Mastermind Groups Demystified: Guest Blog by Diane Dye Hansen

The first time I sat in the hot seat in my mastermind group, I was terrified. What was I doing? I had 20 minutes to talk about my business and ask a ‘how do I’ question. This was vulnerability at its most frightening. Sit me down in any support group and I’d be happy to talk about my childhood or my relationship with my father. But, cracking the nut on my business challenges, fears, and outright stalemates? That’s the type of raw honesty that made my skin crawl Yet, I counted myself in. I learned a while ago if it terrifies me, it’s worth the leap to try. After all, wasn’t that why I was a dyed in the wool, 4th generation entrepreneur? So, there I sat on the phone surrounded by the CEOs, VPs, owners, movers and shakers I had been so confidently providing advice to for months. It was my turn.

The experience of sharing my business was unlike anything I had experienced. It was nothing like the horror movie my mind conjured up. I was surrounded by a team of intelligent allies who were curious about my business and wanted to help. Soon, I found myself talking about my business and where I had created operational stress for myself. My ‘how do I’ turned into a slew of solutions from those who cared about me. I had given freely during previous sessions. Now, they were giving to me. Top consultants had their eyes on my business. Best, it didn’t cost me a dime.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misunderstandings floating around about mastermind groups and what they do. When I stepped into my first one, I was still figuring it out. Now, I don’t see running my business without being part of one. Hopefully, my experience will help you decide what group is right for you.

Masterminds are not:

About Finding Sales Prospects: Networking and business connections can be a by-product of being part of a mastermind group. However, you don’t go there to sell. The best masterminds are those where everyone is there to give freely of their knowledge and make connections without strings attached. This no-sales environment makes a mastermind a safe place to explore business challenges without feeling you are about to be pitched.

Always “Pay to Play”: The experts industry has high end mastermind groups which can cost thousands to join. These groups may be right for some people. However, they are not the standard for mastermind groups. A good number of mastermind groups, Entrepreneurs Assembly included, are completely free to participate in.

For Those Who Know Everything:
If you think you know everything and are not open to ideas about what you are doing, a mastermind group may not be right for you. Where you gain from a mastermind is getting different perspectives on your business challenge. If you are closed off to this or are seeking validation for what you are doing, a mastermind may not be the best fit for you. You are intelligent. However, even the most intelligent person is open to insight.

A Place Where You Stay Quiet: Come to your mastermind group ready to participate. Entrepreneurs Assembly at Adams Hub for Innovation breaks out its entrepreneurs into pre-revenue, revenue, and growth categories. Each person has 20 minutes to briefly state their challenge and get input from the group. Seasoned entrepreneurs guide the group as facilitators to move the discussion along.

Masterminds are:

An Environment Filled with People Like You: Mastermind groups provide an opportunity for you to meet people who are facing similar challenges. You will get support, get connected with people who have been where you are, and discover resources that are available to you. You’ll realize quickly even if you are a solo-preneur, you are never alone.

A Place to Give Freely: Don’t be stingy with the questions. Mastermind groups are a place to give! When giving recommendations, it’s best to frame it as something you have done or would do with your business. Listen and respond thoughtfully and people will do the same when you are on the hot seat.

Incredibly Fun: When I left Entrepreneur’s Assembly, I felt energized. Even though I was mentoring, it gave me new fire and energy which I applied to my business. I also felt more prepared with ideas for my two other mastermind groups.

I hope to see you at the next Entrepreneur’s Assembly in Carson City. I look forward to saying hello!