How to Start a Mastermind Group in 7 Easy Steps

Group conversation
Photo courtesy of plantronicsgermany on flickr

It’s approaching a year since I started participating in my first mastermind. I can’t put into words how beneficial this group has been for me personally and professionally.

I have been meeting regularly with my friend Anthony Tran from Marketing Access Pass that I met while taking Podcasting A to Z – an online training course with Cliff Ravenscraft.

I stumbled my way into it, however the steps that led up to us forming our mastermind group are easily repeatable – and stumbling is not a requirement =].

How I Stumbled into a Mastermind

I already had a desire to form a two-person mastermind with someone who had similar interests in business and digital marketing. However, that was not my mission while taking the course.

The craziest part about how it all started was that the thought of Anthony and I staying in contact after the course was first mentioned by Cliff. When that happened, it caused me to take a deeper look at what Anthony was all about. I then quickly realized that Cliff was spot on wit his recommendation.

After about a week or so into the course, it was becoming more and more clear that Anthony and I had a ton in common. He and I had already been actively networking with the other members of the group, which in hindsight should have been a light bulb moment for me.

This made for an extremely easy transition to meeting regularly after the course. We both were interested in the idea and we made it happen.

How to Start Your Own Mastermind

The basic idea is to identify others that share similar goals and interests. If you already have someone that you find yourself speaking with on a regular basis, that might be a great place to start.

Here are the steps that occurred organically in my case, however they can easily be reproduced. Follow the seven steps below and and you will have your very own mastermind up and running in no time:

  1. Identify your reasons for forming the mastermind group. Give some thought to the core objective for the group. Try to nail this down as much as possible. This will provide you with a decision filter to help ensure group members are onboard with the objective for the group.

  2. Decide on the desired size for your group. It would be ideal to max out your member count at 6-8 members, which should be manageable if you are running one hour meetings. Remember, it is perfectly fine to start out with only you and one other person – this is exactly what I did.

  3. Decide on a list of characteristics each member should possess. This will help you narrow down group member candidates. You want to try to make sure the group has the proper dynamics to to achieve the best results.

  4. Create a list of the individuals in your network that are ideal candidates. Now, based on the criteria you created in the previous step, jot down as many people in your network you can think of that meet your group member criteria.

  5. Send group member invitation(s). You don’t have to be super formal for this step if you don’t want to. However, make sure the tone of your invitation is consistent with the tone you won’t others to bring to the group. For example, if the person is a close friend, a phone call or text message may be all that’s required.

  6. Finalize group meeting formalities. This would include how scheduling will be handled, meeting format, what tools will be used to manage the meetings online and/or offline, etc. There will be subtle differences in what is required to host the meetings depending on whether the meetings will be hosted in-person or online. Just be sure to plan accordingly.

  7. Host your first meeting. Once you have confirmed your group member(s), it’s time to schedule your first meeting and go for it.

Last Words

I hope you have decided that “yes”, I do want to start a mastermind group. If so, remember that it may take some time for the group to find a rhythm – but stick with it. It’s likely that there will be ups and downs at times. However, strive to be persistent and before you know it you will find yourself wondering – why didn’t I do this a long time ago.

If you have decided to start a mastermind group, I’m interested in hearing about your next steps in the comments below.

3 Reasons Why You Should Join or Start a Mastermind

Group Discussion
Photo courtesy of smannion on flickr

Have you ever found yourself stuck in your career or your business and stumped about what to do to take things to the next level? Understanding and applying the Mastermind Principle might be just the solution for you.

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “two heads are better than one”. If you haven’t, the concept is pretty straightforward. When trying to solve a problem or brainstorm ideas, the more people you have thinking about a solution to that problem the better.

The reason this is true is because each person brings a unique perspective and set of skills, talents, and abilities that will allow them to add value that otherwise would have been non-existent.

So, what is the mastermind principle?

I was waiting for you to ask that question =]. I was introduced to this concept when reading a book by Napoleon Hill titled “Think and Grow Rich”. Take a look at the video below as Mr. Hill himself explains the basics.

Now that you have a better idea of Napoleon Hill’s Mastermind Principle, let’s start digging on how you can leverage this principle to supercharge your career or business.

My Mastermind Group Experience

I have been apart of a two-person mastermind group for almost a year now. It has been instrumental in helping me get clarity in my career and business.

I have found it extremely valuable to have someone I can share the intricacies of my vision and how I plan on making that vision a reality. Those types of conversations are not appropriate for everyone.

Having an outlet to vet my business strategy has been extremely valuable.

There have been times where I have been completely scatter-brained, and my group member was able to reel me back in and help me refocus.

What is a Mastermind Group?

A mastermind group is when two or more people meet regularly providing accountability and collectively focusing on how they can better themselves personally, professionally, and financially – just to name a few.

