Masterminds are a powerful way to bring like-minded people together to achieve personal and professional objectives through peer-to-peer learning and accountability.
Masterminds are intimate, highly-curated invite-only events or application-based selection processes. A successful Mastermind is purpose-driven and gathers members around a specific industry, area of expertise, or occupation/position. Masterminds include weekly, bi-weekly or monthly live events where members have a chance to connect, share, and receive direct feedback and support from other members.
Unlike Cohort-Based Courses or Self-Paced Courses, which include a curriculum with lessons and assignments, Masterminds are less curriculum-driven and more focused on deep engagement and member-to-member support. The objective of a Mastermind isn’t necessarily to have specific individuals teach content, but to create space for members to share their expertise and experiences with one another so that everyone has a chance to contribute and grow.
Building a Mastermind on Disco enables you to use one platform to enroll, engage, and manage your members. From selecting, inviting, and onboarding members, to creating live events and opportunities for asynchronous engagement, you can keep members within the platform and deliver an seamless end-to-end experience.
Whether you only offer one Mastermind or a variety of other learning experiences on Disco, integrations, apps, and product features like groups, channels, feeds, and evergreen resources means you can focus on creating an exceptional Mastermind experience, and spend less time on operational or administrative tasks.
Here are our top 5 tips for building a successful Mastermind on Disco:
Determine Who Your Mastermind is for and Invite Members Manually or Create an Application Process to Curate Members
When you’re creating a Mastermind, determining who it’s for and how members become a part of the Mastermind is a foundational part of the process. Many individuals join Masterminds because they believe that by being a member of the group, they are going to expand their network by meeting like-minded people, achieve their goals in a more efficient and effective way, as well gain deep insights based on the interactions they have and the feedback they receive from other members. When you clarify the purpose of your Mastermind and who it serves, you can curate an outstanding group of members who will be committed to the experience and to each other. Once you’ve determined the purpose of your mastermind and identified who your ideal member is, you can use the following steps to curate your members:
Create a list of potential members you’d like to invite to your Mastermind. These may be folks you already know–-people in your network, community members, or alumni.
Decide whether your Mastermind will be by invitation, by application, or combination of both.
Reach out to individuals and/or share your Mastermind with your network and communities via personalized emails and public posts.
Begin the registration, intake, and onboarding process for your members.
You can choose to offer an application-based membership in the settings section of your Mastermind dashboard and curate a list of questions that potential members will answer as part of the registration process. Once someone has applied, you can view their application and reject or deny them right within the platform. Here are some ideas for questions you can ask to curate your group:
Geographical location. Knowing where in the world members are joining from will help you schedule live events.
Identity information. Knowing your potential members’ race, gender, and other identifiers can help you curate a more inclusive and diverse Mastermind.
Greatest pain points. Understanding what potential members are struggling with and need support with can help you determine how to best design the Mastermind experience.
Goals and aspirations. Asking potential members why they want to be a part of your Mastermind and what personal and professional goals they’re hoping to achieve will help you design a purposeful experience.
If you decide to go with the invitation route, you can share a private link to your Mastermind with anyone and/or invite members to register directly on the platform by inputting their email.
Choosing the manner in which members are welcomed into your Mastermind is entirely dependent on business goals. It also helps you set expectations for your members. Alen Faljic at d.MBA errs on the side of a more select group, using a rigorous application process to vet:
“So through [this application process] we can see: are they motivated? Do they know something about the d.MBA? Do they have time? Your community starts there with the people that apply? Through that conversation through the application process, we basically set expectations for them and vice versa.” Once a member is officially a part of your Mastermind, they will ‘enter’ the Mastermind dashboard and be able to register for events, view and comment on feeds, participate in channels, and access evergreen resources. Keep reading for more on how to onboard members, schedule live events, as well as create and encourage synchronous and asynchronous engagement opportunities.
Host Highly-Engaging Live Events to Gather Your Members and Enable Peer-to-Peer Learning and Growth
While there are many ways to engage your Mastermind members asynchronously on Disco (more on that below), live events are an effective way to bring members together virtually to connect and learn from one another. Disco’s deep integration with Zoom enables you to easily create and schedule events that members can add to their calendars with the click of a button. Automated time zones and event email reminders help ensure that members never miss a live event. Once events are complete, you can upload recordings directly to the platform so members who were unable to attend the events, and those who want to revisit the content, have direct access.
You can create open events, visible to all Mastermind members, or private events, visible to specific individuals or groups. We recommend ensuring there is at least one open event that members can sign up for when you launch your Mastermind. This will help members orient themselves within the dashboard and create momentum for what’s to come.
