Category Archives: Business Mastermind

Productivity Hacks

Six easy hacks can change your life

By guest writer Adrianna Huff

Now that I am a Mom, I find that if I get lucky, I can get four hours total of productive work during the day. Unfortunately, this time is not in one four-hour chunk, but about four one-hour chunks. With my new time constraint, I have found myself devouring information on how to be my most productive self.

Based on my research and firsthand experience, these are my best productivity hacks.

1. Develop a Structure: Without creating some structure to my day, I end up mindlessly reading articles and not actually getting anything done. For some, this structure could look like meetings on Mondays, designing on Tuesdays, and so forth. If you develop a structure, and time block yourself for specific activities that you only do during those times, you will likely be more productive and efficient. Some individuals even go so far as to only respond to emails pertinent to their daily structure on the assigned days, but I’m not that strict.

2. Write Everything Down: When I am my most productive self, I am a list making machine. I have my to-do list, my call list, and my idea list. If I have everything written down on my list, I don’t have to expend brain power time trying to remember what I need to do. In addition, when I accomplish a task, I get to have the feeling of immense success by crossing it off the list. Finally, when I find myself with a spare few minutes, for example if I arrive early to a meeting, or a call ends early, I can knock out a small task and get a little more done.

3. Work When I am Most Productive: I am a morning person, and my best ideas occur when I am somewhat refreshed after a night of sleep. Thus, in my daily structure, you will see me writing in the morning and administrative tasks when I am the most tired. By working with my body’s natural productivity inclinations, I don’t waste valuable time working on mindless tasks when I am most alert.

4. Make a “Landing Zone”: Having all of my important paperwork in one specific landing zone makes it much easier to crank through the work. As soon as it comes to me (mail, email, carrier pigeon), I open it, assess it, and put it in the landing zone as needed. When I have the pre-assigned chunk of time to work on this task, I no longer have to look for it, or remember to do it. The work is staring me right in the face. Again, by taking out the brain power of remembering the task, I can be more productive.

5. Unsubscribe or Unfollow: My email inbox can be a time suck for me. Between the emails I need to read and respond to as well as all of the emails I have subscribed to throughout the years, it is easy to lose large chunks of time to the less important emails. Periodically, I set aside a 15-20 minute chunk of time to actually unsubscribe or unfollow these emails. Without the constant barrage of unnecessary content, I can stay more focused when my email is staring back at me. And if I decide the need to get certain subscription based emails again, I can always re-follow.

6. Set a deadline: In Tim Ferriss’ book, “The Four Hour Work Week”, Ferriss explains that working more efficiently for a few hours can vastly increase productivity. This may seem like a no-brainer idea, but forcing shorter deadlines forces you to actually work more efficiently. If I give myself two weeks, I am likely to start working on the task in 2 weeks, if I give myself 2 days, I am more likely to complete it right away.

What are your great productivity hacks? How do you keep yourself accountable and motivated?

A High Stakes Mastermind Group and My Experience

By Adrianna Huff

I remember when I first heard the word “Mastermind” from my talent manager at work. I thought she was referring to the Mastermind Board Game from the 1970s where players move around different colored pegs. She in fact, wasn’t talking about this game, but actually referring to a group she belonged to where they discussed their goals over a group phone call. Once she explained what a Mastermind group actually was, I was hooked on the idea.

A Mastermind Group is not a new concept

A Mastermind Group is not a new concept, it has been around since Napoleon Hill wrote “Think and Grow Rich” in the 1930s. In theory, a Mastermind Group’s ideal purpose is to get individuals to discuss and encourage one another’s ideas to meet a goal or overall purpose.

As I started my search for a Mastermind Group, I found that there are many varieties. There are groups you can find on Meetup.com, Facebook groups, groups that resemble coaching calls, and groups that are limited in size to a smaller amount of participants (between 5-10 individuals).

I chose to join a smaller group (the upper limit is 6 participants) where I could work with the same members over a period of time and have continual feedback, support, and accountability. In addition, our moderator is not a group participant; instead our moderator facilitates the meeting to ensure we stay on time and don’t get side tracked.

At each meeting, before launching right into business, we all have a few minutes to chat and build our relationships. If I were just speaking to a group of strangers, I would not be prepared to voice my thoughts or explain how I am meeting my goals. Since the participants have all become my business friends, I open up about myself personally and professionally and what I am accomplishing.

In the last 11 months as a participant in a High Stakes Mastermind Group, my goals have changed drastically. Both in my personal and professional life, I have had significant changes (job changes, re-locations, and family additions). Throughout all of these drastic life shifts, there has been one constant: the High Stakes Mastermind Group. As I have adjusted my life and entrepreneurial goals, the group has been there to listen, provide encouragement (and suggestions), and give me an avenue to continue feeling like I am making a difference both in my entrepreneurial journey and someone else’s.

