Post by Patricia Capone

A doctor, a lawyer, a clergyman, and a businessman walk into a bar…start of a bad joke or a great mastermind group?

What is a mastermind group, you may ask? Our hosts, Andy and Drew got a chance to sit down with Dr. Mike Gisondi at CORD 2020 in NYC to discuss this very topic.

A mastermind group is a group of about 8-12 people of varying expertise who get together to discuss and collaboratively work through challenges that each member is facing. These challenges tend to be ones that the participants are experiencing at work and tend to be similar across many different specialties and disciplines.

Important Elements of a Mastermind Group:

  • Strangers: Ok, so maybe the people in your mastermind group don’t have to be total strangers, but the idea is to avoid picking your friends or people that think and operate similarly to you. For example, picking someone that you admire who is your senior in the same field would be ok, but you would also want to include people outside of your field. You want to reach beyond both your inner and, even potentially, your outer circle. Additionally, when inviting someone to become a part of a pre-existing group, you want to make sure that they have something unique to offer to the group.
  • Diversity: Ideally, the only things that the people in a mastermind group would have in common are the types of problems they are looking to solve. Folks in the same community of practice often share the same learning interests and tend to problem solve in a similar pattern because that is how they were taught. With our colleagues and friends, we tend to become comfortable with finding and presenting information that our field deems pertinent in the way that people in our field have deemed is best. When you diversify your mastermind group across disciplines and specialties, you invite new resources and ways of thinking that can help you to analyze the problem in a different way.
  • Buffet Approach: When working through a problem with a mastermind group you want to approach it like a buffet. You take from it what may be helpful for your situation and leave the rest.
  • Checks and Balance: Mastermind groups can be a good way to check ourselves when we’ve made a problem out to be bigger than it is or when we are approaching something in an unproductive way. Oftentimes our peers are afraid to call us out when we are off base about something, or they themselves may not realize that what we are worried about has a fairly simple solution.
  • Psychological Safety: When forming or joining a group, it is important to feel like you can be open with the group and feel comfortable whenairing your grievances

How To Get Started:

  • Who?
      • When deciding who you want at the table you can take a few different approaches:
        • Google “mastermind groups near me” to join a preexisting group
        • Try to network and bring in friends of friends from different fields
        • Look within your neighborhood
  • When?
      • The when and how often is going to be determined by the problems that are being solved and the resources that the group will be sharing.
        • For example, if the group is sharing books you may want to give more time in between meetings than you would if the resources being shared are podcast episodes or articles.
      • You want to give people enough time in between meetings to digest the resources and attempt to make a change.
  • How?
    • Two common design structures for mastermind groups are:
      • Each person gets to bring up and work through one problem at each meeting
      • One person is in the “hot seat” for each meeting at which time everyone works together to help solve one person’s problem.

For more on mastermind groups, check out the full episode below!


About our Guest: Dr. Michael Gisondi, MD is the Vice-Chair of Education for the Department of  Emergency Medicine at Stanford University. You can follow Dr. Gisondi on twitter <@MikeGisondi or check out his website at

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Episode 88 Mastermind Groups

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