How to Start a Mastermind Group, Part 3 – Organizing Your Meetings
Mastermind groups are used by the ultra successful to help them become even more successful. If you're wondering how to start a mastermind group of your own, this 5-part series will show you how to do it!
Masterminds are a meeting of the minds. So, if the minds are going to meet, you must have a meeting. Whether virtual or in person, the meetings are a key component of any successful mastermind group.
In order to break down this series on how to start a mastermind, I've broken it down into manageable chunks.
Part 3 – Organizing Your Meetings
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Now that we've covered the who and the why, let's look at the how of how to start a mastermind. Once you outline your purpose and get the right people involved, you'll need to coordinate how your members meet with each other.
When Should You Meet?
I've had mastermind groups meet at all times of day. From a 6 am start time to meetings that sometimes ran until 11 o'clock at night, I've experienced it all.
While I'm not a morning person and I'd much rather stay up late and sleep in, my 6 am mastermind is one of my favorites. By getting up early and meeting with other entrepreneurs before we go to work, we set the tone for the rest of the day.
There is power in masterminds. There is also power in taking your day by the horns and telling it what you want to happen, instead of the other way around. Combine the two and you have a recipe for success.
My suggestion is to start your masterminds early in the morning and have them toward the beginning of the week. Though I've had late-night groups, they tend to have less energy. If you've got to wake up early for work or to get your kids out the door, chances are, other members do too.
Early meetings are better than late meetings as they also usually focus on what you're about to do instead of what just happened.
Where Should You Meet?
There are two ways to host your meetings: online or in person. If you meet online you may have more flexibility, but you may also have to deal with time zone differences of your members. If you meet offline, you may get better interaction, but you may also have difficulty finding meeting space.
The best ways to meet online are Google Hangouts, Appear.In, Zoom, or Skype. They're all free and they each offer video conferencing which is a big bonus.
Google Hangouts are free but they can be confusing. Even with a high level of technical savvy, I've had issues with using Hangouts.
Hangouts also don't allow you to easily record your calls or allow members to dia-in by phone. My members have requested both of these features. While there may be plugins or workarounds that add features, Hangouts is a pretty basic tool.
I would recommend Google Hangouts for your meetings when you're just starting out.
Appear.in is more basic than Google Hangouts, but it's also more user-friendly; I'll get to that. Where Google allows up to 10 participants and has a few technical things you can tweak, Appear.in has neither.
I like Appear.in because it is so simple to use. No logging in, no complicated settings, it just works. It's also nice because you can create custom links, and claim them as your own. Once you've claimed a custom URL, or room, you can password protect it or bookmark the link to come back to easily.
One problem with Appear.in is that it's not compatible with all browsers. You have to use Chrome, Firefox, or Opera (blech), but most people use one of those anyway. For the iOS drones out there (had to throw that jab) there's an app on the app store.
I would recommend Appear.in to anyone just starting out with masterminds. And probably even for the more tenured if you don't need dial-in or recording capabilities.
Skype is my least favorite of the group. They make updates every few months that break their API connection with some of the most popular recording software. While Skype is the go-to standard for podcasters, I wouldn't recommend using it to start a mastermind.
Here's why. Skype can't run in a browser and it's not great for medium-sized groups.
Everyone who uses it must download the software, create a login and password, remember their login and password, and be on compatible device. That's a lot to ask when you may be working with non-technical types who want to be in your mastermind.
And, even though I think they've made improvements on their group chat capabilities, I don't know many people who use Skype for group chats. Skype's wheelhouse is one-on-one calls. They excel in that area and that's why I recommend it for everyone starting a podcast.
The last option is my favorite even though it's not perfect.
Zoom.us is the video conferencing tool I use and recommend for starting a high-quality mastermind group. They offer two options that make them my favorite.
First, they offer a dial-in phone number for participants. Though it's not toll-free, most people here in the States have long-distance calling included in their plans. One of my mastermind groups meets at 5:30 CST. If Derek works just a little late, his drive home overlaps with our start time. However, the dial-in option means Derek can call from his cell phone, join the call, and participate with the group.
Second, at any point during the meeting, I can start recording with the click of my mouse. It's so easy, I now even record all of my coaching calls for those clients as well. No other video call software allows you to do that.
