The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast, Episode 72 Transcript
Jennifer Gonzalez, host
One of the crazy ironies of working in education is that we spend so much time surrounded by other human beings, but still work in isolation. That’s because the “other human beings” who fill up our days are mostly students; only a fraction of that time is spent in with our colleagues, other professionals who do the same work we do. If you’re an administrator, that isolation is even more acute. Because our days are so full, we rarely have time to talk deeply about our goals with our peers, to troubleshoot and problem solve, or to explore some of the big picture stuff that could really push our work to the next level.
To do that, we need to be more intentional. We need to find a group of like-minded peers and set aside time on a regular basis for these kinds of conversations. People in other fields, like in the business world, call these groups ‘masterminds.’ Now the mastermind model is making its way into education.
My guest today is Daniel Bauer, who hosts the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast. Daniel started his first school leader mastermind over a year ago. Since then he’s created a few more that also include teachers and instructional coaches. In our interview, we talk about how his masterminds work, how they have benefited the members, and how you can start a mastermind of your own.
Before we get started, I’d like to thank Kiddom for sponsoring this episode. Kiddom is a collaborative learning platform that enables teachers to plan, assess, and analyze learning all in one place. With Kiddom’s new student dashboard, teachers can empower students to take ownership of their learning. Students have the ability to track their own progress on skills, access and submit work, and communicate with teachers on assignments. Kiddom is 100% free for teachers and students. To learn more, visit cultofpedagogy.com/kiddom.
I also want to thank you if you’ve left a review for this podcast on iTunes. I absolutely love seeing these when they pop up, and you’re really helping to make this show more visible to new listeners. If you haven’t left a review yet, but you think I’m doing good work here and want more educators to listen, take a few minutes and leave an iTunes review today. Thanks so much.
One more quick message: I received a beautiful card in the mail the other day from one of my listeners, Marianne John. Because there was no email included, I couldn’t think of any other way to thank you besides doing it right here, since you mentioned that you listen to my podcast. I just wanted to let you know I got it and that it meant so much to me.
Okay, let’s listen now to my interview with Daniel Bauer.
GONZALEZ: OK. Well I would like to welcome Daniel Bauer to the podcast. Welcome.
BAUER: Thanks for having me, Jenn. I’m so excited. You have no idea. Like, I actually lost a little sleep last night, I was so excited to wake up and record this podcast with you.
GONZALEZ: Oh my gosh. That’s awesome. We’ve been talking about doing this for, I don’t know, like nine months or something. It’s been ridiculous how long we’ve been throwing this around, so it’s about time.
BAUER: I can’t wait to dig in. This is great.
GONZALEZ: So, OK. We’re going to talk about … am I using the term right? Can we call these leadership masterminds?
BAUER: Oh yeah. I remember you Voxing about that, and I forgot to respond.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. No, that’s OK.
BAUER: Yeah, I think it’s fine. I don’t know the name, right? I know what I do. So I think it needs a name, I guess, but I’ve been calling them school leader masterminds.
GONZALEZ: OK. That works too.
BAUER: Yeah, you don’t want to exclude anybody, right, and make it too specific to any one group.
BAUER: And the thing is I have APs, principals, superintendents, even instructional coaches, so really just about everybody is a part of these masterminds.
GONZALEZ: OK. Let me get some groundwork laid first of all. You are … what is your current job title, outside of the mastermind, just so people have some context for who you are and what you’re doing outside of this work?
BAUER: Absolutely. Currently I am a principal at a thriving and very successful middle school in Houston, Texas. So that’s what I do from 9 to 5. And then when I’m not fighting crime at night, I like to do the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast, and I run also a media company that produces podcasts and helps people create websites, that kind of thing, called No Sweat Media.
GONZALEZ: Oh great, OK. And so over the last couple of years, you have decided to start doing these school leader masterminds. So before we get into that, just explain, what is the concept of a mastermind? I think maybe teachers are not as familiar with that concept as people who do podcasts are.
