Monday, February 13, 2012

7 Keys to Forming a Productive Master
Mind Group

There has been a surprising resurgence among young people these days in the works of original self-help, personal-success guru Napoleon Hill. What makes Mr. Hill's work so powerful and timely is a simple idea: success is not about money. In simple ways, he showed people how true success begins inside ourselves. Money, success or the ability to reach any goal is the by-product of right thinking, right action and aligning with ancient success principles. Just an FYI, he was talking about the Law of Attraction long before The Secret ever uttered the word.

Perhaps this is why Napoleon Hill's 1937 classic Think and Grow Rich is still being published to this day, (I have a leather bound copy, dogeared and highlighted to no end). Since the economy is leaving most depressed and hopeless, many people are turning to Napoleon Hill's work in order to capture even the tiniest clue to success.

Many of the chapters in Think and Grow Rich stand out: Thoughts Are Things, The Mystery of Sex Transmutation, The Six Ghosts of Fear and my favorite chapter 10, The Power of The Master Mind.

What makes this chapter so powerful is that it plays off of the idea that 2 heads are better than one. Mastermind Groups are designed to help create a path to success because the participants raise the bar of professionalism and ideas. They support each others goals by offering their experience and expertise. Ask anyone who is successful today and they will almost always attribute their success to the people they convene with in private.

But don't listen to me, listen to Napoleon Hill as he describes it..."No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind..." or a Master Mind.

Just in case you think this sounds a little silly, take a look at high profile Master Mind organizations such as YPO, WPO and Young Entrepreneurs—successfully making a definite change in our world. I have had the honor of speaking several times at the local chapter of Vistage International here in NYC— a Master Mind Group made up of C-Level executives and business owners dedicated to bettering their companies and their personal skills.

So how do you form a Master Mind Group for yourself? It is actually simple.

First get a small group of like-minded individuals to meet on a weekly or monthly basis for the same purpose—to support each other in the individual members success goals. I have been involved in many Master Mind groups throughout my career and I have to say, the synergy, positive energy and excitement that the participants bring to a group becomes intoxicating, and purposeful.

Make sure the group decides which day of the week is best for all...then commit to the dates. And more importantly, be dedicated to each both in your Master Mind Group as well as outside on a day-to-day basis.

Understanding that when two or more people gather together, solutions become easier.

Brad Szollose's 7 Keys to Forming a Productive Master Mind Group:

1) Choose Members with Diverse Backgrounds with Little Overlap
It is very important that the people you pick have very different skill sets that you may be lacking. If any 2 people in your group has the same skills, it becomes like two people paddling a canoe on the same just go in circles. Best to choose those that have very different skills with little overlap.

Years ago I was asked to join a Master Mind Group in Manhattan. One of the guys was a longtime corporate coach who specialized in turning authors into bestsellers while providing research and story development. Since I was working on my own leadership book at the time, he was a natural fit. Our overlap was humor and we could have helped each other in that area, but our real need was what the other lacked.

He helped give me feedback on my book and I helped him with his marketing. We shared our expertise in the area the other needed most.

2) Choose People Who Are Committed to The Group

This may take a long time to get the right mix. Members may come and go, but eventually a core team will start to form. Do not give up. Lay the ground rules for newcomers. No outside personal business is to be conducted during the Master Mind meeting. Phone calls can be answered during breaks, but the key is to not interrupt or takeaway from each person’s contribution. Now of course there may be interruptions but you will know very quickly who is supportive and who is not. Those who are big on letting life encroach into the meeting will be asked to resign.

That same Mastermind Team I was asked to join years ago had one individual that started to become annoying and disruptive to the group. He not only scheduled a private coaching session close to our 4th meeting, he was late. Late was actually a skill set for him. Which meant he wouldn't be able to contribute to the group that day, nor was he going to be there any longer than 45 minutes out of a 2 hour commitment once a month. It would have been better f he had not shown up. His presence became disruptive at best. We broke up shortly after that. And this leads me to my next point...

3) Members should be Committed to Supporting of Each Member
What is hard is getting people to commit to such a group on a consistent basis. We all have lives and interruptions, but letting each member know the benefits of their involvement becomes paramount to understanding why they should be committed to the group.

Each contributor to your Master Mind must receive an equal amount of support and contribution from the team. This is kind of self explanatory. Let's say if I coach Lisa on her business and how to market herself, I expect her to use her knowledge and expertise to give me feedback on my book as well as open up her Rolodex of publishers. Quid Pro Quo...equal commitment and equal time.

4) Commitment Means No Excuses
Be strict with each other. If you assign homework, each must have their homework done—keep each other accountable and supportive of each others goals. This is your chance to sit with colleagues who "get" what you want to do. These are not doubters or naysayers. So give them the same respect.

But don't listen to me, here is what Napoleon Hill had to say about the idea of a Master Mind Group... "The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony."

Harmony doesn't just mean a happy balance. It means professional courtesy. It means equal participation to the best of each members abilities. Those that waver in their commitment may need to be dropped from the group and replaced with someone with better energy.

5) Challenge Each Other
I attended a marketing and sales boot camp where I was both a presenter and a participant. On day 2, one of our colleagues spent over 4 hours tossing ideas out to one participant after another. When it was his time for us to present our ideas for his business, the group challenged themselves to give the same commitment he gave to us earlier. The results were astounding!!!

