In 1908, the richest man in the world at the time, the famous steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, commissioned Napoleon Hill to interview and study the 504 most successful people of the day. The objective was to distil which attributes these highly successful business pioneers had in common.

Hills resulting book, “Think and Grow Rich”, came out in 1937 and remains one of the best selling, most influential business books of all time. In the book, Hill outlines ’13 Principals’ which his long research identified as being common to all successful people.

One of those principles was that of the Mastermind Group. Hill demonstrated that no successful person does it alone. All are surrounded by people who can help them, advise them, criticise them, encourage them, motivate them, inspire them and spark them to be better than they could ever be on their own.

Napoleon Hill defines a Mastermind as:

“Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose”?

“This form of cooperative alliance has been the basis for nearly every great fortune. Your understanding of this great truth may definitely determine your financial status.”

He goes even further to suggest that people with a mastermind group around them can tap into an intelligence that is beyond themselves — that the coming together of multiple minds focused on a single purpose creates a fusion of intellect that can never be achieved by the individuals on their own.

How to Start Your Mastermind Group

The first thing you should do is start your search for appropriate mastermind members. You can start within your circle of business associates or colleagues, or you can go outside to people who you do not know. For your first mastermind group — aim for 3-5 people. This will be enough to start your group as it develops some longevity. The biggest problem with a mastermind group is making it stick together and happen on a consistent basis. People get busy and let other things get in the way, causing missed meetings, missed commitments, and lack of accountability to the group.

If you find a good solid group, and make the group a regular get together (once a month is the perfect timing for phone meetings — once a quarter for full day events), you can find a unique combination that lasts for years to come. One other way to ensure everyone takes the mastermind seriously is to find a paid mastermind group (typically facilitated by someone else). When money is on the line, people tend to be a little more serious about doing business and keeping their commitments.

Rules of Your Mastermind Group

  1. Show up every time, and on time.
  2. Commit to helping everyone in the group grow their business.
  3. Commit to helping everyone in the group become a better person.
  4. Do what you say you will do — and always follow up on the commitments you make to the group.
  5. Contribute — your ideas are valuable and necessary to making the Mastermind work.
  6. As a group, commit that you will all do whatever it takes to get in the right creative mood to start your meeting.
  7. Everyone should contribute ideas to others, and should expect ideas from everyone else.
  8. Show up prepared and focused on maximum contribution.
  9. Everything that gets discussed in a mastermind meeting is confidential information and must be treated so.

Depending on how far you want to take the rules, you can also have a 3 strike law in effect and the group can have voting power to ask 3 time rule-breakers to leave the group. Negative people, energy or feedback can destroy the positive intentions of a group. Choose your group carefully.

Keep in regular touch with your Mastermind members outside of your meetings.

Various Ways to Run Mastermind Groups

  1. Each person gets equal time — sharing your recent successes, challenges, missed deadlines, and biggest areas in need of help.
  2. Shared lessons from all. Have each person go around the room and share their greatest successes and lessons from all areas of business (marketing, advertising, finance, employees, payroll, operations, etc).
  3. One person per meeting goes through their business in detail and only one business is focused on per meeting.
  4. Critical priority — mixed from the above. Groups meet and do short introductions to what is happening in their business — those with critical issues express their need for help and they get priority status for help from the group.

For your first meeting, set aside more time than usual — at least 20-30 minutes per person. Go though the basic rules, and follow the system laid out here (talk about success, challenges, and top priority issues that need addressing now). Masterminds can be a powerful force to help you live life more effectively.