Moleskine – where did all my thought’s go?

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment

I have a confession – I have recently shredded all of my lovely Moleskine journals lovingly crafted over the past 8 years filled with my business plans, personal affirmations and intimate thoughts ….

In truth whilst my Moleskine is never far from my side as my “ubiquitous capture device” as GTD David Allen puts it it’s pretty rubbish at organising my thoughts and when it comes to finding quotes from a few years ago then it used to be acase of searching through pages and pages and invariably going off on various tangents before finding the nugget I needed.

Enter – Stage left – Patrick from the Philippines courtesy of outsource site Guru.com

It took me a while but hey what else do I have to do while travelling but I dictated all of my journals (50 hours worth) into 50 x 1 hour audio segments and had them transcribed into word format so they now sit here on my iMac fully spotlight searchable and in some cases indexed and tagged.

Any mind maps or illustrations I had made I put through my Fujitsu ScanSnap.

OCD – err yes – but I feel a worth while project – the total cost was $500 US but it has freed those ideas and got them back on my radar.

So do I still use the Moleskine – of course – but now at the end of the week as part of my weekly review I type up my notes, make sure all is actioned and put a satisfyingly bright yellow highlighter through my notes.

Try it – after all aren’t your thoughts priceless ?

http://www.moleskine.com

http://www.guru.com

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Living with Inbox Zero

April 20, 2012 Leave a comment

 

 

 

I have been a big fan of GTD / Omnifocus /Merlin Mann and other types of productivity porn for the past couple of years.

I stopped living out of my inbox at the start of 2010 and have never looked back, most of the general population seem to use their email as one giant task list that grows with every notification until it’s bloated beyond control – how the hell can they remain productive?

As a recruiter I receive around 100 emails per day, a heady mix of CV’s, client vacancies and the usual trivia.

As I write this post it’s 6.09 am, I started as I do every weekday this morning at 5.30 and the first thing I did  was clear last night’s mail, over coffee I read, actioned, deferred, delegated and deleted.

Mails which needed attention are put into Omnifocus with next actions highlighted, other which were replied to were pdf’d and then named and filed using Hazel.

Once again I now have an empty email, I have turned off the notification as I know the world won’t end just because I only clear email three times a day at waking, midday and 7.00 pm and I can have a productive day.

I’m off to see the sunrise over the fields with my dog,

Have a great day !!

Further resources –

David Allen – Getting Things Done

Merlin Mann – 43 Folders

Executive peer groups – 10 tops tips for success !!

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

 10  TOP  TIPS FOR SUCCESS

 

It’s all about democracy

Consider using the very first mastermind meeting to discuss all group rules and take a vote on them. Let your group make its own decisions about how the group is structured, the number of people in the group, when it will meet and for how long, what the theme or focus of the group will be, what topics are permissible or out of bounds, and whether a new member can join.

Members should decide on the rules of how the group works together and    what the punishments are for not following these rules.

Members should also decide on the tone of the group.

In this way, the group decides how to meet its own needs.

Play the appropriate role.

Decide if you are a facilitator or a member, or both, and act accordingly. If you are simply the facilitator, then you don’t get a vote in group decisions unless the decision directly affects you (e.g., the time or location of the meetings).

As a facilitator, your sole job is to keep the meetings, and the group administration, going forward.

Even if you are an expert in the field that is the theme of the group, your voice should always be heard last, to give the members a chance to mastermind among themselves.

Otherwise, members may look to you as the guru, and all cross-member masterminding will come to a grinding halt.

 

Make the meeting a safe place.

Attending mastermind group meetings is a very deep and personal experience, and over time, as rapport builds, members will want to share some very private information about them selves.

As the facilitator, it is your job to create a space in each meet in where members feel safe in expressing their true selves, their hopes and fears, and the real things that are happening in their lives.

When members do share difficult personal thoughts and feelings, give them room to express themselves and verbally tell them it’s okay to share in this way. However, be on alert for members who consistently use meetings as a psychotherapy session. If they repeatedly bring emotional problems to the group but never take action to move forward, gently take them aside and explain the rules.

