Harry Hawk: Hello, we’re here with Alex Yong, a journalist and a watcher of all things public relations 2.0. Alex, can you tell us what a “mastermind group” is?
Alex Yong: Hey Harry! A mastermind group is a Napoleon Hill concept that says many minds are better than one. That’s the short answer. It’s basically people sharing what they know freely and openly. That collaboration then becomes one mind, a mastermind – and everybody has access to it. The big advantage is the ability to get an answer or suggestion in minutes instead of wasting hours. When you’re struggling with an issue, a mastermind like ours can be a life-saver.
Harry Hawk: How large is the group that you’re a member of and how often does it meet?
Alex Yong: The group is around 90 or so people and one of the founders compares it to a water cooler. There’s no schedule, whoever’s around can use it, and there’s a lot of serendipity to that. I like that there’s no schedule. Some people tend to pop in when they need answers, and while that’s not ideal, we don’t judge. However, we do prefer actively getting to know each other. Many masterminds are small; some have just 5 or 6 people. Ours happens to be large. We don’t “hold each other accountable” either, like they do in many small masterminds. If individuals wish to do that privately, they certainly can.
Harry Hawk: Does it meet online or face-to-face?
Alex Yong: We meet on Skype! But if you happen to hit it off with somebody locally, there’s no rule against meeting up in person. We’re very coast to coast. We even have members in Scotland, Japan, Israel, Brazil and elsewhere, but mainly the lower 48 states.
Harry Hawk: Is it sponsored by anybody? Do you have to pay to join? How does your group work and how did you find them?
Alex Yong: There’s no centralized body, and the group’s creator doesn’t and hasn’t EVER charged a fee or anything like that. I’m unsure how the group has grown because by the time I joined there were more than 60 members. I found out about it through Gail Gardner of Growmap. Gail is an award-winning small business consultant with a high-traffic blog and tremendous internet experience. She explained that it’s a Skype-based mastermind. There’s no sponsor.
Harry Hawk: Can you give an example of how it’s helped you professionally?
Alex Yong: One example is me making a connection with the CEO of Small Business Trends, a site that’s consistently in the top 4k U.S. compete.com rankings. She had expressed an interest in someone based out of New York City who could do correspondent work and the mastermind is where we connected. We have no rules against hiring or firing or cooperating with whomever you choose to network with. It’s very hands-off, I would say.
Harry Hawk: What about something that’s helped you either personally or helped you develop some other aspect of your interests?
Alex Yong: I’m blown away by all the granular expertise that I see being exchanged in the room. While a lot of the high-level technical talk flies over my head, I’m helping maintain a library of as many terms as I encounter, whether those terms are high-tech or “martech” or specific tools. What’s said on Skype can have an ephemeral feel, even though Skype allows you to scroll back. Even so, you’ll see friendly chatter to sort through, and that makes maintaining the library necessary – for all the ‘businessy’ content minus the friendly chatter. It’s really the only way to negate that impermanent feel. The library exists on the productivity app Trello. If you don’t want to use or even take a look at the Trello library we have, that’s perfectly fine!
Harry Hawk: It sounds like everything’s conducted through the Skype IM module as opposed to Skype video chat is that right?
Alex Yong: Yes, that’s correct. Many people forget that Skype has the convenient IM module. They hear “Skype” and they immediately think “video”! That’s a bit of a branding challenge that Skype faces, in my opinion – it’s more than what people think it is. In fact, it’s the typing which makes everything feel so quick and “mercurial” yet helpful. Skype rooms rock. Good ones turn into communities. If you haven’t been in a Skype room before, you have no clue what you’re missing.
Harry Hawk: Would you give us one more example of how it’s helped you personally?
Alex Yong: It’s opened my mind for sure. Before I joined, I already knew that I don’t know everything. No one person can, honestly, and the mastermind is a great reminder of that, that there’s so much to learn. It increases my appetite for learning.
Harry Hawk: That’s a fantastic answer, Alex. One last question. Has it helped you gain any confidence in the knowledge that you already have?
Alex Yong: Yes, I’m happy to bring my unique views and experiences to the table. I’ve become a good person to direct certain questions to, especially if the questions are about PR, due to my interactions with the broad PR world. I can bring perspectives to the group that others might not be able to.
Harry Hawk: Please tell everybody where they can find you.
Harry Hawk: Thank you Alex. Have a great week everybody!
Harry Hawk of hawksocialmarketing.com is a social and digital marketer focused on hospitality, community and technology.
More on why masterminds are good for business: http://www.disruptware.com/business/the-power-of-masterminds/