Recording and dial-in phone numbers weren't even on my list of things to look for until after my first mastermind met. Since I'm usually at home, in my office and able to take notes, I never considered needing either of these features. As your mastermind grows, you may find yourself needing to adapt as well.
The downside to the free version of Zoom is that it only allows meetings up to 40 minutes. Then, after a warning and countdown timer, it kicks everyone off. You could always have people jump back on, but it's annoying.
I also like Zoom because it allows up to 25 participants. That's 3x more than Appear.in, 2.5x more than Hangouts and Skype. While your mastermind should never have more than 6-7, you may want to have more than 10 on occasion. I invite my members to sit in on and participate in live Experts Calls once per month. I also host quarterly “happy hour” meetups between all of my clients and mastermind groups.
Lastly, I prefer Zoom because I have extra controls as the host. I can mute people on entry, enable/disable chimes on join, and can get a transcript of the group chat along with the recording. If you're going to charge members to be a part of your mastermind groups, or, if you just want to provide a more premium service, go with Zoom.
If the 40 minute constraint doesn't fit your style, you can buy a year of Zoom for $99.90.
How Often Should We Meet?
Meeting frequency is a key component of your mastermind group. You may think it's not a big deal, but it is. How often you meet can make or break your group. Too often and it's overwhelming. Too much time in between, and your members lose momentum, disconnect, and eventually slip away.
So, as I do with most things, I tested it. I tested weekly meeting, once a month meetings, as well as meeting every two weeks. What I found was frustrating, but useful.
If you meet every week, you run the risk of burning your members out. They can get exhausted by the constant push toward results.
While, yes, we're here to get results and make progress, no, we're not here to overwhelm our members. If you do decide to meet weekly, liven the meetings up. Don't jump from hot-seat to hot-seat with no break. The constant pressure to perform leads to people missing meetings or dropping off entirely.
However, the mastermind I've been with the longest is the one that meets weekly. I love it. That being said, the mood of each meeting is pretty light. We share our wins, what we're working on, and where we're headed. We also share our struggles and things that didn't work, but we don't stick to the spotlight/hot-seat model.
My weekly mastermind (one where I'm a member not the host) also has wavering attendance. Each week we see about half of the members show up. Whether it's a lack of motivation, a busy schedule, absence of momentum or something else, I don't know. What I do know is that the members who have showed up regularly and frequently are the ones getting the best results and have the most to show for their efforts. Donald and Jimmy are the most regular attendees and they're crushing it in their businesses.
I tested monthly meetings with my first coaching client. I thought it what I was “supposed” to do. That first coaching client loved the results, but I didn't. Here's why.
Monthly meetings are too far apart. Motivation wanes and accountability wavers. Too much can happen in a month, and if that's the only time you're meeting, your members will find their community elsewhere.
In the case of your mastermind members, absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Absence means your members forget, lose motivation, lose track of what they were working on, and end up not sticking with it.
Meeting monthly may work if you have highly motivated members who are already living out their dream and just need a check-in, but for the rest of us, they don't work.
The Meeting Frequency That Works
The best amount of time between meetings is about 10 days. That's frequent enough to keep your members motivated and moving forward, and it's enough time in between so they avoid burnout. But meeting every ten days is a logistical nightmare. So, what do you do?
The mastermind meeting schedule that works best is meeting every other week with regular check-ins.
Since scheduling meetings every 10 days would be a practical impossibility, meeting every other week is the best alternative. Even then, I've found that members sometimes need a refocusing call on the off weeks. When you're off on your own, in different parts of the country, it can be difficult to stay focused on the end goal. These regular check-ins are like an injection of adrenaline to keep your members tied to the body of the group.
In Part 4 – Boosting Engagement, I'll share more ways you can keep your members connected.
How Do the Meetings Work?
Whether you decide to meet in person or via the internet, your meetings will function the same. Members get together, share what they're working on, what's working and what isn't, and then gives each other feedback. Whether you're looking at each other across a table or across the screen, it doesn't much matter.
What does matter is the amount of engagement you'll see and how quickly you become friends with your fellow members. Meeting in person facilitates a quicker bond, but it's also not easy when you're 500 miles away.
The Hot Seat Model
Masterminds have been putting members in the spotlight, under the microscope, since the concept was introduced almost 100 years ago. The hot seat is where a member and his business is the focus for that meeting.