Remind members that this is a confidential space, and discussing other members’ situations is not allowed outside the meetings. If necessary, ask members to sign a confidentiality agreement, especially if they’re talking about ideas that could be patented, trademarked, of copyrighted.

 

Have a structure.

It’s a good idea to have meetings on the same day and hour each week or month so that people can block out that time in their calendar. Have a structure of how each meeting will progress –

Open the meeting – Share success stories – Mastermind time – Share resources – Close the meeting.

The largest portion of time should be for the mastermind time, when members take turns sharing their goals and challenges and everyone asks questions and gives advice to that member. This keeps the meeting from deteriorating into a chat or social session. Some mastermind groups work from a book, selecting a chapter or exercise to work on in each session, which helps to establish a structure.

 

Keep track of time.

Use a timer with an audible buzzer to ensure that everyone gets an equal amount of mastermind time.

 

Use a talking stick.

Decide in advance the order in which members will speak at each meeting. In my groups we rotate so that each member gets to be the first speaker once in a while then, when it’s each member’s time to talk, he has the floor exclusively and no one can interrupt until he is finished sharing.

Members often find instant clarity through verbalizing their situation and thoughts, and it’s imperative that this time be honoured with silence from the others.

 

Keep the conversation going, when appropriate.

As with any group discussion, there are normal quiet times when members are processing information or thinking of new ideas. As you learn to facilitate meetings, you will be able to discern this quiet thinking time from the awkward “I don’t know what to say next” time.

Awkward times will show themselves as people shifting in their seats or not making eye contact. During awkward pauses, be prepared to jump into the discussion by asking a question or moving to another topic.

If you use are using LinkedIn or an online message board as part of your group communication pre create some conversation starter questions so that when things get quiet on the message board, you’re ready with a thought-provoking question.

 

Gordon Banks needed.

One of the hallmarks of mastermind groups is that members share their goals each month.

Keep a record of these; goals help members find clarity, focus, and potential.

Read them back to the group at the next meeting and ask members if they have achieved their stated goals.

This creates a sense of integrity and accountability by reminding members that they are committed to completing a goal if they voice it.

 

Discipline where needed.

Sometimes, members will keep speaking even after their allotted time, also one member may shoot down another member’s ideas during brainstorming sessions. Members might show up late or not show up at all. Members might voice goals and constantly miss achieving them each month. These types of members must be reminded that the purpose of your mastermind group is to help people achieve their potential and to help each other work through challenges and decisions in a balanced and democratic fashion.

Don’t let small problems like these go unremarked. Pull the offending member aside and remind him or her of the rules.

 

Be ready to fire a member.

If the situation gets too bad, you have to be ready to fire a member from the group. It’s a good idea to discuss the situation openly with the group and reach a decision about what to do with the offending member.

 

 

You’ve read how to create and run your own mastermind.

Here’s what we suggest you do next:

 

 

 

State your goal. 

What kind of mastermind group do you want?

For what purpose?

 Create a plan.

 How will you look for members?

 Take the first step.

 Take action.

 Announce the first meeting

 Invite people.

 Get the ball rolling.

 

 

Enjoy!

Good luck and please let me know how you get on

Cold calling to build Sales Relationships

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Sometimes the finest solutions are the simplest.

Focusing on relationships when making cold calls is one of them. It keeps us genuine, and eliminates our dread of making cold calls. We’re real people talking about real things. We’re interested in the conversation, and it shows.

Most of us dislike putting on our “salesman hat” when we make cold calls. We think it’s needed, however, because we’ve been trained to make the sale. And yet we’re interacting with a live, breathing person without having any real connection to him or her. It often feels fake, and it often is.

This artificial role puts a great stress on us, and sabotages our cold calling conversations. When we aren’t genuine, it’s a red flag to the other person that we have a sales agenda. This puts nearly everyone “on guard.” They’ve never met us and are wary of possibly being manipulated.

