Groups for Professional Speakers
Ed Rigsbee, CSP
it be nice to find the silver bullet to sustained success in the
speaking business? While we are all looking for a better, quicker, more
effective approach to all the various aspects of running a speaking
practice or business, we
each know within our hearts that it is just hard work that delivers us
success. With that said, leveraging the strengths of our colleagues;
strengths derived from different backgrounds, education, experiences,
politics, etc., can dramatically accelerate one’s learning curve.
mastermind alliance idea has served me well over my two decades as a
professional speaker. With the help of Terry
Paulson, Ph.D., CSP, CPAE, Robert
Tucker and Pam Lontos, I started a speaker mastermind group during
the winter of ’88-’89. We started meeting early in 1989 and have
continued to get together about once a month or so ever since.
mastermind meeting is a confidential environment where individuals 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 of my mastermind alliance
are some very special and giving people. The group consists of not more
than about a dozen members that are geographically close to one another,
this allows us to regularly meet. We rotate from home to home, each
member having the opportunity to host a meeting. We make it simply for
the host by ordering delivered pizza.
you build your mastermind group, use it 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. The Gold Coast Group
once 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.
You will need a driver, an individual, to be the force behind the scenes
for about two years, after that the group’s cohesiveness should allow
the group to become a living entity where all members become accountable
for the group’s success.
Plan to meet every 4 to 6 weeks. Rather than meeting on the second
Tuesday of each month, for example—members should bring their
calendars and plan your next meeting at the end of each meeting.
Geographical proximity is crucially important, especially in the greater
area. If the drive is too far, members might be inclined to “skip”
meetings that are too far away, thereby minimizing their valuable
Rotate among the homes of members. This keeps the cost down and develops
a closer friendship among members.
The host of each meeting is in charge of that meeting: organizing the
food, reminder emails, agenda, select the meeting chair person, and
various other logistics. At each meeting, members should contribute $10
to the host, regardless of their eating habits. The host should make an
effort to accommodate, even the picky members. At the Gold Coast
meetings, alcohol is most definitely served. For us, pizza is a
minimum—some members select to go all out and some simply serve pizza
and salad—either is okay.
This is the most important rule—what’s said in the group, stays in
the group! In order for any member to receive true value from a
mastermind group, they must be confident that all members subscribe to
the necessity of a confidential environment.
there are a number of viable meeting formats, the one I’ve found to
serve best is an evening meeting using the following:
Meetings are held Monday through Thursday; participants arrive by 6:00
PM and the meeting is over by 9 PM.
The pizza, or other meal, is ready for immediate consumption by the
group at 6 PM.
Social conversation is generally during the meal—everyone at one table
The meeting can be held in the comfort of the living room; however we
have found that the dynamics of meeting around the dining table serves
best. If members are too comfortable they might doze off.
Quickly go around the room, everyone getting a minute or two to offer an
update on them and ask for specific use time from the group if they
forgot to email the meeting host with their request. It works best when
the meeting attendees request time before the meeting so the meeting
chair can work their request into the agenda—time requests are first
come, first served.
The chair conducts the meeting, generally using Robert’s
Rules of Order in a very informal manner. The chair must stay aware
of time usage and focus on running the meeting rather than participation
in the discussion. This is crucial to the success of a meeting and
members must be aware of their tendency to be a time hog.
Meetings can be organized around a topic, resolving issues that members
bring to the group or perhaps a presentation from an outsider?
Calendars come out at 8:45 to determine the best date for the next
Kisses and hugs at 9 PM and everyone departs.
the Mastermind Alive
are some of the reasons for longevity given by the members of the Gold
Coast Mastermind Alliance:
We genuinely respect each other and give each other space to be our
own unique selves: we have different approaches to the business, we have
different backgrounds, politics, successes, etc. But we are all
respectful of our diversity and it adds, rather than detracts from our
collaboration, and to the sum of our whole being greater than any parts.
We all appreciate a place we can come to each month to share and learn,
knowing that what we say is kept confidential within the group. It is a
"safety net" for people on the road who need a place to share
with like-minded colleagues.
We are a learning organization. I think we saw this when (rare though it
was) one member just wasn't clicking with the team and suddenly dropped
out without saying a proper good-by. What I experienced upon our
receiving the news was, "hmmm, how can we use this feedback to
improve our alliance?" And we made changes, renewed our vows
to be there for each other, and moved on to create an even better group. We
are able in other words, to be candid about how we create value for each
other (or miss).
We take the meetings seriously. We do have time to network and chat
socially, but we all know we are there to learn more about the business
All of us are invested in seeing everyone else in the group succeed,
i.e., it is not a competitive environment, rather a supportive one. We
are all friends and genuinely want each other to do well.
We have differing areas of expertise and different personality styles in
the group; freely share our knowledge with the other members which
provide a greater balance.
Copyright 2011 Ed Rigsbee
Rigsbee, CSP, has been a professional member of the National Speakers
Association (NSA) since 1988, earning the Greater Los Angeles Chapter's
Member of the Year award in 1990 and received his Certified Speaking
Professional accreditation from NSA in 2000. He has been highly engaged
with for-profit and non-profit organizations for over four decades. For
the last two decades, Ed has been an observer, researcher, and teacher;
helping organizations of all sizes to build successful internal and
external collaborative relationships. Ed travels internationally to
deliver keynote presentations and workshops on profitable alliance
addition to serving as the president of Rigsbee Research Consulting
Group, Ed also serves as the executive director of an IRS recognized 501
(c)( 3) public non-profit charity, the Cigar PEG. Ed has authored four
books and over 2,000 articles helping organizations to take full
advantage of their potential. Contact Ed, get additional resources, and
sign up for his complimentary weekly Effective
Executive eLetter at www.Rigsbee.com.