Group Programs and the Mastermind Principle

What is the Mastermind Principle?

Throughout history, successful people have followed the Mastermind Principle. The highest achievers have always known that they can accomplish more together than they can alone. The most basic definition of the Mastermind Principle is simply the idea that two heads are better than one.

People working together solve more problems than one person working alone.

In the 1937 classic “Think and Grow Rich”, Napoleon Hill describes what he calls the “Master Mind” by saying, “No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.” The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Napoleon Hill’s “Master Mind” principle has been applied by groups large and small. It is now the basis for the modern Mastermind group. With the help of technology, these massively popular groups range from a few friends connecting online to powerful business leaders paying six figures for membership. There are several very different types of groups that people call “Masterminds”. They each make use of the mastermind principle and can each help you in different ways.

Group Types

The term “Mastermind” has become increasingly popular with entrepreneurs, coaches, and trainers. It is also used to describe a wide variety of groups, which will be detailed below. Each of the groups makes use of the Mastermind Principle, however, they are all different with their own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Mastermind Alliance

The mastermind alliance as defined by Napoleon Hill is the “coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”

One powerful example of the application of this is Andrew Carnegie. He is said to have attributed his entire fortune to the power of his mastermind alliance, which consisted of about 50 men who were responsible for running the Carnegie Steel Company. Carnegie stated that he, personally, “knew nothing about the technical end of the steel business; moreover, he did not particularly care to know anything about it. The specialized knowledge which he required for the manufacture and marketing of steel, he found available through the individual units of his mastermind group.”

Carnegie’s application of the mastermind principle is different from the others mentioned here because the entire group is focused on the attainment of the same definite purpose. Meetings for these kinds of groups are usually facilitated and there is a leader or leadership team.

In the case of the Carnegie Steel Company, Carnegie was the one coordinating the knowledge of others (like Charles M. Schwab) and helping to maintain harmony, and he amassed one of the largest fortunes in the world.

This application of the mastermind principle shows up in corporate and nonprofit boards, committees, and even well-organized causes and movements.

Peer-to-Peer Group

The most common type of Mastermind group is a peer-to-peer group. They are sometimes called accountability groups. Peer-to-peer groups are often the easiest to start because they can begin as a couple of friends or like-minded people who decide to consistently check-in and hold each other accountable. In this type of group, there is usually no designated leader. Each person is working on their own personal or business goals and they come to the group for ideas and support.

Meetings for peer to peer groups are often very informal which can cause them to be less productive. Without a leader and structured agenda, members may end up spending too much of their time catching up or having an open discussion. This lack of structure often leads to a lack of results, causing many of these groups to fizzle out when members feel like they are just wasting time. Peer-to-peer groups are usually free which seems to lead to less commitment, meaning members miss more meetings and don’t complete their goals as often.

Peer to peer groups can benefit greatly from implementing a clear structure or agenda to make sure that each member gets time to participate and receives value from the meeting. Implementing a defined process for setting specific goals and reporting back to the group on their progress will also improve the results through shared accountability. Groups can increase their value long-term by keeping track of the ideas and resources shared in a way that makes it easy to find at a later time.

Examples of these include historical groups like the Junto (Ben Franklin’s “Club for Mutual Improvement”) as well as modern advocates like Oprah, Jack Canfield, and Pat Flynn.

Facilitated Paid Groups

Paid Mastermind groups are run by a good facilitator and offer a blend of peer advisory and group coaching. The facilitator handles the structure of the meeting which allows the members to focus on engaging with each other. A proper agenda can lead to a high level of contribution from each member because the facilitator makes sure each person has time to share and sets the expectation for accountability. The structure and knowledge shared by the facilitator are often invaluable to the success of members. Facilitated paid groups have a deep focus on each member and their individual goals. There is a higher rate of commitment because they paid to play.

The success of these groups depends greatly on not only the abilities of the facilitator but also on the caliber of the members. The focus is on members working together and helping each other so it’s essential that everyone has that mindset and adds value to the group through their participation. A group that includes bad attitudes or people who are unwilling or unable to contribute will struggle, even with a facilitator.

These groups often fail to include goal setting. By documenting goals they can increase their completion rate. Tracking goals and completion rates over time helps members to see their progress or lack of it. This can serve as motivation either way and leads to setting better goals.

When members can look back and see the progress they made by participating in the mastermind and it increases their satisfaction with the program. For mastermind group facilitators, having happy members equals repeat customers, referrals, and positive reviews.

Vistage facilitators/coaches are called Chairs and they have over 1000 worldwide.

CEO Roundtables and Networks

These groups typically have very strict entrance requirements such as being the owner or founder of a company with revenues over $1M per year or executives of companies with sales above $13M per year. Roundtable groups meet both in-person and online. They are often heavily focused on networking which can be extremely beneficial because the members are all already successful and connected.

Some roundtable discussions also include workshops or training but typically don’t follow a set curriculum. Meetings are sometimes used to recruit new members which diminish the confidentiality and relationship building aspect. Goal setting and accountability are often lacking in these groups and meetings. Groups are often larger 8-24 people so members interact with each other less during meetings and need to find ways to interact outside of meetings to build stronger relationships.

