Masterminds Demystified

What is a Mastermind you ask?? The Success Alliance describes mastermind groups as:

[A] combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills. A mastermind group helps you and your mastermind group members achieve success. Members challenge each other to set strong goals, and more importantly, to accomplish them.

In 2017, after hearing about mastermind groups in a few podcasts and articles, I decided that I wanted and needed that kind of support and accountability from other women and I also wanted to help other professional women accomplish their goals. Plus, it’s a great networking tool!

First, I identified one bad-ass woman that I knew socially and had admired for her business acumen and drive. After explaining the concept to her, she nominated another bad-ass woman from her network in the financial services industry, and we ultimately added a fourth equally bad-ass woman in accounting. Four is a great number for a mastermind group: not too many, but not too few, so that each person can always he heard, but there are enough different perspectives at the table to bring real value.

At our first meeting, we agreed to a few ground rules: "What happens in Mastermind stays in Mastermind"; we would meet at a coffee shop for an hour to an hour a half every two to three weeks; and we would set goals each time we met and report on progress towards those goals in the next meeting.

At the outset of each meeting, we describe one "WIN" since the last time we met, which forces us to focus on the fact that we have a lot to celebrate (big and small). In addition, one person is assigned to the "Hot Seat" at each meeting. That person may send out materials in advance (such as a proposal, marketing material, articles or other ideas) to help frame the challenge they face. During the "Hot Seat" portion of the meeting (usually about 20 minutes), we focus exclusively on that individual and provide direct, honest feedback on the challenge and ways the member could approach or respond to the challenge.

We have now been meeting for more than a year! To celebrate, we held a "Mastermind Retreat" in Florida one weekend in January. While we did fit in some shopping and walks on the beach, it wasn't all fun in the sun. We followed an agreed-upon agenda and worked on our individual annual goals, reviewed and provided feedback on our Gallup Strengths Insights Reports, and each taught one another for 20-minutes on any topic that we were passionate about (from make-up application to providing effective feedback). We also did a mini Oprah-style "Favorite Things" and exchanged gifts like Cure Natural Aqua Gel (my favorite thing!) and Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.: Quick-Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes. What was so wonderful about the weekend was that we made time to relax with friends and also focus on goal-setting without the distractions of work, kids, and spouses!

I have personally gained so much by having a confidential professional support network of women who understand me and help me work through choices, strategies and approaches to accomplish my professional goals. If none of this resonates with you, maybe you have it all figured out!

But I can't say how personally and professionally fulfilling being part of this group has been for me. Consider whether having your own "personal Board of Directors" could help you expand your network, while refining and accelerating your path to success.

Guest Post by Kathlyn Perez.

Ms. Perez is a Shareholder in the New Orleans, LA office of Baker Donelson. She is the trusted advisor of her business clients regarding all aspects of the employment relationship. In addition to day-to-day counseling and problem-solving, Ms. Perez represents clients before the EEOC and state and federal courts, defending them against charges of age, race, sex discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. She also conducts internal investigations for clients with respect to allegations of discrimination, harassment, other policy violations and allegations of corporate wrongdoing. Her investigation style allows her to get to the root of employment and management-related problems, and offer realistic and achievable strategies for change.