Have you ever noticed that most cold calls break down the moment we try to “move” things along towards a sale? It’s as if we’re getting ready for battle, and the tension pushes us along. But the person we’ve called doesn’t know us. The momentum we’re trying to impose puts him or her in a defensive position. They’re protecting themselves from a potential “intruder” who might have a self-serving agenda.

So how can we to shift into something more positive? We begin by focusing on the relationship rather than salesmanship. We call with the anticipation of meeting someone new, and looking forward to a pleasant conversation to find out whether we can be of service. This mindset is subtle but powerfully felt by the other person.

Building relationships enhances our cold calling conversations — and ourselves. We are less artificial. Cold calling conversations become more natural. And people tend to respond with more warmth and interest.

The point is not to use the “technique of building relationship” to improve sales. That’s having a hidden agenda rather than a relationship. Our goal is to see if we can provide something that will benefit the other person. If it doesn’t, then we prefer not to continue interrupting their day.

That’s a real relationship, even if brief.

When we’re being real people treating others as real people, the difference is amazing. Both people are both more at ease. We anticipate talking with someone who may possibly have an interest in what we have to offer. And if they don’t, we’ve enjoyed our time with him or her.

When others feel this relaxed mindset from you, they are much more likely to welcome you into their day.

Good luck and get dialing !!

Categories: Business, Sales Tags: , ,

Making Cold Calling Enjoyable

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Here are 8 keys to building relationships in cold calling:

1. Focus on the other person’s needs rather than on securing a sale

2. Surrender to the outcome of your cold call so you can connect with your potential client at a human level

3. View the human connection as an exciting journey in which you encounter new and interesting people

4. Speak graciously and naturally as you would with any new acquaintance

5. Remember it’s about how you come across, not about how many people you call

6. Allow the conversation to evolve naturally

7. Invite both of you to decide together whether it’s worth your time to pursue the conversation further

8. Use phrases that are non-aggressive yet very effective

So try this.

Practice shifting your mental focus from salesmanship into a place of relationship. You’ll find that your genuine enjoyment of the conversation rubs off on the other person. They’ll be less defensive and more likely to share with you truthfully.

One of the best ways to build relationship is by using phrases that carry the human element very well. Start out by asking, “Hi, could you help me out for a minute?” The most common response will be, “Sure. What do you need?”
Your next question might be to ask whether they are open to the idea of looking at different ways to, for example, reduce their expenses. Most of the time the reply will be something like, “Well, sure, what kinds of expenses are you talking about?”

Now you are able to open the conversation between the two of you and build an initial relationship. It’s easy and comfortable to continue from there.

When you do this, you’ll experience so much success and satisfaction that it will really change the way you do business. And it will bring sales success beyond your imagination

Good luck and get dialling !!

Executive peer groups – getting started

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

GETTING STARTED

 

 

 

None of us is as smart as all of us.

 Ken Blanchard

Coming together is a beginning

Keeping together is progress

Working together is success

 

Henry Ford

When Napoleon Hill first interviewed Andrew Carnegie. He asked him the secret to his fortune. Carnegie quickly attributed his success to his mastermind group. He then went on to describe a group of over 20 men in his employ in various areas of his steel business.

These men were Carnegie’s management team.

They had a single purpose: making and selling steel.

Andrew Carnegie’s model certainly implies that a mastermind group has a single definite purpose. But what he’s describing is a group of employees or a team concept like the Cabinet that advises the U.S. president.

We call this type of group an advisory board mastermind.

THE ADVISORY BOARD MASTERMIND

The advisory board model works well for corporate teams and community and charity groups. It’s also useful for high net worth individuals that have an accountant, solicitor and financial advisor all on their payroll.

But how well would this model work for a solo entrepreneur?

Let’s say I want to form a mastermind group to help build my Recruitment business. I’d need a telemarketer, a researcher, a copywriter, and maybe two or three other specialists, such as a solicitor and an accountant.

