Innovating Masterminds (transcript)
Here is a transcript of yesterday’s Monday Morning Movie…
When I started my business 12 years ago, one of the first things I did was join a mastermind group. Basically “mastermind” is just a fancy word for a group of people who come together that work on each other’s business. So we learn from each other. I’ve learned a number of things over the years in terms of what makes a good mastermind group. If you’re in a business and you want to learn from others, this is an awesome way.
For most of my career, I decided to mastermind with other professional speakers. In the early days of my career this was great because I learned some of the basics and I learned some of the things that would have taken me much longer to learn. I was able to learn from people who’ve already done what I wanted to do.
But then I recognized something. There is a point in every business where only hanging out with people who are in the same business is actually going to hold you back, because you start breathing the same oxygen. You start thinking the same way.
Sometimes you want to breathe fresh ideas into your business; to think differently.
Just last weekend I got together with four other people in Las Vegas. We had this great two-day mastermind. We spent about an hour and a half on each person’s business and we dug really deep.
What was particularly cool about this mastermind is that instead of being composed of a bunch of speakers, we had a diverse group: someone who is in real estate, someone who works in multilevel marketing, someone who is in the printing business, and someone who had his own creativity space. And then there was me, the speaker. We also invited someone in who was an executive at Zappos for a while. So we got a very interesting mix of people. I learned a lot about business, and what would be valuable to my business, from this group of people.
Although I was shocked at how useful the input was, it really shouldn’t surprise me since my message around innovation is that we need to hang out with people who aren’t like us. But I have to say, I was still amazed to see the real power of getting a divergent group of people together that have a deep trust for one another and can share their open and honest opinions. It was fantastic.
The other thing that we learned, which is an extremely important part of not just masterminding but innovation in general, is you have to know what question to ask. Anybody who’s seen my work knows that I love to quote Einstein who reputedly said, “If had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions.” This is really important. Even in a mastermind it is critical to make sure we’re asking the right question. Sometimes even a small change in language can have a huge impact.
For example, one person might be thinking about starting a restaurant. Now, that question – “What do I need to do to start a successful restaurant?” – implies the individual needs to worry about everything associated with starting a new business. If we change the language slightly and ask – “What do I need to do to buy a successful restaurant? I don’t want all of the hassle of starting one from scratch.” – very different suggestions and ideas will pop up with that. Or if the question is – “Instead of buying a restaurant, what if I became an advisor to other restaurants? I want to be involved in restaurants but I don’t necessarily want all of the day to day work.” – well, that’s again a fundamentally different question.
What we found over and over in the course of the weekend is that if you’re asking the wrong question, all the advice you might get from someone is irrelevant. So you want to make sure that you’re taking the time to really think about what matters. What’s important? What do you value? Make sure your questions are framed accordingly.
The other thing that we learned is that sometimes, when you want to improve your business, you don’t want to hang out with people who are even in the world of business.
We spent a fair amount of time talking about personal development: things that have nothing to do with the success of our company but are about our own internal success. How do we become better people? Live better lives? Be happier? Be more compassionate?
It is amazing how these types of things, these non-business activities, can have a huge impact on your business. That’s why it’s really important for you – whatever your business, whatever your role is in business – to recognize that you don’t want to spend all of your time hanging out with people who think like you.
Don’t just go to industry conferences. Don’t just go to conferences with people who have the same role or function as you. Instead, find people who have fundamentally different types of businesses. Find people who are in different parts of your business. If you’re in HR, hang out with people who are in sales. Learn from people who think differently.
And again, don’t just spend all of your time thinking about business. Think about your life and what you want out of your life. This will make you more powerful in everything you do. This will then help you create a more successful business because you will be able to define success on your terms.
This is Stephen Shapiro, and I hope that you find a group of people who together will change your business and change your life through divergent points of view together.
P.S. I still mastermind with other speakers, and get incredible value. The point isn’t to stop spending time with people from your industry. I am suggesting that you need to balance that with individuals/groups from different industries, different functions, and different disciplines.