If you haven’t heard about mastermind groups, you will soon if you consume advice from millionaires. So I thought it’s useful to tell you the truth about mastermind groups, the good and bad, so you’re prepared.
What is a Mastermind?
A mastermind is a concept developed by Napoleon Hill, a man who spent 20 years studying 500 of the wealthiest people in the world at close range.
Mr. Hill went on to write a few books about wealth, including Think and Grow Rich, which went on to sell over 15 million copies and make thousands of people into millionaires.
A mastermind might help you get wealthy. Or even more wealthy, successful, and fulfilled, if you already are rich.
Let’s get to it:
I’ll tell you what’s NOT a mastermind:
It’s not when a group of people each pay a $10,000 monthly fee to one person so that this person can meet up once a month and coach these people, while mostly letting the participants help each other.
That’s called a coaching business.
Yet, this seems to be the general idea of what a “mastermind group call” is for a lot of online businesses: people paying a monthly fee ($1,000 or $10,000 or $100 per month) for help.
It’s epidemic in the internet marketing world.
And maybe you’re not in that world, but it also seems to be true for a lot of niches that use the internet: let’s say, just as an example, you have a blog on making wooden sculptures. If you look for help on how to make your blog better, and you go deep enough online, you will find advice.. eventually from people in the internet marketing world. And what happens is the wood-making niche now starts up their own masterminds.
I have stumbled across numerous people in the online marketing world, some of which were good, some bad, some veterans, and some fairly new in the market.
It seems to be a rather re-occurring theme with many of them to have this “Mastermind.”
And some people make a very good income off of it.
In fact, some of the people in the “wealth creation”, “abundance”, or “millionaire” niches online, also have this skewed idea of a mastermind.
However, I don’t think that’s a real mastermind according to how the great Napoleon Hill would describe one.
A real mastermind is one where no one is paying a cent to anyone else. This removes any pressure or distorted feelings, perceptions, or dynamics of the situation.
A mastermind is supposed to be a collaborative effort where successful people come together to help each other. It’s something where your peers can cover your weaknesses.
Here’s an excerpt from Napoleon Hill illustrating this concept with one of the wealthiest people in the history of mankind, Andrew Carnegie, someone he studied closely for decades:
A Mastermind Group is not to be confused with a paid, monthly coaching call that has stolen the name “Mastermind.”
It’s clear as to why they do so: they want to use Napoleon Hill’s good name to get more people to buy into the concept of a mastermind in order to make more money. Even though they won’t admit it because they’re running this thing.
Using logic like “they won’t pay attention or be committed if it’s free” is stupid, and just a way of rationalizing the amount you charge. If you choose the right ambitious individuals, they will be committed by nature.
If you really believe that “paying money will get people more committed”, then have everyone including the person who charges devote all the proceeds to charity instead.
It’s strange how hard it is to just follow directions
I tweeted a money manager who truly believed in the ethics of Warren Buffett and ascribes to his style of investing, an author called Guy Spier. He wrote The Education of a Value Investor.
For decades, Warren Buffett has recommended a 20-hole punch rule in most of his speeches: If you want to do investing full-time, don’t make more than 20 investments over the course of your life. That will make you think long and hard about your decisions so that they are the right ones. And 20 is enough to make you incredibly rich.
I asked Mr. Spier if he knew of anyone who actually followed this rule. He said he hadn’t. He hadn’t followed it himself.
Isn’t that crazy?
Isn’t it peculiar how hard it is for people to just do what is told?
They’re too tempted to invest more frequently.
I don’t intend to be an investor full-time, but arguably I am still under 20 if you count an index fund as 1.
If that’s the case, I only have 2 investments so far. And even then, I partially regret my 2nd investment in a 2nd index fund as it was unnecessary and it’s used up a hole-punch.
I may be the first person in history to follow his words and it is precisely that reason I will be even more careful with my investing.
I talked for an hour with this one guy who complained about not succeeding despite reading a lot of wealth creation books.
But I bet that he didn’t actually do everything the book said to a tee.
In fact, I’m fairly sure that he just read the books and didn’t execute on even 20% of what was in there.
There are specific steps that you have to take on subconscious programming, for instance: Write and read aloud twice a day the exact amount of wealth you want to achieve, the deadline, what value you will give in exchange for it, and feel like you’re already in possession of it.
Well, what about the fact that Warren Buffett hasn’t followed it himself? Some rules are not hard and fast, as he’s seen to break from even what his mentor, Ben Graham, has said. However, I still think it’s a great rule to follow, and the fact that not one person out of the thousands of money managers out there had adhered to it really makes me want to follow it even more.
My talk with a man who read too many wealth abundance books
I should have pressed this man, but I’m sure if I did, based on his demeanor and overall character during our chat, he would every twenty excuses to why he hadn’t done this in the last month, and why the one time he did, it didn’t including saying it aloud, a deadline, or what value you would give in exchange.
I learned in that meeting that I don’t want to work with people who are a complete mess because it is a drain dragging them up.
I’d rather build an audience of successful people who get this and are executing.
Hopefully, that’s you.
I’m not alone in my opinion
Ryan Lee, owner of an multi-million dollar business, Freedym (the Netflix for lifestyle entrepreneurs). He has poked fun at Joe Polish and Dean Jackson’s $25,000 a year and $100,00 a year masterminds (that’s how much you have to pay to join) by having a $25 mastermind.
Gary Vaynerchuk has taken quite a few jabs at people in this area as well. He has released a good amount of content on social media and his blog insulting people who sell $2,000 eBooks or courses. He thinks it’s ridiculous and says he prides himself on selling real products and giving away everything else for free (though he never calls out specific names. Tai Lopez does stuff like this but he probably doesn’t want to burn bridges since they did a YouTube collab together). It isn’t a jab directly at masterminds, but it’s close.