With a group where you’re the boss, there could be a danger that people won’t give you honest feedback for fear of losing their position. So you’d need to choose members carefully and foster a mastermind environment where everyone feels free to speak candidly.

This would be an extremely useful team to have on my side, but without compensation, why would the other members participate? With nothing in it for them, I’m unlikely to find qualified members.

Also, regardless of compensation, if any of those people wanted help meeting their own goals, they’d have to form their own mastermind in addition to participating in mine.

So the advisory board model certainly qualifies as a mastermind group but falls short in meeting individual members’ needs.

If you’re in business and can afford to assemble and pay your own advisory board, then by all means do so. However, not everyone will be in a position too necessarily want to go with an advisory board mastermind. If that sounds like you, consider forming a mutual support mastermind.

THE MUTUAL SUPPORT MASTERMIND MODEL

What if, instead of following the advisory board mastermind model, you suggested that this group meet to help each other accomplish their individual goals?

For example, the recruiter may help find a programmer for the web site designer in exchange for the web site designer working on a new Internet presence.

And the individual members could help each other brainstorm for new ideas and provide feedback for new product or service ideas.

With this type of group, the common goal is furthering each individual member’s goal.

During each person’s turn, it’s his or her Mastermind group.

Everyone is focused on that member’s needs.

At the end of that person’s time, the group refocuses its attention to the next member, and so on, until all members have taken their turn.

It’s also interesting to note that Carnegie himself used this alternative model with his mastermind group in Chicago, the Big 6.

That group had no common purpose other than furthering the individual wealth of its members.

DETERMINING YOUR GROUP’S PURPOSE

One of the first things you should decide is what you personally hope to gain from forming a mastermind group.

Be as specific as possible.

Don’t set vague goals like “I want to make more money” or “I want to become famous.”

The definition of a mastermind is that it is a group with a specific purpose. If you are just meeting and exchanging business cards, your group may be a support or networking group, but not a mastermind group.

You’ll need to know the purpose for your mastermind to put it together and to direct whom you invite into the group.

There are a number of different approaches to mastermind groups. Carnegie’s Big 6 intentionally didn’t have members from the same or similar industries. The goal was to allow members to discuss ideas without worrying about them being taken by a competitor.

That’s certainly something you need to consider when forming your group. Your mastermind group shouldn’t be a place where you have to keep things under your hat. You want to be able to float ideas freely without fear they will be leaked or stolen.

Another challenge with a group formed of people within the same industry is that people tend to do things the same way they’ve always done them. They rarely look outside their own industry for solutions.

In other words, if everyone in your group is in recruitment business, you’re all seeing the same problems and trying the same solutions. Yet if an outsider sat in on your meetings maybe someone who runs a financial services practice he or she would see your situation with an objective and fresh view, which could lead to surprising solutions.

If you are not careful, a group of people from the same business could lead to meetings where everyone just moans about the way things are rather than finding solutions.

The reality is that quite often, for every business problem you face, there is probably a solution to be found within another industry.

By having a group composed of people from different industries you might easily discover effective tactics that your competitors won’t be aware of.

As the group evolves they become good friends and trust each other, which is an essential element in a mastermind group. However occasionally an idea will come up and as others jump in and expand on the idea with each member contributing it can get a little awkward because two or three members could easily capitalize on the idea. Those who have contributed key elements may feel a little ownership. But it all works out, and there are plenty of chances for exciting new joint ventures.

SAME OR SIMILAR INDUSTRY GROUP

If you’re forming a group within the same industry, consider seeking members with diverse skills or niches within the same market.

For example, in a group of recruiters I am a member of :

I pride myself as new business sales junkie, whilst my colleague Sandy loves to get involved in interviewing candidates, Simon is a skilled copywriter whilst Robert is very good at research. Karen is our resident Human Resources expert and Steven our finance expert.

Although there is some duplication of skills within the group, we’ve got a lot of diversity, too. It’s a good balance. If we had six sales people in the group, we’d probably spend more time arguing than making any forward progress.

