The concept of mastermind dates back to 1900 when Napoleon Hill introduced it in his books. Mastermind refers to a group of people working harmoniously to reach a common goal. Famous businesspeople of that time such as Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford formed their own Masterminds within their companies, and those groups became the engine of innovation and spectacular advances in their respective companies. According to Napoleon Hill, who studied the phenomenon extensively, when several minds get together for brainstorming, something happens that is difficult to explain by modern science; giant productivity leaps are thus made and extraordinary ideas are born that otherwise would not have been created.
Around eight years ago, together with Dan Stefan and Bogdan Tudor (two colleagues and friends from JCI Bucharest), we initiated an entrepreneurship and business Mastermind group. We set up a group of 5 people initially, and the concept grew bigger and continues to serve us to this day as it counts 9 members. Today we have a functional model and, much more than that; other two Mastermind groups were created. Let’s see what the mastermind concept is all about.
A group of businesspeople looking to mutually enhance their businesses through interaction and experience exchange. The key elements of the group are: mutual trust, business ethics and harmonious interaction.
- High-quality interaction, sharing experiences and mutual support aimed at enhancing our business.
- Growing the number of members in Bucharest by attracting important and influential businesspeople.
- People who managed or manage their own businesses or businesses founded by others.
- People who own businesses earning them >= EUR 100,000 in turnover, where they hold at least 30% of the shares. They managed businesses of >= EUR 1,000,000 in turnover.
- People demonstrating high levels of integrity, both in their personal and professional lives.
Meetings will be held every other Wednesday, at 8:00 a.m.
All Mastermind meetings are to be held in closed groups. This is not networking. On the contrary. This way we foster mutual trust and we will allow ourselves to be completely open about our businesses.
The meetings will be both formal and informal.
Formal meetings will be held in any of the following possible formats:
- Best practices – one or several members present interesting business procedures, which are then subject to discussion and analysis. To this end, three topic proposals are submitted by e-mail (possibly using Google docs), one of which is selected by vote. Votes are cast maximum 1 week in advance. A moderator is elected by mutual agreement from among the members, who then e-mails the agenda to the others.
- Business feedback – one of the members seeks to validate (or invalidate) his/her business expansion plans, new business line launch, etc. He/she presents an idea, then takes and answers questions from the other attending members. In certain cases, we can use the “suggestion circle” approach where the member who presented the idea receives suggestions from the others but he/she is not allowed to comment on them in order to avoid disputes.
- Situation Feedback – business topics of mutual concern are debated (such as ways to make an activity more efficient, ways to react to a law amendment, etc.).
- Book presentation. This format is similar to a flower (book) surrounded by petals (themes stemming from the ideas in the book).
- Dialogue circle: a type of brainstorming generating mutual ideas on a given subject. Only questions are addressed during this type of meeting, no answers are given. At least 5 questions are selected in the end and then the answers are discussed.
At the end of each formal meeting, each member should state:
- His/her “major take-away” from that meeting
- His/her score for the meeting (1 to 6)
- The average score is calculated and sent in by e-mail. Average score statistics per meeting help establish the most successful meeting.
Possible informal meetings, among others:
- Going out for a meal or a glass of wine
- A bicycle ride, a football game, etc.
- Doing sports: skydiving, scuba diving, paragliding, surfing, rafting, horse riding, cycling.
- Watching a movie and then discussing it
- Mountain trips. Every six months we go to the mountains and we also bring our families.
The group will work as a “shared board” as it will include people coming from various business lines, with different business functions, diverse backgrounds and offering relevant market information.
The group size will be 8 to 10 people. This will help maintain closer, more personal relationships between the group members. Each member will be aware of the others’ professional pursuits, difficulties and accomplishments.
Attending the meetings
In order for the group to work, the members have to attend the meetings. This is why the presence at the Mastermind meetings will be permanently documented and verified every six months.
Thus, the presence is mandatory for at least 70% of the meetings for a six-month period. More specifically, the maximum number of meetings skipped is 4 in 6 months.
New members can join the group once a year, after 10 months of attending the meetings. One has to follow these steps in order to become a Mastermind member:
- Proposals are e-mailed. The candidate must meet the ethics and turnover criteria. The proposing member is a kind of “godfather/godmother” to the candidate, which implies a certain responsibility for the latter’s actions/inactions.
- The proposals are discussed during a meeting. References are analysed. Candidates are selected.
- Only one candidate is invited per meeting so that we could get to know each other.
- Candidates to enter a trial period are selected. This requires approval from all the group members present at that meeting.
- The new member enters a two-month trial period (4 meetings), at the end of which he/she can become full member if he/she wishes and if 100% of the attending members agree. If not everyone approves of the new member after two months, the godfather/godmother will inform him/her of the group’s decision.
Rules for leaving the group
If a member proves a permanent trouble-maker, engages in unethical conduct or betrays the trust of at least one other member, he/she can be expelled from the group following the votes of 2/3 of the group members.
Members are subject to evaluation every 6 months.
The evaluation is conducted on an anonymous basis. Each member has to answer the following questions for each other member and for him/herself (self-evaluation):
- How much has X contributed to the Mastermind? (score 1 to 6)
- Justify the score for the previous question. Justification should help X.
- X’s competence (in the Mastermind context – score 1 to 6)
- My chemistry with X (score 1 to 6)
- X’s character (in ethical terms in the Mastermind context – score 1 to 6)
- General feedback for X.
Calculate the scoring for questions 1, 3, 4, 5. Calculate the scoring based on the members’ attendance. Then calculate the average of the two results for every member. List the members in ascending order. Learn lessons.
After the formal feedback, each member is recommended having one-on-one discussions to detail the feedback.
Duration and start time
Arrival time will be 7:45 a.m. and the meetings will start at 8:00 a.m. The meeting will last 1 hour and 30 minutes, until 9:30 a.m. Those who can and wish to stay for further discussions are welcome to do so.
The group will communicate through Google Groups/WhatsApp group
Besides the sine qua non moral and mutual trust limitations, the group members will sign a confidentiality agreement to certify the legal nature of our confidentiality obligation.
The location will be chosen by the group.