In traditional media it's easy to differentiate between direct marketing, advertising and pure information pieces. It's not so easy when visiting blogs. They all look and often sound like point of view pieces--information that the blogger is sharing strictly for the sake of sharing information. Over the years, I've had several friends who have "invited" me to attend an introductory seminar for EST and then later, the Landmark Forums. Both promised to help me reach my human potential. I always liked the idea of reaching my human potential. I just never liked the price tag. Or the scientology-zest that members seemed to have for all things Forum. I never signed up. Blogs are full of recommendation on how to reach your human potential as an entrepeneur. As I was surfing the blogs this weekend to get a sense of how work -at- home moms were planning to deal with having the kids home for the summer, I came across some blogs that were talking about their Mastermind groups. My first introduction was Wendy Piersall's eMoms At Home.
"You may be wondering what a Mastermind group is. Each week, for 16 weeks, we get together with our group of 3-4 people, and publically make known what we are committing to do within the next 7 days. These are commitments above and beyond what we are currently committed to. We also then impose our own consequences. I don't mean light consequences, either - these have to be REALLY PAINFUL consequences. Such as, two of the women in my group have committed to giving each of the other participants $100 if they don't do what they say they are going to do. Another said she would have to go without makeup for a week. I said I would have to grow out my usually well hidden moustache - and don't forget, I am a woman ;). This is just the leverage I need to move ahead on all of my new home-based business projects. I'm already through 5 of my 11 commitments and we just started yesterday. But I'll also admit that I took the easy ones out first!"
Her blog had a link to winbig.org- a site she says she just discovered that day because of her MasterMind Group. As she says,
"WinBig has a series of programs for business growth, leadership training, and, not surprisingly, Mastermind groups! Particularly intriguing is his free Six Steps to SuperGrowth - a 6-CD set audio program. I'm downloading as I type."
Of course when you visit the winbig.org website you'll find that while there are some freebies, participating in their programs is far from cheap. Judith Morgan, who writes about wealth creation for entrepreneurs,is also recommending the power of Mastermind groups.
"All it takes is a dream, a team, and a theme to create a stream of perpetual income." From The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen. Keep learning, keep fresh and get support and what better way to do this than with a Dream Team or in a Mastermind Group? People love to help others; you only have to work out what you want and then seek out the experts, the Masterminds, and ask for their help. The worse that can happen is that they say no. But you've gotta hang with the right group.
Then there is Lynnelle Bianco's Bold Business Vision blog which has had just four or five posts in the past 18 months and serves as a marketing device for Bold Vision Consulting which,like Winbig.org, promotes Mastermind groups via their Ocular Forum.
"Ocular Forum was created with Napoleon Hill’s concept of the Master Mind group in mind. You can read about Hill's Master Mind philosophy in his books, Laws of Success and Think and Grow Rich."
Which brings us back to Werner Erhard,the controversial founder of EST. Seems that Mr. Erhard, shared the same fascination with Napolean Hill that the organizers of Mastermind Groups share.
"Of more interest to his transformation, however, are the books he read and was influenced by. William Warren Bartley III (Werner Erhard: the Transformation of a Man) tells us that Erhard was "profoundly dissatisfied with the competitive and meaningless status quo" and was deeply affected by Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich. Hill's three basic principles are: every achievement begins with an idea; plans call for their implementation and; what you think is what you do. Think positive, you will do positive deeds. Hill also advised visualizing objectives and selecting similar-minded friends. Hill gives good advice, but it is very vague and is not very systematic. It doesn't offer much to people who haven't got a clue what their objectives are or should be."
Do these proponents of Mastermind groups need to share with me that the same person who influenced the creation of EST and The Forum is also the inspiration for MasterMind Groups?
If the groups are effective and working for folks should I care?
Is it deceitful to omit that little bit of information when talking about these Mastermind Groups?
And,if a blogger receives a fee for referrals to a program, do they have an obligation to share that with their reader?
The issues for me isn't the benefits and strengths of having a network of entrepeneurs to help you visualize and achieve your goals. I certainly don't have a problem with someone paying me $100 if they don't complete their action steps for the week.
The issue is I want to know when I am reading a a blog-atisement and when I'm reading a blog. That way if it's supposed to be a duck, I won't be surprised when it quacks.
This is cross posted at Blogher
Image Credit: Flickr memberFancy Hunt.