GONZALEZ: So what’s a mastermind?
BAUER: I had no idea either until I joined one. And if we go back to the fall of 2015, I was in an assistant principal position, and I wanted to grow faster, but I didn’t have the resources or tools at my access to do that. And I was looking, you know, just for something … almost like another graduate class or something to push me, challenge my thinking and to be around others that were also going to challenge me. And I stumbled across this website called View from the Top, and I actually found that website because I heard Aaron Walker like on a million podcasts. And he’s got this wonderful southern drawl. He’s from Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee, and just a guy with so much character and integrity, and I said, “I gotta … ”
GONZALEZ: What’s the name again?
BAUER: View from the Top.
GONZALEZ: No, but what’s his name?
BAUER: Aaron Walker.
GONZALEZ: Aaron … how do you spell his first name?
BAUER: Well, it’s like “Aaron,” you know?
GONZALEZ: Oh, gotcha.
BAUER: A-A-R-O-N, but he pronounces it Aron.
GONZALEZ: Got it, got it. OK.
BAUER: Yeah. So he’s awesome. And I joined an online community that he had that was like a private Facebook group and was getting a ton of value there through the discussions. He had a weekly webinar. And eventually he reached out and said, “Danny, I want you to join the mastermind.” And he had been talking about it and that sort of thing. His is called Iron Sharpens Iron. He coaches specifically men. And I said, “All right. Well, give me the details. Let me think about it.” And I ended up joining.
Jenn, this drastically changed my life, and I grew so much in just a few months. I started thinking to myself, “Does this exist for educators?” And I started typing in, Googling, “education mastermind,” you know, and just seeing if anybody’s doing this type of work, and I couldn’t find it. So just like the podcast, you know, I was trying to fulfill some type of need, some hole that I had identified, and I launched my first mastermind for school leaders in the spring of 2016. We launched with seven people, and it was a whole lot of fun. By the summer, we had 13, and then fast forward to basically now, but in the spring of 2017, we had doubled in size. We had three groups running with 26 just amazing, rock star leaders in education.
GONZALEZ: So what actually happens in these masterminds? What do you do?
BAUER: Aka, like “answer the question you first asked me,” which is, what is a mastermind? So the mastermind … I’ll give you the format, but I call it this hybrid group coaching and leadership development community, and I think that description’s pretty cool, but then I started talking to people, and I like to describe it now as just a party. What I realized too is sure, I’ve got a skill set and I’ve got a perspective that people want to hear, but I think my greatest strength, Jenn, is that I am a fantastic connector, and I’m able to get people in a room, and in this case a virtual room, to discuss issues in education that are important. And so when you get great people together, I think great things happen, and that’s what goes on in the mastermind. So to specifically answer your question, they run for an hour, they run virtually, online, and it’s every single week. So right now I have a group Tuesday night, 8 o’clock central, and I have two groups on Thursday, 6:30 central and 8 o’clock central. And we meet for an hour.
The first 10, 15 minutes is basically a check-in time and accountability. And so I always ask people at the end of the meeting, what’s one big thing you want to accomplish? And, for example, Kathy Jo wanted to hone interview skills. Robert’s working on some award ceremonies. Kyle has to hire an AP. David’s working on handbooks. William, brochure, kids in programs. I have a list, on and on, for all the people. So they’ll check in and say, “Yes, I did it,” or “No, I didn’t.” and the nice thing about getting together consistently is like, you want to do what you say you’re going to do, so that’s one of the things that helps people be, I think, more effective in their role. So we have that check in time.
Then for 10 to 15 minutes we have a book discussion around two to three questions. And we’ll read all sorts of different leadership books. I have not picked … Ah, that’s not true. I picked one book in education so far in over a year, but mostly we’re reading books outside of education, because I want to expose our thinking to other industries and other ideas and think, how can we steal this and bring it to the education industry? So right now we’re reading “Deep Work” by Cal Newport.
GONZALEZ: Ah, that’s on my list too.
