Thoughts On Leadership: The Mastery Of Masterminds

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Seattle to attend the HomeServices of America, Inc. 2019 West Coast Peer Strategy Meeting led by Mary Lee Blaylock, HomeServices of America president of the West Coast Region and president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. Jason Waugh, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate, hosted the meeting, which was also attended by HomeServices of America Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Dana Strandmo; HomeServices of America Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mike Warmka; Tom Tognoli, president and CEO of Intero Real Estate Services; Andy Nazaroff, broker/president and CEO, Guarantee Real Estate; and selected members of their teams.

In essence, the Seattle conference is a mastermind meeting, a chance for leaders with distinct differences and competitive advantages — different geographies, philosophies and ideas — to come together in one place to develop, discuss and collaborate on strategies for the betterment of all. A mastermind is an important element of leadership from a developmental standpoint because it’s the melting pot into which ideas are thrown, cooked, stirred and subsequently served to the group at large. Some of the very best and most successful initiatives result from the mastermind exchange of passionate leaders.

For fans of leadership history, the original mastermind concept was popularized by Napoleon Hill, who first described it in his 1928 book “The Law of Success.” The idea was further discussed and expanded in his 1937 masterpiece “Think and Grow Rich,” in which he defined a mastermind as: “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in a spirit of harmony.” He also wrote: “No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible, intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind.” This “third mind” is what we now call the “mastermind.”

Still, unlocking success through the melding of minds was never a concept Hill came up with on his own. Instead, he was inspired by his connection with some of the 20th century’s most successful business leaders.

Let’s travel back to 1908 … Hill is a young reporter conducting a series of interviews with Andrew Carnegie, a man who arrived to America without a penny to his name and from nothing created an immense fortune through his Carnegie Steel Company. (For those interested, these interviews have been printed in “How to Own Your Own Mind,” a 2017 publication by Penguin Random House.) Through his conversations with Carnegie, the idea began to form in Hill’s mind that professional success at such a massive scale didn’t happen in isolation … or by accident. This kind of success required a group of leaders working in harmony together and with synergistic determination to reach solutions that produced mutually beneficial outcomes for all.

And that’s exactly what happened in Seattle this week. Here are four key takeaways from the mastery of masterminds:

  • Get out what you put in. An effective mastermind group is like a rowing team that achieves perfect swing. (As described in “The Boys in the Boat” this kind of exquisitely coordinated swing is akin to pure poetry.) You must commit to the mastermind and realize that your level of commitment will reflect the level of success that results from your sessions.
  • Focus on what’s most valuable. From the agenda to the type of meeting (in person, on the phone, over video chat), every element of the mastermind gathering must be organized to create the most productivity and the best results.
  • Identify strengths and fix weaknesses. Use this mastermind meeting as a time to put that “third mind” to work. Harnessing the power of the collective, identify what you’re doing right (and how others can replicate it) then strategize on ways to eliminate bad habits, fix poor decisions and positively transform the aspects of members’ particular businesses that do not serve to increase or expand success.
  • Hold members accountable for their commitments. Accountability is a crucial element to any mastermind group. Once initiatives are strategized and finalized, make sure there is a system in place to hold members accountable for seeing them through to completion.

So, what’s the message? A great idea left unshared is like a tree that falls in a forest. Does it really make a sound (or impact) if no one can hear it land? The success of a mastermind proves that ideas collected, discussed and acted on in a group setting are at the heart of transformative innovation and the mastery of sustainable success.

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