So diversity is the key, whether you’re going with a same industry group or a multi-industry group.

Look for people from different backgrounds, of different ages, and with different personal styles.

If you introduce an idea and need feedback, you want as many ideas and takes as you can get.

If you choose members who are too similar, the first person will fire off some feedback and the rest will just nod their heads in agreement and you’ll get little additional input.

BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING

Prior to your first meeting, we suggest surveying each person to see what his or her particular skills are. Your goal is to discover what each member will contribute and what each will gain by joining your group.

Also, don’t be afraid to approach people higher up the ladder than you are. Which person do you think you’d learn more from, a newbie or an experienced person who’s already had some success? It’s the latter, of course.

People are usually afraid to do this. They assume that the more experienced person won’t be interested in joining their group. Don’t make that mistake. You’re the one going to the trouble of organizing the group, so you’re making an important contribution. Plus, when you get one successful person to join, you can usually attract others.

We are fortunate in our St Paul’s Mastermind Alliance as we have a number of “retired” Captains of Industry who are colleagues of the private members club we use as the base, these guys have a lifetime of very senior experience that they are more than happy to share, they want to contribute to keep themselves active and often still have an active role to play in the business community.

So don’t exclude anyone you would like to see in your group. You never know who might say yes.

HOW MANY MEMBERS IS BEST?

For most types of groups, ideally, you want five to six members. When you have more, meetings can drag on too long.

If each member gets 20 minutes and you’ve got six members, that’s two hours.

Getting the meeting started, taking a short break in the middle, and wrapping things up will add a half hour. That’s two and a half hours. Beyond that is too long, especially if you meet once a week. So if you choose to go with more than six members, we’d recommend limiting each person’s time to 15 minutes.

On the other hand, when you have fewer than five members, meetings are unproductive when one or two people can’t make it. You’ll end up either cancelling meetings or having people drop out.

It’s possible that you will need to start out with more members than you ultimately want.

Over time, you’ll find that one or two members have a problem with attendance.

Or they’ll decide the group isn’t for them.

Three months in to keep momentum and build group loyalty narrow the group down to six firmly committed members.

Ask all members to either commit to regular attendance or let someone else have their spot. Obviously this can be awkward at first, but you will get a strong core group with consistent attendance.

ONE PLUS ONE PLUS ONE – REPEAT TILL FULL.

Another way to go about this initially is to just seek one other person to mastermind with. Make sure you get along well and trust this single mastermind partner.

Once you’re comfortable with him or her, start looking for a third member together, taking the same approach.

Once you’ve integrated the third member and there’s a spirit of trust and harmony, the three of you can begin looking for a fourth member. And you can continue this process, adding one member at a time, until you reach your ideal group size.

If you take this approach, your chances of building a strong mastermind are great, but you’ll notice that each time a new member joins the group; you’ll have to take a few steps backward before moving forward.

That’s due to the mandatory “getting to know each other phase” that all groups go through.

A trio, for example, that’s been meeting together for several weeks will develop a level of trust that allows them to be comfortable sharing certain information.

When a new person joins the group, the other members won’t feel that same level of comfort. Once everyone feels comfortable with the newest member that level of trust will return.

QUALITIES TO LOOK FOR IN POTENTIAL MEMBERS

First and foremost, you want people who are highly motivated, are goal-oriented, and have a positive attitude. Avoid complainers and those seeking more of an emotional support group. They will be a constant drain on the group. Please don’t think I mean to imply that the mastermind group can’t be supportive. They can be; ours certainly is. But you don’t want to attract people that are “stuck” and are all talk and no action when it comes to making a change.

Over time, you will find that the group occasionally takes on a group therapy feel. That’s natural once people get to know and trust each other.  I strongly suggest you choose members carefully and invite new members on a probationary basis. If you’ve got one of the negative types, you’ll probably know after spending a little time with him or her on the phone. If not, you’ll definitely know by the time the first meeting is over. Don’t invite that person back.

