Strategy

Mastermind groups: what they are, how they work, and how to find one

They say that we’re the product of the five people we spend the most time with. And that in itself is a compelling reason to care about being part of a mastermind group.

But that’s really just one of the many, many benefits:

  • Since most entrepreneurs work from home and lack that water cooler environment, we have to get creative when it comes to connecting with peers and colleagues. Mastermind groups are ideal for forming strong and lasting friendships with like-minded people.
  • Not to mention, sometimes our little home offices (or kitchen tables or living room couches) get lonely. Being a part of a mastermind group offers a sense of camaraderie on days when you’re slogging through your work and feeling alone in it.
  • They provide inspiration when we need it. Some days it’s hard to keep pushing through on our own, when we get tired, frustrated, discouraged or just plain stuck. Having a circle of people around you that get it is invaluable.
  • They sharpen us. My groups keep me continually on my toes, learning new things, thinking about challenges from fresh perspectives, hearing about different software or services or apps that might help my business. I’m forever learning from them.
  • We can brainstorm together. Two minds (or four, seven or even ten) are far better than one. I love the brilliance that bubbles to the surface when a few people get talking about a problem and start coming up with solutions.
  • They can answer questions, and often far more quickly than we could research and drum up the information we need to know on our own. A quick Vox or Facebook message to my groups frequently tells me what I need to know with so much less hassle, and vice versa, I’m privileged to be able to help them when they have a question.
  • They open up doors to more and better opportunities. This is true of networking in general, but I find that the loyalty and admiration that develops in these groups lends itself to wanting to genuinely help one another out, offer each other chances to work together on projects or events, to sharing one another’s work or products with your own community, and more.
  • They’ve become some of my best friends. Of course, it’s hard to beat local friendships, where you can talk and spend time together face-to-face. But through mastermind groups, I have connected deeply with women that really get me (and many of them have actually turned into in-real-life friendships as well). I feel understood, accepted, appreciated, supported and truly loved. You can’t put a value on that.
in virginia with bloggers

I met these fantastic women when I said yes to a travel opportunity years ago. I’m still in contact with all of them and am in a mastermind with two of them.

How do you stay in touch with mastermind groups?

There are a lot of different ways to do it, and it really all just depends on your personal preference.

I’m personally involved in five right now (three more heavily than the others). Four of those are Facebook private groups, one is a Voxer group chat (which is brilliant – I love Voxer for masterminds!).

I also know of others that function through group emails (and this can be something like a Google or Yahoo group), on Skype, in private forums, with a team software like Basecamp, or on conference calls. The possibilities are really endless.

What kinds of mastermind groups are there?

I frequently see them develop with those whose businesses are in a similar niche. So that could be Etsy sellers, those that run membership sites, people that do programming or product development, or maybe real food/natural living bloggers (a real life example of one of mine).

They can be focused on a specific aspects of what you do, like a group solely about writing, marketing, podcasting, coding, sewing, you name it.

Or, they could be more based on season of life or personal and professional connections. I’m currently in a group with five other female bloggers/business owners (in various niches), but the key thing that ties us together is that we’re all moms of 3-5 school aged kids, most of us homeschool (or have at some point), and we all want to be home with/for our kids, while still being career-oriented, intentional entrepreneurs.

Ryan is in one that formed out of a professional mentorship group he’s a part of, where all 9 or 10 of the men run very different businesses, but with similar levels of success and equally-ambitious goals for growth. He loves it.

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Wardeh was part of the first mastermind I was ever a part of, via email, and today we still connect in an excellence mastermind for bloggers. Here we are last week in Bellingham, where Ryan and I met with her for business and plenty of good food.

What do you do in a mastermind group?

It’s up to the group, really. Some are in touch on a daily basis, sharing weekly goals, holding each other accountable, discussing what they’re currently working on, or just checking in and saying hi.

Others have more of an ebb and flow, where some weeks you’re talking frequently about issues or new developments in your field, tackling problems you’ve run into, sharing action steps with one another, asking for advice. It can be busy one week and then quiet the next, as group members have a need and desire to connect.

Some groups stay purely professional, with little personal chit-chat. Personally, I’m an extrovert and enjoy getting to know people on a deeper level, so I love groups where yes, we get things done and spur one another on, but also aren’t afraid to get to know each and do life together with some personal sharing and support as well.

Groups can have set days where they share goals, check in with each other, have conference calls or Google hangouts, discuss particular topics, etc. One group I’m in is doing monthly “hot seats” where that person brings their problem to the group and everyone helps them with it.

The formality and structure of the group is really up to its members, and it’s important to establish at the onset, so that everyone is on the same page and clear about the purpose and plan for the group.

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Last summer at the World Domination Summit conference in Portland, together with good friends Tsh and Kyle Oxenreider.

How do you find a mastermind group?

This is where it can get tricky. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for finding the right group.

I’d say the key, though, is to be purposeful about networking and connecting within your niche. Join Facebook groups or forums that suit the work you do. Introduce yourself to others on Twitter or LinkedIn or Google+. Go to conferences that interest you and align with your work.

Once you begin to do this, it’s amazing how naturally the connections and groups begin to form. Putting yourself out there is almost a sure way to find like-minded individuals that would equally love to connect with you.

At times I’ve been an initiator in the start of a particular mastermind. Other times I’ve been honoured to be thought of and asked to be included. Ryan has been intentional about seeking out the type of people he wanted to connect with by attending conferences and joining groups that seemed to be a fit. There are even business sites for entrepreneurs, like fizzle.co (I haven’t tried it, just heard about it), where many people sign up so that they can network, talk to and learn from other business people like themselves.

Are you a part of any mastermind groups? How did you get involved with them and how have they helped you?

Top image: Myself with Erin, Diana, Beth and Crystal, all fellow bloggers and dear friends, together at a conference. We had the best time, as evidenced by this very last photo of us taken at approximately 2am. 🙂
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Two lessons I learned from Zig Ziglar

We organized our first eBook Bundle in October, 2012. It was (for us) a surprise hit. Although, we weren’t the first ones to organize something like this, we had a unique angle that proved popular, and we sold quite a few bundles.

But, after the euphoria died down, we started to hear from many people that “the bundle market is dead” and “people are getting bundled out.”

I’ve never believed that, because eBook bundles are just a vehicle for serving people. People don’t get tired of being served and equipped, and our bundles give us an incredible opportunity to do just that for tens of thousands of people every year.

As if to prove that point, we started preparing for our third annual Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. This is a niche that has had a tonne of bundle sales in the last couple of years. It’s also the niche where hear the loudest predictions of “the end of the Bundle era.”

And yet, in the midst of these dire predictions we facilitated a sale that shattered every one of our previous records and more than doubled the previous years’ sales.

How was that possible? Enter Zig Ziglar.

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What is distracting you from your most meaningful work?

There’s no internet here. It’s blissful. I sit and sip on a coffee, nibble on a gluten-free date bar, and do pretty much the only thing my laptop is good for without a WiFi connection… I write.

A while back, I had a rare opportunity to put in a full work day, instead of my usual 5 hour half-days. I wanted to maximize it, but was worried that I would slip into “busy work” for too much of the day. I feared walking away from my office at dinnertime with the sinking knowledge that my day wasn’t spent as productively as possible.

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