So how exactly do you do a REAL mastermind?
Follow these steps to a tee:
The Real Rules of a Mastermind Group
These steps are all taken directly from Napoleon Hill’s book:
- Get a group of successful people, as big or small as necessary to help you. It can be as low as 2 or high as 50.
- Sometimes, it’s better if they’re diverse because they can help you with your weaknesses.
- Make sure they’re winners who don’t quit easily. They have to have demonstrated persistence.
- Make sure you have enough value to provide in exchange.
- Meet AT LEAST twice a week. You must follow Napoleon Hill’s directions completely.
- Have a definitive long-term plan for the group
- The group must have complete harmony. If one person starts acting out, he must be removed.
In conclusion, a Mastermind can be effective in your pursuit of success if you follow Napoleon Hill’s recipe. I have seen many variations of a Mastermind, which diverge from his model: some people meet once a month or once a week.
I’m not so strict in the sense that I understand that maybe just the general concept is what is important, but I do caution that if you start moving too far away from what is being said, the results can get further and further diluted.
Perhaps, there is a specific reason he called for you to meet twice a week that you have now wiped out with less frequent meetings.
My last piece of advice:
Think and Grow Rich is a great book but I recommend Laws of Success instead. Napoleon Hill wrote Laws of Success as his flagship book, but it was too long and thick of a book for anyone to buy, especially during tough, economic times.
Think and Grow Rich is more of the brochure version that sold. It’s crazy how many people stopped at just Think and Grow. It’s crazier how more people have not even heard of the book. And it’s the craziest that many of those who read Think and Grow Rich never follow even 50% of what is actually being said in the book on a habitual basis.
I’m not going to lie; I need to work on these things myself.
I suggest you read both of these books and take tons of notes, as he goes into more detail on the why and how of Mastermind groups.
How to Find A Mastermind Group
Honestly, the resources, groups, and advice out there on finding a mastermind group are limited. The general public doesn’t even understand what it is and there are almost no public groups or organizations around them.
People may recommend that you go to in-person conventions, Meetup.com, Craigslist, or Facebook groups, but that doesn’t always work. I’m a big user of these and member of many personal development themed groups, like the Art of Charm, Order of Men, and 67 Steps groups. However, they remain as online forums and don’t truly evolve into a group of a handful of members that talk and speak via the phone or in person on a recurring basis. You have to take initiative by reaching out to people you want and actively asking rather than passively hoping it will form naturally.
Jaime Masters of Eventual Millionaire is a great example of someone who started with nothing to her name and used persistence to create her dream mastermind. She kept asking big players, like the entrepreneur Pat Flynn, to join a mastermind she created. When she was first rejected, she kept politely emailing Pat and explaining the value of the group. She started building her own network of connections by reaching out cold to millionaires and interviewing them for a podcast. Eventually, Pat joined.
But it’s tougher to get big players to work with you. Look for up-and-coming hard workers or just like-minded people. Maybe they’re not successful yet but you like their personality traits and you think they can help you. Dave Ramsey was a nobody when he first started his Mastermind. He didn’t form a group with famous, rich people. He did just this and asked people who he liked that were on his same level, or just slightly higher, to join his mastermind. Over many years, they all became successful.
Find Mainstream Groups That Function Similarly
Also, consider joining groups that are not necessarily a mastermind on the surface level, but are similar. If you go out into the real world, the mainstream public doesn’t really have anything that is Master-mind themed. However, there are groups that have similar enough functions. It’s better than nothing and still quite useful. For me, I pay around $60 per half-year to be a member of Toastmasters, a public speaking group. It’s a group that has ambitious people that meet twice a month to practice public speaking and communication skills via a specific format (two to three prepared speeches that are evaluated by a specific person, then an improvised response section by five to six people).
Focus On Groups That Help With A Specific Skill or Goal Rather than Everything
A generalized mastermind that helps with everything in life may be too broad and may not be as useful. Let’s say you really want to focus on productivity or goal-setting. It may be easier to form or find a group specialized in that.
Paid Mastermind Networks
I recently listened to a podcast by Pat Flynn where he interviews a man named Ellory Wells. He runs a business charging and conducting masterminds for others. The main appeal is that it’s more affordable than a “$25,000 a year” group (double digits) and that if you do a free group, members will rarely show up because they’re not incentive. I haven’t tried it out but I’ve been considering it. I’ll report back if I ever do.
Mastermind groups are a proven way to help you and like-minded people achieve the financial freedom you’re after. They are mentioned as core drivers of success from well-known millionaire entrepreneurs, like Dave Ramsey and Pat Flynn. However, the online marketing industry has gone overboard these days and started charging massive fees for people who want to be members of these groups.
While every member should contribute good value to a mastermind, I believe they’ve gone overboard and have focused on making money from the group too much. Do I have anything against Joe Polish and Dean Graziosi, the proponents for ever-increasing priced masterminds?
No. I think that in the long term, the market will find out if the value is worth the price. The purchasers of these premium masterminds are smart people who have made a lot of money. Joe claims that you will back much more than you invested into the group within the first year because of the quality of people who are members. Time will tell if they actually return more value than a similar mastermind with just as good a network at a much more reasonable price.
Personally, I’m a believer in the power of masterminds. My current financial condition will probably push me to create or join a free or affordable mastermind-like group(s) to test it out. But even if I could afford such a costly mastermind, I wouldn’t do it.
Have you tried out a Mastermind yet? If not, why not?
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