In the fall of 1727 Benjamin Franklin and a group of friends founded the Junto Club also known as the Leather Apron Club. The 12 members were tradesmen and artisans who met Friday evenings to discuss issues of morals, politics or natural philosophy. The club lasted 38 years. Franklin proposed that the group be formed of “ingenious men –a physician, a mathematician, a geographer, a natural philosopher, a botanist, a chemist, and a mechanician (engineer)”.
A branch of the Junto Cub was the American Philosophical Society created in 1743 and which still exists.
Franklin devised a group of questions to guide discussions at meetings and to provide a structure:
(Note) I’ve highlighted my 10 favorites that are still most relevant today and great questions for asking in a mastermind group meeting. All 25 are included here for your consideration.
Benjamin Franklin Junto Questions
- Have you met with anything in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? Particularly in history, morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?
- What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?
- Has any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
- Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?
- Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?
- Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?
- What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or heard? of imprudence? of passion? or of any other vice or folly?
- What happy effects of temperance? of prudence? of moderation? or of any other virtue?
- Have you or any of your acquaintance been lately sick or wounded? If so, what remedies were used, and what were their effects?
- Who do you know that are shortly going [on] voyages or journeys, if one should have occasion to send by them?
- Do you think of anything at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?
- Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that you heard of? and what have you heard or observed of his character or merits? and whether think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?
- Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?
- Have you lately observed any defect in the laws, of which it would be proper to move the legislature an amendment? Or do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?
- Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the people?
- Hath anybody attacked your reputation lately? and what can the Junto do towards securing it?
- Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or any of them, can procure for you?
- Have you lately heard any member’s character attacked, and how have you defended it?
- Hath any man injured you, from whom it is in the power of the Junto to procure redress?
- In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist you in any of your honourable designs?
- Have you any weighty affair in hand, in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service?
- What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?
- Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of justice, and injustice, which you would gladly have discussed at this time?
- Do you see any thing amiss in the present customs or proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended?
Credit: Benjamin Franklin Historic Society
Junto meetings were most likely open discussions and the questions were used to stimulate the conversation. Most modern mastermind groups find that it’s better for them to have more structure to ensure everyone in the group gets maximum value.
Various mastermind meeting agendas and facilitation techniques have been tested and refined over time that help increase participation and return on time invested.
Franklin’s questions and others can help facilitate great mastermind meetings. It’s helpful to provide them before and if possible during the meeting for everyone to see. Send them via email and/or screen share them during your meeting.
Better yet, use a tool that is built for running better mastermind groups and mastermind group meetings.
You can easily create and share your meeting agendas with Nucleus. You can even include Spotlight/Hotseat segments for each member that include the questions or prompts for discussion and their most important goals so the group makes better use of their valuable time together. Get a free 30 day trial at nucleusapp.io