Recently I've been asked a few questions about mastermind groups, as well as The Dynamite Circle and The Fastlane Forum.
- How do I join?
- What is the difference (which is better)?
- Do I need to be in all of them?
I am in two mastermind groups, and I am also a paying member of both The Fastlane Forum and The Dynamite Circle.
While I am far from an expert on the topic I do feel I can provide some insight that will help inform your decision making process, if you are thinking about joining any of these communities.
Some of you might not be aware of what these things are and how they work, so I want to explain a little bit.
At the same time, I really hate rewriting information that is already on the web.
So I'm just going to give a brief overview, and then link to a few articles that have taken the topics in depth. Then I will follow up with my own personal spin on things.
Traditionally mastermind groups are a group of 2 - 8 people (standard is probably 3-5) that unite under a common topic, and meet regularly to discuss that topic. Maybe it is a group of business owners who want to pick each others' brains about business once a week.
It's essentially a mini forum of your peers, from which you can get advice on a regular basis.
Usually it's free, and you form it yourself.
For more information about Mastermind groups, such as how to find one and the benefits of being in one, check out Pat's article.
The Dynamite Circle
The Dynamite Circle is a private community, of around one thousand members from all over the world. Think of it as a very large mastermind group/forum. It costs $150 per quarter ($600/yr). There is an application process, and although I don't think it is 100% necessary, it helps if someone you know who is in it refers you.
I've been a member for something like 8 months.
You can learn the full story here
The Fastlane Forum
The Fastlane Forum is a forum that accompanies MJ DeMarco's book, The Millionaire Fastlane (worth a read if you haven't). It has both public and private aspects, that is, you can surf the forum for free but there are limitations as to what you can read/post if you are not "an insider". It costs around $10/month (if you buy the full year upfront, and more if you purchase less).
I just recently became a paying member.
If you want to learn more about The Fastlane methodology, check out this article.
What Is The Difference?
The most striking difference is between your own mastermind group and the other three, paid communities (which I will distinguish between later).
Mastermind Groups Versus Paid Communities
A mastermind group is much more intimate, much more structured, and much more hands on. This is because you get business advice from the same people, who have likely grown along side you for weeks, months, and years and know a lot more about your business than anyone in a forum or community ever could.
In short, I think everyone who is serious about entrepreneurship should form a mastermind group (if not multiple) and most entrepreneurs agree. For example:
- Why You Need a Mastermind Group by Chris Ducker
- Why You Should Be Part Of A Mastermind Group by Amy Lynn Andrews
- How to Setup a Mastermind Group (And Why It’s a Fast Track to Success) by Sean Ogle
- Mastermind Groups And Mentors, Why You Need Them by Pat Flyn
So yeah, kind of everyone agrees that these are here to stay.
The two that I am in each have three people (myself included). One is with two other bloggers who run personal brands and are earning money online.
The other is with two other people, who do not have blogs, but are working on establishing online businesses. It's more geared towards startups, basically.
We meet once every two weeks for about an hour to discuss our progress and get advice from each other on where we should head next.
I have been in each of them for a few months. One of them I formed. The other one I was invited to.
If you are like I was a few months ago (interested in joining a mastermind but not receiving any invitations) go out and form your own.
Not sure who to ask?
Head over to some related forums or blog posts, find some people who you think *could* be a good fit, and message them. For example, if you are already in a paid community, you can try to form a mastermind group from that.
Worst case scenario is it doesn't end up working out and you're back to where you started plus a bit more knowledge.
The Dynamite Circle Versus The Fastlane Forum
Here are some of the main differences I see:
The Dyamite Circle skews more to being a location independent entrepreneur (working online, being able to work from anywhere). I definitely think there are a lot more SEOs and Digital Marketers in the Dynamite Circle, and a stronger emphasis on being able to run your business from anywhere.
As a result, although the DC has members from all over the world, a lot of the members are located in South East Asia, which is just a typical hub for location independent entrepreneurs.
Here is what the Dynamite Circle is looking for, according to them.
- Applicants must have an established business - aka generating a reasonable monthly revenue
- They should be able to provide evidence of business ownership with a URL to their services website, E-store, Portfolio of work, Other online presence, etc.
- They have employees or have outsourced individuals supporting the business
- They value travel and are location independent (meaning they have a business they can leave for an extended time without serious interruption)
- They are not supplementing their income through oDesk-type jobs, random niche/affiliate sites, ad-roll revenue, etc
- They have an abundance mindset, giving attitude, and expertise that is more important than traditional business success.
The Fastlane Forum is about starting a "fastlane" business, which is a business that fills the 5 tenets of MJ's book (Need, Entry, Control, Scale, Time). In general, the community here is more focused on "big" businesses aka millions of dollars and up, and is less interested on whether or not it will allow them to work from the Caribbean.
Unlike the Dynamite Circle, it has a free portion and an insiders (paid) portion, so the community is larger but there is no vetting on the quality (however I can attest to the fact that there are definitely a lot of business ballers in there).
I find there is less of an emphasis on community and networking and more focus on the forum.
And of course there is price.
The Dynamite Circle is about $600/year. The Fastlane Forum is $120/month.
At the end of the day, it's not necessarily that one is better than the other, but more about fit and what you value.
Paid Membership Communities - Are They Worth It?
For me it's no question that a MM is worth it, because it is free and you have a lot of control over how it operates and who is involved.
The question is more about the DC, and TFF, and whether they are worth the money.
This one is tricky, and the answer is - it depends.
The first rule is that you get out what you put in. If you are not going to be very active, then you are not going to make any connections or get any advice, and you won't find that it helps you much at all.
Secondly, it depends a bit on your business(s) and what level you are at. In my opinion, the more money you are making, the more you have to gain. This is because advice has a larger financial impact. If someone gives you advice that improves your business 10%, well, 10% of a larger number is more value. Of course you could probably argue that the people who are not making as much need more direction.
Lastly, if there is something of value you are specifically looking to get (like to join a mastermind, or several) then in that case you might find membership communities will be a really convenient option for you.
But What About Free Forums?
Of course there are a lot of free forums like the Warrior Forum, or whatever niche you are in.
The problem with those forums is that because people do not pay to be in them, pretty much anyone can hand out advice, whether they know what they are talking about or not.
They also rarely foster a sense of community outside of the forum itself, and they have little to no functionality.
Lastly, a lot of marketers use those forums to "pray" on unsuspecting newbies aka sell them stuff they don't need.
Why Not Just A Mastermind?
Although I think every entrepreneur should have their own mastermind, where they fall short is in human capital.
There is just nothing that 3-5 people can do to compete with thousands of people who have virtually every skill set imaginable.
Additionally, in the forums you benefit from all the other threads and discussions from over the years, which you aren't driving yourself.
Lastly, you can call on the communities whenever you need them (this is somewhat true for a mastermind, but it does lend itself to sort of weekly or biweekly meetings).
How To Get The Most Out Of Them
The best way to get the most out of paid communities is to be active.
To take it a step further, I would make a direct effort at trying to get to know people and have phone chats with people.
For me, after months of being in the Dynamite Circle and not getting that much out of it, I've started to invite people to chat on Skype as a way to get to know them and sort of add them to my network. Over the next few months and hopefully years, this will really add value to me personally and professionally, and justify the cost of membership more.
I put a really strong emphasis on networking, so I try to be involved in as many entrepreneurial endeavors as I can reasonably handle.
To me, if I receive one truly valuable piece of advice a year, that is probably worth thousands of dollars, let alone the cost of membership, and all the other ways I can extract value from it.
What about you - are you in a mastermind, the dynamite circle, or the fastlane forum? What do you think of them?