In my opinion, one of the most misused words in the business world is mastermind.  I hear the term used to describe a meeting of more than three people to discuss  a “best practices”, or a “think tank” of marketing ideas, and even just a “networking meeting”. None of these has anything to do with the mastermind. Most business people today don’t know where the term mastermind even came from, let alone know what it means. Let’s explore where the power of the mastermind originated.

photo credit: Aristocrats-hat via photopin cc

photo credit: Aristocrats-hat via photopin cc


Let’s go back to the turn of the 20th century and explore the teachings of Napoleon Hill. Most people are at least familiar with his book “Think and Grow Rich,”  but Hill’s teachings went much deeper than that one book. Hill’s work “The Law of Success in 16 Lessons” is where the phrase mastermind was born. It’s all there in Lesson One.

Hill describes a true mastermind by including the greatest minds of his time, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, just to name a few. Hill’s definition of a mastermind is very specific. He states “a mind that is developed through the harmonious co-operation of two or more people who ally themselves for the purpose of accomplishing any given task.”

Let’s break down the definition of the mastermind. If two or more people meet in a “harmonious co-operation” a third mind is created. This means that the members of a true mastermind group have to know, trust and be totally in sync with each other’s thoughts when driving towards a common goal. Without this ‘harmonious co-operation” the mastermind is destroyed.

So when I hear about a “mastermind group” that shares ideas, or a team focused on developing best practices, and people drop in and out at will, I have to laugh. That is not a mastermind. If different people come and go, and the trust and harmony is never built, the third mind or “mastermind” is never created.

A true mastermind is a spectacular thing to witness. It’s a living breathing thing. A mastermind tackles challenges. A mastermind improves lives. A mastermind breeds success. The most successful men in history knew this and worked its magic on a regular basis.

Take the story of the Chicago group known as the “Big Six.” This group of unrelated business giants made up of William Wrigley Jr, (Wrigley’ Gum and Wrigley Field); John R. Thompson (Restaurant Chain owner); Mr. Lasker (Large Ad Agency); Mr. McCullough (largest Express Transport Co in US); Mr. Ritchie and Mr. Hertz who owned the largest taxi service (later Hertz Rent a car) used the power of the mastermind to grow their businesses. In today’s dollars, all six of these men were the equivalent of billionaires.

Mastermind groups have nothing to do with being in like professions as much as it does being like minded. The like minded create the third mind also known as the mastermind.

The mastermind takes time and effort to grow, but once it’s formed it is one of the most powerful forces on earth. To your success!

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.Napoleon Hill

Unlock Mind 

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Author Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is co-founder of Mastermind-Worldwide. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 27 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.

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