In 1727 Benjamin Franklin formed a “club for mutual improvement” in Philadelphia which he called a Junto. Twelve members met one night a week to discuss and debate important social, philosophical, and business matters. The group lasted for 40 years and eventually evolved into the American Philosophical Society.
I’d encourage you to create or join a Junto. To help you do to so, here are three files that may help:
Note: I’ve created a global Junto for polymaths, if you are interested. See Polymath Junto for details.
Our Junto is composed of 3-7 ambitious, good-hearted people dedicated to developing ourselves and changing the world. We meet once a month to discuss our goals and obstacles to those goals, set commitments, brainstorm, exchange resources, philosophize, rant, challenge each other, socialize, and joke.
You can consider us a synthesis of a: personal advisory board, accountability group, think tank, customer focus group, support group, reading group, philosophy group, and/or networking organization.
We were formed in the spirit of Benjamin Franklin’s Junto, which he founded in 1727. “Concentrated value exchange” summarizes our ethos.
Potential members need to be able to make a firm commitment to participate, as consistency is a key factor in the success of the group.
- Group updates
- Members can share recent successes, failures, and thoughts (epiphanies discoveries, nascent ideas, etc.) to encourage discussion and analysis of these areas.
- Ex: members have shared about recent failures to secure funding and then received feedback on what to do differently next time, on recent successes at recruiting through a particular organization, on a new model about behavior change, etc.
- Group questions
- If members have a question they want an immediate, honest reaction to, then they’re encouraged to ask.
- Ex: members have asked for advice about their job situations, how to handle unruly bosses and colleagues, how to handle workflow, etc.
- Group lessons
- If members want to teach the group something they’ve learned (perhaps to help with retention or just to foster a dialogue about it), then they’re encouraged to teach it.
- Ex: members have taught us about global warming, environmental politics, Getting Things Done (GTD) workflow methodology, etc.
- Group requests
- If members have a request for help, then they’re encouraged to request it.
- Ex: members have asked for help editing applications and CVs, support in starting a new organization, etc.
- Goal accountability
- Members can declare to the group one or several short-term goals they wish to accomplish before the next meeting.
- Members can request specific actions from the group if the goals are or aren’t accomplished.
- Group continuity
- This group is meant to be a consistent part of our lives—a ritual that provides a stabilizing, catalytic force for each of us
- The group will ideally “always be there” even when things are tough, we’re extremely busy and can’t attend, and so on
- Individual commitment
- Each member should be able to attend at least 75% of the scheduled meetings
- Each member should be reasonably “active” during and between meetings
- Overall, this is a high-commitment group, but with a disproportionally small amount of time that needs to be invested
- Meeting facilitation
- Each meeting is facilitated by a different person, which means securing the venue, coordinating the food/drink (if applicable), and moderating during the meeting
- The facilitator can choose to open the meeting with an exercise or activity of their choosing and/or set a theme (given buy-in of group)
- This responsibility cycles alphabetically by last name
- Meeting agendas
- Member A goes first with his or her group updates (successes, failures, thoughts), then Member B follows; this continues until everyone has a turn
- Then Member A goes first with his or her group support requests (questions, lessons, requests), then Member B follows; this continues until everyone has a turn
- Each member would be able to take up to 1/n amount of total time (n = number of members present)
- The Junto Meeting Agenda can be used as an agenda guide, or the group could follow the individual member’s Junto Meeting Focus Worksheets if they were prepared beforehand
- Positive & pragmatic focus
- Members are encouraged to engage with each meeting in a positive manner and offer pragmatic suggestions to other members whenever possible
- Meetings can start with a quick check-in of all the good news and lessons each member has to share (no other members speak during this time)
- Meetings can start with an initial thought provoking exercise, activity, experiment, deep question, etc.
- The group will adapt to meet the changing needs of members
- Respect for all members
- This should be self-evident, but here are a couple examples: not speaking over each other, considering everyone’s driving distance when deciding upon venues, etc.
- Tactful honesty
- Honesty and tactfulness are combined to deliver “tough love” as necessary
- Nothing spoken of in confidence is to be repeated outside the group