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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:

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.

Masterminding Can Be Like Parenting Someone Else’s Child

Parenting – if you can do that, you can mastermind.

Some of you may know that I have my fourth exchange student living with us right now. I’ve decided that there are some interesting similarities between parenting somebody else’s child living with you and masterminding.  Now, that may seem like a really weird correlation but read on…

We’ve had four exchange students and so I know that one of the tough things about being the parent of an exchange student is that real life sets in after the “getting to know each other phase” and it’s difficult to parent someone else’s child. As a parent sometimes there are “discipline” types of things that occur. Maybe they’re not emptying the dishwasher when you’ve asked them to, or they’re not getting their homework done and teachers are emailing, or things of that nature.  There are also a lot of great things, just like with your own children, like when they participate in school sports you go and cheer them on.  Or you attend their school play.  You want to support them, and be parents to them, as if they were your own child. Yet there’s this little part that’s detached because this kid doesn’t really belong to you and it’s also temporary.  At some point you hug goodbye at an airport and return home to their empty room.

That’s where I see an interesting connection to Mastermind groups.  When you’re involved in a mastermind group you want to talk about what’s going on in your organization and get feedback from the other members, and sometimes you have to remind yourself that these members don’t really have buy-in to your company, except that they care about your success the same way that you care about their success in their own companies.

Like parenting someone else’s child their success is your own success.  If your fellow Mastermind group members do well in their businesses; they grow their businesses and achieve their goals, then when they succeed you also succeed.  Because you had a connection and involvement in what happened to their business because you were there to give advice, brainstorm, and support them.  In our High Stakes Mastermind Groups, we call it taking the “Silo out of Solo”.

Being in a mastermind group is a responsibility you sign on to – to be a support mechanism for others. And the payoff is really huge.  Just like when you see your own kid walk across that stage and carry away their diploma, there’s a great deal of pride in seeing the success of your fellow Mastermind group members. And the cool thing is they feel pride when you succeed too. And another special feeling, love.

So yeah, Masterminding is a little bit like parenting someone else’s kid.


Do You Give as Much as You Expect to Get?

Let’s talk a little bit about loyalty, shall we? I’m going to guess that loyalty means different things to different people. Some people think that they’re loyal, to friends, for example, but they are sporadic and undependable; yet satisfy themselves that that is “good enough”.

For me it’s not enough. I’m constantly accused by my husband of having too high expectations of other people. I beg to differ. I don’t expect anything different from other people than what I expect of myself. And one thing I pride myself on is when I have a friend I’m loyal to them and I stay that way.

Some of my friendships have ended and it’s always been when the so-called friend did something really hurtful that directly affected somebody I know, or love, or did something directly to me. Having said that though, I do watch how my friends treat other people. Because that is also a huge indicator of their true character. And true character is, in my book, the be-all-end-all.

For example, years ago an Exchange student of ours had a best friend she made here in the U.S.  These two girls not only treated my daughter horribly, but several other girls at the high school as well.  I would talk to my student about her good friend’s ultimate character, and her choice of friend.  It fell on deaf ears because to her, as long as the friend treated her well, how she treated others didn’t matter.  In the end – the poor character of both girls caused the falling out of several relationships.

I found this portion of the definition of loyalty on Wikipedia: Josiah Royce presented a different definition of the concept in his 1908 book The Philosophy of Loyalty. According to Royce, loyalty is a virtue, indeed a primary virtue, “the heart of all the virtues, the central duty amongst all the duties”. Royce presents loyalty, which he defines at length, as the basic moral principle from which all other principles can be derived. The short definition that he gives of the idea is that loyalty is “the willing and practical and thoroughgoing devotion of a person to a cause”. Loyalty is thoroughgoing in that it is not merely a casual interest but a wholehearted commitment to a cause. (Source:

In my Mastermind groups the loyalty that develops among the members is astonishing and yet I’m not surprised, because I have a tendency to choose people who really have true and loyal character; and for that I’m ever grateful. The expectation of my members to be loyal to each other is a good portion of the very foundation that High Stakes Mastermind Groups are made of.

