ERE Mastermind Group

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AxelHeyst
Posts: 592
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

ERE Mastermind Group

Post by AxelHeyst »

I mentioned this in my journal, but figured it deserved its own thread here. I'm going to have a go at an ERE Mastermind. I'm creating this thread for a) Advice/feedback, b) a dedicated location to post updates on how it's going, lessons learned, is it seeming worthwhile or not, and b) so those who don't lurk my journal know it's happening.
wikipedia wrote:A mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring group used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members.
I read a bunch of online articles and two ebooks on running masterminds. I've never participated in one before. If anyone with experience has thoughts, I'm all ears!

Proposed structure:
  • Every two weeks (Fortnightly)
  • Zoom, google hangouts, whatever. Video call.
  • 60-90 minutes.
  • 4-8 members.
  • Time-bound: We'll aim to run it for six months (12 calls), and then either let it go, or reform, or whatever we decide to do.
  • Call Format Option 1: Each person gets ~10min for their turn. They share a goal, a decision they're working through, and give updates and thinking on it. The other participants offer feedback and advice, and most notably do their part to hold each other accountable.
  • Call Format Option 2: Each meeting, the focus is 90% on one member to deep dive on their stuff. The other 10% is a very brief update from everyone.
  • A signal group or slack channel for communication only between mastermind members.
  • Strict confidentiality agreement. We'll know each other's names and faces, and (theoretically) be sharing some level of intimate details of our lives and struggles. We have to agree not to discuss the details of what we share with each other on the calls, unless it's been explicitly okay'd. (When I post updates on how the group is going, I'm going to be speaking in generalities and not sharing any specifics).
The Purposes of a Mastermind (aka What's the Value?)
  • Accountability. You state your explicit goals to the group, and they hold you to it. This increases your chance of achieving your goals by some significant amount, according to studies.
  • Insight. You share your current thinking on a challenge, and having 3-7 other brains giving feedback can show you a way forward that wouldn't have occurred to you.
  • Resources. Other people might be able to hook you up with a contact, a book, a concept, a technique to look in to, that will unlock whatever it is you're in to.
Masterminds are almost always about business success, at least that's the way the internet pitches them. This mastermind is about ERE success. Generally speaking, I'd say the point of this particular mastermind is to help people a) maintain/increase momentum towards higher Wheaton Levels, or b) get "unstuck" from their current Wheaton Level. It's a common theme that a lot of people dive in to ERE, and plateau at WL5/6. There's no judgement for those happy to stay there, but this Mastermind is explicitly for people who aspire to fully internalize ERE, aka WL7+, no matter what their current WL is.

The journals are essentially a form of written mastermind. As Jacob pointed out in the Stoa thread, people of similar WL's tend to congregate, encourage each other, and do all of the other functions that I listed above for a mastermind. So, what's the point of hopping on a call with a half dozen other forumites every fortnight, when there's a perfectly good treasure trove of ERE mastermindery sitting right here?

My best answer is speed, and using the magic of direct accountability with people who you are more intimately engaged with than anonymous commenters on a public board, to attain your ERE goals with a higher win/lose ratio. I'm thinking of the mastermind group as "the journals, but on trucker speed". It's certainly not intended to replace the journals, the idea is that it's for folks who think some intense social accountability will sprinkle some rocket fuel on their ERE path.

I think it bears emphasizing that masterminds aren't a social club. In addition, every article and book I've read on the topic to date has emphasized how much *more* you'll get out of a group the more you are vulnerable and courageous enough to go deep. This isn't a tips n tricks swapping call, it's a let's get in to the mud and be real kind of thing. My job as facilitator will be to ensure the calls stay on structure and don't turn in to meandering rambles.

As a participant of a mastermind, I expect people to call me on my bs, and challenge me when I give excuses. To drive me to uncomfortable places (with compassion, let's keep the EQ high here folks) in self-inquiry. I have a TON of other cooler stuff to do with my life than sit in front of a computer on yet another zoom call. I expect to get, and do my damnedest to give, a nice meaty chunk of value for my time investment.

I suspect doing a Mastermind Group will only be of interest to a small percentage of people. Also, this experiment may crash and burn for any number of reasons. It hasn't been tried yet, so I hope to either institute something valuable, or contribute the cautionary tale of our lack of success to the canon of ERE knowledge.

I already have enough people who indicated interest to fill one group. If you aren't one of those people, but are still interested, comment here or PM me. Maybe there's enough to run more than one group at a time - perhaps someone else wants to facilitate a second, or potentially I'd be up to facilitate two groups if there is enough interest.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1630
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I read about this in your journal. Good job and thank you for putting this project together. I hope it goes well. I'd participate but I'm concerned about anonymity and I dont think I am likely to move up any levels anyway.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 592
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by AxelHeyst »

Thanks Gilberto. That's a point worth underlining: just by the nature of it, there's no way to assure anonymity (even less than participating in the forum). We're certainly not going to be posting each other's IRL names on to the public forum, but we're not going to be doing any high level Mr. Robot digital scrubbing stuff for our calls.

iluv2fly1
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue May 21, 2019 3:59 pm

Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by iluv2fly1 »

Hey. I'm one of those people who lurks a lot rather than posting, but i think this could be a cool idea. I definitely would consider joining if you have space. I am in Europe though so timing might be an issue.