So in your own group challenge each other to give your very best to each other. Do not accept mediocrity. By doing so, you raise the bar for ideas, create better goals and brainstorm better breakthrough ideas. By showing this kind of support, each member will be fired up to never miss a meeting. Play devil’s advocate for each other. Your Master Mind is there as a catalyst for success.

6) Rotate Leadership Positions as Needed
Young people today are comfortable with collaboration and technology...after all, they have been raised through video games to do so. But more importantly, they have been trained as well to see authority not as a position on an org chart, but as a skill set. Each member of a team get's a chance to be in charge of a mission depending on their time within the rotation.

So try a page from Gen Y, rotate your leadership positions after one year. Perhaps your group has a president and a treasurer, and someone who does the meeting minutes, those positions may be shared or changed often. This keeps the group fresh and less tired.

I have a close friend who was president of his HAM radio club for 20 years. No one helped him and when they did, it was lackluster at best. When he finally resigned, he didn't just resign his position, he resigned his membership from the club as well. He was FINISHED.

Let that be a lesson to you...don't burn people out.

7) Keep Your Master Mind Group Small and Balanced
In order to get the most from a Master Mind Team I suggest small groups so that time is utilized more efficiently. Choose a balanced, small, professional group from eclectic backgrounds. Keep it between 3 and 5 people. Do not go past 9 members, otherwise there will not be enough time in one meeting to address each persons needs.

Eclectic backgrounds and balance are key to getting the most leverage from your team. Be very careful about the mix of people in your Master Mind Group.

If a group gets too male dominated that can be good if you are a hockey team, but bad in business when it comes to reflection and strategy. WHY? Men have a tendency to be competitive and black and white in decision making, whereas women are far more collaborative and supportive of the bigger picture, especially in corporate relationships. So keep the male/female ratio balanced for better ideas and strategies. Brilliant ideas come from everywhere and the more diversified, the better.

Now who wouldn't want to be a part of a group of people who want to support each other in each members mutual success? 

I get to rely on my Master Mind members outside of our get-togethers every 2 weeks or so. I know that if I have a win, they are their for support. If I have a problem, or need a solution, I have an experienced team of business commandos ready to help me...and I am ready to help them as well.

Here is an excellent book my Napoleon Hill that helps keep your mind focused and on target...and aware of the forces that are trying to sabotage your efforts:

Outwitting The Devil
Napoleon Hill wrote this book in 1938 right after the publication of his all-time bestseller, Think and Grow Rich —yet it was never published 'til now. As you read through the pages you will understand why Outwitting The Devil was suppressed for 70 years! It was due to it's controversial subject matter— that mankind has been controlled and kept from advancement because of a man-made devil that exists within our minds. It is a fascinating read especially as Mr. Hill predicts our future unfolding before us right now...a prediction from 70 years ago!!!

Co-authored by Sharon Lechter, her commentary on our modern era and the dead-on predictability of Mr. Hill's work, is an eye-opening commentary on how an entire system of success can be sabotaged by the wrong thinking.

I suggest you pick up a copy (and form a reading circle with other like-minded friends).

Thanks for reading,

Brad Szollose

Brad is the award winning, international bestselling author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

As a Baby Boomer, Brad grew up watching the original Star Trek series, secretly wishing he would be commanding a Constitution Class Starship in the not too distant future. Since that would take a while, Brad became a technology driven, creative director who co-founded one of the very first Internet Development Agencies during the Dot Com Boom—K2 Design. As a Web Pioneer, Brad was forced to invent a new management model that engaged the first wave of Digital Workers. Today, Brad helps Fortune 500 Companies close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a cultural divide—created by a new tech-savvy worker...and customer.

Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind Newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Brad Szollose Bio:


Who Is Brad Szollose?: 

Cofounder of Another Big Production. Host of Awakened Nation™. Award-Winning Author. Creative Director. Leader. Visionary. TEDxSpeaker. Web Pioneer. C-Level Executive.

First things, first. How do you say Szollose?
It’s pronounced zol-us.

From founding partner and CMO of K2 Design, Inc. the first Digital Agency to go public on NASDAQ to international leadership development expert, Brad Szollose has worked with household names like MasterCard, American Management Association and Tony Robbins, to create leadership training programs for a new generation.

As an award-winning creative director, he has been the creative force behind hundreds of high-end corporate events, personal and consumer brands, and website launches. Brad is the recipient of the Corporate Identity Design Award and the Axiom Business Book Award along with various awards for website and print design.

As a C-Level executive at K2, his unique management model was awarded the Arthur Andersen New York Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation Amongst Employees (Workforce Culture).

Today, the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on next-generation leadership development, branding and modern Management Strategies, and he has been featured (both print and online versions) in Forbes, Inc., Advertising Age, USA Today, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, International Business Times, Le Journal du Dimanche (France), and The Hindu Business Line to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CGTN America, CBS, Roku Network and other media outlets.

Brad continues to challenge the status quo with his new book, Liquid Leadership 2.0, and his new podcast, Awakened Nation.

After 35 years in New York City, he now calls Las Vegas home. In his free time, he enjoys hiking in the mountains, working Star Trek and Dune quotes into everyday conversation, and painting and drawing the stunning landscapes of the American Southwest.