BAUER: Yes. It’s on your list? You haven’t read it yet?
GONZALEZ: No. I’ve had so many people say to me, “You need to do this, and you need to interview Cal Newport.” I know. I can’t believe I’ve put it off this long.
BAUER: That’s OK. Read it. Let me know when you do. Vox me what you think, because it’s a game-changer book. It’s almost like working out after you haven’t worked out for a while. It’s going to hurt, you know? You’re going to be sore after reading it, but then afterwards you’re going to be stronger, so it’s a really fantastic book. So that one’s about focus and intensity and getting really meaningful work done and how to ignore and avoid the non-important, the non-urgent stuff. And then we’ve read books like “Search Inside Yourself,” which is all about mindfulness. And so we read around a wide variety of topics.
So we have a check-in, we have the book study, and then really what you’re really investing in is the time that we call “hot seat.” And during the hot seat, Jenn, you would propose and present a question. You’d state an obstacle, a challenge that you’re trying to work through, and the group would ask you questions, they would provide some insight from their own experience, and really act as a mirror and like good listeners do, reflect back to you. What you find is that your perspective is really going to be enriched. You’re going to have a much greater idea of how to attack this problem. Your thinking is going to get clarified, and you’re probably going to have some type of path that you want to go on to attack this problem that you might not have had when you entered the meeting.
And then if you’re just a member and not on the hot seat that week, it’s fantastic, because you get to add value and help somebody, which feels really, really great, and you’re going to be exposed to problems that you didn’t even know existed, so now you’re just a little bit wiser, a little bit more prepared for when that might come up at your school, and you’re getting more tools in your toolkit, you know, just to help you solve problems that we face today in education.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. And so … first of all, that whole format does sound wonderful, and I agree with you that listening to somebody else working through their own problems, even if it’s not all focused on you, that really can be very, very helpful. So you’ve got the check-in, the book conversation, and then you have somebody in the hot seat, and then … does that pretty much wrap things up for the session?
BAUER: That takes the hour.
BAUER: The hot seat’s 30 minutes. Those could easily go probably longer, but you got to be mindful of everybody’s time. So yeah, that’s the hour. And then at the end, we’ll save about five, 10 minutes and try to squeeze in what’s that one big thing you want to accomplish for next week?
GONZALEZ: Right, right. These are school leaders all over the country?
BAUER: All over the world.
GONZALEZ: All over the world. So how is it that you guys are connecting? What’s the technology that you’re using?
BAUER: We use a platform called Zoom, and that’s something I paid for, since I’m running the masterminds. So it’s free to all the members. It’s just a beefed up version of Skype. It’s cool. It’s like “The Brady Bunch.” Everybody gets their little box.
BAUER: Are you familiar with it?
GONZALEZ: I’m getting familiar. I’m starting to hear more about it all the time.
BAUER: Yeah. So it’s really neat, you know. Like all these other video chat things, you can share your screen, so if you want to teach on something or have us look over a newsletter or maybe you worked on your idea of the week and you want feedback, whatever it is, you can share that screen.
BAUER: Depending on the group, the chat box could be pretty lively. And we save those at the end of every meeting, and I send them out in the nightly email. That’s good, because a lot of really good, fantastic resources are shared, and you don’t want to miss out on that, in case you didn’t grab it while the mastermind was live.
GONZALEZ: OK. So that’s another role that you play too is to sort of take notes and send out links to everything that people talked about during the meeting?
BAUER: Yeah, I’ll summarize the meeting each night with an email. I’ll preview the content we’re going to read in the book. You have your reading list, who’s up next on the hot seat, and potentially some helpful links. So right now it’s an invitation to join the mastermind private Facebook group. There’s the weekly personal evaluation, and then an invitation to join me at the National Principals Conference there in Philadelphia right at the beginning of July, because there’s maybe eight mastermind members that are going to be there, so we’re all going to go out to dinner and hang out and just have a blast.
BAUER: So yeah, those types of things.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. That’s great they get to actually meet each other in person too.