For me the High Stakes Mastermind Group has been more than writing a goal plan, updating the plan, and staying accountable to my goals. (Throughout the last 11 months these have still remained the pillars of purpose in the High Stakes Mastermind Group). For me, the High Stakes Mastermind Group has been a rock during challenging life changes. When I meet with the group, I still feel like I have a purpose (and a brain). Instead of just being a “Mom”, I am still an entrepreneur who is working towards goals.

In the end, the intention of a High Stakes Mastermind Group is to typically have entrepreneurial members use each other as resources for success in their business endeavors. And while this continues to be a large part of the purpose of the High Stakes Mastermind Group for me, it is also a community. It is a community of entrepreneurs who care about each other and work together to meet goals, even if these goals are constantly in flux.

What have been your experiences with a High Stakes Mastermind Group? How has it benefited you, personally or professionally?

Not Enough Reason to Break a Commitment

It takes a special type of person to keep a commitment when life events happen.

We often talk about the essence of High Stakes Mastermind Groups being confidentiality and commitment, and  the closeness that it creates. So when a member has a life changing event, we have the first-row opportunity to envelop them in love and support. In the last few months the HSMmG family has had several “moments” with our members. We welcomed a grand-baby, an engagement, a family move and more. This past Saturday one member became a citizen of the US. After years of giving her talents, and her heart to America.  That’s commitment!

A couple months ago one of my members contacted me and said she needed to speak privately. It turns out that she was going to move several states away. But she said right away, “Don’t worry I’m not leaving the group. I plan to Skype into the meetings.” She’s taking her in-person membership virtual. That takes huge commitment.

What is major to some people is not a lot to overcome for others

If that weren’t enough this member was already pregnant at the time. She had her baby in December. And with the new baby, she’ll move across the country, and with no job prospects in sight, she is still remaining a member of High Stakes Mastermind groups.

It amazes me to have this happen, and to see this kind of commitment to The Mastermind group. That an individual would remain a member of our discussion forum, to be a sounding board to other members, while she takes care of a brand new baby and gets herself established in another state. Whew! That’s a lot!

We have seen a couple members leave before for much less dramatic reasons. Once or twice a member will leave simply because they couldn’t keep themselves accountable. It does take a special type of person to have that kind of commitment to remain a peer advocate for the other members and want to maintain in the peer-to-peer relationship that High Stakes Mastermind Groups provides for them.

If I only had a Crystal Ball

It’s not always possible to know ahead of time if members are not committed. Going into a Mastermind people will tell you exactly what they know you want to hear, and what they want to believe about themselves; that they’re all-in.  But then over time things may change. They don’t show up for every meeting. They make excuses why they didn’t the do the actions and achieve goals they set for themselves.

I had this happen with one particular member.  I would describe this person as a “professional student” always going to workshops, conferences, and seminars, and enrolling in a plethora of classes – all in the name of learning more about their business.  Sounds good.  But the reality is they they got so busy in the appearance of being busy that they never actually did any of their work.  They farmed out their clients to other consultants which meant they had almost no control of the end result, and spent about 40% of their gross earnings to pay sub-contractors.  Naturally their business goals were never met.  They left the group.  As painful as it was at the time, the members ultimately felt better when they knew 100% of them were 100% committed.

I couldn’t be more proud of these members who are so committed – to their own personal growth and to the other members of the group. If someone can have a baby and move out of state at the same time and still remain committed anyone can. Would something like this would benefit your own life and your business growth?

And while the members are of our groups are absolutely very special people, they are still people. Human beings with hopes and dreams and aspirations, just like you. All looking to take the “silo out of solo”.  Our members are empowered, energized, respected, trusted and valued. And I have to admit with this kind of commitment from my members, so am I. And grateful every day for that.

 

 

 

 

Taking the Silo out of Solo

Photo by Jeremy Olson

What does it mean to take the “silo out of solo”?

You’ll often hear me say that in High Stakes Mastermind Groups we take the “silo out of solo”. But what exactly does that mean? Here’s the thing: it is lonely at the top.

What that means is that when you’re at the top of an organization, whether you have lots of employees or just a few, maybe you’re a solopreneur with no one around but your office cat, you’ll frequently find that you don’t really have anybody that you can talk to. Especially when it’s within your own company. You’re solo – going at it alone. You’re not going to tell your employees your insecurities, that you have doubts, that you’re debating about signing a new contract, or about a choice that you might make with marketing, or a new product, or any number of things that happen in the day-to-day.

