When the economy goes south and you are looking for answers on how to adjust, to whom do you turn? When times are turbulent, you need counsel and encouragement from people in whom you believe and trust. This is the time when the value of your confidential mastermind group is most noticeable. Alliances are mutually beneficial relationships. Relationships are the corner stone of a successful business and Outrageously Successful Relationships (OSRs) are what mastermind alliances are about.
In 1963 John F. Kennedy said, “Lofty words cannot construct an alliance or maintain it; only concrete deeds do that.” Similarly, to make your mastermind alliance work, all involved need to make Relationship Bank Deposits(RBD) before attempting to receive withdrawals. This is the challenge.
Throughout my adult life, in order to have what I want, numerous people have recommended to me that I work harder. In contrast, a few have suggested I work smarter. My choice is some of the former and more of the latter. Business is more complex than ever before and a soft economy amplifies this complexity. As you continually seek solutions to your business challenges, why not access the synergy of additional views. Partnering with other business leaders to create a mastermind alliance is an answer to the idea of working smarter.
Over a decade ago, I started a mastermind alliance of professional speakers and consultants that are geographically close to me in the Northern Los Angeles area. Over the years we have evolved and grown together. Today, we call ourselves the Gold Coast Speakers and you can check us out at www.GoldCoastSpeakers.com.
We started meeting early in 1989 and continue to get together about once a month or so. While many of us are competitors, this is a confidential environment where each can share their gifts and receive counsel on important business, career and personal issues. I do not believe I would have survived in my speaking career without this relationship. The members, about a dozen, of my mastermind alliance are some very special and giving people. Because we are geographically close, this allows us to get together regularly. We rotate from home to home, each member having the opportunity to host a meeting and make it simple by ordering delivered pizza.
Another mastermind alliance success story is the Downtown Palm Springs, California breakfast club. A few years ago I interviewed Tim Ellis, then general manager at the Riveria Resort & Racquet Club in Palm Springs. The interview was for an article about Palm Springs strategic alliance with other California cities to draw tourists to the state. He told me about his downtown Palm Springs mastermind alliance. It consisted of general managers from seven other deluxe hotels, the convention center director and the owner of the aerial tram. They meet every Wednesday and rotate member locations weekly. They discuss issues uniquely important to the hospitality business in downtown Palm Springs.
I recently spoke with Tim. He is no longer at the Riveria. He started his own company, Lathom Hotels. Tim bought one hotel and leased another. The hotels both feature suites with full kitchens. He started his company to serve a neglected niche in town, long-term retired guests. He told me that much of his success comes from the networking relationships in the breakfast club. He said that he could not have picked up and done the same thing in another town. And yes, he still belongs to the alliance.
Your trade or professional association, when properly executing its charge, acts as a funnel for mastermind relationships. While there are some limitations such as confidentiality issues, discussion limitations based on anti-trust issues, many associations do facilitate smaller specialty groups that function similar to mastermind alliances. Additionally, in your area you can join established commercial (for profit) mastermind alliances such at The Executive Committee (TEC) or Young Presidents Organization (YPO). The downside of groups like TEC and YPO is that there are many limitations on membership and regulations to follow. The up side is you have a paid leader running things for you.
There are five personal core values that I believe are necessary for your mastermind alliance members to possess:
- Tolerance/ understanding
Use these values as your guide when making member selections. Too often I’ve heard people talking marriage but really acting one-night stand. This behavior is what I call cotton candy partnering. Like cotton candy, it looks good and tastes great but disappears in seconds. These are definitely not concrete deeds and not the type of members you’ll want in your mastermind alliance. In contrast, integrity partnering is what allows synergistic solutions, the concrete deeds.
Use your group as a sounding board for ideas you might have missed, to uncover unnoticed pitfalls in your plans and various other important areas that offer you value. In the group of which I am a member, we spent an entire year dedicating each meeting to individual members for dealing with their specific issues. Wow! It was powerful to have several people focus their energy and attention to a single member’s issues. Giving energy, can be as powerful as receiving it. I learn when I am being helped with my issues and when others are helped with theirs.
To make this kind of alliance relationship valuable for all involved, the giving or Relationship Bank Deposits must be frequent. Additionally, all the members of the alliance must be committed to the alliance itself. When this happens the alliance becomes a living entity and begins to evolve in it’s own direction. While this might seem odd, I have regularly found it to be true.
Inherent while building mastermind alliances, you will notice both benefits and pitfalls. The benefits of alliance relationships usually outweigh the pitfalls. Be careful and methodical in your search for mastermind alliance members and in the elements of which the alliance will operate, as the road to a successful alliance has roadblocks, land mines and quicksand pits. Knowing how to select the right alliance partners and making good selections is truly a concrete deed, of which Kennedy spoke. Make your Relationship Bank Deposits and you will surely develop Outrageously Successful Relationships with your mastermind alliance group members.
Ten Tips to Developing Outrageously Successful Relationships:
- Behave toward your alliance partner the way you want them to behave toward you.
- It is more important to be a good alliance partner and get things done, then to obsess on the importance of being right.
- Make relationship bank deposits before you try to make a withdrawal.
- Regularly share relationship value updates with your alliance partner.
- Know what your partner needs.
- Be clear on what you want from your alliance relationship and what you are willing to do to make it successful.
- Be committed, confident and passionate toward your alliance.
- Do more for your alliance partner than you promised—exceed their expectations.
- Resolve conflict immediately.
- You cannot partner with an organization or individual who does not want to be a good Partner.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.