GONZALEZ: So … I’m not sure what direction to go in. Part of me wants to ask about … I want to hear a little bit more about how these have benefitted … First of all, OK. The people that are in these groups, do you match them up by job title? Or are these just … who’s in the group? Like, what are their jobs?
BAUER: Yeah, so that’s the instructional coaches, APs, principals, superintendents. Each group is a mix.
BAUER: So I don’t have them … like, “this is the teacher group, this is the principal group.” Because the thing is, you know, if you’re really making an impact in your role currently where you are, hopefully you’re leading up, you’re leading below, or however you want to think about that in terms of organizational hierarchy. And so … and I think there’s a lot of value for a superintendent to hear from an instructional coach that’s on the ground every day what their challenges are, and that helps and informs his or her thinking from leading a whole school district. So there’s a lot of value in mixing everybody up. Yeah, so really, people get plugged in where there’s openings.
BAUER: So when I open new groups or maybe somebody … actually people don’t really drop out. One person did for a few months, and then they came back, so that was pretty cool, yeah. I haven’t lost anybody, and all those people that I started with in the spring, that’s where I lost one person. They came back. And then the other one had a senior in high school, and she wanted to be more intentional with her daughter at that time, and she’s coming back after the summer. So yeah, it’s pretty neat, because people stick around too, and that’s actually … I think another … you probably don’t even realize it, so, “Wow, I get all of these solutions to my problems,” but I think one of the best parts of the mastermind is developing relationships with the other folks in there. It really becomes family. People are sharing. “Hey, this is really tough. My dad just got news that he has cancer.” And we talk about that, you know what I mean? So it’s not necessarily just focused on education. Another guy, he accepted a principal position, it’s moving him from Tennessee to Arkansas, and his wife’s going to stay in her role, and they’re going to be apart for a year. That brings a little anxiety to him. He wants to know how to stay connected to her. So we talked about marriage, relationships, communication, and so that’s neat too. It’s not education, but here’s the thing, Jenn: The personal and the professional really can’t be separated, you know? Your vision has to be aligned. If your personal life’s not going so well, you’re probably not rocking it at work either. So we talk about all that stuff.
GONZALEZ: How many people in a group?
BAUER: No more than 10.
BAUER: So I will launch with three people plus me, so four total, and then I won’t go more than 10, just so everybody has enough space and microphone time.
GONZALEZ: Right. And when you first got these started, even though now you’re including people from a lot of different educational roles, I think in reading some of your materials, it looked like you started to think about this, because you were looking at the isolation of principals and superintendents and people who were sort of at the top of their system, and didn’t really have any peers to talk to. Is that sort of where you got the idea to get going with principals?
BAUER: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, at the time, I was an AP, and that was really fun, because I was coaching principals and superintendents. But I really just thought about my role and as an AP I was isolated too. I was in a really, really big district, Chicago Public Schools, and they do a lot of things right, and we had a really incredible school, so I don’t want this to seem like I’m talking bad, but the reality is there weren’t a lot of trainings, leadership training, for APs. And for me personally, right, that’s frustrating, because I want to grow, I want to know how to lead well and impact people, right? And so I just wanted to have those conversations. I tried to start these local dinners where people would get together and we would discuss education and really be authentic, take the masks off and talk about our struggles and what we’ve learned from our mistakes. We had one or two of those dinners, and they were successful, but I didn’t want to do that once every six months. I wanted to do it at least every month, maybe every week, right?
BAUER: And the irony of all of this, Jenn, is that locally, it was hard to do. Where I’m in the third-largest school district, Chicago is a huge place, so I shouldn’t have had problems connecting, but I did. And when I opened up the invitation to the world, that’s when it was actually easier to connect. It’s paradoxical, but that’s the truth, and now there’s people all over the U.S., two people in Canada, one in Australia. I have one lady in China who’s on the waitlist, so when I reopen the masterminds, I hope that she joins. Eileen, if you’re listening, I want you to join. And yeah. So I hope it’s an international thing. It’s diverse in terms of … in any way you can cut it, we have diversity. That’s a value of mine, and so I love that. It doesn’t all look like me. Everybody doesn’t think like me, and it’s a really great, mixed-up group.