Look for people eager to make improvements in either their career, business, or other areas. It’s okay if they haven’t clearly defined their goals yet, but they shouldn’t be so afraid to take action that they will never actually do anything.

On the other hand, if you’re talented but dealing with confidence issues, consider forming a group that’s more supportive. Also, consider working with a coach to deal with your more pressing personal issues.

It can be difficult to mix super achievers with someone prone to procrastination. The achievers will lose patience with the procrastinator and vice versa.

Sometimes these two personality types can work together, but they can just as easily clash. It often boils down to chemistry.  Some groups have it, some don’t. If your first group doesn’t work out, take any members you feel comfortable with, seek out a few more people, and form a new group.

HOW OFTEN TO MEET

I’ve attended groups that met weekly and groups that met every fortnight, my preference is meeting weekly. It keeps things consistent. If you meet every other week, you spend too much time recounting what you’ve been up to since the previous meeting. Plus members who miss a meeting are out of the loop for a month. That’s too long.

However, I also have been a member of a group that by meeting monthly and using LinkedIn for group communication is very successful.

Also, you might try meeting once a week for a while and then cutting back if the group feels that schedule is too restrictive.

WHERE TO MEET

A mastermind group requires a quiet, private place where people feel comfortable sitting for two to three hours.

Select a location with room to park that’s safe and convenient for everyone in the group.

With the St Paul’s group I was fortunate enough to have a private members club with meeting rooms at my disposal.

Some mastermind groups choose to meet in members’ place of business or homes.

Either they meet at the same place every week or rotate, with a different member playing host each week. If you decide on this approach, make sure every member of the group is comfortable with the idea. If it’s not unanimous, don’t do it. Hosting five or six people for a few hours isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, if everyone feels comfortable with the idea, go for it.

If you can afford it, you can always rent time in a small conference room in a hotel or executive suite. With everyone chipping in, it isn’t that expensive.

WHEN TO MEET

The day and time don’t matter as long as both are mutually convenient. The important thing is to remain consistent. For my group, it’s every Thursday at noon. Because we’re all self- employed, we’re free to meet during regular business hours.

If you don’t have that freedom, choose an evening or weekend.

When determining how long to set aside, plan on 20 minutes per member, plus about half an hour for opening and closing remarks and a short break mid meeting.

Regardless of what time you choose, always start your meetings on time. And those who arrive late should be expected to join the meeting in progress. Don’t take time to stop and catch them up.

CHOOSING A LEADER

In the three mastermind groups I’ve worked with, I’ve been the leader. This usually is an unofficial outcome of my having started the group.

Does it have to work that way?

Not necessarily.

Being the leader is an added responsibility. I’m usually the one who has to relay messages and contact people if there’s been a change. That in itself isn’t really a burden, but there are other responsibilities.

If there’s a problem, I’m the one that gets to play the heavy.

An alternative to having a fixed leader is rotating leadership. You could, for example, designate a new leader every month. Some mastermind groups that meet in members’ homes opt to have the leader be the person who’s hosting the meeting.

The leader is responsible for notifying the group of any changes, keeping time, and handling any tasks related to the meeting room, such as making reservations and arranging for drinks.

The leader should be the one who calls the meeting to order and keeps everyone on track as the meeting proceeds. 

STAYING IN TOUCH BETWEEN MEETINGS

At the initial meeting, I ask members to fill out a brief form with all their contact info, including e-mail address.

I also ask them to post their profile on LinkedIn, this is of course great business practice.

I then formed group on LinkedIn, made it a CLOSED group so that it remained private and started discussions on there which everybody can contribute to.

MEETING FORMAT: THE FIRST MEETING

I’ve seen many creative ideas for breaking the ice at the first meeting.

Quite honestly, I’ve never used them. In my groups we have always chosen to simply take turns introducing ourselves and giving a little background info.

