Your Business Circle Matters. Here’s Why…

Humans have an inherent need to connect with others.  However, in a world that has moved online with remote workers and isolated leaders, the daily connections of the old office concept are fading away. In the US 34% of adults are independently employed, with that number expected to grow to 40% by 2020.  This number doesn’t include all of the business owners and leaders that often feel like they are on an island and lack the connections needed to sustain both the health of themselves, as well as their business.

Sound too dramatic to state that being an independent leader can affect your health? Think again. Research shows that our bodies and brains are healthiest when we have strong connections with others including: lower stress, longer lifespan, and increased sense of purpose. Some studies have even showed that social exclusion can activate parts of the brain that perceive pain-meaning if we try and “do it alone” it is literally painful.

So how can we find and use connections to help us with business? Herein, we discuss the brain science of connections and ways we can use a personal circle to increase focus, innovation and ultimately higher results and profits.

Your Brain On Connections:

Our brains respond to connections by releasing both our “feel good” hormone dopamine, as well as oxytocin, leading to lasting bonds and motivation to seek those encounters more often.

Our brains also have a vagus nerve which helps communicate and balance out our nervous system

The Vagus Nerve has two pathways:

  1. One path of the vagus nerve is the parasympathetic nerve that calms you during peaceful times and results in a lower heart rate, breathing and blood pressure
  2. The second path is the “smart vagus” which goes to the muscles in your face, throat and inner ear commanding the “physical” parts of our nervous system.

Dr. Banks the author of Wired to Connect describes the smart vagus as  “When you are in healthy relationships — imagine you greet somebody, you’re talking, you’re listening more intently — all of that stimulates the smart vagus nerve, which feeds back into your stress response system, or your sympathetic nervous system, and actually inhibits it and tells it to stand down. That’s one of the ways in which we feel calmer when we’re engaged in healthy relationships,” Banks says.

In short, when we have a meaningful connection we can relax and when we are relaxed we can make decisions from a strategic place rather than a reactionary mode (and we know which is a better way to make business decisions).

How to Create More Valuable Connections As Business Leader

While connections in all areas of your life are important, there is a particular need for a business leader to have an intentional support group for his/her business goals.  Many psychologists claim that you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with.  However, if you are a business owner, entrepreneur, or on any solo adventure, it can often be lonely at the top.  The good news? There are some ways to combat the isolation.  There is a strong emergence of co-working spaces, networking groups and perhaps most rewarding are masterminds.  The additional benefit of a mastermind is that it allows the group to connect in a deeper way and over a longer period (as opposed to a one-off networking meeting).

What are Masterminds?

Masterminds are a tool business owners and high-achievers have been using for over a century but weren’t given a name until the 1920’s when Napoleon Hill coined the phrase in his book Think and Grow Rich Hill originally said that “when two people got together, a third mind, the Master Mind, was created.” Some of histories biggest success stories were part of masterminds: Ben Franklin, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, and Thomas Edison to name a few.

Have you ever been involved in a project, a job search, a parenting moment or a business issue and wished you could talk to someone else going through the same thing? Masterminds create a space for that and it can be like an idea factory for your business leveraging on others’ experiences; it’s a think tank for next steps.

How do Masterminds work?

The format of masterminds can vary from video/call/in person meetings between once a week to once a month (some are even once a quarter).  Group sizes can range from 4-100 and led by a facilitator who helps keep the group on task, on time and focused.  And yes- most have a fee.  Before you discount paying to be part of group consider the phrase the “transformation is in the transaction” When you put up money you show up plain and simple.  Free groups often have struggles with attendance and commitment.  However, it’s like hiring a personal trainer versus going to the gym alone; partly because there is an audience, partly because you paid, and partly because you’ve made a commitment outside of yourself. You will push yourself more than if you work out alone. Masterminds work in the same way.  A peer-led free Mastermind can work, but there tends to be more investment from the participants when there’s an investment.

Benefits of a Mastermind:

There are many benefits of a mastermind, least of which is building on the connections our brain and bodies so desperately need.  Additionally, there are opportunities for cross-promotion, accountability, increasing your network, upping your business strategy, brainstorming new ideas and solutions.

In short, masterminds will hold you to a higher level than you would hold yourself and you are alongside others “in the same boat.”

Yearlong masterminds can range from $100-$100,000-yes you read that right-so do your homework and find the right fit, but in turn, most participants say being part of a mastermind propelled their business in terms of achievements and time to get there.

How can you get involved in a Mastermind?

  • Create your own and you can be the facilitator (or trade off that role): Consider the format, dates and ways to meet (virtually or in person) as well as any ground rules for the group (confidentiality, attendance, respect are a few big ones).
  • Join an established mastermind: Some masterminds require and application and may have specific criteria. This is good because it means that you will be in a group that has similar goals. While many may have a similar background there is actually a lot of value in having a diversity of participants bringing different perspectives and experiences to the group.

Whether or not you join a mastermind, consider who are the 5 people you spend the most time with, then consider if they are all supporting you in your goals. It’s okay if they aren’t, but then you need to create a circle of support, knowledge and accountability in some format. Masterminds can be a great solution.

Have you ever been in a Mastermind and had a new idea arise? Any interest in starting your own mastermind? What areas of “connection” have helped you thrive the most?  Email us at and tell us about your experience.  Let’s continue the conversation.

Did you know that we have a Success Mastermind at Next Level Coaching & Consulting?  Learn more here.

Carrie D Clarke

Carrie D. Clarke, J.D. is lawyer turned business coach and personal strategist. Carrie collaborates with small business owners and executives to increase their profits and accomplish goals by focusing on values, applying evidence-based strategies and enhancing their strengths. Carrie is available for speaking engagements, 1:1 coaching and custom workshops.