Do you like "House"?  Not the place you go at the end of the day, but the Fox Network TV Show starring Hugh Laurie?  If you’re not a fan, here’s the general idea of the plot.  Dr. House is a brilliant diagnostician.  He handles all of the really difficult cases.  He’s also a royal pain in the neck.  He has (actually had) three young assistants.  To solve the complex medical problems within the allotted 60 minutes (less time for commercials), House brainstorms with the three young physicians.  Eventually they solve the problems, and most of the time they save the patient.

At the end of last season, all three members of House’s team either quit or he fired them, leaving him to fend for himself.  In case you are a fan and TIVO’d last night’s season premier, I won’t tell you what happened.  But it turns out that without his team to bounce things off of, even the brilliant Dr. House struggles.

I thought about House when I read this post from Chris Brogan’s blog, "Make Your Own Advisory Board".  Brogan outlines his procedure for problem-solving, which is basically a twenty-first century version of Napoleon Hill’s "Master Mind Group", which he described in his 1937 classic "Think and Grow Rich".

To quote Brogan, "It helps to have smart friends."  Big companies have boards of directors, made up of people with different areas of expertise to help them brainstorm their business issues.  House has his team.  You can take advantage of the same "master mind" as Hill called it, by surrounding yourself with smart people who are willing to work with you on your problems.  Why would they do that?  Easy.  People like to be helpful.  Plus, you make yourself available to be part of their master mind group.

Of course, when Hill wrote his famous book seventy years ago, forming such a group involved getting people up early for breakfast meetings, or having them leave their business for a lunch meeting.  Surely he had no clue that in 2007 the whole thing could be done without leaving your desk. You can consult with your advisory board from home, even in your pajamas.   Better yet, Hill’s group was limited by geography.  Your "master minds" don’t  to be located nearby to make the concept practical. 

Today, the members of your group can be anywhere, even on the other side of the world.  The only limit is your imagination.  Social networking groups like FaceBook and LinkedIn make it possible to locate these people relatively easily.  (We’ll be looking at these two social networks in a future post.)

The bottom line is that two heads are better than one, and three or four or five heads are better yet.  Whether your trusted advisers are business people located within a five mile radius, or are located halfway around the world, aligning yourself with like-minded people is a great way to build your business and help them build theirs.

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