From the assembled heist group in the movie The Italian Job to the most clever people in the world, the term “mastermind” has been used in many contexts. Like in the American animated series, Pinky and the Brain, Brain identified himself as the mastermind who sought to take over the world. Much like that, masterminds are referenced in the news as a person who premeditated, conspired and executed a crime.
Despite these negative references, the majority of people just don’t know what a mastermind is. The confusion derives from the different uses and references to the term. For example, a mastermind can be a person, place, organization, group, concept, and even an action. The principle behind these examples explains that a mastermind is a key role in the process of achieving some sort of outcome.
To put it simply, a mastermind is a group of people who are committed to growth and achievement who work towards goals and aspirations. They gather often and regularly to solve challenges. A mastermind can be a person, a group of people or an organized community. Matt Fritzsche, the founder of an accountability company who hosts masterminds throughout the US, Amplified Minds, describes his mastermind groups as a community of achievers and a circle of knowledge where groups meet to discuss their challenges and use the knowledge and resources of others.
When masterminds meet, the group discusses individual challenges and brainstorms solutions. The general structure of a mastermind group includes accountability follow up on previously set goals, discussing solutions, sharing resources and connecting networks. Each person in the group is given a short period of time to share their challenges, and then the group masterminds (discusses and brainstorms) in hopes to resolve the challenge and move closer towards their goals.
Fritzsche explains that in the Amplified Minds mastermind groups, individuals come prepared with a challenge in the form of a question. The group follows the question with clarifying questions. Then, the group brainstorms possible solutions and value-adds for each individual. When the individual feels content with the information provided, they set a goal. Groups meet every two weeks where they follow up and face new challenges.
"The key to an effective mastermind group is preparedness, equal contributions by each member and continued follow up," said Fritzsche. "We employ an accountability program where we equip our members with an accountability partner to allocate resources and follow up on their daily and weekly tasks needed to fulfill their goals."
Each person has the opportunity to express their challenges. There is a group coordinator who facilitates discussions and leads the group in helping the masterminder (the person seeking resolution) to collect results and formulate a goal. These groups are not the kind of support groups that console and openly discuss frustrations. Think of these groups as accountability partners who deliver additional resources that may lead to increased performance.
Many of the largest companies and corporations elect a Board of Directors to discuss important issues, make decisions, and mentor the company executives and leaders. A board of directors drives the company’s vision by consulting with each other. Unlike a board of directors, a mastermind group advises and encourages an individual without any bias or alternative motives regarding their goals and aspirations. The group can't force the masterminder to do anything. The masterminder uses the discussions and resources shared to choose what to do with the ideas shared. The group is there purely to provide them the resources necessary to help them move in the right direction.
A mastermind can take many forms through various channels. From in-person group meetings to online chat forums, masterminds can even be via conference calls or through written collaborations. Over the course of history, many people have met in person to discuss challenges, receive the mentorship of others and to make impressed decisions towards their goals.
Today, anyone can create a mastermind group. Generally, the group discusses ideas, resources, challenges and anything else that will contribute to the group. However, professionally structured masterminds create an open forum for individuals to reach outside of their personal networks, tap into an extensive level of knowledge, insight, ideas and creativity.
Professional groups can be free or have fees. Some paid groups use the funds collected to help fund ideas and the needs of the individuals. Others find increasing benefits and opportunities for their masterminders to learn, network and grow. And other pay just to be in the presence of other like-minded professionals.
An example of a mastermind that has influenced the world, unlike Pinky and the Brain, was a famous group of authors called the Inklings. Associated with the University of Oxford, England, the Inklings gathered for over 20 years to discuss literature and ideas. Among this group were C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and many others. It was in this informal discussion group where the infamous J. R. R. Tolkien expressed a challenge he faced writing his book to succeed The Hobbit. It was accounted that C. S. Lewis expressed to Tolkien in one of their mastermind gatherings that hobbits were only interesting when they leave the Shire, a place common for hobbits. It was this discussion that sparked Tolkien’s vision to finish the following books, which are now known as The Lord of the Rings.
Anyone can mastermind. Individuals seeking to overcome personal challenges can use these accountability support groups to help them develop skills and strengths. Employees can bounce ideas with other employees about processes to make work more efficient. Entrepreneurs gain the knowledge and resources to help build their businesses and bring their ideas to life. Company owners connect with others who add additional perspectives, case studies and resources to help them grow their business. C-suite executives meet and generate opportunities to grow economic alliances. Freelancers find the idea sparks to bring their works to fruition.
Regardless of your personality and upbringing, a mastermind can bring enhanced value, broaden networks, while helping individuals achieve goals, surpass milestones and launch companies and careers.