Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about mastermind groups. The term “mastermind group” was originally introduced back in the early 1900s by Napoleon Hill in the book “Think and Grow Rich”. It was defined as “the coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”
In the past, when I’ve heard about mastermind groups, it’s been in an entrepreneurial context. A group of entrepreneurs would form a mastermind group to talk about their businesses. The group members offered encouragement, solved problems, and suggested strategies to help the other members of the group succeed.
At this year’s Great Place to Work Conference, I had the opportunity to hear about mastermind groups in a different way. Sophie Yanez is culture strategist and human resources program manager at Rackspace, the managed cloud specialist. Rackspace has been recognized as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For as well as Glassdoor Employee’s Choice Top 50 Best Places to Work.
Sophie shared that she’s a part of an employee engagement and corporate culture mastermind group. The idea of a mastermind group was started after the same network of people would gather at conferences/events and talk about building an exceptional corporate culture. They decided to work with a facilitator to create a mastermind group.
In case you’re wondering, the group does have some structure. First, the group is small with only 8-10 members. They represent a wide variety of industries. The group meets bimonthly or quarterly, depending upon group member’s schedules. And they rotate locations, so each member hosts a meeting. Group members do not share confidential or proprietary information about their organizations.
Sophie said that each member gets something different from their participation. “The only things we ask of members is to listen, keep an open mind, and give honest feedback.”
To encourage a healthy dialogue, the participants spend a lot of time getting to know each other. Sophie said, “We’ll do several structured icebreakers with debrief to set the stage for our meeting agenda.” At some meetings, the host organization will bring in beanbag chairs and create a very casual vibe for the meeting.
A typical mastermind meeting agenda might only have 1-2 items on it. Sophie shared that one meeting focused on trends with engaging Millennials. Each meeting also allows time for a free flowing discussion on current challenges each member is facing.
I asked Sophie to share what being a part of the group has done for her and for Rackspace. She said for her, it expanded her way of thinking and opened her mind to new ideas she might not have previously tried. For Rackspace, she said, “It’s brought the company new ideas that have made our culture grow and mature. We’re still a new company. We’ve discovered new ways to sustain our already fabulous culture.”
I must admit, just learning about this mastermind group has expanded my way of thinking. It reminds me how important building relationships within the human resources profession is to our organizational success. We’re all trying to accomplish the same things and there is so much we can learn from each other.
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My thanks to Sophie for sharing information about her group so others can possibly start or find a mastermind group that works for them. If you want to learn more about Rackspace and their culture, be sure to check out their “Racker Culture” blog.