When it comes to the events themselves, there are a variety of different approaches you can take to designing the experience. Depending on how often you’d like your members to meet, events can be scheduled with a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly cadence, and last anywhere between 60-90 minutes. Events should be optimized for deep engagement, creating opportunities for members to share their goals, challenges, and expertise, as well as to seek support and provide thoughtful feedback to others. Keep in mind that the purpose of a Mastermind is to create a space where everyone contributes and gains value—while there may be light facilitation during live sessions, Mastermind events rarely have a ‘sage on stage’. Even guest expert sessions should include plenty of time dedicated to questions and conversations. Here are a few ideas for highly engaging Mastermind events:
Case studies are a great way to design an interactive session without having to deliver original content. With case studies, members can learn about, examine, and discuss a real life example of a business, service, product, strategy, or theory and gain a ton of insights from one another which could inspire and support their own work. The dialogue shared between members can spark ideas, realizations, and opportunities to change one’s approach to solving problems. We recommend including case studies and takeaways from live sessions as evergreen resources that members can access at any point during the Mastermind experience (more on evergreen resources below).
Hot seating is a powerful approach to transformation where members have the opportunity to ‘take the hot seat’, share an idea they’re considering or a challenge they’re experiencing and have other members ask questions and provide feedback and support to practically help clarify a decision or next steps. We recommend having different members take the hot seat during events and designing constraints around how long they share, as well as how long others have to provide them with support and feedback. Hot seating can happen multiple times throughout a Mastermind experience so members have a chance to give and gain support at various stages of their growth journey.
Don’t let the name fool you: Tear downs are all about providing constructive feedback to support tangible outcomes. Tear downs give members a chance to present something (i.e. pitch deck, landing page, branding) and have others respond directly with questions and ideas to help make that thing better. The purpose of a tear down is to support the creation and iteration of what is being presented so that members can feel more confident going to market, raising money, launching a new service or product, and more. To encourage continuous learning and growth, we recommend having members iterate and present their work multiple times throughout the experience once they’ve had a chance to implement feedback from their peers.
Guest expert sessions can help you enhance and elevate the Mastermind experience for your members. By bringing in industry leaders that may be at further stages of growth, you can provide a tremendous amount of value to members who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet and directly learn from the expert. We recommend providing information about the guest expert and their journey to success ahead of the event so during the event itself you can dedicate more time to interaction and discussions. You may even want to consider having folks submit questions ahead of time so you can design an exceptional experience inclusive of as many members as possible.
Skill or knowledge sharing
Your Mastermind members bring a ton of knowledge and expertise to the group. Much of this will be organically shared during events as well as through asynchronous interactions. However, intentionally designing events where members have a chance to share their knowledge, skills, and expertise helps you create a more inclusive and community-powered experience where members have meaningful opportunities to learn from one another. We recommend asking members during registration or intake what, if anything, they’d like to contribute to the group. Perhaps they’re branding experts, or have a ton of experience pitching to investors. Knowing what your members can contribute to the group can help you design a more engaging and impactful Mastermind experience.
Organize Smaller Groups Within Your Mastermind for Support and Accountability
As we covered earlier, Masterminds are meant to be quite intimate and curated by nature to enable in-depth connection and learning. That said, if you have curated a bigger Mastermind, you can create intimacy at scale by organizing members in smaller groups to catalyze more support and accountability between members. With Disco’s groups feature, you can easily create, customize, and assign members to different groups. Once groups are made, you have the ability to create events and channels visible to specific groups, making it easy for members to interact with their group while also being a part of the Mastermind-wide conversations and events.
Disco customer Dribbble accomplishes this intimacy at scale in their Product Design Course by breaking cohorts into smaller groups for more a more impactful exchange of ideas and inspiration through Disco’s platform:
“Even though students are in a platform on Disco with 240 other students, it feels like they're in a platform where there are only 10 other students. The high-touch learning experience facilitated by Disco allows us to create an intimate setting.”
You can assign members to specific groups based on any criteria or area of interest that best suits your Mastermind and members’ needs. Here are a few examples for how you can curate groups:
By occupation, industry, or title/position (i.e. put founders with founders, and marketers with marketers).
By geographical location. This may be especially helpful if you’ve got a global group and you want to ensure group members are in the same or similar time zone.
By area of interest or how members have indicated they want to grow.
By stage of persona, professional, or business growth. It’s likely that members at similar stages of growth are facing similar challenges.
Diversify the group to be inclusive of unique perspectives and lived experiences (i.e. put a founder, marketer, and designer together).
How and when you engage your larger Mastermind community versus smaller groups is entirely up to you. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Design Mastermind-mind wide events where for portions of the event members go into breakouts rooms and connect with their groups. After the event, prompt asynchronous conversation in the private group channels.
Create events with a more frequent cadence for smaller groups (weekly or bi-weekly), and bring all your members together once a month to connect as a whole.
Assign or have members choose accountability partners within groups so members can further support each other in achieving their goals.
Empower groups to self-organize by making a member of each group a ‘team’ member in your Mastermind dashboard. This enables them to create, edit, and remove events and channels, as well as post in feeds and add/remove members.
