Mastermind is a term first coined by Napoleon Hill, and has become increasingly popular amongst entrepreneurs and executives. But what are they? Why are they so popular? What makes a good mastermind? And how can they make a difference to the socialpreneur?
First of all, let’s clarify what a mastermind is… A mastermind can be defined as ‘two or more minds working in harmony with the same purpose’. With this definition you can see that a mastermind group can take many forms.
The important phrase here is ‘harmony’.
I know many people, myself included, who have participated in a mastermind group only to find it a master waste of time. This was because the groups failed to curate the quality of members, and/or failed to have a clearly defined purpose. And either of these problems will cause disharmony.
There have been many very successful masterminds throughout history though. Some of the most notable are perhaps ‘The Big 6’ (which included Wrigley of Wrigley’s gum and Hertz of Hertz car rentals), ‘The Vagabonds’ (which included Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, President W Harding, and Harvey Firestone), and ‘The Inklings’ (which included CS Lewis and JR Tolkien).
The story of The Big 6 is especially interesting. They started as six men living in Chicago with little in the way of assets, contacts, or available credit. Within a few short years each had a successful business, and most of them were millionaires.
It is also interesting that in his legendary book, Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill identified four key things needed for success. These were:
Belonging to a mastermind
Each of these is essentially a cornerstone of thought. Plenty of people teach the first three, but rarely give mention to the fourth. Yet is is perhaps masterminds that are the most powerful and important of all the techniques that Hill taught.
A mastermind provides you with focus, support, extended networks, resources, and most importantly, accountability. For a socialpreneur these will all be essential if he or she is to succeed in their mission.
As humans it is natural for us to hold ourselves to the acceptable standard within our social group. This could be a very low, or a very high standard. And often it is this collective standard that will define our actions, more so than our beliefs about our own individual standards.
I have seen many people become financially successful thanks to participating in a mastermind, but usually not in ways I would consider ethical. The groups they belonged to were simply more focused on how much members made, rather than how they made it.
There are many non profit masterminds too of course. One of the most famous is a group called ‘The Elders‘, which was founded by Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel. It is made up of many high profile individuals who meet to find solutions to global problems.
The socialpreneur needs to find a balance between the two. They need to surround themselves with like minded individuals who will support them in making money, help them find solutions, keep them focused, introduce them to right people when needed, keep them accountable to goals they set, and hold them to a high moral standard.
Some masterminds are very formal, others more casual. Personally I have found the more disciplined structures to be effective. (Perhaps because I lack discipline much of the time!)
In one group, we had a penalty of approximately $100 each time someone was even a minute late to a group meeting. Another $100 penalty had to be paid if they failed to meet any goals they had set for themselves from the previous meeting.
This may sound extreme to many, but that was kind of the point. We quickly weeded out the excuse makers, and anyone not committed to playing at a higher level. Needless to say our time was never wasted, as people were (almost) never late.
Leveraging MastermindsYou can learn more about this group structure, along with how to join, form, or run a mastermind group in my book Leveraging Masterminds.
I don’t recommend groups of more than about six. This is large enough to provide a range of opinions and expertise, while allowing all members to get some value from the group.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges to any successful mastermind is finding the right people. It was for this reason myself and a Kyle Barraclough created www.TheMastermind.nz. It is still very much in its beta phase of development, but it is free to use so I suggest giving it a try.
The site not only allows you to create or search for mastermind groups, it also provides an interface to help facilitate structured groups sessions, sends members reminders of meetings, and provides a goal accountability option. This is especially useful for masterminds that are spread out geographically (or for people like me who live quite remotely, or are on the road a lot).
Regardless of whether you choose to read my book or use TheMastermind, I do recommend you take the time to learn more about these types of groups, and join one, or start your own. It is perhaps the fastest track to any form of success, and can be a lot of fun too.