I’m always surprised that more people don’t know about the concept of the Mastermind Group, so I figured I’d take the time to put down my explanation here, as a way to generating some traffic on the concept and getting people engaged.

So let’s start with the Wikipedia definition (slightly edited for clarity here. emph mine):

A mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring concept used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members. The concept was coined in 1925 by author Napoleon Hill in his book The Law of Success, and described in more detail in his 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich. In his books, Hill discussed the idea of the Master Mind, which referred to two or more people coming together in harmony to solve problems.

Cooperation through the use of mastermind groups was one of the laws of success that Hill learned studying successful Americans including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, and Charles M. Schwab.

Several companies offer mastermind group environments to members.

There are two types of mastermind groups: one is focused on an individual’s success, and the other is focused on the success of everyone in the group. Research suggests that optimal groups limit their size to 8 to 10 participants that meet regularly with rotating leadership.

You can download Think and Grow Rich here or google it for other free downloads, as the book is in the public domain and you’re only paying for someone’s cover at this point.

I’m in a couple of mastermind groups with other writers. The goal of such a thing is the peer-to-peer aspect. We’re using the latter model, where everyone is trying to share information freely within the group, with the goal that everyone is able to advance their own career into their own definition of success (whatever it might be, and it will be different for everyone).

You have to be genuinely invested in your compatriots for this thing to work. When you find something useful, you tell others. If you run across a lead that might benefit someone in your mastermind (or wider group) you tell them about it immediately and without reservation.

As an extension, you will frequently see me share all manner of strange and interesting business needs, offers, or calls from people and groups I know on social media, just in case someone else I know could make use of it. I’m not a musician anymore, but I’m friends with many, and signed up with folks who put out calls for acts for various gigs. I share those or tag people so they see it.

Their success is as important as mine. I truly believe in that.

In a mastermind, you meet regularly. I call in to a specific one that is nationwide about every four to six weeks, where we talk about the current state of indie publishing and try to figure out what’s next. At present, we’re on the last legs of what we classify as the 7th Revolution in Indie Press, so we’re identifying the schedule and events and technology that will make up #8, and in many cases #9 as well.

Closer to home, my wife and I are part of a regular Business Lunch that is held about once per month at the north end of Seattle. Not just writers, but artists, musicians, and photographers that get together and talk business. We’re not a critique circle, as we never read your work or ask you to read ours, but an ongoing discussion of marketing plans, publishing ideas, trends and shifts. Whatever might impact us as professional creatives.

(We’re had less success building one at the south end, but still working on it.)

Who do you talk business with?

I’m utterly blessed to have married my partner in life and crime. She’s the reason I write professionally, and can make a living at it. Most writers are doing good to have a supportive spouse, who goes to work and pays the bills while the writer commits art, but a supportive spouse doesn’t really get the art.

That’s why you mastermind. So you surround yourself with professionals who can teach you new things because each of them will bring their unique perspective to the table.

As an aside, these conversations frequently become the topics behind my Business For Breakfast books that my wife or I write. We’re up to #14, because we believe in helping others learn what we’ve found.

And it doesn’t have to be limited to your art. I regularly talk to screenwriters and producers. Graphic artists. Comic books creators (which is a field at least as big and complicated as something like writing science fiction). Even philosophers of science and technology.

What comes next?” That is the question always on the table. What is the disruption that will fundamentally alter the way we do business? A little over a decade ago, Amazon deployed the first device and ecosystem to make ebooks easy to consume. (As usual, Sony had a generation’s head start, and managed to piss is all away and betamax ebooks, when they could have owned the field. Don’t be Sony.)

So if you are a creative, might I suggest that you set up a regular lunch or call with some others in the field, and talk nothing but business?  Don’t go in expecting that these people will make you money. They are your peers. You’ll share what you know. They’ll do the same.

(If they don’t, don’t keep them around. This only works as peers willing to share what they know. Doesn’t matter if they sell 10 books per month or 100,000. Sharing is the key, because that wheel will eventually turn.)

What are you doing to take advantage of the fact that technology is going to upend your world tomorrow? Who are you asking for help?