One simple question I have is for a link for the Wheaton levels. I know I've seen it before, but I totally forgot where the link is so I can't check how I compare to your numbers.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 592
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by AxelHeyst »

Here's the genesis thread of the ERE WL scale.

Quadalupe
Posts: 194
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:56 am
Location: the Netherlands

Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by Quadalupe »

AxelHeyst, thanks for initiating this and having this great write-up!

In general, I agree with your proposed structure. A couple of thoughts and amendments:

First of all: 90 minutes of focussed discussion is L O N G. I would prefer 60 minutes max, or we could do 60 minute plenary session and ~20 minutes 1 on 1 or something.

Furthermore, accountability is very important, and so is preparedness! At work, my ideal meeting would be one where
  1. the subject of the meeting is known beforehand
  2. the intended goal of the meeting is known beforehand
  3. the participants have already thought and engaged with the subject beforehand
  4. ideally, some initial exchange of opinions have already occurred.
  5. it is clear at the end of the meeting what decisions where made and what actions should be taken by whom
When all these criteria are met, meetings are very pleasant and efficient. Everyone has read the materials beforehand, thought about it and maybe even discussed it a little bit, so that we can get straight to the real discussion.

I would prefer the following:
  • Before the initial meeting, everyone provides a short description of the specific problem they want to work on with this mastermind group. The rest of the groups reads this and thinks about the problem before the first meeting. Share this with the problem owner.
  • The initial meeting is format option 1: everyone shares their problem, what they thought of the feedback the others provided and what next steps they see to tackle their problem. The rest helps out with feedback and advice. At the end, everyone has some next steps to work on for the next meeting.
  • The next meetings is format option 2. A deep dive on the stuff of a group member. This member has provided some more material beforehand, again read and commented on by the rest. The rest also provided some updates (and received feedback) about their problems, but that is not the main focus of the current meeting
  • Every meeting, the next member in line does a deep dive. When every member went once, we can do a meeting of format option 1 to reassess the goals and progress
As you can see, I try to front load a lot of the work by making us submit problems and analysis in advance. I think this works better, because everyone has the opportunity to think about the problems before, and not give advice on the spot. Furthermore, I think this will also increases engagement (and accountability). If this sounds like a fair amount of work, that's because it is! A mastermind group is a real commitment. If we want something more laidback (without expecting a lot of progress), we can use the forum or just have some informal zoom calls without a rigid structure.

I hope I didn't come off as too formal or strict, but I think something like I described above would be the best way to get the most out of our gatherings. Of course I'm open to suggestions!

AxelHeyst
Posts: 592
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by AxelHeyst »

Stellar input Quadalupe, thanks! I agree - 60min maximum. I like the idea of starting with an option 1 first meeting and then going to option 2. It will also depend somewhat I think on how many people ultimately are on the call, so there might be some adjustment there.

And the point that the mastermind should be a lot of work is a good one, worth emphasizing. Garbage in/garbage out is a good rule of thumb here - if we just show up, and have a hand-wavey structure, and mostly just "chat", we won't get much out of it. The idea here is to ramp up the intensity and focus, put in a lot to this, and the rewards will have a chance of being significant.

If this turns in to another BS waste-of-life zoom call, I'll be the first to bail. I should also say, I'm know at work as having a "ruthless" style to meeting time management. When I say the meeting starts at 2, it bloody well starts at 2. My favorite memory is when I walked out of the conference room exactly on the hour while someone was still talking. The last thing I heard was "Huh, I guess he was serious about ending the meeting on time!" It comes from a deep seated aversion to disrespecting other people's time.

Crusader
Posts: 174
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2020 11:16 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by Crusader »

I am interested if there is space. The only thing I am not quite sure about is what makes this an "ERE" mastermind as opposed to any other generic mastermind.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 592
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by AxelHeyst »

Yep, good question. Answering it is, in part, the metapoint of the Mastermind group - no one's done something quite like this, so we're figuring it out as we go. My answer today might be quite different from the answer I give in six months. But here's my best shot.

A generic mastermind is typically about business success of some sort. People come to a mastermind with goals, projects, and problems like
"How do I scale my business sustainably? How do I improve my DSO? I'm doing well, but I'm working 100hrs/week - how do I delegate effectively without my company running off of the rails? My goal is to make my first million in gross revenue. I'm trying to increase my marketing workflow - any advice?" Or at least, that's the sort of topics I imagine a normal mastermind would discuss.

