The Boston Globe: Part sisterhood, part prayer circle

The women of Master Mind offer each other spiritual support

Colette Phillips dearly wanted to land a major deal for the public relations firm she owns, and there was a critical meeting coming up. Surrounded by some women friends in her Brookline living room, Phillips told them: “I’m asking you guys to affirm and hold positive energies for me. I’ll be over the moon delirious if this happens.’’

The women held the palms of their hands up toward Phillips, eyes closed. “It’s so exciting to sit in the front row and watch you shine,’’ said that night’s leader, Jackie Woodside, in a voice of calm enthusiasm. “We see the meeting as being a slam-dunk and we know they can’t wait to sign on the dotted line.’’

The others chimed: “And so it is.’’

It sounds like New Age group therapy, personal empowerment, and a revival meeting, this group of 12 women who get together twice a month – once by conference call, once in person – and e-mail each other daily. It’s called a Master Mind group – there are hundreds throughout the country – and this one began meeting in May.

There’s no tent, no speaking in tongues, no preacher up front. But it is a revival of sorts: The women use spirituality and sisterhood to support one another’s hopes and goals, from relationships and kids to careers and finances.

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Read how Jackie helped a business owner in California rebalance his work life in order to ensure greater success for his company.


When Jeff Talmadge, owner of Talmadge Construction, in Aptos, Calif., participated in a “Circle of Ownership” exercise in which he had to draw a diagram of his work life, the picture took the shape of an ice cream cone (see diagram, right). “I was focusing too hard on one area to the detriment of others,” he says.

“Business owners need to function at high performance within multiple areas at the same time,” says Jackie Woodside, Talmadge’s business coach in Westborough, Mass. Indeed, as Talmadge was trying to hire a salesperson and was devoting his energy to that, the business was being affected.

Woodside had the remodeler identify six areas important to his success; Talmadge named leadership, vision and mission, marketing and public relations, sales (him), overall company operations, and staff development.

Woodside noted those areas on the outside of a circle, and Talmadge then plotted points somewhere in or on the circle depending on the effort he expends on each item. The more time spent on a particular area, the further from the center the dot is placed. Then the dots are connected.

Ideally, the ensuing diagram shows a balance that feels right to the participant; not necessarily that everything is given top priority but that one area is not being neglected to the detriment of another. “I’m more aware of … not focusing on just one area,” Talmadge says.

To strengthen “vision and mission,” Talmadge now has meetings where employees discuss their past week and what was done well regarding the company’s mission. “I want people to feel good about the company and to see that it’s something besides money we’re working for,” he says. To ensure follow-through, Talmadge has Woodside hold him accountable.

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