what is a mastermind group

What is a Mastermind Group: Inquiring Minds Want to Know

What is a mastermind group? Many have asked the question resulting in just as many answers. Even though a widely used term it seems to be just as widely misunderstood. A term first introduced by Napoleon Hill in his iconic book Think and Grow Rich, the term mastermind and mastermind group have come to hold many different definitions. 


It’s also grown to be used to describe a wide variety of groups and alliances leading to much confusion. Being clear on what is a mastermind group (and what a mastermind group is not) can save a lot of frustration and keep you from being disillusioned by unmet expectations. 


Having a mastermind group is reported to be one of the success secrets of captains of industry featured in Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. Described as “those with specialized knowledge” the members of the mastermind groups supporting and surrounding these titans are far different from what you’ll find in most mastermind groups today. 


Together we’ll explore: what is a mastermind group, who should consider looking for or creating one, and when do you actually need something different in order to make your way to the success that’s meant for you.


What is a business mastermind group  

According to Hill the official definition of what is a business mastermind group is the “coordination of knowledge and effort in the spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” These days, what is a business mastermind group has now come to cover a much broader description of business groups; both peer and paid. 


While plenty of business development groups referred to as masterminds aren’t actually masterminds, masterminds are also often referred to by other names such as peer groups, alliances and associations. Is it a wonder there is so much confusion about what a business mastermind is? 


Today what is a business mastermind group has generally come to mean a group of business owners that gather to share resources and ideas, build their network and/or give and get support by offering one another advice. How these business owners come together also varies widely. 


Sometimes, a group will simply be based on everyone being in the same industry as in an association. What are referred to as peer groups are generally created and run by its members who have been personally selected and invited often only on the basis that they know and like one another (rather than their “specialized knowledge”). Alliances would be used to describe groups where businesses that serve similar audiences in different ways come together to expand their reach. 


Finally, these days it’s all too common for coaching programs or mentoring programs to be referred to, inaccurately, as a business mastermind. Here the only commonality of its members is quite often only that they’ve invested with the same mentor. This may not be a bad thing but it does not meet the criteria of what is a business mastermind as outlined in Think and Grow Rich.


Stemming from this approach, business mastermind groups have come to include a combination of training and education along with brainstorming sessions and perhaps peer accountability. Technically speaking only the brainstorming resembles a mastermind but that can be fraught with problems. 


While we are on the topic of brainstorming one of the biggest problems with mastermind groups today is the misconception of brainstorming vs masterminding. As you’ll see in the next section there are very specific purposes of a mastermind group. Random, even when regular, brainstorming can actually be a distraction.


Getting too much input will more likely take you off track than help clarify or focus you. The classic “bright shiny object” syndrome entrepreneurs are all so familiar with comes to mind. As Napoleon Hill called it, a “definiteness of purpose” is required in all business endeavors. We need to be careful to maintain the true purpose of a mastermind group. 


What is the purpose of a mastermind group  

So, what is the purpose of a mastermind group? In the examples he provides in his book, it’s clear that every person in the mastermind groups described are committed to and had a vested interest in one another’s success. There was a way that each member contributed and was contributed to. And even though they each had their own role and their own business, together they had a larger shared vision. Bringing about that larger vision is the purpose of a mastermind group. 


What Hill calls the mastermind principle says “No two minds come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.” (This can be a good thing or a not so good thing depending on the minds involved.) Many leaders who run these so-called business masterminds have taken this to mean that  you can get miraculous results just by putting a group of people together in a room to talk business. No vetting. Nothing. Hill would disagree.


According to Napoleon Hill it’s crucial to have the following when it comes to fulling on the purpose of a mastermind group: 

  1. Identify what specialized knowledge you require to bring your goals to fruition then ally yourself with as many people as are needed in those areas. As Hill describes “you may need much more specialized knowledge then you have the the ability or inclination to acquire… you may bridge your weaknesses (his word not mine!) through the aid of your Master Mind (this is the way he wrote it as two words) group.” What he’s describing is not what happens in what are referred to as mastermind groups these days. The reality of the matter is this sounds much more like a team or an advisory board. (More on this later.)

  2. Determine what specialized knowledge you have to contribute to these people in exchange. While it’s nice to think that people will help from the kindness of their hearts, they have their own goals and objectives to pursue. In Hill’s words “No one  will work indefinitely without some form of compensation.” Even if that compensation isn’t payment it might be referrals (think “leads groups”) or an exchange for your own expertise. However it happens the key in a true mastermind is reciprocity. Are you giving as much as you are receiving? 

