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Business Mastermind Groups - A Little Rant

Updated on June 17, 2010
A young Napoleon Hill
A young Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill's Been Hijacked!

I'm a big fan of self development and Napoleon Hill is the modern-day grandfather of all self development. In his brilliant book, Think & Grow Rich, written after 10 years of talking to top business achievers, he explains a number of key principles to follow if you want to achieve to your own potential too.

One of the core concepts is the Mastermind. The concept is very simple - you meet regularly with a small group of maybe 6-12 people to discuss your challenges and goals and to obtain their input. It's a bit like the Three Muskateers saying, "One For All and All For One". You get their contribution to your business and give your own ideas to help them.

The results can be incredible when you find a group that really works well for you. But the idea is being hijacked by some of the modern "gurus". For example, this client of Chris Cardell is a member of his mastermind group, but actually only gets to listen to Cardell presenting ideas and concepts for business development. There's no interaction - how could there be with hundreds of people on the phone at the same time.

This isn't meant to be having a pop at Cardell, though, the point is that the concept of the mastermind group was to be involved in a dialogue about your own business as well as the businesses of those other people in the mastermind. If you want a seminar or presentation, that's quite different to the Napoleon Hill concept of the mastermind.

I rather like the idea of an intimate dinner, where I get help to grow my business at the same time as helping fellow people in the mastermind to do the same.

So, now that's off my chest, I'll talk a bit about how mastermind groups work...

Hill's Concept - The Harmonious Blending of Minds

When Hill wrote his book, he understood that for people to get the most out of working together, they need to care about the other people in the group and have a real desire to help each other, and to be helped.  Without this caring, nothing useful can really come of the group, as it will effectively become a competition.

If you're interested in starting your own business mastermind group, here are some useful rules of thumb suggested by Hill, and others since, to get the best out of it for every member...

  1. Clear purpose to the meeting - it's to contribute ideas and support, and to keep each other on target towards your own goals
  2. Include some element of accountability so that members take action, it should not just be a talking shop
  3. Stick to a timed agenda - give each person at the table time to ask for help.
  4. Respect the other members - don't chat when it's their turn, make it about each member in turn.
  5. Attend every session - don't send apologies when there's nothing in it for you - make it a firm commitment and stick with it, as you would expect other members to do in return.
  6. Eject people who do not follow the rules - it only takes one bad apple, they say, to turn the barrel rotten.
  7. Meet on a regular basis, same evening every month, or week, or fortnight, which ever suits your needs and desires.
  8. It's not about counselling or life-coaching.  If somebody has depression, it's not the responsibility of the group to fix it, they should seek professional help.
  9. Mutual support - endevour to contact at least one other member in between each session to keep in touch.

Following these rules will have you well on the way to your own mastermind group.  Remember to build extra rules to suit your group as you go along.  Good luck!

Oh, and does anybody else feel the way I do about these gurus hijacking the mastermind groups concept?


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      Paul Simister 7 years ago

      I agree with you.

      The mastermind principle of sharing collective wisdom has been twisted to suit the "gurus" who just want a herd of followers.

      I do however think an expert mastermind is a valuable tool where the expert opens up a Q&A session and especially if it is focused on one tightly defined subject.

      Hearing concepts applied in multiple situations can help you to make the jump from knowing it to doing it.