Brain Trusts

By June 9, 2014blog

Every other Thursday my operating partners/founders and I meet to share challenges and best practices across our different businesses.  It’s a cool little peer brain trust that helps us over businesses’ little challenges. We celebrate and remind ourselves we’ve accomplished good things. We offload emotional burdens and remind each other we are human. We help each other with best practices. We share experiences of how we overcame similar challenges. It’s a pressure release valve, gas tank filler, and route map all-in-one many weeks. 

I’ve been involved with a handful of different brain trusts throughout my life with business peers, mens groups, and leadership teams within my businesses. The format is simple, give updates of the good and the bad, be candid with each other, and then share experiences that may be of help to each other (vs. giving advice). Then let the magic happen.
I first read about the idea in Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill which I read just out of college. As a result I assembled an advisory team of folks much more experienced/successful than me. It was great, but missing the peer component. I then found YEO (now EO) and got my peer group of other young entrepreneurs who were running their heads through walls just like me.  
I’ve recently joined a peer group of entrepreneurial parents raising young kids. We meet by phone at 5am MT once a month to share our updates and best practices. Inspiration for raising great kids pops out of this meeting like popcorn.  
I’m in the middle of reading the founder/leader of Pixar, Ed Catmull’s book Creativity Inc. Which prompted this post. He says their internal peer brain trust has helped them turn crap movies into great movies. A small group of their movie directors and creative talent meet every couple months to preview films in progress. They provide candid feedback to each other as peers that help the director see blind spots in their plots, and scenes. They don’t prescribe how to fix anything. They just share their observations so the director can find their own way to improve the films. 
I remember creating my first braintrust seemed like a hard task. But it was actually easy once I identified the folks I would want around a table with me. Inviting them seemed awkward. But with how quickly they said yes, it was easy. Creating a format seemed hard, but the conversation and wisdom flowed really easily with basic conversation starters. If we share a similar vision, the rest tends to flow.   
In the case of my current business partners meeting, we all share a passion for building great long-lasting organizations. We also share a philosophy of being customer-funded, and as a result, organically grown.  With the intent to help other like-minded entrepreneurs, we’ve decided to share some of the topics that come up at our meetings. Which I will blog about next. 
So, want more brain, more heart, more soul to help you prosper? Start or join a brain trust. 

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