I’ll be honest here. One of the reasons I formed a mastermind was because I was really struggling. I felt like I was working ridiculously hard and not having the kind of success I saw others having. I was frustrated. I decided to give a mastermind group a try, sort of as a last-ditch effort. And nine months later, I can honestly say that starting a mastermind was the single best thing I ever did for my business.
What is a mastermind group?
Mastermind groups are small groups of like-minded people. There are usually five to seven members (but ours has eight!). They meet and communicate regularly to hold each other accountable, strategize, help each other with both little details and big questions, give feedback, and generally keep each other focused and on the path to success.
Mastermind groups don’t necessarily have to be just for TpT, either. Our group is all TpT Sellers (although we do have a good mix of subjects and grade levels), and that’s our focus. But other groups include people from a wider background. In some cases, that can even be better, because there are more diverse ideas and perspectives. The key is to find passionate, dedicated, and motivated people who are focused on similar goals. If you have awesome people, your group will be awesome.
How does it work?
How it works depends on the group and the amount of commitment the members want. In our group, we meet on Google Hangouts and have a private Facebook group. When we started out, we met weekly because we had a ton of information to share with each other. Now that our group is up and running, we work more through the Facebook group, since it’s easier to ask for and provide feedback, and to share screenshots and links, and to keep running threads on different topics we’re discussing. Also, writing down goals and to-do list items makes it way easier to hold each other accountable, and we have weekly accountability threads in our Facebook group.
How is a mastermind group different than posting in the forum or in a Facebook group?
It’s WAY smaller and more focused. Ideally, a mastermind group should have five to seven people. Everyone knows everyone else’s strengths and weaknesses, what the others are currently working on and struggling with, their personalities, and what they said they were going to do. One of the keys to a good mastermind group is that everyone feels completely comfortable sharing information and asking for help. Also, it’s important to build up a strong bond with your group to help with accountability, because you won’t want to disappoint them!
How do I join a mastermind group?
ASK! There are some mastermind groups that allow for new members. But I think the best way to join a mastermind is to start your own. Ask around on the TpT Seller’s forum or in a Facebook group. You can also find a Teacher-Author who you highly respect and ask them if they’d like to start a group with you. If you can get one or two really strong Teacher-Authors who you want to work with, then others will be more likely to follow.
I started my group by posting in the forum last December and asked people who were interested to complete an application survey. There were about 50 responses, including my own, so we were able to form several mastermind teams.
Once we have a group, where do we start?
Once you have your group, there are a few tasks that will help you get off the ground. I sent an email to the whole group, listed the tasks, and asked everyone to reply all and say which task they would handle. (The tasks were: schedule the first meeting, choose a technology for the meeting and help everyone set it up, brainstorm and list possible discussion topics, set up a tentative time structure, create an agenda for the first meeting, research mastermind group resources, etc.) In our responses, we each also shared our hopes and expectations for the group, along with all of our store and social media links so we could start connecting with each other.
What if things don’t work out?
Let’s be honest… that’s always a possibility. Any time you have a group working together, there’s the potential for friction. It’s also possible that some members may decide that a mastermind group really isn’t for them. If it’s a temporary issue, and you just need to take a step back for a bit, then talk to your group and see if that’s OK with them. In our group, it’s fine for members to take a little TpT break every now and again, especially when we’re feeling burned out or when more important things come up in life.
You can also check in with your group every three months or so to see if everyone is satisfied and getting what they need. If not, see if there’s a way the group can come up with a solution. In our group, we found that, after about nine months together, our weekly video chats were not as helpful as they had been in the beginning. So we had a meeting to come up with a solution, and decided to switch to a weekly focus question in our Facebook group instead. Now, instead of meeting each week, one person asks the group about something they are working on, and we all give in-depth feedback to help them move forward. So, it’s important to speak up and work together to come up with a solution if something isn’t working out.
And, as we all grow and learn at different rates, there might come a time when it’s best for one of your members to leave the group. It’s important that there’s a way for a member to leave the mastermind group without feeling shunned.
What makes a strong mastermind group?
Ultimately, it’s all about the chemistry and relationships you build. If you have good people on your team, the rest is in the details.
First of all, look for people who are about the same level or slightly above your level. It’s important that everyone has skills and information to contribute. A mastermind group is for collaborating, and it should not end up being one person always “teaching” the others.
Within that similar level, it’s helpful to have members with a diverse range of skills (someone who is really awesome at product creation, someone who excels at Facebook marketing, someone who has a great design eye, someone who knows a lot about list building, etc.) It’s also good to include Teacher-Authors who are in a diverse range of markets. In my opinion, it’s better to have different Teacher-Authors who are in secondary, middle school, elementary, math-focused, ELA-focused, and other niches in your group, if possible. (You probably don’t want to be directly competing with your whole group.) That being said, there are mastermind groups where everyone is in the same niche, and there are benefits to that as well.
The most important thing is that your members are highly dedicated. Being in a mastermind group is hard work. It’s work that pays off, but it’s WORK. You want to create a situation where all members participate fully, because that will help your group to function at its best and truly move forward.
Christine taught upper elementary for 13 years before taking some time off to travel and do volunteer work. She’s taught in a wide range of settings — urban and suburban, special education and gifted classes, English Language Learners from all over the globe, and even SAT prep and college courses. She’s currently living in Barcelona, Spain… for now! Christine discovered TpT three years ago, and she loves creating differentiated, interactive math units and other resources to make teachers’ lives easier. “I’m just so excited to be able to share my strengths with other educators. I hope I can help teachers feel confident when teaching even the most difficult math concepts, and help all of their students truly understand and apply the material.”