July 25th, 2008

Eat and Grow Rich: 5 Reasons to Start a Mastermind Group over Your Lunch Break at Work

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Sushi + Mastermind Group=Raw success

Mastermind Group: A powerful alliance between people who support each other on the road to success.

Napoleon Hill formally introduced the idea of a mastermind group in his classic book Think and Grow Rich. In it, he describes a mastermind group as “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” Many famous entrepreneurs, such as Andrew Carnegie and Thomas Edison, were known to have their own mastermind groups, which were critical to their success. Mastermind groups bring together a synergy of energy, commitment, sharing, and brainstorming that you cannot get otherwise.

For several weeks now, my coworkers and I have held weekly mastermind group meetings over our lunch break. This has been a great way for each of us to stay accountable to our personal goals, help each other by sharing knowledge and brainstorming, and share our personal networks.

5 Reasons to Start a Mastermind Group Over Your Lunch Break at Work

1) It’s like having your own personal board of directors

In a mastermind group, the agenda belongs to the group, but each person’s participation is key. Your peers give you feedback, help you brainstorm new possibilities, and set up an accountability system that keeps you focused and on track. You create a community of supportive colleagues who will brainstorm with you to move the group to new heights. You gain tremendous insights, which can help improve your business and personal life. In a real way, your mastermind group is like having an objective board of directors.

-Joe Vitale and Bill Hibbler, Meet and Grow Rich

Being part of a mastermind group is like having your own board of directors. After meeting once a week over lunch, you’ll notice that you have a lot less trial and error due to running new ideas by your mastermind group beforehand.

Example from my group: I discussed what I eventually wanted to do with my side business to other group members- I received a couple great ideas I hadn’t thought of, implemented one of them, and it has helped out tremendously.

2) Knowledge sharing and The Wisdom of Crowds

James Surowiecki explains that the group has a larger intelligence than any individual member:

If you can assemble a diverse group of people who possess varying degrees of knowledge and insight, you’re better off entrusting it with major decisions rather than leaving them in the hands of one or two people, no matter how smart those people are.

-James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds

Your group will have knowledge and experience in different fields, allowing you to overcome your lack of knowledge in certain areas. Likewise, you will be able to help other group members in areas where you are an expert.

Example from my group: One member of my mastermind group has a very successful real estate side business. Another member just moved, and is considering renting out his old house. There have been significant benefits to information sharing between these two members.

3) Staying accountable to your goals

This is one of the best reasons for starting a mastermind group at work. During each meeting, you give yourself a homework assignment. The group members can keep you accountable to your homework assignment, along with your long-term goals, such as losing weight, starting a new business, writing a book, or getting into the real estate market.

4) Sharing personal networks

Mastermind groups multiply the size of your personal network.

Example: One group member might mention that they are interested in writing a novel, but don’t know how to get it published. Another member has a cousin that recently had their book published, and offers his cousin’s contact information.

5) Holding the group meetings over lunch is a time saver

By having a mastermind group at work over lunch break, you are not spending your time meeting during an evening or weekend. This also keeps the meetings more consistent.

These five reasons alone aren’t enough to get you started- based on my own experience, you’ll need these 4 tips to help you start your own mastermind group at work:

A small mastermind group (3-4 members) is more manageable for meeting over lunch breaks
A small mastermind group (3-4 members) is more manageable for meeting over lunch breaks

4 Tips for Starting a Mastermind Group at Work

1) Choose a diverse group of individuals

Compared to a normal mastermind group, the individuals that join one at work will be less diverse. Diversity is one of the keys to success in any mastermind group, so try to find people with different ages, different backgrounds, and different personality styles. If possible, each member should be from a different department or have a different area of expertise at work.

2) Choose individuals you can trust

Trust is fundamental to the success of any mastermind group. Coworkers may become worried that you will share their personal goals with other coworkers, or use it against them in the workplace. Make sure you choose group members that trust each other, and set ground rules beforehand that you won’t talk about each other’s goals with others outside of the group.

3) Meet once per week, and let each person talk for 15 minutes

Meet over lunch at the same time each week- block the time off on your calendar. Choose a group coordinator, who will be in charge of making sure each person gets 15 minutes to discuss what’s on their mind, and get feedback from other members. The group coordinator should also record each person’s goals, to keep the person accountable at the next meeting.

4) Keep the size of the group small

Normal mastermind groups ideally have 5-6 members. But mastermind groups at work need to be half that size. If you are meeting over lunch break, and each person is talking for 15 minutes, then the group should be no larger than 3-4 people. My group currently has three members. Any more than that, and we would be rushed to discuss each member’s goals.

Creative Commons License photo credit: yatenkaiouh, Ikhlasul Amal

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