The idea is that each person is actively involved in the advancement of the other members of the group. The same level of importance each member places on themselves to achieve success is shared with the other members.

Meaning, each member has a genuine desire to help the other members of the group succeed. This focused synergy on the common goal of success produces at domino effect that literally has the ability to change your life.

Here are three of the benefits of being apart of a mastermind group:

  1. Provides you an opportunity to leverage the experience and expertise of other smart people. We can only draw from our own experiences when we are at it on our own. However, the power of a great mastermind group will repeatedly provide you with insights you could not have come up within your own.

  2. Provides accountability that will motivate you to take action. We all need someone to help us stay on task at times. I’m sure you can recall at least one time when a good kickin’ in the paints was just what you needed. Not taking action means, you have to report to the group that you did nothing – and I don’t think anyone would like having to do that.

  3. Provides you with a sense of camaraderie. There are very few opportunities to recreate the feeling of being apart of a group while pursuing a common goal, like in sports – it should be the same in business, but often that’s not the case. The bonds you can form with your group are priceless.

Last Words

Being a part of my first mastermind group has convinced me that they are vital to expediting your success. It has also been a pleasant surprise to experience the “team-like atmosphere” that I recall from my childhood.

I played sports growing up and never really gave much thought to the fact that I enjoyed the team aspect of sports so much. If you have never participated in sports, have no fear. If you are strategic about the people that are included in your group, this sense of camaraderie is inevitable.

Has the thought of participating in a mastermind group peaked your interest? If so, I would love to hear about your plans to join or start a mastermind group in the comments below.

Creating a 90-Day Plan that Builds Your Personal Brand

"JOB Toulouse" by Paul N
JOB Toulouse by Paul N

Choosing to make a job transition can be extremely stressful, however there are ways to drastically reduce the stress you experience. In most cases, stress is heightened due to the expectation of the unknown.

Gone are the days of working for a company for 30+ years to retire and receive a pension. This is simply due to the nature of the job market today. When you decide that it is time to further your career, you find yourself at a crossroad.

You have to decide if you would like to attempt to do so with your current employer, or if you will have to do so with a new employer. The sad truth is that is in most cases, you will have to leave the company.

If you can’t change your company, then it’s time to change your company

There is a wrong and a right way to handle leaving your current job – as well as on boarding with the new gig. The obvious wrong way to leave current job is to leave your current projects and responsibilities in limbo.

Meaning, not tying up loose ends and ensuring that the objectives you were responsible for will continue to progress after you move on to your next employer. This would be a HUGE mistake.

Never, Never, Never, Never Burn Bridges

You should never leave a job and burn bridges in the process. This will ultimately have a negative impact on your personal brand, which can come around and bite you later in your career. You never know how or when you may cross paths with one of your peers in the future.

Would you want to work with or hire someone that left you with the drudgery tasks of completing his or her unfinished project that was a headache to drive across the finish line – I think not.

Burning Bridges by Chris Piascik
Burning Bridges by Chris Piascik

That is something you have to be mindful of during your transition. So, the obvious – well it should be obvious, way to leave your current position is to leave your projects completed or transitioned appropriately.

This can be done with minimal planning, but simply having a plan in this case, will have more of a positive impact on your personal brand than you may think.

By completing any outstanding tasks and transitioning others that cannot be completed before your departure, you will leave a positive impression on your boss and peers with minimal effort on your part. Remember that whole karma thing – you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of it.

Your 90 Day Plan and It’s Benefits

What is a 90 day plan? The idea is that you create an action plan that you will execute within the first 90 days of your new job, including making sure that you leave your current job the right way – a little planning will go a long way.

Here are the key objectives and tasks that should be completed in each phase of your 90 day plan:

  1. Pre-Nighty Days: Create a list of your current projects and responsibilities. Identify the tasks you are able to complete before your last day, as well as the tasks and projects you will transition. Get agreement from your boss to ensure you both are on the same page.

    This will ensure that expectations are established regarding what you are responsible for completing as your tenure comes to an end – this way there will be no surprises. Now it’s up to you to deliver and leave a positive final impression.

    Key Tasks

    • Create a list of projects and tasks to complete vs. transition
    • Meet with boss and agree on what done looks like for the items on your list
    • Complete and transition all tasks and projects on your list
  2. Days 1 through 30: It’s now the first day of your new job. You should focus on learning as much as you can about the company, it’s industry, products, services, competition, organizational structure, your role, etc. This will require you to ask a ton of questions and capture the information as you execute your plan.

    Key Tasks

    • Meet and greet with new team members – take notes
    • Ask questions to get an understanding of internal and external customers
    • Perform a company SWOT Analysis
    • Schedule meeting with your boss to get clear on expectations (your role, company goals, future of company)
    • Perform analysis of the company’s product and service offerings
    • Identify company communication preferences
    • Get an understanding of the company culture
  3. Days 31 through 60: By this time, you have a better understanding of what the company does. Now it’s time to start transitioning from the learning and observing phase, to more of a contributing phase. It’s time to identify where you can potentially start adding value.

