This is my first blog piece about a Mastermind group that has been formed between four of my peers and myself. It will be a history of the journey, a document of the progression and learning that I, and my fellow group members, go through.   I have positive feelings about the group and I’m sure it will be a success. I hope that people reading this will be inspired to consider joining a group or creating a group and recognise the investment in time can pay dividends. Our rule of confidentiality ensures that what we discussed and will discuss won’t appear on this blog. Finally, I’ve highlighted “learning lessons” – some of the things that we took away and learnt and this will be continued throughout each group.

The Group is forming

Chatting with Paul Tucker from Croucher Needham about our respective business challenges on a more informal basis; he as a partner in a business, and myself, now sole owner of Optimus Sourcing,  we realise that we have the same challenges and are giving each other ideas, intentionally and unintentionally.   For example,  Paul mentioned about referrals within his business and how they asked for them on their survey, which was the night before our customer survey was due to go out.  Cue a redraft first thing in the morning and our survey went out asking people if they would refer us…the result, over 85% said yes.

“Shall we do this more often?”  we said to each other.   Instantly, we both said yes we should and agreed to meet in a months’ time to come together, chat informally, moan, rant, be inspired, challenge and help each other out.

Very soon after I had lunch with Kelly Molson, MD of Rubber Cheese, a Creative Agency and office neighbours, again informally chatting about business in general.  She was keen to create a Mastermind group and wondered if I’d be interested in working with her in doing so.   I mentioned what Paul and I were doing and said she could join us.  Paul Wright, Creative Director of Rubber Cheese, was also keen and so naturally he was invited to come along.   Despite both being from the same company I knew that they have different ideas on things and both would bring different skills. Kelly for example has been responsible for winning and developing new business,  networking and resource management, and Paul, in addition to his naturally creative design skills,  engages with clients on projects on a daily basis whilst managing the design team.   Both I’m pleased to say were great contributions.

The final addition came about in an even more informal setting; the pub on a Friday night.   Chatting away with Adam Newman, he revealed his success in selling in the pharmaceutical industry, resulting in 2 Salesman of the Year Awards, something which he had never mentioned previously.  He then said about his 5 year plans and I was in shock and awe.  This was a guy who loved a joke, always smiling and so modest he hadn’t told anyone about this.   I thought that I, and the others, could benefit from having such a positive presence and thus proceeded to invite Adam along.

Meeting 0.5

Due to prior commitments neither Paul or Kelly from Rubber Cheese could make the first meeting so the three of us went ahead. We spent a considerable amount of time learning more about one another, our businesses, our jobs, our goals.   We went over time, we didn’t stick to the agenda but it was great.  We chatted away until about 11pm that night,  all energised by what the others were saying. We spent some time focusing on what the group should be and include, to discuss at the next one with the others.

Learning lesson 1 – listening to others can provide you with ideas.

Meeting 1.0

November 21st 2013, the date of our first meeting.   All 5 of us are there, on time and despite having worked a long day all excited about it.  For me this was great.  Giving up an evening with my family had to be worthwhile and whilst I knew I had the right people in this group I was still interested to see how they would interact. We created a list of the key values and principles that we, as a group and individuals, should adhere to.  Our individual lists I’m pleased to say mirrored each other’s.  The key themes are:

They also insisted on me not saying any rubbish jokes, a rule which I can guarantee I will break regularly. We had an agenda…5 minutes per person to talk about yourself, your business, goals, dreams, challenges etc.   This didn’t work and I’m pleased it didn’t.  Each person had about 20 minutes and for this first group it was needed to go deeper and learn more about everyone as an individual and their current situation.

Learning lesson 2 – sometimes it’s best to ignore the agenda and let things flow.

As a first group I found it really useful.  I had chatted to all four previously and I was pleased with how the group dynamics were.   Everyone gave the others chance to speak, asked great questions, and it was a balanced conversation.   As a first session it was important that everyone felt relaxed and this was definitely the case.   We knew we had ignored the agenda but for the right reasons. We agreed that next time we meet we can focus on challenges on a more individual basis, and that if people want to email them in advance it gives us all time to think about any similar situations we’ve had. Shortly after this group I came across a document referencing Napoleon Hill and his book Think and Grow Rich (which I still need to read).  His definition of a Mastermind group is:

“coordination of knowledge and effort in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”

I was pleased when I read this as it defines the group I’m in.

Learning lesson 3 – create a group of like-minded individuals and learn from one another

Meeting 2.0

Scheduled for the 19th December and a good time to have a yearly review and discuss things which will can give some thought to over the festive period.

by Blake Henegan, MD Optimus Sourcing