Peer-led Mastermind Groups.

Everybody wants to be part of one, but the good ones can be hard to find (or create).

Besides the obvious logistical challenges, you’ve also got to get just the right mix of personalities, expertise and commitment. And even then, things won’t always be perfect.

Which is why so many folks just give up trying in the first place. Or, end up paying someone they trust to do the heavy lifting for them (bring the right people together and facilitate the logistics).

But a peer-led group — one where each member takes a turn at leading the meetings — can be a magical thing. For you AND your business. And for four very simple, but crucial reasons:

1. They don’t cost money. Yes, group coaching and other types of classes — even facilitated masterminds where you pay to belong — can be extremely helpful. Heck, I offer group coaching and mentoring for a reason. But some of your most powerful relationships can come from belonging to a group where you’re there because you want to be — not because you’re afraid of losing your enrollment fee. And when the natural cycles of your business get to that ebb stage (don’t panic — everyone’s business has them!), it’s nice to know you don’t have to worry about dropping your mastermind because of the budget.

2. You get to learn how to lead. Sure, you’re already running a business. And that means you’ve made a commitment to be in charge and grow something fabulous. But that doesn’t mean you’re completely prepared for the challenges of leading others. If you take a class, then you probably won’t get the chance to stretch your leadership muscles. A coach or a facilitator does all the heavy lifting for you. And that means the energy is also different. The other folks in the group with you are also assuming a more passive role. Taking turns at the helm might seem like a small thing, but it does wonders for building confidence and skills.

3. They last as long as you want (or need) them to. Creating strong relationships with people takes time. And usually a facilitated program has a finite life. Why give up all that ground work of getting to know people after just a few months?

4. You get to decide the rules. If someone else puts the group together, you play by their rules. But when your group is peer-led, then you each have a say-so. You all decide together how the meetings will work and what you’ll talk about.  This shift in dynamics can mean the difference between a group that kind of/sort of aligns with your needs and values — and one that fully supports them. Which is why I chose Masterminds as the first topic of my year-long mentoring program (aka The Digital Dining Room).

So far this month, we’ve talked about what a peer-led group looks like, different meeting structures, and ways to choose the right people. We’ve also discussed how to handle the challenges of keeping people committed and working together after the enthusiasm wears off. And then — because I always say the way to make sure something happens is to clearly outline what it is you want — I had the participants create Want Ads.

My instructions were simple: make sure you include a focus or topic for your group; outline the meeting structure and ground rules you’d prefer; and tell us what you have to offer. Everyone did a bang up job on their ads. Truly. There was a clarity to each of them that will help them go far toward creating what they want and need. And even though I didn’t want them to actually post these out in public, I did think we had one that warranted sharing:

Join the Posse of Possibility

ISO 3-5 members for a new Master Mind Group ~ aka Posse of Possibility ~ for solopreneurs who want to dig deep into ways to improve their businesses. You must be in for the challenge and accountability a peer-led group can offer to help propel the ideas in your heart out into the world. You are also committed to providing high-quality products/services for your clientele while maintaining a heart-centered alignment with ethical business practices which serve a higher purpose in the world.

Qualities needed:

  • A kind and compassionate way of being in the world
  • The ability to laugh at yourself as many (myriad) times as required
  • To err is human.. to admit it and share it for the benefit of the entire posse is where the GOLD is mined
  • The desire to help create and sustain a safe space to openly share the successes and challenges we all face in business
  • A forward-facing outlook where past mistakes, victimhood and unnecessary baggage can be left in its proper location: at the side of road. Because cowgirls pick themselves up, dust themselves off and bust them broncos FORWARD!
  • A dash of pie-in-the-sky is perfectly fine as long as you balance it out with a healthy dose of real world coyote, mud-in-your-paws wisdom

What this cowgirl can toss up on the saloon bar:

  • 18 years freelance experience
  • A knack for offering up a WYSIWYG authenticity
  • Web design & WordPress know how
  • Live ukulele background music
  • Business presentation graphics, including animation
  • Creative thinking
  • Life-long photographer
  • 8 years of meditation and mindfulness practice
  • A whim of iron

Preferred meeting structure:

The role of Rodeo Queen (facilitator) and Sheriff (time-keeper) will rotate among members with 2 members stepping into the center of the Rodeo Ring where the posse will, with full intent and a compassionate ear, listen deeply to the unique business challenges presented. Questions will be posed and answered, after which all posse members will jump in with both boots to help brainstorm actionable items to help you rope your wayward pig into a manageable place. It won’t stop there though.. the Sheriff will check-in with you at upcoming meetings to make sure you’ve met your goals. Members agree to check in to a private Facebook page at least 2 times per week to review each others posts and share your own successes and challenges for group reflection, or to share relevent, helpful links or documents of interest.

Ground Rules

  • Even cowgirls get the blues sometimes but no matter what, we show up for each other
  • We all agree to stick to it for at least 6 weeks while the group puts down roots and gets its legs
  • Whining is allowed in very small doses, after which the posse will hog tie that whine and inspire some bootstrapping and problem solving
  • After two months you’re free to ride off on your lonesome or fully commit to being a Real Live Posse Member
  • If you stop showing up or take up the personna of a wall flower we’ll check in to see what’s up and may send you off in search of a different (and possibly more suitable) rodeo

Deal Breakers

  • Lazy good for nuthin’ cowpokes
  • Fence straddlers
  • Rodeo Clowns
  • High-Falutin’ Show Stoppers

Deal Builders

  • Fence Menders
  • Cat Herders
  • Pole Benders
  • Saloon Girls
  • Moon Howlers
  • Medicine Men/Women
  • Buffalo Girls
  • Horse Whisperers

As you can see, Susan was able to succinctly state what she wants and needs, but in a way that brings a little lightness to something that tends to be more serious. And she’s already begun sharing this with folks in her region — and is receiving an enthusiastic response. It won’t be long before she’s brought together just the right mix for her. (Learn more about Susan on her website: WebPoppy.)

If you’re still looking for the right mastermind group, this exercise might help. And while I don’t recommend you post this kind of thing willy nilly for the whole world to see (it’s best to reach out to folks one at a time and share this with them privately), the want ad structure can certainly help you have a little more fun with the process.

What about you? Are you in a peer-led mastermind group? How did you find your members? Share with us in a comment below.