A historical example of this type of group would be the Vagabonds. Today organizations EO and YPO span the globe with networks in the 10’s of thousands and local chapters nearly everywhere.

Group Coaching

Many group coaching programs are now being sold as mastermind groups. A major difference between group coaching and other Mastermind groups is that most of the information comes from the coach or leader, with less contribution from the members of the group. These groups are often based on following a specific training program or curriculum. They tend to be very large groups. This can mean that there is not much time for each member to talk about their own specific challenges, which limits their ability to get ideas and feedback from the group. When members do get the chance to ask questions they are usually answered by the coach or expert, not other members, which can limit shared knowledge to only what is received from the leader.

If goals are set during these meetings they are often based on completing predetermined tasks that are aligned with the training schedule or curriculum rather than the unique situation of individual members. Some coaches help their students sent individualized goals. Group coaching can be a great way to learn specific knowledge from an expert and it can be a great way for coaches to expand their business by working with a lot more people than they can through one-to-one coaching. There is the potential for members to network and help each other but networking is much less of a focus than with many other types of groups. Occasionally, these meetings are more like a webinar than a mastermind meeting. If the members of the group don’t participate and information only flows one way, then it’s not a mastermind, it’s a presentation. Group coaching is a core offering for many coaches but is also used as a way to upsell additional products and one-to-one coaching.

Brendan Burchard offers a popular group coaching program called HPX Coaching

Communities and Forums

Another popular type of Mastermind group is the Mastermind community which is similar to a forum. These groups can be small or very large with hundreds or even thousands of members. They are often run on social platforms like Facebook or Reddit. There are typically no scheduled meetings for these types of groups and not much formal structure at all. Members are free to post messages and respond to each other at any time they wish. Some people will use these groups as a form of public accountability but there is rarely any systematized way of following up on goals that are set. Participation in these groups is self-driven so some people will engage a lot and some people will not engage at all. Some people will lurk in the group and just read what others post. Most people will not participate in any meaningful way.

These types of groups can have some benefits because they include so many members. In a large active group questions that are asked may receive lots of answers since they can be seen by a great number of people. The quality of the answers can vary greatly depending on how well-vetted the group members are, but it does allow for a high amount of shared knowledge. Many groups allow anyone to join to increase their member count as much as possible. Community mastermind groups are often created as a bonus or add on for a product or used as a place to upsell additional services.

People tend to behave differently in groups that are only chat-based and may post things that are not as valuable as things they would share in a virtual or in-person meeting. The number of people in these types of groups can provide good networking opportunities. This often leads to people forming connections and smaller groups with others in the community. Strong relationships can be formed in these groups but that typically only happens when people decide to connect one-on-one or in smaller groups outside of the forum.

Examples include:

The Official Tony Robbins Comeback Challenge, David Goggins

In-Person Events, Immersions, Destinations and Retreats

Many masterminds focus on or include a big event or experience. They’re often held at luxurious mansions and tropical destinations but many people spend a few days inside dull hotel conference rooms fully focused on the content and other members of the group.

These types of masterminds can be very powerful and potentially life-changing because of the intensity of the experience. Deep and lasting relationships are often formed when people several days together – especially when they share intense experiences.

Because these masterminds happen over a long period of time there’s usually more information shared. Each person gets more time to share, and more time to get feedback and ideas from the group.

There’s often a lack of follow up and follow through with events. Breakthroughs are had but frequently not translated to action plans with scheduled accountability check-ins. The brilliance and inspiration get lost in the moment or buried away in notebooks.

The best of these groups provide an immersive experience that’s combined with a system for transitioning the excitement into action and a way for members to stay connected so they can help each other and hold each other accountable.

The price tag these types of masterminds can vary widely. It’s not uncommon to see 3-day events that cost $2500-$10,000 or annual memberships of $50,000-$100,000.

These high prices mean that when you attend you’re surrounded by people who can afford to and are willing to spend significant money and effort to meet new people, learn new things, and improve their lives. Those are great people to be around if you have similar objectives.

Some examples of these groups and events include;
Joe Polish Genius Network, War Room Mastermind, Mastermind Summit, Maverick1000, and the 7 Figure Mastermind.

How To Use the Mastermind Principle for Success

Each of the different types of group programs that leverage the mastermind principle has unique advantages. It’s rare to find a group that combines all of the different elements so people often participate in more than one group to get maximum benefits.

The groups that deliver the most value are the groups that feature the best of all the different formats, but it can be challenging to bring everything into a unified seamless experience.

If you’re a coach or someone who runs these types of group programs, consider how you can build all of these elements and strategies into your offering to maximize the benefit your students/members get;

  • Small accountability groups for goal setting and problem-solving
  • A community for making connections, and networking
  • Educational content and group training
  • An event or immersive experience

Mastermind Manager makes it easier to run mastermind groups because now everything for the group happens in one place. It includes Groups, Community, Chat, Goals, Scheduling, and Meetings all in one fully White-labeled Member Portal.

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