So the ERE Mastermind topics would be, well, the sorts of things we tend to discuss in our journals. This Mastermind is sort of formulated as "the journals + accountability with people who are no longer strangers + theoretical benefits of hyperfocused feedback". The forum and journals are one form of ERE community, the Mastermind is intended to be a sort of small mini-community within the forum community, just very intense.

So, the structure of the Mastermind is that each of us is going to bring an ERE related problem or a project that we want to make headway on. We're going to present how we're thinking of approaching it, and actions we're going to take in that direction. From the group, we're seeking a) advice on how to do what we want to do, b) feedback on whether we're pursueing the right goal or thinking about it clearly, and c) accountability to make sure we're making good on what we said we'd do.

Some ideas:
  • I've gotten my spend down to X. My goal is to get my monthly spend to (0.6)*X. I'm going to try to do that by doing A and B and C. Any advice?
  • I'm happy with my "ERE metrics", but I feel isolated from friends and communities IRL. I want to increase my social engagement while not backsliding on my ERE practices. I plan on pulling it off by doing this and that.
  • I'm 60% to my FI target with my salaryj*b, but I just can't even anymore. I'm thinking of quitting, starting up a hustle, and going semiERE. I'm scared. Do I have it all thought through?
  • I'm semiERE, but I feel sort of directionless, like I could be approaching my days with more intention and serenity. Instead I feel pretty anxious and like I'm wasting my life. I want to have a routine, or a perspective, nailed, and execute on a compelling vision for my life that lights up my days.
  • I've got N more years at my j*b, and I'm cool with that, but I want to figure out how to not feel like 40hrs/wk*Nyears is just a waste of my life. Help me a) be a boss at w*rk because what else am I going to do, and b) maintain perspective and "balance" until I FI and c) strategies and practices to arrive at FI not a burnt out husk of a human.
So, yeah, pretty much just the journals, but in an environment where we're compelled by the fact that we're in a small group with other people whose faces we can see who are going to call us on our BS to get laser focused.

I suppose to some this will feel like the kind of high intensity, stressy environment FIRE is designed to escape. Fair enough, this group isn't for you. :)

Crusader
Posts: 174
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2020 11:16 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by Crusader »

Sounds good to me. I always have a million things I want to do in theory and I always lose focus. I think that focusing on some strictly ERE goals will do me good, so yeah, if there is space, I want in :)

AxelHeyst
Posts: 592
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by AxelHeyst »

All right, we had our first call and are getting sorted.

There's 8 of us. For our first meeting, we gave each person 7.5minutes to just do an intro about themselves, and say anything about their chosen projects. I was worried it'd be way too much content for an hour, but one member missed because they slept in and everyone was concise, so we actually had plenty of time to have a little back and forth with each person. Most people have picked 2 ERE related projects to focus on as their "mastermind group" goals, ranging from decreasing food costs, to learning to invest, to minimalism/stuff purging, to working on side hustles.

It was good to see everyone, hear their voices, and get a better sense for how they feel and think about their lives/projects than you can get from text. I also found myself inspired by all the projects, and am feeling more momentum being added to my tertiary projects where they overlap with others. The call actually went better than I thought, and I thought it would go fine.

We set up some groups on Signal as an easy way to stay in touch in between calls. So far we've sorted in to a main channel, for Project specific and group logistics stuff, an investing curriculum channel, and a lounge where we can just bs without polluting the other channels.

I have mixed feelings about the Signal chats:
1) It's good to be able to connect during the week, check in on projects, share ideas, etc. It feels like we maintain and build "group cohesion" by being able to casually converse.
2) Having multiple group text chats flies in the face of my digital minimalism practices. It's very easy to either get sucked in to it for low value return, or be away from it, check in and there's 98 new messages, and that's just kind of annoying.
3) That said, one of the most common failure modes of Mastermind Groups is everyone kind of losing focus and it turns into a social group, and then peters out. The chat groups might be a way to dissipate that "let's be social!" energy during the week, enabling us to stay focused and concise during our calls.
4) Also, if some people want to participate a lot in the chats, but some people don't, that organically creates an in and out group. Not good!

It's still early in the Group's life, so we'll see how things progress. So far I'm really happy with how things are going, and really grateful to everyone in the group for bringing their energy and focus and honestly taking a little risk with us.

Stasher
Posts: 53
Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2021 11:23 am
Location: Vancouver Island BC
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Re: ERE Mastermind Group

Post by Stasher »

Good on you all for starting this. Through my FI journey, blogging & business groups that were small and on point like this have been a huge help. I agree with you on the "chat" spectrum of it, hard rules need to be put in place so that it doesn't get too off focus and become overly social. The social aspect is key to group synergy but the boat could easily become rudderless and the members lost at sea if someone doesn't attend to the staying on course.

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