You are here

The PDC Mastermind Program: What’s it All About?

April 26, 2022

by Jessie Spressart, Founder and Managing Director, Optia Consulting LLC

Do you know what a mastermind is? Simply put, a mastermind is a group of peers who gather to learn from each other, offer support and advice, and pool their collective wisdom to tackle challenges that its members face. If you stop and think about it, this sounds a lot like the broader purpose of the Professional Development Consortium! When I became a Trusted Advisor in late 2020, I proposed that the PDC consider piloting a mastermind program as another way for the organization to support its members. When we opened registration last summer, there was so much interest that we launched not one but two mastermind cohorts in late 2021.

Several participants noted that they had been curious about masterminds but had never joined one or knew how they worked. You may feel the same way, so here are some answers to frequently asked questions about masterminds.

How does a mastermind work?

"I thought the program was great. There was just enough structure, and Jessie did a fantastic job of moderating and keeping things moving. My only suggestion is that the PDC should continue with these programs." – PDC Mastermind participant

Here are a few things to think about when considering a mastermind program:

  • Masterminds can take a variety of formats – some meet monthly, others quarterly, and others meet every week. They can also be in person or virtual, whatever works for the group! The PDC Mastermind met by Zoom every week for six weeks for an hour, which participants agreed was a reasonable amount of time. While it would have been great to keep the conversation going longer, sticking to an hour allowed them to attend without sacrificing too much of their already busy workdays.
  • It's important to have members whose experience levels are similar and can relate to others' experiences and challenges. With this mastermind cohort, we focused primarily on Directors, and a new cohort made up of Managers is underway.
  • Having a facilitator or moderator is a crucial element of success for masterminds. Whether you choose a facilitator from among the group's participants or have a facilitator that is separate from the group (as with the PDC Mastermind), this person's job is to keep the meetings on track, help keep the conversations flowing, and provide logistical support for the meetings

What do you talk about in a mastermind?

One participant commented that the best part of the PDC mastermind was "[c]onnecting with colleagues; sharing experiences; [and] gaining the understanding that we are all experiencing similar challenges [and] issues."

One of the best parts of being in a mastermind is that the participants get to set the agenda! Again, there are many ways to structure the sessions – perhaps you want to do a deep dive into a specific topic for a stretch of time. Or you might choose to have each participant take a turn in the "hot seat" to talk about what is top-of-mind for them. In the PDC Masterminds, we brainstormed topics that were important to the participants and spent one or two weeks on each topic, going more in-depth, sharing ideas, and offering support. Important themes like well-being, attorney retention, change management, and return to office were among the issues we discussed.

Is a mastermind group right for you?

"This was a great initiative. I got a lot out of it, including some amazing connections with amazing people. We all enjoyed it so much we decided to set up a regular monthly meeting to check in with each other and continue our brainstorming & problem-solving." – PDC Mastermind Participant

If you are someone who's looking to share your expertise, deepen your knowledge of current topics, and get curious about what others are experiencing, then a mastermind might be right for you! It is essential to commit to attending each meeting – without that commitment, the whole group suffers. You will come out of the mastermind with new and deepened relationships, a better understanding of what is happening in the PD world and be reminded and encouraged that you are not alone.

The latest mastermind launched in early March 2022, with managers from firms across the U.S. participating. The PDC plans to continue this initiative, and we expect the application process to open this summer after the PDC Conference in Denver. If you're curious, let the Programming Content Subcommittee know, or feel free to reach out to me for more information.

Jessie Spressart is the Founder and Managing Director of Optia Consulting and a Trusted Advisor for the PDC. You can reach her at or find her on LinkedIn.