selves when possible. If you've told the group you'll complete a key task by the next meeting, you probably will.
- The Desire to Fit in: Humans rather be wrong with the crowd than right with ourselves. Therefore, it makes sense to join a group where our desired behavior is the norm.
- Implementation Intentions: A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that 91% people who made explicit their intention to exercise by writing down when and where they would do it each week ended up following through. In a mastermind group, you'll be asked to share your explicit intentions for the next week boosting your chances of success.
A mastermind group allows you to collaborate on tasks and projects with group members- as well as just jamming on ideas. This isn't, strictly-speaking, the purpose of a mastermind group, but opportunities to collaborate often arise organically when you put enough talented people in a room together.
By joining a mastermind group, your network will expand exponentially overnight. Everyone in the groups' network is now part of your network. As you share your problems and future plans, people will make connections for you when you need them most
How to setup a mastermind group
Thinking about how you might start a mastermind group is a tall order, but it can be broken into a number of steps:
Step 1: Choose your Mastermind Group Type
There are different types of mastermind group topics, here are some of the most common:
Topic-based: Groups for a specific discussion topic. Li Jin, for instance, runs a private Slack group for founders in the Passion Economy.
Mission-based: Groups with a shared mission. For example, Helpwithcovid.com has a discord server to discuss and coordinate Covid-19 projects.
Business: Niche agnostic groups that help members to grow their businesses.
Goals: Accountability groups that hold mastermind members to their intentions.
Step 2: Setting the Purpose of your Mastermind Group
The type of group informs its purpose. Goals & Accountability mastermind groups will be results-driven while topic-based mastermind groups will look to foster engaging conversations. Thinking about the mission, vision and values of your mastermind group is a great way to start.
A good mission statement is snappy, short, and memorable. To come up with one for your group, ask yourself: what purpose are you collectively working toward every day?
Here's a great from Apple: "To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind."
A vision statement expresses the long-term aspiration of your group. What change do you and your members want to make in the world?
To spark some ideas of your own, read Amazon's first version: "Our vision is to be earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discovery anything they want to buy online."
How do you want members to interact with one another? What qualities values do you want them to embody? Make these expectations clear upfront.
Stripe, for instance, has a great list of values they look for in employees: "Move with urgency and focus, Think rigorously, Trust and amplify, Global optimization, The Stripe service, Optimism."
Step 3: Creating Your Mastermind Ground Rules
Running a successful mastermind group means it's a fun, welcoming place for all members. Setting rules for your group can ensure that.
You also want to make clear the commitment required from each member. When people are clear on their commitment in advance, they'll be more likely to fully engage with the process.
Examples of a business mastermind group rules might include:
- How much of the content can be shared outside of the group?
- How do we decide on the number of people in the mastermind group?
- How will people hold each other accountable within the group?
- What is acceptable to mention as a discussion topic within the mastermind group?
- Is there any expectation around participant between mastermind group members?
Step 4: Putting Your Team Together
The key aspect of a mastermind group is that the members are peers. That means mastermind group members should have similar levels of experience, ambition and expertise. For example, your mastermind dance group members might need to be semi-professional with at least three years of experience. Otherwise the more experienced group members will feel like they're disseminating far more wisdom than they're taking in.
Groups can range from two to fifty members, but the best groups tend to be on the smaller side.
Step 5: Setting the Mastermind Group Meeting Agenda
The agenda for your mastermind group meetings should be the same every week, and should have a scheduled time to meet.
An accountability mastermind group agenda example might look something like this:
- Welcome & state mission with Inspirational Quote
- A short update on previous week
- Hot seat — critical questions & feedback from team members
- Everyone states goals for the coming week
Picking a Virtual Mastermind Group Platform
Setting up an online mastermind group can be a really effective way of increasing your reach and growing the number of members.
There are many popular platforms to choose from:
Slack: While strictly meant for work the ubiquity of Slack can make adoption really easy.
Quorum: With payments and user management built in Quorum is a great mobile-first choice for running your mastermind group online.
Discord: If voice is an important medium of communication, Discord is better than most with dedicated voice channels.