GONZALEZ: One of the things that … I can’t remember if I’ve seen this on the website or if you and I have just talked about this, but you’ve talked about the importance of vulnerability in a group like this, in making a group like this successful. So talk a little bit about why that’s important and how you actually make that happen in a mastermind.
BAUER: It takes time, Jenn, you know? Because you’ve got to build that trust. And it’s funny when new people join a group, if it’s already been established, because you can tell that they’re the new one. They’re just kind of … They’re a little bit slower to answer. They’re looking around. It’s funny because it’s virtual, but you can see, they’re checking everybody out. And so I think it just takes time for the group to gel, but so far with the three groups I lead, they’ve all connected really, really well, that’s why I’m so pumped to meet people in Philadelphia in July. But I would say they’re part of my family now too, I know what’s going on in their personal lives, and like I said, we share that stuff, and we’ll text outside of the group. We have a private Vox, a private Facebook, so we’re always connecting. But yeah, it just takes that time.
And going back to my mentor Aaron Walker, he said people crave authenticity. And so I think the mastermind too, we attract people that this message is resonating with your listeners, you know? Not all of them, and that’s OK. I don’t want everybody to join. I want people that want to be real, that want to say, “Gosh, darn it. This is a struggle, and I need help,” right? People are not afraid to ask for that, and they know with other support around them that they can push through this upper limit challenge and be able to experience success at a much higher level.
So besides the time, it’s just consistency. I think having some sort of shared experience, so doing that with the routine, the check-in, the book, the hot seat, repeat, repeat, repeat, I think it builds a culture, right? And we hope to influence education in a really big way, and people start getting comfortable being authentic. I’ve shared in my groups some really big challenges personally with breakups, right? Stuff that was just hard, and the reason for the breakup, which is just mind-boggling, right, stuff that I heard. And then challenges even in my position as a leader. Like, this is what’s going on, I need help, even though I’m the facilitator, the leader of the group, and I think by being open and vulnerable myself, that encourages others to do the same.
GONZALEZ: See, that’s where I was headed. I was thinking, you may not even necessarily be aware that you’re doing it, but I would bet that you set the tone when everybody’s still getting to know each other and getting comfortable, I would think that by you opening up first as the leader, that tells everybody, “OK, this is a place where we can do that.” They don’t want to be the first person to start laying out more personal stuff, but if you do it first, then they’re like, “Oh, OK. This is that kind of group.”
BAUER: Yeah, yeah. And you know, I just go for it.
BAUER: Sometimes it’s kind of uncomfortable, but here’s the thing: If I need help and these people are all investing into helping each other and getting help themselves, you’ve got to establish that tone. And like I said, over the past year, I’ve gone through some really life-changing terrible times, and the mastermind was there to support me as much as I supported them through that whole process.
GONZALEZ: Right, right. I know that on your website, people can find testimonials from people that have been members of the group, but do you have any stories off-hand of people that have been in these masterminds and have seen some real benefits from them in their lives outside?
BAUER: Yeah, I’ve got a few stories. And one of the neat things too …. Listen, there’s 26 people in there now. When we started and you subtract the APs, the instructional coaches and the superintendent, at the time, the early time when there was 13 people, seven of those were principals, all right? And over the next year, three of them became Principals of the Year. That’s pretty cool.
BAUER: I don’t think that’s because of me or my perspective, right? But I will take credit for creating a space where they could ask really tough questions and get expert feedback that informed what they wanted to execute on on a day-to-day basis. So again, it’s not me that produced that, but I think that environment helped act as the incubator where they can really thrive. And so three out of seven, you know, that’s not bad, right? So that’s like professionally, that’s a cool accolade, and it’s really neat to see. We celebrate that.