    Key Tasks

    • Redefine your role (if necessary)
    • Map out solo and team projects that you are aware of and their impact to the company
    • Get a few personal wins
    • Evaluate how others in company perceive you
    • Identify leadership/volunteer opportunities to be filed (maybe even by you =])
  4. Days 61 through 90: Now you have 60 days under your belt. It’s time to get clear on the future strategy of the company and how you fit into the big picture. It’s time to really start adding some series value.

    Key Tasks

    • Identify improvements that you can champion for the company
    • Access skill gaps within the company and compare to your skills – (hit the books if necessary)
    • Meet with your boss for an informal review & feedback
    • Identify how you can contribute to the company culture
    • Keep a running log of your accomplishments (this will come in handy come annual review time)
  5. Post-Ninety Days: You have crossed the finish line and your 90 day plan is complete. There are a few other tasks that you will need to keep in mind. Some of these tasks could have been done earlier in the process, so feel free to do them sooner – when it make sense to do so. However, make sure you don’t overload yourself and become distracted from the primary tasks for each phase of your plan.

    Key Tasks

    • Follow up on your old job and renew relationships
    • Be sure to connect with old and new peers on LinkedIn
    • Meet with yourself once a week to review your progress
    • Meet on a regular basis with your boss to check in and level set on expectations (ex: 1x/month or 1x/quarter)
    • Identify internal and external networking events to attend

Final Thoughts: Things to Remember

Thoughts by Craig Sunter
Thoughts by Craig Sunter

I want to leave you with a few things to remember as you implement each phase of 90 day plan.

It is vital that you ALWAYS remember that you are CEO of Me, Inc.

This means, that you have to take responsibility for the outcome of your career – both good and bad.

It’s highly likely that each job transition will come with a unique set of challenges. The good news is that now you will have a plan to help you navigate through the unknown and will allow you to put your best foot forward.

  • Please, please, please resist the urge to make changes on day one

  • Utilize your calendar and task reminders to follow through on your 90 day plan

  • Meet with yourself once a week to review your progress

  • Always pursue ways to sharper your skills and continue personal development

The reality is that job transitions are stressful, but I hope that that you feel better about the transtition process now that you have a plan. Execute your plan and work to the best of your ability and I’m sure you will do just fine in your new role

Please share your experiences in the comments below and I’ll see you on the web.

3 Things You Must Consider Before Starting a Business

Design Patterns Business Cards by Michael Kappel
Design Patterns Business Cards by Michael Kappel

Have you ever considered starting a business? Maybe, you’re considering starting another business? If so, I’m sure there have been a ton of questions going through your mind while deciding if it’s going to be a go or a no-go.

Making the decision to start the business is only half the battle. If this is unfamiliar territory, this is something you will learn early on in your startup. You can easily find yourself getting consumed with designing your logo, creating your website, making business cards, and much much more.

While these items have their place, there are a few critical questions to consider before diving head first into your new venture.

Here are the three questions to consider before starting a business:

  1. Have you defined the mission and vision for your business?

  2. Are you clear on your priorities and non-negotiables?

  3. Are you committed to put in the time?

I decided to first share the questions to consider to get you thinking. Now, let’s breakdown each question and how it’s relevant to ensuring you get off on the right track.

1. Have You Defined the Mission and Vision for Your Business?

It all starts as an idea of the product or service offering you would like to bring to market. You probably have a vague sense of what the purpose for product or service, however, being vague on something like this can be problematic.

Without having clear understanding of your WHY, it will increasingly become more and more difficult to maintain your focus as you continue your entrepreneurial journey.

When you a just getting started, it’s easier to plow through the uncertainty because it’s all new to you.

However, this approach starts to breakdown after the initial excitement wears off and you realize that starting this business is going to be more work than you initially anticipated.

Now, you are prime candidate for clearly defining your mission and vision for your business. In the early stages of starting a business, you will find yourself with the temptation of taking your business in a million directions, all at the same time.

This is extremely problematic. You will find yourself bouncing from idea to idea.

Starting everything and never finishing anything. This can and will cause you to burnout before you reach the end of your first month in business.

Your mission and vision will provide you with a filter that you can apply to every potential business opportunity that comes your way. This filter helps you to determine if you should pursue a particular business idea, table it for later, or even trash it all together.

Time is the one commodity that you can never get back. So, wasting time pursuing ideas that line up with your vision for you company is not an option.

I’ll outline how to create your mission and vision statements in later posts. For now, understanding that having a mission and vision for your company is a core component for guiding future business decisions and helping you maintain laser focus.

