Two and half years ago I made the jump and joined a mastermind group. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
For those of you who don’t know, a mastermind group is a group of small business owners who regularly gets together and help each other grow their businesses/solve problems. The concept is that 5-15 minds put together will be exponentially faster, creative, and powerful. This group idea originated from Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” (if you haven’t read this, please asap)
Within each meeting, every business owner is allowed to use their time to showcase what is working, ask for help on what they are struggling with, or whatever may be helpful to their business. It is NOT a time to sell, or “network” in the traditional way.
The format is incredibly effective because it eliminates the “junk” that comes along with other networking meetings. Instead, we are focused on helping each other without any hidden agendas.
Unfortunately, I waited awhile to join, and I regret that decision. If I would have joined earlier, I am convinced I would be MUCH further in my career today. Too be honest, I was scared and apprehensive. This mastermind group was definitely outside my comfort zone (which is usually a good sign).
I had negative thoughts and questions flowing through my mind.
- Was I too young?
- Will they think I’m too inexperienced?
- What can I help them with?
- There is no way they will respect me.
- Is this worth the investment?
- Is this worth my time?
But I overcame the hesitation and the fear and joined.
What I quickly discovered was that my negative thoughts had very little ground.
– The group was welcoming and respectful, but firm with advice.
– I did not “feel” too young or inexperiences. On the contrary, it was viewed as a positive within the group.
– I quickly realized that, even though the members were all successful in one way or another, every business owner had more to learn.
I have been in the group for multiple years now and this is what I have learned about the mastermind format.
1. Be open to ideas from outside your industry
The best ideas for pretty much everyone in the group (not just me) came from an outside industry. For example, a service business (like mine) got an excellent idea on client retention from a colleague who owns an e-commerce business.
Some of the best ideas in business were “outside the box.” Did you know the fast food drive through idea was taken from the banking industry? If I closed my mind to only ideas that traditionally fit my industry, then my business would just be average, like the one down the street.
2. Listen first, talk second
The first couple meetings I attended, I was too eager to chat up my ideas and defend them against any criticism without REALLY listening to the other group members.
Once I learned to shut-up (temporarily) and allow others to explain their perspective, the conversation and ideas went to another level. Every person in the group is intelligent and successful, so their perspective can helped me avoid pitfalls and speed up my success.
From there I was able to add my own perspectives and ideas and it only added to value of the conversation. This lesson has also translated into other areas of my life, improving those too. And although I am not perfect at this (yet), I will continue to work on it and get better as a listener and a member of my mastermind group.
In addition, I have found that I learned more from OTHER peoples questions/time than my own! If you saw my notebook, I would have 3-5x more notes that came from others. It’s amazing what you can learn when you open up your ears and your mind.
3. Take notes, review them later
Obviously these meetings are chalked full of great ideas. And as I mentioned earlier, they not only come from your scheduled time, but from others.
It is prudent to be taking copious notes through throughout the meeting. And it took me time, but I developed a very effective note taking system that has helped my comprehension and accountability.
I bring a yellow note pad and handwrite my notes. I don’t mess with technology. AFTER the meeting, when I get back home or to my office I transcribe the notes on my computer. Then I create an addition section titled “key take-aways,” which is a compilation of the notes I believe I should keep top of mind of review later.
This system allows me to re-think the concepts and create an action plan for the month ahead. I have tried just taking notes on the computer, but it is not as effective.
There is something powerful about handwriting notes first. It ingrains it just a little bit more. Maybe it’s the over exposure to screens throughout the day, but my mind views handwritten as more valuable.
I didn’t start doing this until about a year in and I wish I would have started sooner! Even if you are not in a mastermind, start taking a notepad with you everywhere. Write down your ideas and then transcribe and review them later. You will find that things won’t be falling through the cracks anymore.
4. Take responsibility for everything
When I presented a particular problem or issue, I may get back 3-5 pieces of good advice. I would then choose which idea to implement. Unfortunately, not everything works out perfect. Either the implementation was incorrect or the advice was off-base. Regardless of whatever reason that comes to mind, I learned to take personal responsibility.
Even if the group’s advice was wrong (or just slightly off), it is up to me to take credit for the good and the bad. Every decision is my own and I cannot place blame on anyone else.
My business is a direct reflection of me and my efforts.
As a side note to this: It is incredibly freeing to take full responsibility. Once you commit to this, your worries about other people and about outside influences just fall to the wayside.
5. The more successful people you have around you, the better
This is hard to describe, but I’ll do my best: I feel better about my successes, my failures, and even myself after a quality mastermind meeting.
Being an entrepreneur/business owner can be a lonely experience and times. It’s encouraging and uplifting to spend time with people who live a life like yours. Those who understand the daily struggle of trying to grow a company.
Within the mastermind, everyone just “gets it.” If you have been running your business for any extended period of time, you understand what I am saying.
In addition, it is incredibly inspiring to be around people who have accomplished more than me. It helps me envision where I want to take my business and my career. And the more, the better. Each quality business owner adds to the energy of the meeting and creates more inspiration.
My mind and my attitude are ALWAYS in a better place after a mastermind meeting.
As, Jim Rohn famously said “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
I am incredibly grateful to have found a valuable mastermind group. It has changed my mindset and accelerated my results. I am so glad I took the leap and didn’t let my fears an inhibition hold me back.
So my advice to all millennial entrepreneurs is to find that supportive group, whether it’s a mastermind or something else, that challenges you, supports you, and helps you grow into the best business owner you can be. Don’t wait like I did. You’ll regret it.
Let’s get to work,
– Grant Pettegrew