But outside of that, we talk about life plans and bucket lists, and at the beginning we read a book called “The 12-Week Year,” and that one’s all about chunking your time into three-month blocks to really create more urgency and more intentional focus on what matters or what you need to get done, and it’s a productivity hack, and it’s a mental mile, a system you can use, repeat, to really get a lot more done. That book plus “Procrastinate on Purpose,” plus “The Miracle Morning” all form this group coaching experience, six-week group coaching experience that I now offer. That whole story is about just people getting a lot more done, and so we’ve seen people do things like write their first book or lose a bunch of weight, you know, all sorts of stuff. So I mean, there’s success all around.
Two of the instructional coaches, they’re now APs. Two of the APs, they’re now principals. So it’s neat, because you know, they say, “Here’s where I’m trying to go,” and we help them out. We do mock interviews, and just resource the people and you see them get that next step that they’re going toward, and it’s just awesome to see everybody, everybody thriving, you know?
GONZALEZ: Yeah. I would think … are all of the groups that you started originally, are they still going?
BAUER: Yeah, yeah.
GONZALEZ: OK. I mean that’s a testimony in and of itself.
BAUER: Yeah, exactly. Like, I tell people, there’s no contract, so if I’m talking to somebody that’s a prospect and wants to join, there’s no contract. You don’t have to sign up for anything. It’s up to you. But I think that is a testimony, because everybody’s still doing it. Over a year later, they’re still there. And I tell them, “You’re free to go whenever you don’t think you’re getting value.”
BAUER: “If you don’t think this is working for you in your life, just go, that’s fine. And if you think it sucks, I’ll give you your money back,” right?
BAUER: So there is an investment, there is an investment in the mastermind, but that’s the thing: If you’re not getting what I’m saying, if I’m not over-delivering, it’s not worth it, and you can have it all. So yeah, everybody’s really had a great experience with it, and I love that we’re still together.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. So I want to talk a little bit about two more things now, and I’ll let you know ahead of time so that we remember both of them, but one is I want to talk about the direction that your masterminds are headed for people that would love to be able to join one of yours, and then also to talk about if people listening just want to try to start their own, how they could do that. So I guess let’s start with the second question. If somebody wanted to do this on their own, how would they start?
BAUER: Yeah. First I think, you know, decide do you want to do it in-person or virtual, right? So I started with those local leadership dinners, and I moved to … I didn’t know they were masterminds at the time, right? And then do you want to do it virtually? So if you want to do it virtually, you have some questions to answer, like how and where you’re going to meet, is it going to be Skype? And Skype … I don’t know how many people you can get on a group call, so I’m not sure … Google Hangouts or Zoom. I recommend Zoom. It’s an affordable subscription that you pay monthly, and the technology just works really, really well.
So you have to make that decision. How often are you going to meet? We meet weekly, we meet for an hour. So where are you going to meet, technology, how often are you going to meet? What is the format going to be? Because this is just what works for me and what our people like, and the cool thing too is I’m an open book, so we can make adjustments. It doesn’t have to be this way forever.
The hot seat component, I think, needs to be a part of every mastermind, so you need to have some type of solution-focused, game-changing, “Here’s my problem, help me fix it” time. But what you do outside of that can be played around with. So we do check in just as a warmup and we do book discussions, and that’s probably because I love to read, and I want to get smarter. That’s what we do. Everybody says leaders are readers and not all … what is it? All readers are leaders, leaders are readers? I don’t even know. I’m messing up that quote. But here’s the thing: You gotta read, you gotta read. If you want to be a very effective leader, it’s really important to read and to memorize your quotes when you’re on podcasts. That’s secondary though. So figuring all that kind of stuff out.
Is there going to be one facilitator or is that something that you share? Maybe other people help facilitate groups. I’m at the majority, probably like 95 percent of the meetings, but since I’m currently a principal, there’s been a few times, hey, we’ve got a school event. I need you to step up and lead, and I’ve asked, tapped people on the shoulder, they do that. So is it one person? Is it rotating, who’s going to do that? You got to decide is it going to be free or paid? Free sounds nice, and probably most people want to do a free one, especially if they don’t have a business, but here’s the thing: People don’t invest in free because it’s free.
