Published: March 3, 2021 | Updated: March 5, 2021

A certain kind of magic: David McDonald on mastermind and Vistage peer advisory groups

By Andrew Diprose, editor

When CEOs, MDs and Owners across industries meet to discuss the challenges and successes only they can understand, magic happens, writes David McDonald.

This sort of meeting of executive leaders is an example of a mastermind group – a group of individuals who congregate to leverage each other’s knowledge and sharpen their strategies for attaining their personal and professional goals.

Mastermind groups are a lot like Vistage peer advisory groups.

Delve into the benefits of these powerful groups by reading below.

What is a mastermind group?

Andrew Carnegie left Dunfermline in Scotland for the USA with nothing, living in poverty.  Decades later, he was the richest man in the world.

How could this happen?

Carnegie believed that much of his success was due to the people he knew and how they shared ideas. This kind of teamwork, he said, “is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

The group that drove Carnegie was what we’d now call a mastermind group, a term introduced by Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich”.

When two minds come together, Hill wrote that a third mind was formed: the mastermind.

Mastermind groups meet regularly, coming together to listen, support and push one another toward their goals – allowing people to “accomplish in one year more than you could accomplish without it in a lifetime on your own”.

Whether you’re new in business, a seasoned entrepreneur, or a CEO who always wants to grow, the support of a mastermind group can be a catalyst for rapid growth.

What a mastermind group is not

Mastermind groups are not a simple networking meeting or a group of friends chatting over drinks.

These groups meet to push each other, to exchange information, to hear new ideas, and to hold each other accountable for their goals.

Mastermind groups are not passive ventures. They’re active groups for people who want more from their lives and careers.  They are a gym not a hospital.

The importance of a mastermind group

Such a network of people – most of whom have known success – can work as an invisible, intangible force.

Though this force may be invisible, it’s backed by research.

People who commit to a goal to another person improve their chances of reaching that goal by 65 per cent.  Those who have regular accountability appointments to discuss that goal improve their odds by 95 percent.

Perhaps that’s the best way to think about mastermind groups: They’re accountability appointments with other bright minds who want you to be successful.

What happens in a mastermind group meeting?

Typically, the first 10 to 20 minutes of mastermind groups are dedicated to discussing wins.

After that, the group will focus on one or more members for about 40 minutes each.

Author Brian Tracy calls this the “hot seat model,” which allows one member to tell the group about a problem they’ve had or an issue they’re facing. The group asks questions, gives feedback, and shows support.

The last 10 minutes of each meeting are typically dedicated to monthly goals set by members. This is the time to tell people what you intend to do so you can be held accountable.

Mastermind groups vs. Vistage groups

Mastermind groups are similar to Vistage groups, but there are some very important differences.

A Vistage peer advisory group consists of successful CEOs outside your own industry.

You’ll be able to see how CEOs in an array of spaces work and how you may be able to use their methods in your own line of work.

There will be no pressure to compete with other members of the group, as no one will be an industry rival – it’s truly an environment of collaboration.

Mastermind groups often exist without a true leader, but each Vistage group is led and moderated by a Chair.

Vistage Chairs are executive coaches who have each had years of experience as executives.

They bring their expertise and experience, providing one-on-one mentoring for each group member.

Chairs add a layer of accountability to the group –  they’ve been through a career and have decades of experience in meeting goals. Their creative insights often push members to the next level.

Chairs invite subject-matter experts to meetings for intensive workshops.

This means that group members can learn from each other, the Vistage Chair, and an expert.

This atmosphere of multiple influences is made to challenge how members think, something that often brings forth “ah-ha” moments of insight for members.

How to join a Vistage group

The directive of a Vistage group is simple: Support fellow CEOs while pushing each other to learn, grow and be accountable.

All group members abide by membership terms that ensure confidentiality and full participation at each meeting.

Each member is an active executive who wants to use the expertise of the group to meet their goals, make better decisions and grow in their careers.