No one who achieves massive business success does it alone. In fact, success in any field is usually the product of collaborative effort.

To be excellent, you have to surround yourself with excellence—with people who know about the incredible things you want to accomplish and hold you accountable for chasing those goals because they care about you.

In the business world, a group of people with shared aspirations who come together to encourage, inspire, and support one another is called a mastermind group.

If you’re looking for a community that can help you reach the ambitious goals you’ve set for yourself, joining a mastermind group might be your best option.

In fact, it could completely change your career trajectory and motivate you to set and achieve bigger goals.

How do I know?

Because it worked for me.

After I started my own advertising agency in the mid-’90s, I joined Agency Management Institute, a group of agency owners that meets a couple of times a year to exchange stories, share food and drinks, and learn from one another.

Over time, the people who came to these meetings became more than just professional connections. They were my mentors, advisors, and close friends—and they still are today.

Learning Alongside Masterminds

Ultimately, I got the opportunity to purchase AMI and lead the organization that played a vital role in my personal and professional development.

Many of the people who regularly attend our semiannual meetings have been doing so since before the turn of the century; they see the same value in being a part of a tight-knit peer network.

As the owner of AMI (and as a fellow agency owner), it’s my job to make sure we continue to help other leaders in the industry grow and evolve.

I’m also part of two other mastermind groups, which might be considered more traditional.

One is a group of business owners that began meeting about 16 years ago. None of us work in the same field, but we all know what it’s like to run a business, and we live in the same general area. The people in this group are the ones I turned to when I was presented with the opportunity to buy AMI. They helped me weigh the potential risks and rewards and determine how the opportunity fit into my long-term plans. I consider them a vital part of my business think tank.

The other group is one that I’ve only been a part of for three or four years. It’s made up of a few people from around the country and serves businesses like mine. At least, that’s how it started.

Most groups will change over time. But as long as you have a couple of key elements, those changes will lead to more growth.

Find Good People

Joining a mastermind group allows you to meet people who have shared experiences but different perspectives and backgrounds.

In the groups I’m a part of, members also have one another’s best interests in mind.

This is critical.

You want to join a mastermind group where people genuinely care about you as a human being and genuinely care about your business success.


Because if you remain in the group for long enough, these will become people you rely on. You’ll turn to them for feedback on business ideas, introductions to potential clients, or advice when your business is in the midst of a crisis.

These are the people you’ll text on a Saturday afternoon saying, “Everything just hit the fan. Can you talk for 10 minutes?”

Whether you’re considering joining a formal organization or just want to start a peer network, you want to be sure the other people in that group will answer that text.

Commit to One Another

While a mastermind group won’t work if it’s filled with jerks, it also won’t work if it’s filled with good people who simply don’t have time to meet.

Mastermind meetings don’t have to happen frequently, but they do have to happen.

At AMI, peer group attendance is mandatory.

In the other two groups that I’m in, we give one another a little more leeway. However, once the date and meeting spot are determined, we do everything in our power to be there.

When meetings happen, everyone in the group needs to be fully present and ready to focus on a set of common goals and desired outcomes. A 60-minute group discussion isn’t usually going to make a significant impact, so members must hold one another accountable for contributing and staying engaged for however long it takes to achieve those outcomes, whether it takes hours or days.

Mastermind group members should hold one another accountable in other ways, too. Members will learn about your most important values and most ambitious plans, and they should be willing to call you out when you deviate from them.

A Formal Mastermind Group vs. an Informal Network

Any mastermind group can be beneficial if it’s filled with good people who are committed to one another and pursuing the same goals.

It doesn’t matter whether the group is a formal organization or just an informal network of your friends and colleagues. However, there are differences between the two.

Formal organizations will usually have an established vetting process for prospective members, which can be reassuring if you don’t know the people in your group.

That process usually reflects the values shared by existing members and the standards they set.

A formal mastermind organization will also generally allocate resources to ensure members can make it to meetings. With AMI peer groups and many other formal networks, members can often count on someone else to book travel, lodging, and meals during multi-day meetings.

In a formal mastermind, all meetings have predetermined agendas and trained facilitators. The latter can be especially beneficial, as a good facilitator generally understands your business or has addressed similar business challenges in other fields. They also have the skills necessary to guide the group interaction in a way that maximizes its value.

If you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, or aspiring professional in any field, a mastermind group can help you reach your goals.

Join the right one, and it might take you even farther.

Drew McLellan

For over 30 years, Drew McLellan has been in the advertising industry. For 26 of those years, he has owned and run an agency. Additionally, Drew leads the Agency Management Institute, which advises hundreds of small- to medium-sized advertising agencies on how to grow and build their profitability through agency owner peer networks, consulting, workshops, and more.

View all posts by Drew McLellan