What can a virtual mastermind group do for you?
High achievers long ago realized they needed to tap into the knowledge and experience of other people to solve problems and reach new levels of growth.
One of the greatest examples of tapping into the experience of others begins with Benjamin Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin was a Founding Father of the U.S. and the only one to sign all four meaningful documentsestablishing the U.S. He was also a printer, author, philosopher, politician, statesman, diplomat, scientist, economist, and inventor.
Benjamin Franklin wasn’t born the oldest sibling with over-achiever traits, many of us see today. He was the 15th of 17 children. Ben’s father wasn’t a college graduate; he made soap and candles. He was a tradesman.
The most foundational trait he passed on to his children was his love of reading. Benjamin’s mother realized that while their home was crowded and noisy, she was committed to making it a healthy and happy home.
At the age of 8, Benjamin’s father sent him to South Grammar School, later called the “Boston Latin” school, preparing young Benjamin to be a minister. Two years later, Josiah ran out of money and brought Benjamin home to work with him in the candle making business.
Apprenticed at 12 to a printer:
Benjamin, loved to read and learn. He would borrow books from his friends. From these books he taught himself grammar, philosophy, and arithmetic. Every time he saved a little money he would buy books to read and learn from. His friends also loved to read books and they regularly studied the books and discussed them.
When Benjamin was 12 years of age, Josiah had him apprenticed to his older son, James who was a printer. The apprenticeship was signed for 7 years. (Yes… at the age of 12!)
“New England Courant”:
James Franklin began his “New England Courant” newspaper in Boston in 1721 when his brother Benjamin was 15. It was the third paper in Boston. James’ and his friends wrote articles, opinions, news of the day, advertisements, and other information.
The beginning of Benjamin’s Writing Career:
Benjamin began writing articles and asked his brother James to publish them in his newspaper. James refused! So, Benjamin, 16, under the pen name Silence Dogood, (wrote as the Widow Dogood, a 40-year-old widow). Benjamin put his letters under James’ door every two weeks.
Benjamin Franklin at 16 became the printer & publisher of his brother’s “New -England Courant”. James had written an article against the government and was put in jail. The next year, Benjamin Franklin, 17, became for the second time, printer and publisher of his brother’s “Courant” newspaper. James, this time, wrote an article “mocking religion”. Once more the court made the decision to jail him. James escaped out of town.
By September 1723, Benjamin Franklin had had enough of his brother’s “abuse and strict control”. He escaped by traveling to New York and later Philadelphia looking for a new opportunity in the printing business. He worked several different jobs during this time.
Birth of Benjamin Franklin’s Junto Club in Philadelphia:
At 21, Benjamin Franklin established the Junto Club, a weekly discussion group of 12 men. Another name later given to his “Junto Club” was “Leather Apron Club”.
Benjamin decided tradesmen should have the opportunity of an education just as the wealthy people who were able to send their children to be educated at colleges/ universities.
The difference to him was reading books, learning from them, and discussing them with others who loved reading, learning, improving themselves, and discussing what they read. He thought that this would be a great equalizer. (Today we call it a “think tank, a mastermind” group.)
What questions should you ask your prospective members of your Master Mind or Junto?
What 4 questions did Benjamin Franklin ask his prospective Junto Club members “to qualify” them as a member?
“Each person was also asked to stand up, and lay their hand on their heart, and answer the following questions”: (Updated to 21st Century English)
1) “Do you feel “any disrespect” for any of our members?” Answer. I do not.
2. “Do you “sincerely declare” that you love mankind; no matter what profession or religion?” Answer. I do.
3. “Should anyone be harmed in body, name or goods, for their opinions or their religion?” Answer. No.
4. “Do you love the truth, and will you endeavor to find, receive, and communicate it to others?” Answer. Yes.
In Benjamin Franklin’s Memoirs he wrote “I had formed most of my clever acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the Junto; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss’d by the company; and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased.”
It was agreed to have “12” members who “were tradesmen and artisans”. The Junto Club continued for 38 years. When they saw a problem, a need, they found a solution. Education began by starting the first Public Libraries in 1731. From their Junto members personal libraries, they would gather books for the first lending library in Philadelphia. Learning by reading, educating everyone no matter what their financial circumstance. Education to Benjamin Franklin was the great equalizer.
After fires killed people, destroyed homes, and businesses, Benjamin and his Junto members began in 1736 in Philadelphia the Union Fire Company, a volunteer fire department. They also began a Volunteer Militia to protect and obtain the colony.
Where they saw a need, a solution would follow.
In 1749, Benjamin Franklin involved some of his Junto members in designing the University of Pennsylvania and in 1751, the Pennsylvania Hospital was established by Benjamin Franklin and his Junto. When Benjamin Franklin saw a need he worked to find a solution leading the way with his Junto members. Team work at its best!
Here are 3 things for you to consider when forming your mastermind:
1. clarify the values of your mastermind. Will it be a business roundtable? Bible study? Marriage strengthening? You decide.
2. Limit your group to 6 people. Any bigger than that and it is impossible to manage.
3. Understand that part of the mastermind is holding others accountable. Be prepared to give and take accountability.
So, who would you like to have in your virtual mastermind and what would your criteria be?