BAUER: You know? And if you pay … let me say it this way, OK. If I was paying a dollar a month, am I going to show up every single week and invest? Probably not.
GONZALEZ: It’s easy to blow off, yeah.
BAUER: Yeah. If I paid $1,000 a month, am I going to show up? You bet! Right? Now listen, it’s not $1,000 a month, but the point is you’ve got to find a level, I think, where people can afford it, and they take it serious, and it’s just enough to push them to really, really, really invest, you know?
GONZALEZ: Right. And if somebody were thinking, “Well why would I need to even charge?” Apart from the commitment, there would be some fees associated, paying for that Zoom subscription, for example, or some of the extra work that you do. You were talking about providing people with summaries and links afterwards. So if somebody decided to take on the role of leading a mastermind in a serious way, then even collecting some sort of dues from the member would just help them with some of the administrative costs of that.
BAUER: Exactly. And if one of your listeners signs up tomorrow after listening to the podcast, the book that we read is included in that investment. And so they don’t have to worry about, “What book are we reading? Oh, I forgot to order it.” No, it just shows up magically, thanks to Amazon, and it’s right there on your doorstop, so yeah, you’re good.
GONZALEZ: Nice. OK. And you and I had talked too about … We’re kind of working through this right now, but you’re going to put together a little toolkit for people who want to start their own mastermind with some of these points that we’re talking about, some of the questions they need to ask themselves to get it set up.
BAUER: Exactly. That will be a free download. And if you go to betterleadersbetterschools.com/toolkit, a lot of these points and your toolkit, your playbook for how to start one with some helpful tips will all be there for you for download.
GONZALEZ: Nice. OK. So they need to decide if it’s free or paid, and then what are just a few other things they would need to consider if they’re going to start their own?
BAUER: How are you going to invite people? How are you going to identify who’s right for your group and where you’re going to get them from? So luckily for us, we have podcasts. Yours is amazing. I’ve got Better Leaders Better Schools and people find us that way and through our websites, so we have some sort of system set up where people that are interested can connect. For example, betterleadersbetterschools.com/mm for mastermind, that’s where people can read through all the value that you get. Right now we’re recording, it’s June, the masterminds are closed, so they can join the waitlist. When the masterminds reopen, they can just join and invest. So how are you going to find your people?
GONZALEZ: Right. And I would think any teacher that is really well connected … Some people have already got like a PLN on Twitter that they connect with on chats.
GONZALEZ: So this would be a very easy transition to just move into something a little bit more structured.
BAUER: Yes, yes. And I highly encourage listeners, if they’re going to start one, to try to have a conversation with everybody that joins, because everyone’s not going to be a right fit. Even if you’re deciding to have a paid mastermind, even if a person’s willing to pay, that doesn’t mean they’re good for the group. So you have to say yes to people as much as they have to say yes and say, “You know, what? I want to invest in this group.” Because you’ve got a culture that you’re building, you’ve got a type of environment that you want to protect, and you want people that are similar in the sense that they’re hungry, and they want to think deeply and they want to be authentic, and they’re going to be positive and not poisonous and toxic, that they’re not going to suck up too much time, you know, all of that.
What I try to do is when I talk to people, it’s really important to hear what they’re going to bring as well. And if somebody’s talking about, “What’s in it for me, what’s in it for me, what’s in it for me?” That person’s a taker. They’re not so much a giver, and I don’t know that they’re right for the group. So it’s something that you have to discern and listen and identify if that person’s a right fit.
GONZALEZ: Right. Those are all really important points. I had not even thought about that, but hand-picking the people can change the chemistry of the whole group, so that’s just a really important thing for the leader to do.
GONZALEZ: OK. And then you need to decide how often you meet, and you’ve got something else on here about connecting outside of group hours.
