Monday’s Mindful Moment — On Collaboration: Why a Mastermind Makes a Difference in Creating Critical Breakthroughs

Villa Cherubini, Cortona, Italy

This is another in the series of Mindful Moments which are written to guide us to think about what’s important for us to remember or keep-top-of-mind as we move through our week of personal activities and professional work.

There’s less of it today, but the daily U.S. mail is still an afternoon ‘event’ for me. One day in March, there was the tell-tale envelope containing yet another document needed to file income tax. Just as I was placing it, unopened in the drawer with other tax documents I stopped, surprised by own thought.

A month after I was born my father took out a life insurance policy on me. Now this may seem strange but you have to keep in mind that this was the 1950s and life insurance policies were also vehicles for savings and being able to cover unanticipated expenses. So, no, he ​​​didn’t expect that I wouldn’t grow up but he did expect that he might need to ‘bank’ on this policy for some rainy day in the future.

And at one point he did, when he needed some money to pay a year of my college education, a loan he did pay back. When he passed away, I became the named policy holder.

So in late March, as I held the small slip of paper that the insurance company sent me each year for tax filing, that surprising thought hit me.

I had been receiving inviting notices from Lou Bortone about an upcoming Mastermind in Tuscany, Italy for at least two months. The opportunity to gather with other entrepreneurs eager to discuss challenges and ideas, and collaboratively work through to discover new insights and directions for our businesses was so enticing. The fact that the Mastermind retreat would be in Tuscany, a place with a long-held spot on my ‘bucket list,’ was even more appealing.

Yep, you guessed it. I picked up the phone and called the insurance company to ask how I could ‘cash in’ the policy. It was remarkably simple so I put through the paperwork that same afternoon and received the money a week later.

It wasn’t a lot of money, surely not enough to cover the entire trip to Italy, but it was the ‘starter switch’ to this amazing experience at Lou Bortone’s Marketing Mastermind in Tuscany. And I knew that my Dad, a proud Italian, would be happy that I used the money to travel in Italy; his one last gift to me.

I am in Rome today writing this. The Mastermind week in Tuscany ended and I am now revisiting Rome’s great treasures after many — yikes — decades. There are many business insights which I have just from my few days here, from the superb service at the boutique hotel I am staying at to the obnoxious way in which I saw waiters trying to grab passersby to come into their restaurant for dinner. Customer service, pricing, marketing, selling, etc. can all be seen in everyday travels, especially as a tourist!

I will write more about my observations in these areas but today I write to reinforce the power of collaboration. We all believe this to be true but too often we find ourselves working alone, staying within our known circle of colleagues or relying on our team members. Generally this is fine, but you will have to admit that there are times when you wonder what it would be like to have that proverbial ‘new set of eyes’ or to have critical but constructive feedback on something you’re planning or have already done.

Enter the Tuscany Mastermind group* that I participated in during the past week. I am fortunate to already be a member of two great Mastermind groups so Lou’s event was for me an extension of work I had already begun on my own and with other groups that I meet with regularly.

But here’s the thing. As good as progress has been on my business reinvention, I have been feeling ‘stuck.’ Not on major items but on some small items which could, frankly, make or break the degree of success I can achieve in the coming year or so.

Tuscany Masterminders (l to r) Sarah Santacroce, Tony Maree Torrey, Laura Allen, Tassey Russo and Thomas Mangum

Four days of masterminding with fellow, and pretty awesome, entrepreneurs — sprinkled with lots of wine, pasta, and incredible vistas — and I had the breakthrough I was hoping would come on the Tuscan hills.

The specific, discovered business steps are crucial, of course, but what really made the difference for me was the collaborative space that held differing perspectives, open and honest discussion, and support with absolutely no judgement. For one incredible week, we had each other’s back no matter what came up in our meetings or over that bottle of wine at dinner.

I know that we all received what we hoped to find in Tuscany and I believe that we are all better business owners, mentors and experts after the past week. And we are better people, too, for having been part of such a giving experience.

Funny how a small slip of paper, a gift from my Dad long passed on now, and seven people I didn’t know a week ago have wonderfully collaborated to propel me to act and find the next steps on my journey of change and reinvention.

Could there be such a conspiracy of collaboration waiting for you?

Would you like to share what you’ll be keeping top-of-mind this week? We’d love to know. It’s as easy as going to our new Facebook Page Monday’s Mindful Moment and writing a short post!

Tassey is a former IT executive who has worked for the federal government, the Nasdaq Stock Market and as a consultant to non-profit associations. Today she is owner of Level Up Solutions and works with entrepreneurs and small business owners ready to take a hard look at where they are today and plan for future business development based on strong value propositions and strategic solutions. She strives to position her clients to attain foundational and sustainable growth, operational management and revenue.

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