Engage Your Group Asynchronously Between Live Events to Encourage Discussions and Peer-to-Peer Support
While Masterminds need live events to catalyze and nurture deep member engagement, they also benefit greatly from having asynchronous interaction between live sessions to continue peer-to-peer discussions and support. Disco’s feeds feature enables you to share and highlight important announcements to all members, letting them know about upcoming events and community news, and channels empower you to catalyze vibrant public and private conversations between all members or specific groups. Feeds and channels are also where members will have a chance to process and reflect on their experience and learnings from events. If they just wrapped up a case study or hot seating session, their minds might be buzzing with insights and inspiration, and continuing the conversation will empower them to dive deeper.
Here are a few ways to use feeds to engage members asynchronously:
Announce upcoming events and encourage members to register and attend.
Spotlight and celebrate members to build a culture of care, generosity and appreciation.
Post summaries and key takeaways after live events to spark even more discussion.
Let members know when you’ve added new pages or resources to the Mastermind dashboard.
Share insightful and inspiring articles and videos that may be helpful to members.
The more your members engage asynchronously, the more value they’ll gain in between live events. Encourage dialogue by enabling commenting on feeds so members can react and respond to posts.
While feeds allow admins to post and members to comment, with channels, you can empower even more conversation, support, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. By creating specific channels focused on different topics, themes, and areas of interest, and deciding whether a channel is public or private (only for certain members) you can design how your members will engage with one another. Here are a few alumni channels you could include:
#introduce-yourself - Public channel to give space for members to share more about themselves and their goals in the lead up to the first live event.
#general - Open to all members as the ‘central hub’ for communication.
#questions - Public channel for questions / support throughout the experience.
#learn-grow - Open to all members to share links to articles, videos, etc.
#support-and-feedback - Public channel for members to ask for feedback and support.
#founders - Private channel for a specific group within a Mastermind.
We recommend posting in channels regularly and providing prompts to help spark discussions. Ending events with a question or call to action is a great way to encourage folks to continue the conversation in channels. If you’re already invested in a product or tool and would rather not migrate, Disco makes it easy for you to integrate with Slack, Discord, and other apps where you’d like to gather your members. However you choose to engage members, asynchronous engagement creates a richer Mastermind experience and empowers members to contribute to the vibrancy and growth of the Mastermind community.
Offer a Variety of Evergreen Resources and Gated Content to Your Members to Further Their Engagement and Growth
Live events help catalyze connection and peer-to-peer learning, asynchronous engagement ensures members stay connected and continue conversations, and evergreen resources and gated content provide members with even more opportunities to learn and grow.
With Disco, you can easily add evergreen resources and custom pages to your Mastermind experience. Evergreen resources live in the left navigation of your course dashboard and include a rich text editor that enables you to share images, videos, downloadable attachments, embedded links, and much more. Resources can include guides, templates, additional learning content, or anything you feel members would find valuable.
Custom pages, with a rich text editor that allows you to add everything from text to images to embedded links, and custom apps that integrate with Notion, Airtable, Typeform, and much more, allow you to create and offer a variety of content and engage your members in ways that enhance their alumni experience. Here are a few examples of valuable freebie content you can offer members through evergreen resources and custom pages:
A community agreements and ‘how to’ page to help Members orient themselves in the Alumni Space and understand the principles of engagement
Educational checklist articles and comprehensive guides
Relevant case studies to inspire and support their growth
Links to practical videos and articles with valuable takeaways
Templates and frameworks to support them as they build their own businesses, products, brands, services, courses etc.
Links to exclusive masterclasses and interviews
Q&A and FAQ pages to answer Members’ most pressing questions
Gated content like videos, articles, and other resources members would find helpful
To increase engagement and contribution, we recommend asking members to share content they find valuable and inspiring as well, which you can include in your evergreen resources. Content — the creation, curation, and sharing of it — is so important to any Learning Community, especially Masterminds. Having supplemental content that supports the discussion is critical to the success of these events. As Alen Faljic of d.MBA shares:
“You usually try to scale your course [or Masterminds] by recruiting your students to be the mentors. But that only works if you have more content that allows for this.” With evergreen resources and gated content, you can continue delivering value to your members in addition to live events and help catalyze rich discussions and peer-to-peer learning to support the continuous growth of members.
Deliver More Impact to Your Members by Offering Various Types of Learning Experiences
We built Disco to help you build and scale your learning empire by enabling you to easily offer a variety of valuable and impact learning experiences to your members. You can easily create Self-Paced Courses, Cohort-Based Courses, Alumni Spaces, Event Series, and Masterminds. You can even start with a blank canvas and choose each and every app and functionality you require for your unique learning experience.
We know how much time, effort, and resources it can take to build out learning experiences, which is why we’ve made it easy for you to not only create them, but to duplicate them and choose the components and content you want to bring over to the new experience.
Whether you’re building an Mastermind or developing different learning experiences, our mission is to be the purpose-built OS that takes care of the operational and administrative tasks so you can focus on what matters most: serving your members and growing your online education business.