Category Archives: Starting Your Mastermind Group

Start With a Core Group, Then Build From There

Many of mastermind group facilitators try to fill a 10-person group, often ending up in hot water (or not being able to begin the group because they can’t find the 10 people).

Here’s a tip: Start with a core group of three or four people. Get your guidelines in place and have a few meetings. This will help to solidify the group and work out any kinks.

Next, take a vote on whether it’s time to add more people. If yes, how many? Don’t add too many all at once. I’d rather see you add only one or two new people at a time. This will help them to assimilate into the group and for the group to become cohesive. As the Facilitator, you want to help people to fit in and feel welcome, and not allow cliques to form among the “old members” versus the “new members.” It’s all about inclusiveness.

There are many things to consider when you add new members to an existing group. Personality traits and individual goals either help a group to be more cohesive, or can break apart a group. Consider creating an outline of what type of people you’re looking to add to your group, then interviewing people based on that checklist.

Keep repeating the addition of new members until everyone agrees the group is full. If someone drops out of the group, take a vote to see if the group should replace that person or simply stay the smaller size. As the group Facilitator, one of your jobs it to create rapport and trust among the group members, both the existing members and any new members that are added to the group. Voting on group size and who to include will make all the difference in the world.

Need help with how to select members for you group? Read my blog post How to Choose the Best Mastermind Group Members for ideas.

Listen to the Interview on Mastermind Groups

I was interviewed last week on the radio, all about the power of mastermind groups for small business owners.

You can listen to the free recording here on the Blog Talk Radio website.

And on iTunes here.

The interview is about 25 minutes long. Enjoy!

Creating Mastermind Group Guidelines

As the mastermind group facilitator, it is important that you set some guidelines about how the group will run and what the rules are for the members.

This helps establish the nature of the relationship among members and builds rapport and trust — two crucial ingredients for a successful mastermind group.

Basic Guidelines

In these guidelines (sometimes called a “manifesto”), include the following:

  1. Information about meetings (are they live or remote, when will they be, how long will they last)
  2. Attendance expectations, including being late to meetings and the level of commitment required of the members
  3. The purpose of the group
  4. If every member gets to be in the Hot Seat every meeting
  5. Group etiquette guidelines and the nature of proper behavior in the meetings
  6. How new members will be added to the group
  7. How and why someone will be removed from the group
  8. If there is a message board for between-meeting discussions, and what are the rules for using it
  9. If the group will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement


It’s also help to establish some guidlines around communication. Talk to them about deep listening and not interrupting each other. Talk to them about asking questions to find clarity and about brainstorming to produce a huge quantity of possible solutions to problems.

The way group members communicate with each other, both during Hot Seats and outside of Hot Seats sets the tone and nature of the group. Your goal is to create harmony, respect and trust among the members. By guiding them about what good communication and listening sounds like, you ensure that they’ve got the skills they will need to be successful in the group.

Dealing With Problems

Whenever a group of people get together for a long time, there is likely to be problems, even small ones. Decide in advance how problems will be brought to the surface and resolved. (Ask your group to brainstorm around this and let them decide what is a problem and how they want to communicate about it.) In this way, you and your group will have a conscious process for dealing with interpresonal challenges which will free everyone to get on with the best brainstorming ever!