By Andrew Neitlich

The MOD Squad in “Thank You For Smoking”

By Andrew Neitlich

This weekend my wife and I saw the movie “Thank You For Smoking,” a hilarious film about a tobacco lobbyist and his brilliance at pushing tobacco.

What does this movie have to do with web designers?

Well, Nick Naylor, the main character, gets support from a Mastermind Group, which is a strategy I’ve encouraged everyone on Sitepoint to use. A Mastermind Group is a group of 3-6 complementary professionals who meet regularly to discuss business issues, exchange ideas, and get support.

In Nick’s case, his Mastermind Group is made up of lobbyists for alcohol and guns. They call themselves the MOD Squad, or Merchants of Death. It doesn’t sound funny here, but it is funny in the film. Don’t post criticisms of this example until you see the movie, okay?

Anyway, if you want to see a visual example of how a Mastermind Group can work and support what you do, see this movie. Even if the characters are fictional and meant to be parodies, the example is a good one.

So pick a few complementary professionals (graphic designers, IT support, marketing consultants, small business attorneys, bankers, etc) and meet to help each other out and get support.

  • I saw the trailer for this movie and it looks great :) What’s your rating out of 10 Andrew?

  • binjured

    What an awesome movie; I’d probably give it 9/10. I’ve always supported (and at times tried to implement) a “meeting of the minds” thing like you’re describing. It can certainly be helpful, so long as all parties are dedicated to it.

  • aneitlich

    Dean C,

    Well, movie reviews are not my thing. Anytime I can get out of the house with the wife and without the kids, see a movie, and have a nice dinner I give it a 10. Gigli would have gotten a 10 from me, we get out so rarely.

    But I’d give it a 7.5-8. The book is very good, too!

  • benlowry

    I saw that movie and thought it was hilarious. The only problem with forming your own “mod squad” is finding complimentary skills not just in the areas you work with but the technologies as well.

    If you’re not php/mysql you’re pretty much alone.

  • Afro Boy

    I don’t think the technology matters at all when you’re looking at learning about customers.

  • I meet with a group a couple times a month. We usually just hang our at Barnes and Nobles and talk, but it’s been good. You get a chance to learn about a lot of things that people are doing and it’s a great way to see what’s working for people and what’s not.

    It’s also nice to be in a group where I can make a joke about CSS and people actually get it.

  • Gator99

    The “Mastermind Group” is more commonly know as a “Think Tank”.

  • baileysemt

    I have become close friends with a local restaurant owner, and together with him, a friend of his (an artist who owns a gallery) and two other mutual friends (who own a grocery store), the five of us try to get together weekly for Sunday dinner at the restaurant. We’ve all closed our businesses and it is nice to unwind in friendly, intelligent, unjudgmental company where we can just be ourselves.

    We have nailed down more tourism- and marketing-related issues than I could begin to recount. I have learned volumes from these folks and we have all agreed privately that these Sunday dinners are helpful for each us emotionally too. It’s a relief to have a release where we can be brutally honest and challenge the status quo on thinking, without having to worry about making enemies or having it held against us at some point down the road. For a group of friends we certainly have a very diverse bunch of ideas, but we are very lucky that nobody in the group is a score-keeper. We walk in determined to learn from each other — even if it is just learning to look outside our own box and understand somebody else’s reasoning. :)

    “Mastermind Group” – “Think Tank” – whatever…. there’s nothin’ like it. :)

  • baileysemt

    We’ve all closed our businesses and it is nice to unwind in friendly, intelligent, unjudgmental company where we can just be ourselves.

    We’ve all closed our businesses FOR THE DAY, and it is nice to unwind in friendly, intelligent, unjudgmental company where we can just be ourselves.

    …sorry, didn’t mean to make it sound like we’d closed for good. :) LOL

  • krdr

    Actually, MOD is real thing. There’s investment fund that is specialised in investment in tobbaco, alcohol, guns, pot and all other kinds of sin industry… But legal kind.

    And they make BIG money…

    I still didn’t watch the movie

  • imagineinternet

    Well now, this feels a lot like a mastermind group to me!

    Seriously,, I meet every month or 2 with an HR consultant, bookkeeper, marketing guru and whoever else that wants to join us, and I always walk away with good advice, leads, and maybe just a bit more sane becuase I had some other small biz owners to chat with. I highly recommend a mastermind group.

  • eupharos

    The ‘mastermind group’ was first thought up by a young (21yo) Benjamin Franklin. He called his group of young businessmen the Junto (sometimes referred to as the Junta, from a pre-existing word meaning “a body of persons acting towards a common aim” -OED), and from their meetings sprung the first lending library and volunteer fire department in the U.S., as well as the academy that would one day become the University of Pennsylvania. The Junto would itself evolve into the American Philosophical Society, and the concept was adopted by Napoleon Hill and renamed the ‘Mastermind Group.’ Yet another legacy from one of the most brilliant and influential people in history.

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