Every mastermind group is different. There are various mastermind group formats, structures, agendas, and scripts. While there are some commonalities that make a group a mastermind group versus a think tank or group coaching, there is not one way to create and run a mastermind group. Here are a few criteria to consider when creating your own formats and structure as you start a mastermind group. You want to establish all of these things before you start a mastermind group because they will provide you and the members you find and choose clarity as you begin to invite people.
1. Number of Members
According to Napoleon Hill’s definition of a mastermind group, you can start a mastermind group with just 2 people and a third mind would be created. On the high end Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships and that number is around 150. The mastermind group I’m a member of is 40. The mastermind group I lead has 100 people in it. Ironically, because of the format and frequency, my group of 100 has higher intimacy than the group of 40.
A company is a mastermind group that meets every day, but oftentimes they aren’t defined as masterminds. Traditional mastermind groups meet as few times as quarterly to as many times as weekly. The mastermind group I’m a member in meets 4 times a year for 1 full day. The mastermind group I lead meets every two weeks. We meet monthly via webinar and then we have an option mid-month check-in via webinar as well. In between those meetings, members connect with their buddy and interact in our forum.
3. Delivery Method
There are several options when it comes to delivery. They each have pros and cons and offer different levels of intimacy and experience. Your group can be a combination of these.
In-person can foster the most intimacy because you are face-to-face with someone, but the limitations are that not everyone can meet in one place as the same time. My group has an annual in-person event at the beginning of the year in New York that we use as a kick-off.
Webinars allow many people to meet and interact from the where they are. While the physical touch aspect is missing, people are still able to make powerful connection online through webcam. You don’t have to pay for a venue, food, or travel which brings down the cost for everyone.
Online classes allow for pre-recorded video to be shared at specific times. The fact that the video is pre-recorded takes away from the experience of being on a journey together which I think is important to the development of a mastermind group.
Teleconferencing is purely audio. Imagine online dating without pictures. There is something about seeing someone’s face that fosters a deeper connection. But teleconferencing does allow for seamless information transfer.
Just like a presidency, a mastermind group needs a term. That doesn’t mean that the group has to end, but it gives members a chance to make a decision to step out or renew their membership. Most mastermind groups I’ve seen have a 1 year term. There are some with super specific outcomes that may have a shorter term like 90 days. Of course, their intensity during those 90 days is high. But you can choose how long you want members to join for before they make a choice to renew.
5. Hot Seats
Many people suggest that “hot seats” are what make mastermind groups unique. I like to call hot seats “struggle-to-strategy sessions.” This is a period when one member gets the mindshare and attention of the entire group focused on their specific personal or professional challenges at the moment. Hot seats are powerful, but I’ve led and been apart of mastermind groups that don’t have them. If your mastermind group is big, it may be hard to have hot seats unless you break the group into smaller groups for that portion of the meeting.
Most mastermind groups have membership criteria that extend beyond willingness to pay. This preserves the culture and integrity of the team. Just because someone’s money can fit in your pocket doesn’t mean they are a fit for the group. An open group would allow anyone who is will to pay to join. Then it is up to you to deal with the team dynamics. A closed group means that there is some sort of admissions process that could require an application and/or interview.
I think you should charge for your group. Mastermind groups create extreme value for their members and it increases commitment to the group. You must determine a price point based on how much of yourself you’re willing to pour into the group before, during, and after meetings and based on what level of financial commitment you think is necessary to determine that someone is serious.
Some mastermind groups are teaching heavy and have a firm curriculum that they teach just like a college class. If you take the class next year, it will pretty much be the same. In this case, there is usually a leader who is guiding the group through the curriculum with some group interaction in between. Other groups have a more fluid curriculum that is based on what the group members need in that moment. If sales is coming up as a reoccurring issue, then the next meeting may be focused on sales strategies.
How members connect and interact in between meetings can determine the stickiness of your group. Some groups foster no interaction in between meetings and as a result, nobody knows each other’s names when they return 3 months later. Other groups like mine have daily interaction through our forum plus an optional mid-month check-in call to reprioritize and create a new strategy for the remainder of the month. The longer the gap between meetings, the more in-between interaction needs to be in place.