2003 was a year that changed my life. I don’t use the phrase “changed my life” lightly – it did. I was completing a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology and International Relations at New York University. I got a contract to write my first book. AND I joined my first Mastermind Group.
Every other Monday evening, five of us met for two hours in an office on West 23rd Street in Manhattan. The meetings were hosted and facilitated by Kathi Elster, a small-business strategist. This was a group for successful small business owners who wanted to accelerate their business impact by sharing and receiving wisdom from other small-business owners. We met for a period of nine months. Participants had been personally vetted by Kathi. I was the “new kid on the block” who was just launching his first business.
The lessons I learned in this Mastermind Group were more impactful than anything I learned in Graduate School. My colleagues helped me clarify the business model for Influens, the firm I was about to launch. They showed me how to define a clearly global brand. Offered practical and well-tested guidance on the many micro-decisions I was making and would have to make in the future.
My fellow Masterminders acted like my own private advisory board. That’s the power of a Mastermind Group.
Influens became a highly successful business.
It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others succeed.”Napoleon Hill
The notion of a Mastermind was first popularized by American success thinker Napoleon Hill in his seminal book “Think and Grow Rich,” published in 1937. Hill stresses the obvious benefits that I just mentioned from my own Mastermind experience. More importantly, perhaps, Hill emphasizes the psychic impact of communing with exceptional like-minded colleagues. No two minds, Hill writes, ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind. (Hill, Think and Grow Rich, Fall River Press Edition, 2012, 125)
The third mind, or Mastermind, is the collective energy and wisdom that are unleashed through group interaction. This energy lasts well beyond the conversations that occur, and it exponentially accelerates the personal growth of every individual in a Mastermind Group.
While Hill focuses on the use of Masterminds to build business success, the principles work powerfully for any committed group of individuals who share a common purpose. As I reflect on the many experiences that have shaped my life over the last 2 decades, one thread connects all dots. I participated in Masterminds.
I mention the names of my fellow Masterminders because any Mastermind is only as compelling as the collective energy and wisdom of the individuals in the group. It’s why the best Masterminds are invitation-only.
Folks often ask me, so how does one get invited into one of your Masterminds?
I love the question. Curating a Mastermind Group is a bit of science and a lot of art.
Here’s how this works with the FOURTH ACT Masterminds I host. I just completed work with one cohort and will launch a new one this fall. The curation process is, thus, very much on my mind.
It all begins with the purpose for a Mastermind. The purpose for a FOURTH ACT Mastermind is very specific. It starts with a question: IF LIFE IS A FIVE-ACT PLAY, WHAT WILL YOU DO IN YOUR FOURTH ACT?
More about this question and who joins a FOURTH ACT Mastermind: You’re a highly accomplished professional. You are proud of the impact your work has had in the world. You relish the many relationships it has birthed.
And yet, you know, the time has come. You’re done with doing what you’ve been doing. You’re NOT done being of service to the world.
That’s the starting point for participating a FOURTH ACT Mastermind. And what exactly is a FOURTH ACT?
I’m a former professional theater director. The great classic plays – the ones by Shakespeare, Aristophanes – all run in 5 acts. So does each hour-long television drama
The FOURTH ACT – it’s the one after primal conflicts have peaked and unraveled. The agita of life is behind us. The pieces suddenly start to fit. At its finest, it is our Act of untethered renewal and possibility.
We’re not in our FIRST ACT any more, and we’re not in our last. There IS a FOURTH ACT, and perhaps a Fifth. How do we make them the sweetest, the most rewarding and the most adventurous Acts yet?
That’s the purpose for a FOURTH ACT Mastermind.
Best wishes for a wonderful week. I know mine is always better because I’m masterminding with amazing peeps.