2. Are You Clear on Your Priorities and Non-Negotiables?

Starting a business has it’s rewards, however it also has it’s challenges. You have to be careful not to allow the challenges to outweigh the rewards. This is sometimes (actually most times) easier said than done.

You will constantly find yourself in positions that challenge you to find more hours in the day to get things done. The severity of this is determined by your current lifestyle. Are you married? Do you have any kids? If so, how many?

The general idea is that the more involved your personal life, whether it be family and/or friends, there will be times were you will have to make the hard decision to work on your business over spending time with them.

However, be careful. This can be a slippery slope, and this is where most people lose their footing.

Even though you will be faced with having to consistently dedicate time to work on your business, you cannot neglect those that are most important to you – your family and friends. In my opinion, it’s no fun achieving success and not having anyone to share it with.

I’m not willing to compromise and you have to be the same way.

That doesn’t mean, you have to choose one over the other. However, it does mean you have to be intentional about everything you do, every place you go, and every relationship you invest in and be sure it’s time well spent based on your priorities – what’s most important to you?

3. Are You Committed to Putting in the Time?

Starting a business requires a tremendous level of commitment. If that’s not understood from the start, you will find yourself frequently considering throwing in the towel.

The commitment required is not something that can be achieved on accident, you must be intentional about it. This is the only way you will have a fighting chance at achieving your goals in the business, without having to sacrifice everything else.

I would recommend scheduling time each week that can be dedicated to working solely on your business. Consistency is key here. You want to make sure that you are always making progress.

Remember, this is not a sprint. It’s a marathon and you are in this for the long haul.

I would recommend spending the bare minimum of 7-10 hours a week. That is an average of about 1.5 hours a day, which is pretty reasonable.

If you are able to dedicate more time, go for it. If you have a day-job and this is something you will be doing part-time, aim to dedicate 20 hours ore more.

When making your decision on how much time to dedicate to your business, remember you do have other obligations. If you take the stance that sacrificing your relationships and health are not an option, you have to schedule the time and commit to it.

My Questions for You

After reading about the three things to consider, I hope they have got you thinking. Answering these questions can put you in the proper mindset that will have a positive impact on making steady progress as you start your business.

Share your thoughts and feedback below in the comments below.

Doubt Will Come, Don’t Let it Hold You Back

Stricken with Self-Doubt by Luc De Leeuw
Stricken with Self-Doubt by Luc De Leeuw

I would have never imagined having so many thoughts of uncertainty about starting this blog. I find myself questioning my decision to jump out here and just go for it. And the thoughts – they are flooding in.

It’s like a roller coaster ride. One minute I’m amped up that I’m finally making it happen. The next minute, I’m questioning if I am taking the right approach with the blog.

My current blogging schedule is to publish 2 posts a week. One on Monday morning, and the other on Thursday morning. Here it is Monday night, and I’m finally getting around to typing up this post.

Is This Normal?

As much as I don’t like the thought of this, it is. It’s actually perfectly normal. I have heard other entrepreneurs explain how they have found themselves feeling paralyzed at times during their journey. You would think that knowing this is a normal thing would make it little easier. I’ve noticed that’s no walk in the park fighting through the negative thoughts.

And the thoughts won’t stop until you choose to stop listening – and that’s easier said than done. If you’re not careful you will find yourself feeling defeated if you don’t address your thinking. Let me share with you how I go about overcoming the doubt to get things done.

How to Overcome the Doubt

I have listed four mental steps to walkthrough to help you shake the doubt:

  • Trust your judgment. Trust yourself after you have done all the necessary preparation. There comes a time where you have to let the rubber meet the road and see what happens. If you felt good about the direction at the start, chances are you’ll be just fine.

  • Embrace the uncertainty. Realize the source of the doubt is rooted in the fact that nothing is guaranteed. Waking up every morning is included in that nothing, but you don’t find yourself doubting that every night. Focus on the things you can control and disregard the rest.

  • Stay positive. Focus on the positive “what-if” scenarios. Avoid entertaining negative thoughts like the plague. They only make things worse.

  • Keep putting one foot in front of the other. I know that achieving success in anything, is not an overnight thing (even though TV makes it appear otherwise). True success is built by consistently doing what’s necessary every day to push you one step closer to your goal.

Dust Yourself Off

I’m overly critical of myself at times when I don’t meet the expectations I’ve set for myself. I feel like kicking myself when I’m not on track with the tasks I’ve set for myself. When you find yourself in this place, make the decision not to stay there long. Dust yourself off, and get back in the game. What’s the worst that could happen – you might actually succeed.

My Question for You:

When was the last time you felt doubt trying to creep in and cause you consider throwing in the towel? Share how you overcome the doubt and found the strength to keep pushing forward in the comments below.