October 10, 2022
 —  
Education

How to run a mastermind group...successfully

Josh Little
Co-founder & CEO

If you missed any of the other posts in our Masterminds 101 series, you can find them here.

Part I: What is a mastermind group?

Part II: How to start a mastermind group.

Part III: Members, Pricing, & Launch Plan

Part IV: How to run a mastermind group...successfully. (below)

There are four key components, or pillars to any great mastermind program that need to be considered.  Each of them needs their own strategy.  Once you’ve created a strategy for each of them, the structure becomes evident that allows you to easily run a synchronous or asynchronous mastermind with great clarity and swiftness.

We created the mastermind canvas template to help you follow along as you build out the different sections of your own group. Use this template to help you plan a strategy around each of the key areas of focus described below.

Dream Program Canvas

4 Things every member of your mastermind needs.

1. Engagement - How will you engage members?

As we said before, lurkers cannot be allowed.  Here are some questions to consider:

  1. How will you invite each member to participate?  
  2. How often should that be?  
  3. What does the ideal model of engagement look like?  
  4. What will happen if someone is falling out of ideal engagement?  
  5. What happens when they stop engaging entirely?  
  6. How will you communicate these expectations?

The most successful groups had an engagement strategy that clearly communicated what good looks like and what happens when a member fails to engage.  It’s easy for most facilitators to be blinded by the inner circle of people that are heavily engaged and ignore those who are on the fringe.  The best facilitators will put in place a strong re-engagement strategy that brings straying members back in.

2. Education - How will you teach members?

Almost every mastermind we encountered had a supplemental education strategy.  Here are some questions to consider when coming up with yours:

  1. What sort of educational content would inspire the entire group?
  2. What are common problems that members of the group may encounter?
  3. Who has achieved what members of your group desire to achieve?
  4. Is there a core curriculum that the group should often revisit?

The educational content in some masterminds we interviewed was usually bringing in an outside speaker. In others, it could either be the facilitator or guide sharing their expertise or one of the members.  There is no right or wrong answer on the source of the content, but it seems that the best guides are feeding their members a regular diet of meaningful content.  The synchronous masterminds typically will use the speakers as the anchor or draw for the individual event.

3. Accountability - How will you keep members accountable?

Masterminds are typically a group of members trying to help each other accomplish their individual goals.  For this reason, a mastermind can be a great source of accountability.  Often leaders or business owners don’t have a support system that they can tap into for regular accountability.  Some questions to consider for coming up with your accountability strategy.

  1. What does progress look like?
  2. How will you know if an individual is making progress?
  3. How will that be evident the the group?
  4. Should individuals be assigned accountability partners or sub-groups?
  5. What will happen if progress stops?

In order to encourage accountability and make it fun, some groups ask members to publicly state penalties and rewards for their goals.  For example, if my goal is to achieve $250,000 in sales this month, I might state that my penalty is to throw away my prized tennis trophy (it needs to hurt) and my reward will be to fly first class on my next business trip (it needs to be meaningful).

Regardless of format, accountability is potentially the greatest gift your mastermind can deliver to its members.

4. Rituals - What rituals will become part of your daily/weekly/monthly mastermind?

Rituals are a powerful tool in helping groups and families develop traditions and tribe.  Things like handshakes and chants have been used by groups for centuries to foster identity and belonging.  You can use the power of rituals to help your group establish its own identity and in the process give members something to look forward to.  Some questions to consider when developing your ritual strategy.

  1. What daily/weekly/monthly ritual(s) will help keep the group moving toward their goal?
  2. What traditions already exist within the culture of the group or space?
  3. How will you get members to open up and share?
  4. How will the members share air time equitably?
  5. What will keep the group organized and orderly?

Sample Rituals

The Hot Seat

One common structure within mastermind groups is the ritual of the hot seat.  A hot seat is an opportunity for a member of the group to share a little bit about their greatest challenge in the business and have the whole mastermind give feedback, offer suggestions, or help out.  Imagine having 20 or 30 smart people all working on your greatest challenge together.  That’s the power of a mastermind.

Progress Updates

Another structure is a progress update. This could be weekly or monthly and is very easy to do in an async mastermind group.  The typical structure of this ritual is: 1) What progress has been made since the last update, 2) What is your greatest challenge in achieving your goals, and 3) What progress do you commit to make between now and the next progress update.  Notice how similar this structure is to a daily standup meeting in agile teams?  There’s a reason this works.  It also helps accountability partners have context on how to help each other.

Weekly Prompts

Another ritual that can get the group talking is a daily or weekly prompt.  This can be a thought provoking question or assignment.  This is easily done with the async format.  This could be as simple as a daily prompt to share 1-minute progress or answer a question.  Often the facilitator will get suggestions for the group, but if you’re able to let the group know that there is something like a “Share Your Wisdom Wednesday,” now everyone can look forward to that prompt and the value they get from others' solutions.

Start your mastermind on Volley.

However you decide to run your mastermind, it's important that you plan ahead. The key to your success will be directly correlated with the success of your members. The efficacy of any group, especially a mastermind, can be measured by the transformation it has on its members. So no matter what plan or template you use, make sure that it's warmly embraced by members. If they aren't getting value out of it, then ultimately they aren't going to pay or stay for very long. By following the formula we've outlined in this series you'll have the foundation of a long-term group membership program which will change the lives of those who join it.

Volley was built for group communication. Whether that's in a mastermind, with a class, or at work. If you haven't already, download the Volley app where we've built space templates specifically to help you set up and run your mastermind. Not only can you set it up there, but we also have hundreds of users running mastermind programs in the Volley Fan Club. Join today and get real advice from actual mastermind leaders and organizers.

Josh Little

4x Founder, Tinkerer, Tenor, Brinemaster. CEO of Volley.

About the Author

Josh Little started his career as a teacher then moved into sales training and education roles at three Fortune 500 companies before making the leap into entrepreneurship. Over the last 15 years, Josh built four successful tech companies (Maestro, Bloomfire, Qzzr, and Volley) that have improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people and been able to consult with some of the top brands in the world. He has a firm believe that a great conversation can change your life and with Volley he's making them easier to have anywhere, anytime.

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