Beyond that, you want to identify each member’s long-term goal. If members don’t have one yet, their first task is to get a long-term goal. From that first meeting and every meeting that follows, members should give themselves a homework assignment or short-term goal for the next meeting.

REGULAR MEETING FORMAT

For subsequent meetings, each person gets 15 / 20 minutes. It helps for group members to make out a brief checklist of things they plan to bring up during their turn.

When it’s your turn, you can either go through the entire list and then ask for feedback or solicit feedback for each item on your list before going on to the next item.

What you share can be personal development or professional challenges.

The important thing is for each member to feel that he or she is gaining something by participating.

In our group, some of us give ourselves homework assignments. If you tend to procrastinate, this can be a good way to keep you on track. You’ll know that if you didn’t finish your homework, the group will hold you accountable.

For many, this is the key benefit of belonging to a mastermind group.

What kinds of things show up on members’ weekly lists?

Members might need feedback on a new product idea or marketing campaign. They might need to deal with a technical issue or need resources like a solicitor, web designer, or accountant.

If you set a goal or gave yourself an assignment the previous week, start your list by sharing whether you took the action or reached your goal.

If you have several things on your list, I’d suggest waiting until you’ve covered each before asking for feedback. If not, you’re likely to run out of time before getting to everything on your list.

And you don’t necessarily have to ask for feedback. After speaking, you can tell the group what you need. That might be feedback or holding you accountable to reach a certain goal.

It’s important that each member participate in the feedback process. If you have something to say, don’t feel intimidated that other members might have more experience than you do. The idea is for each person to get feedback from a variety of perspectives.

When you do offer feedback, keep it brief and to the point. Be aware of the clock so you’re not monopolizing the other person’s time. If all you want to say is that you agree with what someone else has said, say that and yield to the next person.

After all members have had their turn, unless there’s any group business, the meeting is adjourned.

Keen – then read my tips to keep things on track !!

Executive peer groups – an introduction

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

I have recently joined Vistage the world’s number one CEO organisation but to be honest I am a veteran of these groups learning a long time ago that “none of us is smarter than all of us”:

If you are keen to move forward in your career why not join a support group or better still start your own – I did and here’s how –

 

Success is something you attract by the person you become. Work hard on your job and you’ll earn a living. Work hard on yourself and you’ll earn a fortune – Jim Rohn.

 

How do you achieve success in today’s chaotic world?

It often feels like it’s you against the universe. But what if you had a support team? A group of people who could advise you, encourage you, and cheer you on?

Mastermind groups have proven themselves effective for everything from emotional support to financial support.

Some of the greatest tycoons in history have used masterminds.

 

A mastermind is not just a support group. Nor is it just a brainstorming group. A mastermind has to have a single purpose to be a legitimate mastermind. What is that purpose? How do you decide it? How do you bring people into a small group that agrees with that purpose?

 

Key people have written about the importance to their success of joining a mastermind group. You’ll find it mentioned in books by the legendary Napoleon Hill, author of the classic Think and Grow Rich and Chicken Soup for the Soul creator Jack Canfield. You’ll hear it mentioned on speaking platforms in seminars around the world.

 

But rarely, if ever, does anyone discuss how to go about forming and running a successful mastermind group.

 

So what is a mastermind alliance?

And how do you create one?

WHAT IS A MASTERMIND ALLIANCE ?

 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

 

 The History of Mastermind Groups

 

In his classic book The Laws of Success Napoleon Hill defined a mastermind alliance as “two or more minds working actively together in perfect harmony toward a common definite object.”

There’s much more to it than that simple quote, but that’s a good start.

Hill considered a mastermind group to be one of the keys to success. But Hill didn’t originate the idea. It’s too bad that some people credit Hill for the idea, as they then dismiss the entire history of the world with all of its numerous mastermind success stories indeed much of ancient Greek and Roman society was built using such groups.

Others believe that the mastermind alliance originated with Hill’s mentor, the famous tycoon Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie, who rose from a poor Scottish immigrant boy to the richest man in the world, discovered the power of the mastermind as a young messenger boy for a telegraph service in Pittsburgh.