I don’t particularly have an expectation that they will be loyal to me beyond the year in which somebody is a member. Having said that I’m enormously heartened by the number of members who have said they will continue to be a part of High Stakes Mastermind Groups for as long as they can imagine.

I’m not holding their feet to the fire and I know that there are no guarantees in life. I will tell you this though, hearing those words prompts me to be even more loyal to them in everything I do; during the meetings, behind-the-scenes, and continuously looking for contacts and opportunities to grow the businesses of each and every member. That is at the heart of High Stakes Mastermind Groups. And in their loyalty to the group, we all get as much as we give.



On Being “Allowed” to be Your Authentic Self

Photo credit: eye-for-ebony

Your Authentic Self

Not long ago I was at a presentation where, during a break, I was talking with a couple of women.  I re-told a personal story and happened to say somebody had mocked a circumstance I was in, when they could have empathized with me.  When I told the two women the story, I said that the mocking hurt my feelings. To add insult to injury (at least as far as I’m concerned) one of the women scoffed, “Oh just get over it”.

Why is it that we tell people to be their “authentic self” and then when they do reveal something, such as hurt feelings, they are criticized for it?

What was really ironic, was the speaker for that presentation was encouraging us in the audience to “be our authentic selves” and everyone in the audience applauded enthusiastically.  Including the woman who had just criticized me.

If it’s Important To You

You’ve heard the saying, “People do business with those that they know, like, and trust.”  Interestingly enough, the woman who made that comment to me has been sending me marketing materials for me to go to her events, non-stop, and I had considered going. But as soon as she made that remark, the doors in my mind shut and I knew in that moment I would not do business with her, nor would I refer anybody to her.  Why?  Because the trust was gone. It’s essential that your clients trust you.

Think about how it’s going to affect you, and your work, if you have a knee-jerk reaction and just bark off insensitive comments to somebody who reveals an inner feeling.  You could lose an opportunity, and it’s not just one opportunity, in that moment, your reputation could be crushed forever.  Are you willing to risk that?

Pause and Consider

Here’s what I suggest you do.  You don’t need to be a therapist, counselor or social worker. But you do need to be human. So stop, pause, consider, and think over the words you heard the person say. Then, before opening your mouth to respond, think through what might be behind their words and what you didn’t hear.  There is often more being revealed in the non-spoken words than what is actually coming out of somebody’s mouth.

The opposite of a thoughtless remark, that can cost you everything, is a thoughtful remark that will be pleasantly remembered. One of my favorite quotes of all times is Maya Angelou’s, “People will forget what you did. They will forget what you said. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

And though we’ve all heard the argument that no one makes us feel anything, and we are responsible for our own emotions, there isn’t a person alive who can’t agree that others actions towards us can have a great deal to do with how we feel inside.

Why do you think bullies are so successful in causing emotional pain?  Why do you think coaches that help people with self-esteem are in such demand?

Why We Succeed

As I said before you don’t need to be a therapist, a social worker, or a counselor.  But be human. That’s our commonality.  It doesn’t take a lot of education and it doesn’t take years of experience as a business owner. This is why the members of my High Stakes Mastermind Groups are so valuable; because they come from varied backgrounds and different levels of experience. And yet every single one of them has a wonderful ability to contribute and to support each other.  You will never hear members say to each other, “Oh get over it!”

That’s where my own listening skills have come in handy for me. Because the people I have in the Mastermind groups exhibit the empathetic behaviors that it takes to stop, pause, hear and then respond.

I have not said that the respondent needs to agree with the commenter. I only said they need to be considerate and not lash out with something that could be hurtful, rude or inappropriate.

The next time somebody mentions that something caused them pain, rise to the occasion, and opportunity, to offer a moment of affirmation.  People won’t forget how you made them feel. And if it makes them feel good, they’ll remember for a lifetime.