  3. “Arrange to meet with your mastermind at least twice per week and more often if possible.” That sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? And yet consistency is key. Learning about each other’s businesses simply takes time. Getting “drive-by” advice can have you running in multiple directions following the last piece of advice you got potentially never quite gaining traction. Another part of the magic of a mastermind group is in the long term commitment to one another – as in multiple years. They are far less effective in the short term. And in the life cycle of business one year is short term.

  4. “Maintain ‘perfect harmony’ within the group.” And you thought that last one was a high bar! Let’s take this to mean that all members of a business mastermind group need to be rowing in the same direction, truly working on the same objective. This was the magic of the effectiveness of the original examples of a master mind group put forth by Hill. If everyone is working on their own business this tenant of a mastermind group is nearly instantly lost. Furthermore, do random members even care for one another? Conflicting personalities and priorities will always be a threat to the harmony of a true mastermind group.


What you need instead of another business mastermind group 

Depending on the stage of your business and your own specialized knowledge a business mastermind may not serve you and could in fact be detrimental to the health of your business. It’s important to be clear on what support you really need and when before assuming a business mastermind is right for you.


If you are just starting your business a mastermind group is probably not the best idea. Why is that? Especially if the other members are also beginner business owners it can end up a lot like the blind leading the blind. You all may know enough to get you into motion but not into forward movement.


What you more likely need is a qualified mentor or aligned advisor. This is a person who can help ensure you are getting off on the right foot including that you are actually in the right business for you. Too often we witness people starting a business that “makes sense” based on their previous education work experience and seems like it should work because they are modeling other businesses in the marketplace but somehow they don’t. 


There are many reasons a business fails to launch. Believe it or not one of the most common reasons is the person is simply not in the right business. In fact, Hill cites “wrong selection of vocation” as one of the major causes of failure. This is why making sure you’re running the business in your Soul is the best first business strategy to implement. Until you are completely clear on what you are up to, a business mastermind is bound to leave spinning in circles and more confused than ever.


Let’s say your business has gotten off the ground, now it’s time to begin leveraging your resources and business assets to fuel your growth. The first target if you will for businesses in the personal and spiritual development coaching and training space has long been $100K. Sorry to say that’s simply not enough anymore. In order for both you and your business to thrive you really need to shoot for $250K in revenue. That’s going to take a team of some sort. 


Again here a mastermind group may not be your best choice at this stage. At this stage, you’ll still want to be careful about who you get advice from. Along with your trusted advisor (mentor) you’ll need people who have the specialized knowledge we’ve been talking about and you’ll need people to implement with and/or for you.


Hill also said “it pays to know how to purchase knowledge.” This may mean having a team of your own be that a virtual assistant(s) or a part of a full time contractor or employee. In some cases with a qualified mentor you may also have the opportunity to leverage the expertise of their team as we do in The Business in Your Soul.®


Once you’ve passed that quarter million mark, now is the time a true business mastermind may be of benefit for you. We refer to this as the “lead” phase of your business. You know what you do, you know how you do it and you are less likely to be pulled off path by random advice or the latest fad. It is key to remain solid in your own knowing so that no matter what seemingly good advice you get you can always filter it through your own divine alignment process. 


At this stage, the next question becomes would you be better served by a peer mastermind group or a paid mastermind group with peers. A straight up peer mastermind group is generally something that is member led and collaborative. In these groups leadership may rotate or there may be no clear leader. These groups can work to an extent especially when the members are truly committed to one another. But frankly without someone actually “holding” the container they generally peter out within a few years if they even last that long.


Another route some take is with a board of advisors which is a spin on a peer mastermind group. In this case one business owner hand selects key individuals who volunteer to act as advisors at this stage. The complication here is as we covered above, most people aren’t inclined to work for free and Hill says “no one will work for “no intelligent person would ask another to work for free for very long.” A board of advisors can theoretically work but these are rare circumstances indeed. 


At the Lead Level on your business path, what’s even more effective for most is a paid business mastermind group and mentoring combination. This allows you personalized business coaching and advising within a clear container of shared knowledge and mentor alongside true peers. Ensuring you are truly in a room of peers is precisely why we run different groups for different stages of revenue in business. 


No matter if you are just launching (up to 100K), ready to leverage (over 100K, under 250K) are stepping into your leadership (250K and above), it’s imperative to ensure your divine business alignment every step of the way. As you can see there are important considerations across the spectrum of revenue when it comes to finding the perfect business mastermind group for you or what would actually serve you better. 





Since 2011, courageous men and women around the world have chosen Divine Navigation and committed to the extraordinary and transformative experience of Aligning with their Soul-through their Divine Coordinates. We invite you to also explore the journey of  Soul Purpose: The Definitive Guide

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