Mastermind: An Appreciation

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:: Building and running one’s own consulting practice has its challenges. When I meet people and tell them I do consulting, they sometimes look impressed, but do not know what to say after that! It has been important to build a community of colleagues who understand different aspects of consulting.

About a year ago, I heard about WIC Mastermind groups and decided to take the plunge. I already had a wide network of colleagues and fairly clear areas of expertise (facilitation, strategic planning and grant proposal writing for non-profit organizations), but wanted to take my consulting practice to the next level.

Our Mastermind group started meeting in August 2016. We meet virtually, using Zoom conference, every two weeks; we’ve held an in-person lunch meeting quarterly.
Since I’m in my first few years of consulting, I assumed that others in the Mastermind would be similarly new to consulting. As it turned out, this was not the case. Several of the members have been consulting for more than 10 years, which has been terrific. Group members bring wisdom and experience. The women in my Mastermind work in a number of areas such as coaching, sales, marketing and eCommerce.

Our meetings follow a few different formats: Each time we meet, each group members gets some time to check in and receive feedback on pressing issues and questions. We do Spotlight sessions in which one group member shares a longer presentation about her business in order to get feedback and advice on a few different areas. We do planning sessions, creating one-year business plans and then checking in about our business plans mid-year. We’ve explored a few topics, such as the WIC Best Practices survey and working with subcontractors. WIC set us up with a Basecamp collaboration site, which we use to post weekly updates on the successes and challenges from the past week and areas in which we need help from the group.

I value the Mastermind tremendously. I like each of the women in the group and appreciate following the twists and turns of each’s business journey. Other Mastermind members are encouraging at tough moments, reminding me of how much is going well when I feel discouraged. We celebrate each other’s successes; a win for any of us is a reminder that the steps we’re taking to build our businesses are working. We share resources with one another such as “good people to talk to about x” or graphic designers or website builders.  And we’ve talked about the intricacies of business such as pricing and structuring a contract. The group has supported each member to gain clarity about her desired direction forward.

Every Friday afternoon when I post my weekly business update, I acknowledge and feel gratitude for one of the most powerful pieces of evidence about the success of Mastermind.  I started posting to the Basecamp thread on my business last August, a slow time, and when I look at my August update, there are just a small number of work items listed. As I scan through the year, my posts lengthen, with more work coming in, and more wins. Much of this has been due to the hard work I’ve put in and my ability to connect with clients who have benefitted from my expertise. At the same time, the Mastermind has played a critical role in helping me to hone in on work that I feel passionate about, that I do well, and that adds value to the organizations I work with.

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