Escaping a life of drudgery in factories, he was offered a job with the O’Reilly Telegraph Company in 1819. The job put Carnegie in a position to see first hand the behind the scenes dealings of merchants, manufacturers, bankers, and other businessmen.

In short order, young Andrew knew as much about the commercial affairs in Pittsburgh as anybody. Because of the messages that passed through his hands, he knew everybody’s financial dealings, partnerships, and business plans. He also knew the credit ratings, orders for goods and services, and prices and terms for every major business in the city.

By the age of 17, Carnegie had his business education and had discovered the power of alliances in business. Throughout his rise to the top, he surrounded himself with people who knew more than he did.

Many claim that the first mastermind group was Chicago’s “Big 6”:

Andrew Carnegie

William Wrigley Jr. (the founder of Wrigley Chewing Gum)

John R. Thompson (owner of a chain of lunch rooms)

Albert Lasker (owner of the Lord & Thomas ad agency, then the largest advertising agency in the world)

Robert McCullough (owner of the Parmalee Express Company)

William (John Hertz) Hertz and Mr. William C. Ritchie (the owners of the Yellow Cab Company.

 

This group was formed in the 1920s.

Not one of these gentlemen had an advanced education or financial advantages.

All were self-made men who made their fortunes without having initial capital or extensive credit.

With the exception of the two owners of Yellow Cab, none of the six was involved in a legal partnership.

They formed the group solely to get feedback for their ideas.

Occasionally, they helped each other secure capital if needed on an emergency basis.

 

But this was far from Carnegie’s first mastermind group.

Even as a young boy. Carnegie had a mastermind group. He organized four of his friends into the Webster Literary Society to debate the issues of the day. In the 1850s he formed a new group, called the Original Six, who became not only a mastermind group but also Carnegie’s companions on trips to Europe.

Later, after moving to New York, he joined salons where he further developed his education and personal and business networks.

When you take into consideration ancient history, it’s nearly impossible to credit any one person with creating the idea of a mastermind.

Clearly Napoleon Hill and Andrew Carnegie didn’t originate the idea, though both helped promote it.

 

Modern Views on Mastermind Alliances

 

Modern speakers and leaders know the value of mastermind groups, too.

Zig Ziglar (leading sales trainer and motivational speaker) has an appropriate saying: “You can get everything in life you want, if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”

By working together with others, as in a mastermind, you can accomplish much more.

Napoleon Hill believed that you could examine any outstanding success in business, finance, industry, or other profession and without fail find that behind the success is an individual who formed a mastermind group.

 

THE WISDOM OF GROUPS

In a mastermind group, the agenda belongs to the group, but each person’s participation is key. Your peers give you feedback, help you brainstorm new possibilities, and set up an accountability system that keeps you focused and on track. You create a community of supportive colleagues who will brainstorm with you to move the group to new heights.

You gain tremendous insights, which can help improve your business and personal life. In a real way, your mastermind group is like having an objective board of directors.

Mastermind groups share the basic philosophy that more can be accomplished in less time by working together. Individuals meet in an open, supportive environment on a regular basis to share thoughts, ideas, opinions, and information.

James Surowiecki, in his book The Wisdom of Crowds points out that a group has a larger intelligence than an individual: “If you can assemble a diverse group of people who possess varying degrees of knowledge and insight, you’re better off entrusting it with major decisions rather than leaving them in the hands of one or two people, no matter how smart those people are.”

As individuals, we have the ability to see things from our own perspective, our own world view. By adding others to the mix, the group has a greater ability to share combined intellect to see things from a new and different perspective, what some call “the third mind.”

It is this collective third mind that processes information down to its essence, and it is there that thoughts crystallize into ideas. It is also where the “Aha!” moment occurs. As individuals, we cannot achieve this on our own because our myopic view can cloud our perspective. As a group with a more objective view of the world, the possibilities for expansive thinking are endless.

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