BAUER: Yeah, because we meet virtually, so that’s why we are committed to trying to at least identify one event that will be the yearly meet-up. It’s great to meet face-to-face, to shake someone’s hand, to give them a hug, and say, “Man, I know you from the mastermind. You’re a lot taller than I thought.” You know what I mean? So I want to be able to hang out with people. Have you ever read “The Five Love Languages”?
GONZALEZ: No, but I’m familiar with that one, yeah.
BAUER: OK. So, listen. For me, words of affirmation and physical touch. So I love giving hugs, and that type of thing. So I want to be able to do that and meet the mastermind members and get together. So connecting outside of group hour, and maybe that’s an annual retreat or conference, and that’s also like, do you want to have a private Facebook group, a Voxer group. Slack is a really interesting app that I’m considering using as a bigger discussion board. So that way … Listen, you only meet for an hour every week, and it’s a very valuable time, but you learn a lot and the relationships grow, and you can help people out too outside of those hours, so you’ve got to think about how and when you’re going to connect outside of the group hours too.
GONZALEZ: Right, right. OK. Is there anything else that people need to know if they’re getting started with their own group?
BAUER: You can do it, you know. It sounds pretty challenging, but I think if you’ve got the heart for it and you love to serve people and you’re able to facilitate great discussions, then you can do it. So like I said, go to betterleadersbetterschools.com/toolkit and get that roadmap of how to get one started. Or if you’re a listener and you’re just so hungry, and you’re like, “Wow. This sounds amazing. I don’t want to even try to figure out how to run them, but I do want to plug into groups that are already running at a super high level,” then just go to betterleaderbetterschools.com/mm, and let’s get that conversation started and get you in a group as soon as possible.
GONZALEZ: OK, yeah, and so what you were saying is probably at the time that this is published, you are not going to have any groups actually open, so they would be put on a waiting list to join one of your groups, right?
BAUER: Right. Because currently it’s June, you know, so we’re shutting down school and end-of-year evaluations, all the paperwork, that kind of stuff, so it’s a really busy time, so I don’t have the capacity to launch a fourth group. But my birthday’s July 6th, and I think a great birthday gift to myself would be to launch another group and get things fired up over the summer. So I think I will have capacity for that, so I anticipate the groups opening up really soon at the beginning of July. But yeah. Prior to that, it will be a wait list.
GONZALEZ: OK. And I’m actually not entirely sure exactly when this is going to run, so it might be right at the time when you’re starting to look at opening them up, and also somebody may be listening to this several years from now.
GONZALEZ: So regardless of when they hear it … I have people tell me that they listen to my podcast, and then they go back two or three years. I’m the same way when I find a podcast I like, I kind of binge listen all the way back, yeah.
BAUER: Yeah, absolutely.
GONZALEZ: So they should just go to your website, betterleadersbetterschools.com, and look for information on the masterminds.
BAUER: Absolutely. And get on the email list. There’s a thousand people that subscribe, and you can grab the Blueprint for School Success or the 15 Phrases for Effective School Leaders. There’s a bunch of different freebies. Or you can grab the tool kit that we talked about on this show, and that way you’ll be connected to me. I’ll update you on the blog or a new podcast comes out. I do a weekly weekend resource which is pretty cool, it’s very short, five things: a resource, the new podcast, something cool on social media, a quote and normally like a cool thing I’m reading, it might be an article or a book. So there’s a lot of different things you get through the newsletter, and that way when the masterminds do open up, you’ll be invited to join.
GONZALEZ: Cool. Thank you so much, Daniel. I’m so glad we finally got this done.
BAUER: Yes, Jenn. Thanks for inviting me. Like I said, I was so excited to be here. You did not disappoint, even though it’s early in the morning, and I’ve been drinking coffee and that’s all right, but it’s just so fun to talk to you, so I hope this is the first of many, many conversations that we have, and I would love to have you over on my show too.
GONZALEZ: That would be awesome.
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