There are hundreds of choices that business owners have to make. And there’s an uncomfortable feeling of having to keep up appearances. Typically that of confidence. How can a team leader, or company leader, show their employees and coworkers that they have occasional doubts and insecurities? We are all human, and we all have these emotions from time to time. But there’s a really difficult stigma, when you’re at the top of an organization, to show these vulnerabilities. But here you are; solo, and in a silo.

Tales from a Bad Experience

In High Stakes Mastermind Groups we welcome those vulnerabilities at the times they occur. I had my own personal experience years ago when I was a member of my very first mastermind group. A friend of mine had invited me to be in this group and it was led by one of the members, which in and of itself is the first mistake because I strongly believe that all mastermind group should be led by an outside facilitator that isn’t a part to the actual mastermind itself. But getting back to the story there was a day when I was under tremendous stress and I was feeling extremely emotional as a result of it. During the meeting I vented. I cried and I was emotional. I felt that of all people, these were the ones that would have my back.
Or so I thought. Imagine my shock when three days after that meeting I got a call from the so-called “leader”, who told me that she and the other members had decided that they didn’t want me in the group anymore. I was shocked and deeply, deeply, hurt. The only person who really didn’t support that choice was the same person who had invited me to the group in the first place.

Going Forward

That experience taught me that in my own mastermind groups I will never let that happen to a member. I’ve told all members when they begin a group that I never allow anyone to be abusive to anybody else, but should the day occur where somebody is having particular trouble, and they need the rest of us to support them, we would be there for them. No questions asked. And we’ve had to be there for our members from time to time. But truthfully it doesn’t happen very often. Our meetings are business based. We conduct business and we hold one another accountable to meeting our business goals. We are a group of strong achievers. But even a strong achiever feels like they’re in a silo from time to time. And that is my why to take the “silo out of solo”. You can even hear a little clip where I reference that during a radio interview: https://www.dropbox.com/s/0gq8tyogjtbte1y/Take%20the%20Silo%20out%20of%20the%20Solo.mp3?dl=0

If you ever find yourself feeling like you would be stronger if you were part of a tribe, and that your business would benefit by having like-minded achievement-oriented individuals around you, who would accept you warts and all, give us a call: 480.646.2400 We’d love to hear from you.

You Can’t Have Epiphanies in a Pigeonhole

You Can’t Have Epiphanies in a Pigeonhole
Photo by Rafael Rodrigues Machado

Comfort can be limiting

The other night at a party, my friend Bob and I got into a discussion about reading books.  How we read them. He’s a diehard Kindle user and I like reading books.  The real ones, with front and back covers and pages in between. Bob was adamant that his way was better.  He likes highlighting passages and making notes.  OK.  Fine. I have a Kindle too. But no matter how insistent Bob got, it wasn’t going to change the fact that I rather read a real book.

Bob was trying to pigeonhole me into always reading my books on a Kindle, Nook or iPad because that’s the way he likes to read, even when I kept telling him I’d rather just read a real book.  I love holding real books!

In my business mastermind groups we won’t pigeonhole you into doing your business the way we want you to.   We help you brainstorm and process your ideas.  We are a sounding board, supporting you in getting your goals accomplished in the best way that’s comfortable for you.  I have a signature system in the way that I work with my clients. Having said that just because it’s a system, doesn’t mean that it’s rigid. It means that it’s a process that works and is successful.

“Pigeonholing” is often a concern when it comes to work, like getting stuck in a niche or considered limited in your capabilities as Cheryl Dahle wrote in her article for Fast Company: https://www.fastcompany.com/52849/escape-your-pigeonhole

The Joy of Epiphany Moments

But I look at it as being limited in your business mastermind choices and worse yet, how the mastermind itself functions. Having said that, I’m not criticizing; just pointing out that there are many different forms and styles of mastermind groups, even once your narrow it down to business masterminds.  You owe it to yourself to investigate before choosing.

One mastermind group I know, sits around a board-room table, like a family does at a dining room table and they just start talking about a topic. It might be marketing, it might be how to do your website; it could be any number of things. They sit and discuss it, and that works for them. That’s the way that group operates.

Another group I know of has a facilitator who sets a curriculum and the groups follows that from A-Z over a six month period.  When the curriculum is complete the groups disbands and another starts.

Our High Stakes Mastermind Groups are based on you being able to process through a single page goal plan that we have helped you developed; so it’s very clear and time honored based on SMART goals.  “SMART” goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented and Time-bound.

In the course of discussing what is going on in your business, we have an amazing way of processing thoughts and clarifying opportunities our groups result in “ah-ha!” moments. Epiphanies. Sometimes to the point of bringing on tears – happy tears.

We thrive on our ability to be achievement and accountability based sounding boards for our members. I tell each one that their goal plan is a “living document’ because it must flex with changes and updates in their business growth.  That wouldn’t be possible if we clung to the status quo. In fact you could say we’re about taking you out of your pigeonhole.