I first learnt about masterminding reading Napoleon Hill’s books. He wrote many books on the subject of being successful and growing rich. Basic success principles haven’t changed for thousands of years. Hill interviewed thousands of the world’s most powerful and influential people throughout most of the 1900’s — Ford, Churchill, Gandhi, Bell, Edison, Roosevelt, Carnegie, etc. Writing about success was his life’s mission. In every book he devoted an entire chapter to the masterminding principle. He said everyone he interviewed told him they owed much of their success to the mastermind principle.
Great men and women around the world use masterminding principles in their daily life — always have. They build incredible networks where they source information to help them make wise decisions. Ask any successful person and they will confirm that their accomplishments happen as a result of using strong teams and implementing ideas from other people.
Using other people’s money is one way of getting help from others. It’s involves using a finance mastermind group for the business. One of Canada’s billionaires (Ted Rogers) once told me in a luncheon that he would borrow as much as people would lend him as long as he could cash flow the commitment. If they’ll lend him a million, he’ll take it. If they want to lend him a billion, he’ll take it, to help him achieve his goals. He used masterminds in every part of his business and made sure his people kept them effective. His team of vice presidents was the lead mastermind group and they coordinated the successful business culture through the many down-line mastermind groups.
Watch this video to learn more about Masterminding and peer mentoring:
In business, an accounting team is a mastermind, a sales team is a mastermind, a production team is a mastermind, etc. The leaders of these teams come together to form another senior management mastermind. There are four critical and simple masterminds to establish in any business that will assure success in almost any economy:
1. A mastermind group focused on happy customers.
2. A mastermind group focused on happy employees.
3. A mastermind group focused on happy suppliers.
4. A mastermind group focused on leading the above three groups to keep the shareholders happy.
It’s a four win situation and great success tool. In smaller companies, the mastermind groups may be smaller and some of the members may not be employees. An accountant, lawyer or business coach may participate in some small company mastermind groups.
In very small companies and start-ups the mastermind groups have to be assembled in the form of mentors, and/or service providers you might contract too, or buy from. We want to mastermind with people who don’t necessarily work for our company full time, or at all, in a start-up or very small business environment.
I started a cellular phone business in the late 1980’s from the trunk of my car and built it to three stores and 3 million in annual sales over a nine year period. At first I was working by myself with service providers to back me up. The service providers became part of my mastermind group for customer service. It enabled me to use the word ‘we’ when talking to customers about exceptional customer service, even though I was a one-man business at the time.
A very important word to consider using when talking to customers, suppliers or colleagues is ‘we’. A mentor once told me to always use the word, ‘we’, when talking to customers, even though I was a sole proprietor at the time. Using the word ‘we’ gives the large customers confidence they are dealing with a team that can meet their service requirements.
No-one accomplishes a major goal in life without the help of others. Success is a ‘we’ situation. Using the word ‘I’ is not inclusive of the team needed to service a customer or supplier, even if that team is not employed directly by my company. ‘I’ can be interpreted as egotistical expression — turning customers off. ‘We’ is accurate. If we’re selling a product, we bought the product from someone so it’s the manufacturer and my company providing the product and service. It’s not ‘I’, it’s ‘we.
Where do we find the people so we can assemble our mastermind groups for a start-up company? When building the cellular phone business, I had a minimum of four mentors to call to discuss challenges with. I would call different mentors for different challenges. I was very fortunate to have many mentors by the time I started my own business. Past managers, co-workers, suppliers and customers who I established relationships with while working for other companies became friends and mentors throughout my career. My mentoring network continues to grow vertically— more mentors and mentees.
I use mentors and mastermind groups for important aspects of my life. I have communication masterminds I consult with to keep my communication skills honed. I have spirituality masterminds I consult with to help maintain my integrity. I have business masterminds to help keep me successful. I see my family as a mastermind group for healthy loving. I see my network of friends as a mastermind group to keep my life balanced between work and fun.
Mastermind groups can be utilized in different formats. In a business the most common format is a face-to-face meeting. In a very small business the most common format is by contacting at least four different mentors on the phone in separate conversations, or in separate meetings. I talk to at least four guys about current issue or challenges. After listening to each, I decide which information is right for me to use, and act accordingly. In all cases masterminding uses more than one mind to discover and evaluate options and help make wise decisions.
Two minds are better than one, but what is the ideal group size for accomplishing goals? A mentor once shared with me what he called a ‘channelled from above’ idea on masterminding: “Four wise men close and two distant make up the nucleus of your mastermind. One of the four is two.” I was 17 when he shared it with me and I had read 3 of Napoleon Hills books by that time so I knew exactly what he meant by mastermind.
From the beginning of my work career I’ve watched and evaluated effectiveness of groups focused on objectives. The most successful teams I’ve been on, and witnessed, used the channelled mastermind formula. “Four wise men close and two distant make up the nucleus of your mastermind. One of the four is two.” ‘One of the four is two’ means to me that it’s best to have someone who can play devil’s advocate in the group — seeing both the positive an negative consequences of each idea. An effective mastermind group includes a participant that can explain two sides of any story.
‘Two wise men distant’ can mean having two members of the mastermind group that are not always present at the meetings but hear about the agenda and offer input through one of the four close members. An accountant or lawyer might be two distant members of a business mastermind group. Mentors of primary, ‘close’ mastermind group members might be the two distant members of a mastermind group.
In all cases, when I see four strong members in a business mastermind group I see success. In the early part of my sales career I was part of a four person sales team. We were all very young and inexperienced in the industrial rental equipment field and had just gone through a huge economic downturn. We were also starting an aviation rental business. The company we were working for fired their entire sales team and hired a new young sales force. All of us were under thirty and closer to 25 years old. Every night of the week this team met with our sales manager and each member discussed our entire day’s activity. We masterminded our sales process with the team every day. We all learnt from each other what the best words to use, or approach to take, would be with different types of people and different companies. I received raises every six months because of performance. Sales grew 30% year over year for 3 years until I left for another opportunity. I was sales manager of a large industrial rental company selling to large plants and construction companies at 27. At 28 I started a cellular phone business.
We used the channelled mastermind formula to help build the cellular phone business. I’ve been doing business consulting and coaching for 15 years now and we help customers build and adjust their mastermind groups using the same formula.
Your success will relate directly to how effective your mastermind groups are. Life and business is a team effort. Masterminding is happening in your life whether you like it or not. Are you directing it to your satisfaction? Are your outcomes what you want? Remember the definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” If you want your life to change and get better, get better at masterminding.
To get better at masterminding, you have to become a great communicator. Look for our next blog post on being a great communicator — communicating from the HIP (Human Interaction Process). Sign up to our newsletter below to receive posts directly in to your mailbox.