Mastermind Groups Approach Education Through Alternative Learning Models

According to research, acquiring a college degree or higher correlates with greater job security and 84% more earning potential over a lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma. Yet since the pandemic with an increased need to fill positions, the tide is shifting toward certain businesses loosening degree requirements. Recent trends described in Harvard Business Review suggest a reset in hiring is underway where companies are starting to hire previously overlooked workers to fill needed positions with skills-based attributes over degrees.

Skill-based and additional learning through alternative activities is growing in popularity, even for those with degrees. Research Gate suggests that adults consider lessons developed from non-formal education, mentorship, and coaching highly relevant and applicable. The research adds that early non-formal education is a hidden area of adult learning that many contend is essential to adapt to changing environments.

An offshoot of alternative education is the growth of mastermind groups. These collaborative gatherings are quickly finding traction within and throughout professional learning paths for career professionals. Part of the appeal of mastermind groups is the benefits found in community-based learning that centers on increasing personal accountability and professional development.

Darryl Isaacs is the Founder of Isaacs and Isaacs, a leading Kentucky-based personal injury law firm, and the founder of Brain Trust Legal Group, a coaching program for law firm owners. He also runs four mastermind groups for law firm owners, focusing on improving their practice by bridging minds and thought leadership.

Isaacs started the law firm in 1993 alongside his father, Sheldon Isaacs, who was also a personal injury attorney. However, it was not until 2015, when he was involved in a terrible motor accident, that he learned some of the biggest business lessons of his life.

This reporter sat down with Isaacs to chat about mentorship, training, and the personal and professional transformations that resulted from surviving a life-altering accident.

Rod Berger: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Darryl Isaacs: I’m Kentucky-born and Kentucky-raised. My dad was my mentor and an attorney. I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit since I was very young. When I was six, I used to sell doughnuts to our neighbors. I was flipping burgers at 13 and ran a jewelry store before law school. But, at the end of the day, a law firm is a business, and customer service has always been a part of my personality.

Berger: Your accident appears to be transformative in your life. What were the circumstances that led up to that moment?

Isaacs: It happened on January 19, 2015. My father had just had surgery and was recuperating in the hospital. My brothers and I were taking shifts watching him. I had the night shift and decided to ride my bike to the hospital. Long story short, I got hit by a car and broke my neck in two places. I suffered a brain injury, and my shoulders were severely torn. I had 12 surgeries to try and repair the damage and ended up in the same hospital and on the same floor with my dad. It was a horrific accident and one that I was fortunate to survive.

Berger: You mentioned previously that the accident marked a turnaround for you in business and taught you valuable lessons. What lessons did you learn, specifically?

Isaacs: Well, it wasn’t the accident that taught me these lessons. I would rather have never gone through that horrible experience, but the surrounding occurrences were very beneficial.

The first thing was that it changed my mind about the value of my practice. I always had the common misconception that people hated personal injury lawyers. I had let that mindset influence my practice and how I marketed my brand, but the overwhelming support and love I got from my community while in the hospital did something incredible for me. It totally changed my mind about my value as a person and the importance of my brand.

I received nearly 2,000 cards from people sending prayers of recovery, including over one hundred eighty-seven nuns. That’s when I realized I wanted to do more than just be an attorney. After recovering, I decided to return to work and start these mastermind groups, working on my brand and mentoring more people. So, that’s precisely what I did.

However, what I consider the most significant impact of the accident is that it taught me empathy for my clients in a way that no school or MBA could teach me. I had experienced a personal injury myself, and that trait has since helped me triple the size and revenue of my firm.

Berger: How exactly did the accident and the surrounding circumstances lead you to become such an outspoken advocate for mentorship and non-formal education?

Isaacs: There is only so much that school can teach us. Some of the most profound lessons I have learned have been gleaned from life experiences, from running businesses, failing, and succeeding.

The accident brought me so close to death, and I had a lot of time to reflect on what I wanted from life. I realized how much I had in me that I needed to teach others. I wouldn’t want to die with all this knowledge. But I also realized how much I could learn from others.

Most importantly, coming through that experience helped me market my brand with more purpose, and I have even done some Super Bowl ads since then. I also got on social media, started doing videos, and have received a ton of positive feedback with over 120,000 followers. I learned that people don’t hate personal injury attorneys, after all. Clearly, I had been selling myself short—it had to change, and it did change.

Isaacs and Isaacs has become one of the country’s highly recognized personal injury law firms. We have done over $2 billion in recoveries for our clients and net over $28 million annually. A large part of this success has come from the resolutions I made in the hospital as well as the impact of the mastermind groups.

Berger: Shed some more light on the mastermind groups you moderate. How exactly does this work?

Isaacs: I moderate about four different masterminds. We all own law firms, and we get together and share ideas, experiences, and strategies. Each mastermind group has between 14-15 law firms. Though I am in charge of making arrangements and moderating these groups, we all learn from each other at the end of the day.

Some things we learn in these groups are not taught in schools. One specific firm in one of the groups that joined us five years ago has gone from making $10 million a year to making over $100 million a year. This is just one of the most dramatic impacts that these groups have had.

I also do Zoom or in-person meetings with each firm twice a year, So there is a bit of mentoring in the mix.

Berger: How does the Brain Trust Legal Group tie into this matrix?

Isaacs: Brain Trust is more of a coaching program for lawyers who own firms. The mastermind group is more of an idea-sharing platform, while Brain Trust is more my team and me coaching other firms. I pass on a lot of knowledge from my decades of practice while teaching about marketing, branding, social media, and the like. The idea is to prepare law firms for domination in a fast-changing legal landscape. In addition, we are building an online network of law firm owners keen on self-development and growing solid businesses.

Berger: As someone who has spent time training and mentoring, how are you finding the value of informal educational platforms compared to formal education and school certificates?

Isaacs: Well, they are equally important. For instance, it would be near impossible for me to turn a novice into an attorney without the help of a fully trained faculty. However, when it comes to soft skills, I have learned that they are easily transferable through these informal platforms and initiatives. Truly great people separate themselves from the crowd by learning from life, others, and the various learning opportunities that present themselves.

Berger: Do you believe more needs to be done in growing mastermind awareness so other industries can prepare their workforce and benefit in the same way you have?

Isaacs: Others are doing it already, but much more needs to be done, especially in the area of mentorship. Knowledge and wisdom should not be hoarded. They are meant to be shared. For instance, in certain parts of Africa, apprenticeship and mentorship programs are available for those who have incomplete education journeys. America needs more of that.

Professional learning throughout corporate environments continues to evolve as workplaces better understand the concept of life-long learning for their employees. The idea of knowledge attainment during one’s professional years used to be hidden from public view. The power of LinkedIn provides a platform for professionals to publicly celebrate their unique learning experiences that may or may not directly impact their listed occupation.

Darryl Isaacs represents the role personal experiences, even if life-altering, can have on professional outputs. Learning, regardless of industry, is becoming increasingly communal through professional experiences, indicating an acceptance of knowledge acquisition beyond the borders of a textbook.

Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Hiring for a car accident Lawyer

When faced with the aftermath of a car accident, one crucial decision can significantly impact your future: hiring a car accident lawyer. The process of hiring for a car accident lawyer involves careful consideration of several factors. First and foremost, you should seek an attorney with expertise in personal injury law and a proven track record of success in handling car accident cases. Additionally, consider their communication skills, fees, and availability. It’s essential to choose a lawyer who will prioritize your interests and guide you through the legal complexities associated with car accidents. Your choice of attorney can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your case, so take your time when hiring for a car accident lawyer.

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