What it's Like to Lead a Mastermind Retreat

4 Things You Need to Know Before Hosting Your Own


Photographs by Molly Thrasher from the Spring 2018 Editor's Course Retreat at the Fixer Upper Barndominium

Masterminds are the new workshops, and you may be thinking of hosting one yourself. Before you do, I'm sharing with you my take on them and how to lead your retreat well.

My perspective comes from hosting mini masterminds for the past 5 years and the Editor's Course mastermind as part of the five-month program. You can learn more about Editor's Course clicking here.

Know Your Why

Like anything, you must define the purpose of your mastermind retreat. Yes, they look fun on social media, but you need a solid and clear purpose to gather people together and take time out of your busy schedules.

For me, Editor's Course has a mastermind retreat because the students are overloaded with some much information in the online program, I want to be sure they have the help they need to process and apply it. And, an in-person element allows me to do that.

We have set goals and actions to complete at the retreat so it's not just sitting around chatting. There are clear goals, almost each hour, that apply back to the original online curriculum so they leave knowing exactly what to do.

Whether you are gathering a group of industry friends for a weekend in the country or creating a more formal ticket-based retreat, you need to be clear on what the goals are for your time together.

Allow for Application Time

The biggest, and best, thing to me about masterminds is that there should be time to apply things. As opposed to workshops that are completely teaching-based which are great for learning specific things, I like to provide time for immediate application.

This means building in time blocks for the group to break away and either start on something, do more research, journal—whatever is needed to make the progress necessary. I like to build these in right after any teaching component to the mastermind.

For example, if I do a session about managing finances or systems, I will give an assignment to the group so that they can go apply what was taught and discussed immediately. This allows them to have a jump-start on the things they'll want to do when they get home, and hopefully, not forget what they've learned.

Food is Important

I feel like this is an obvious one, but when you are the coordinator of an event, it is really easy to forget to feed your group. You have got to have snacks and beverages on hand. A mastermind is a place where a lot of hard work is being done. People need their protein, caffeine and water.

Even if you're wanting all of the food to be healthy at the retreat, you still need to make sure you are feeding everyone well. I'll never forget driving to In-and-Out almost every night at a workshop I spoke at because the food—while delicious and healthy—came in such tiny portions with no snacks throughout the day, by the end of dinner I was ravenous. And you know how we can all get when we're tired and hungry, right?

Lead with Your Intuition (or Hire an Intuitive Leader)

You do not have to lead your own mastermind. Not all of us are meant to be the leader. You may be an amazing coordinator and know how to get the right people together. There is no shame in hiring speakers or a leader for your mastermind. In fact, I have more respect for masterminds where the founder recognizes her strengths and is discerning to know whether or not she should lead.

You, or someone, needs to be good at reading a room. There may be a schedule, but you also have to know how to navigate if that agenda gets trashed the moment everyone arrives and you realize they need something completely different. You have to be able to adjust and bend as the group needs.

At a recent Editor's Course, I had two hours blocked to discuss Enneagram types and do some exercises on it. After 15 minutes of discussion, I realized the group needed to go a completely different direction so I scratched the planned and we did something completely different. The group loved what we did instead and I feel, was better served by it. You must be flexible and lead with your intution.