I have been a part of a few mastermind groups over the past 3 years. Some good, some AWESOME! If you don’t know what a mastermind group is google it and then come back here. If you can’t find a summary suitable here it is: Group of people brainstorming. The term mastermind comes from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. He was inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s group. Hill writes:

“Mr. Carnegie’s Master Mind group consisted of a staff of approximately fifty men, with whom he surrounded himself, for the DEFINITE PURPOSE of manufacturing and marketing steel. He attributed his entire fortune to the POWER he accumulated through this ‘Master Mind.’”

So, a “Master Mind” appears when you get a few folks together to talk on the same topic. Kinda. In Christianity, Matthew 18:20 quotes Jesus as “Being with them” when they come together to discuss things in his name.

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

I’m not at all saying it’s the same but you get the idea. Join up, discuss a common topic, get the advantage of the “Master Mind”. The concept is not new.

Mastermind groups come in a variety of sizes shapes and structures. I have been part of paid groups, free groups, formal groups and informal groups.

Yes, I said paid.

Some mastermind groups are what are known as ‘pay-to-play’ groups (crass I know). If you want access to the group you pay to join. The organizer is typically the beneficiary of the payments but not always. The organizer of said pay for play groups usually has a significant name in the industry, has a wealth of connections (ie: good network), has a good understanding of the topic(s) to be discussed, and has built a group of ‘masterminders’ which is also a draw – their network, their knowledge, their insights etc.

The advantage of a paid mastermind group over a free group can be significant. The general idea here is that if you are paying to participate you:

  1. Are more committed
  2. Are more serious
  3. Are financially pre-qualified
    and…
  4. Since you are paying this to a group you can now charge this to your own group.

That last point is interesting. Some gurus charge $100k per year to participate in a high level group. The notion taught here is “How can you step up your game if you haven’t stepped up your game?”. Translation: How can you charge this if you haven’t been a part of this level of ‘commitment’? Yes, it’s a mindset issue.

Most pay-to-play groups however are in the $5k-$25k range. The contacts and network you can establish from a group like this can be worth a small fortune. The ideas, feedback, accountability and partnerships can provide a ROI of 10-100x.

Paid groups typically meet 3-4 times a year in person, sometimes at exotic locales, and then also over the phone monthly.

Non-paid groups are great and usually informal. There may be a leader but it is usually led by co-operation. There may be one or two individuals who take on the role of informing the group as to the next meeting etc. Non-paid groups are a great way to connect, network, be held accountable and learn a ton from your peers. These usually (but not always) meet over the phone or at a location local to all the members.

The social and business makeup of a mastermind group can vary. Some groups have members with all the same business  – ie: all Realtors. Some groups stipulate that there will be no duplicate businesses (competitors)  in the group. There are pros and cons to each approach – decide for yourself if confidentiality trumps like-mindedness or if you want a network of similar or dis-similar peers. Another way to look at it is this: Do you need more strategic or tactical help?

The mastermind groups that I have been a part of (both paid and non-paid) are structured as follows. Each member presents and shares his/her best ideas and what’s working in their business. Then then share what’s not working or what they need help with or what contacts or resources they need. This “what’s working, what’s not working” approach is very effective.

The group offers feedback, accountability (“why haven’t you implemented xyz yet?”), ideas and strategies. Often the ideas shared spark other new ideas and approaches (The Master Mind!). The group leader or moderator (if there is one) keeps everyone on topic and offers some (usually significant) insight.

Are paid groups more “committed”?

Great question. Having been a member of both paid and non-paid mastermind groups, I’d have to say – depends. If paying $20,000 to be a part of a group helps YOU be more committed, more serious and more accountable, then yes. Some folks live by the idea that “it’s worth what it costs” or “you get what you pay for” or “if it costs nothing it’s worth nothing”. Skin in the game and all that.

The biggest advantage of paid groups can be the people that it puts you in contact with. A paid mastermind group can help you leap frog from where you are in business to where you want to be. Yes, it’s a kind of a short cut and can be worth every penny.

The mastermind groups I have been a part of have helped my business significantly. The “Value” and “Worth” of anything is the value and worth YOU put on it. If there is a group of people you want more access to that can’t be had by other means, then yes – an investment is appropriate and recommended.

Here is what you should keep in mind at all times: You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with – Jim Rohn (motivation speaker and self help guru).

Spend time with high level achievers and you will become a high level achiever. Spend time with whiners and complainers and you will become a whiner and complainer. So, the question is not whether or not to be in a mastermind group. YES be in one! If you can “spend time” with the kind of people who will elevate your business, hold you accountable, offer insight and wisdom, DO IT!

I’m in a few groups – all are full of high level achievers, motivated business men and women and each group helps me immeasurably. Some are strategic in nature and some are tactical. Some are paid and some are non-paid. I run one myself which is an investment of $7,000 a year for professionals in the film/video industry. We are focused on helping each other market and develop our service offerings.

A client was asked if by implementing one idea could the investment be made back. The answer was a resounding YES. One new client, one new product line, one new cost cutting measure and yes the return on investment is realized. Increasing business by 10% – Yes investment well worth it. New business partners – yes well worth it.

So, to wrap this up here are the top 5 things that make up a great mastermind group:

  1. Your Commitment – you have to be present
  2. Your Participation – you have to share, comment, hold accountable and be held accountable
  3. Your Attitude – Positive, giving, truthful, uplifting, encouraging
  4. Your Peers – Be with peers who will “Raise your bar”
  5. Your Implementation – Put the ideas you get into practice. (A friend of mine stays an extra day after his mastermind group just so he can immediately implement the ideas he gets at his group – while they are fresh and he is motivated).

It’s all about you. If you implement even a fraction of the ideas generated, you’ll get out of a mastermind 10x what you put in.