I’m sure by now you have heard multiple sources raving about the benefits of being in a mastermind group to help push your business to the next level. Tom has previously provided great information on how and why you should start a mastermind group and included his two person mastermind model in that post. He also emphasized the importance of being on the same page with your group before you proceed.
However, once you have found the people you want to work with, what do you do next? How do you stay organized and on task so that the group is benefiting the members? I have the privilege of being involved in an awesome mastermind group and I am excited to share experiences with you that have introduced great results.
This post will show you how to introduce structure to a mastermind group and run a meeting so that you can run an effective and efficient group where all of the members benefit.
Guidelines for the Group
When I became a member of Fizzle, an email was sent to me identifying things I could do to really benefit from the community. One of the very first things they recommended was to join a mastermind group. I proceeded to the mastermind forum and trolled through descriptions of groups. I ended up creating a description of my own to find other members to work with. I had soon created a group with six other people. Having never been in a mastermind group before, I searched around for information and came across Scott Dinsmore and Elizabeth Seda’s mastermind workbook – we still use it for inspiration.
We functioned well as a group of seven people, but two members decided they wanted to focus on other things and left the group. That left me with Josh Medeski, Whitney Hutten, Max Turner and Carlton Taylor – a diverse and effective group of five.
What’s my point in discussing group numbers? You will get many different opinions on what the best size is for an effective group, but it is not the most important focus for you. Large or small, mastermind groups ultimately are most effective when there is a structure in place that helps guide the members’ conduct. This becomes even more relevant with larger groups. So, don’t focus on the number of people you have (though you should have an idea what you want) – focus on the practices and procedures that will guide those people to effective results.
Where to Hang Out?
Sending emails back and forth gets old really quick and can make organization a nightmare, so you should establish a homebase for your team. In my opinion, Google Communities is the place to create your private mastermind community. You can stay in the loop of every conversation easily, conduct your weekly hangouts (and use screenshare for free) and share documents and folders that help guide your group and keep it organized.
Running the group from this platform has kept my group extremely organized and on task, and allows us to easily share documents in one place. No more emails back and forth and lost attachments. This platform is user-friendly and allows us to function as an efficient and effective group.
What Documents to Build and Use?
Once you have your homebase firmly established, you can build the shared documents and folders to use within your group. The first documents that you need to discuss and build in initial meetings are your Membership List, Purpose & Guidelines, Meeting Logs, Meeting Content Ideas and multiple folders.
Let’s examine these more thoroughly so you can really understand how to streamline your group:
- Membership List. This list needs to contain member names, contact information, websites, social media, timezone, phone numbers, etc. and is best done in a Google spreadsheet.
- Meeting Logs. This is where agendas are written out before meetings and meeting minutes are written for logs and absent members.
- Meeting Content Ideas. This is where group members add ideas for future meeting agendas so that you always have a direction for future discussions.
- Folders. These are separate folders created within the group’s shared documents. Create individual folders for each group member for their own content for feedback, as well as a ‘resources’ folder for documents the group members can benefit from.
- Purpose & Guidelines. This is the most important document you will create for your group. You need to decide:
- Group Type: The type of group that you are forming, e.g. business mastermind.
- Group Purpose: The reason for your groups existence, e.g. accountability, feedback, advice, support, encouragement, etc.
- Group Guidelines: The practices and procedures or ‘rules’ that group members agree to. Using “we agree” as the basis. For example, “We agree to commit to attending scheduled meetings if possible, we agree that ‘major’ decisions affecting the group will be decided democratically, we will be self-aware & endeavor to provide fair speaking times to all members.” (These are all statements we use in my group.)
- Growing the Team: Any rules and regulations for new members joining, as well as a number you want to cap the group growth at.
- Team Member Roles: Identifying the roles within the group for members (e.g. Meeting Moderator, Meeting Minutes Recorder).
- Meetings: This identifies where and when you will meet. Frequency of meetings, time, location and primary communication within the Google community are outlined with any appropriate links.
These documents will form the core structure of your group (especially the purpose & guidelines), so spend an appropriate amount of time refining them to best reflect what your mastermind group represents.
How to Run an Effective Meeting
Once you have a good grasp on the structure of your group, you can start to run meetings everyone will benefit from. However, sometimes it can be difficult to know how this should be done. My experiences will help you to stay on task and get the most out of your meetings.
Having the private google community allows you to easily use the Google Hangout option for a Skype-like (but way better and free) meeting experience. Scheduling the event in your group and then replying “yes” to the meeting will even automatically add the meeting to your calendar. (Could it get any easier?)
When completing your Purpose & Guidelines document, you should have established roles for group members. Having one or two meeting moderators allows you to establish a pattern for future meetings, and this will allow meetings to flow more naturally and more efficiently. The moderator is responsible for keeping an eye on the clock and keeping the meeting on task.
The type of pattern we have developed for our 60 minute meetings is as follows:
- Overview: Each team member quickly fills us in on struggles and successes since the last meeting and informs the group of plans for the following time period. (Time elapsed: 10 minutes – you may not make the 10 minute mark initially, but as long as team members are self aware and the moderator keeps people on task, it can be done). Also note that we turn video off for most meetings to improve audio quality.)
- Main Content: The moderator introduces and guides members through the main content as decided by the group. This could be featuring one member who is launching or struggling, a guest speaking to members or one member instructing and answering questions on a particular area of expertise, such as productivity or auto-responders.
- Wrap-Up: The moderator will start to wrap up the discussion when time approaches the end of an agreed meeting period. They will also present an opportunity for any quick items or questions before opening the option for people to leave the meeting. (Sometimes people stay after and have informal discussions.)
Adopting a clearly-defined meeting structure is just as important as a basic group structure. Every single member of the group is vital to an effective meeting because they must be self aware of speaking time, but moderators in particular need to be setting an example and keeping members on task.
Making it Work
Email may be a great communication format, but it is not the best platform for you to communicate with a mastermind group. Creating a private online group is more efficient and effective because communication is all happening in one spot, every group member is in the loop (no missed email addresses), sharing resources and documents is extremely easy, and you have a very user friendly and effective way to have your scheduled meetings.
Not every mastermind group will be the same or function in the same way, so it is important to experiment with what works best for your group. However, what is the same (and the most important aspect) of any mastermind group is the building of structure to shape the direction of the group. Furthermore, the most important aspect of this structure is the development of a Purpose & Guidelines document. This document is the foundation that your group is built on, so it should be created early on ensuring all group members are on the same page and can benefit from the arrangement and not waste time.
Now, if you’re interested in starting your own mastermind group, I have a couple of suggestions:
- Subscribe to Fizzle (the first month is just $1) and follow the same path I did. You can find me over there – feel free to say hi!
- Join the Leaving Work Behind Community Forums – you may just get to know some great people that you could form a group with!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to fire away in the comments section below.
Photo Credit: clagnut