Members on the hot seat share three things:
- what they're working on
- what is working for them
- what isn't working for them
The Hot Seat Model is extremely popular because it gives everyone the chance to share their wins and get feedback on what they're doing. Members are put under pressure one week, then given time to make adjustments for a few weeks before they're back under the spot light. If you have four members, each person is on the hot seat roughly once a month, and that's not a bad schedule.
The Book Club Model
If you're new to the mastermind setup, you may want to look at the Book Club Model. Since throwing strangers into a mastermind group may be a little awkward, the Book Club Model provides an easy-to-follow structure that doesn't put too much pressure on any one person.
My first mastermind, the weekly, 6 am one, started on the Book Club Model. We started reading 20,000 Days and Counting by Robert D. Smith. By reading through the book we created a shared experience (See Part 2) on top of the ones we shared from New Media Expo. There was never the awkward silence that often accompanies new friend ships because we always had the book to fall back on.
If this is your first mastermind group, the Book Club Model is a solid place to start. It provides a common experience and structure that will help you grow together as a group.
Since our first book together, we've since read a few more. Though the Book Club Model is less intense than the rigorous Hot Seat Model, I really enjoy it and I think the other members do too.
The Teaching Model
After your mastermind group has established itself and your members are seeing results, it may be time to mix things up a bit. The Teaching Model allows you to do that.
Once your mastermind group has gelled and the members are a little more comfortable with one another, it's important to keep everyone on their toes. Complacency and disinterest are a cancer to your mastermind group. If your members aren't focused and moving forward, your group will die.
As soon as one of your mastermind members achieves a win, they need to turn around and share how they did it with the group. A mastermind is, after all, the sharing of knowledge and resources. The Teaching Model allows members to teach their skills and share their knowledge with the other members. If you've done a good job getting the right people on board, you'll have no trouble getting members with different areas of expertise to teach what they know.
The Guest Speaker Model
Just like the Teaching Model, the Speaker Model focuses on education. The only difference is that the teacher is a guest speaker.
One of my masterminds followed the Guest Speaker Model early in 2014. The speaker, Jimmy Burgess, joined us one morning to talk about self-publishing and getting books to bestseller status on Amazon. I was fortunate enough to be voted the guinea pig and we shot my ebook to the #1 spot.
We enjoyed having Jimmy teach us so much that we voted and asked him to join us. Now, a year later, Jimmy is a crucial part of our group and someone I call a personal friend.
The Guest Speaker Model is a great way to introduce new blood or infuse new information into an already thriving group. The Guest Speaker Model will not, however, heal a dying mastermind.
How I Do It: In my masterminds I use a mixture of each of these models. Above all else, I want my members to get results. After they leave my mastermind group and move on to something else, I want them to look back on their time and see just how far they've come. I want them to have made new friends, built a business, had wins, losses, grown as a person and everything in between.
To accomplish these goals, I pull from each of the models I outlined above. While we mainly stick to the Hot Seat Model, I also rotate in a meeting dedicated to Q&A before starting the through the hot seat again.
At first I was hesitant to miss a week of having a member on the hot seat. However, the feedback of the Q&A call was overwhelmingly positive and I've kept it ever since. The members really enjoyed the “Ask me anything” time and they were able to get even their most technical questions answered. I would recommend you tossing in a Q&A call at least once a quarter!
I've also incorporated an Experts Call every month that follows the Guest Speaker Model. This call overlaps with what I'm doing for my Membership Site members. The call is also edited, condensed and re-purposed as a podcast episode.
Except for one, all of my masterminds meet every other week. We started using Google Hangouts but after the requests for meeting replays and dial-in phone numbers, we switched to using Zoom.
While we haven't used the Book Club Model yet, we're about to. Starting in the summer of 2015, I'll host a cross-mastermind meeting to discuss the book with anyone who wants to participate. Since this is outside the normal mastermind meeting structure, these Book Club-ish discussions will be much less formal.
NOTE: I surveyed my members and they voted on the cross-group model. They wanted to keep their mastermind meetings separate but still wanted an opportunity to mix and mingle with members from the other groups I run. Connecting people is always good for business!
Though we haven't had a chance to use the Teaching Model, I think it's right around the corner. Members of my first mastermind are getting results and figuring things out. They're more comfortable around the other members and are quickly becoming teachers themselves. Since teaching what we've learned is a key component of the growth model, I'm really looking forward to that!
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