“Get ready. You’re about to discover an incredible secret.” The strange, old man points east.

Thunder rumbles, and lightning fills the sky. You walk down the dark and dank cobblestone street, past the overturned horse cart that smells of wet straw and manure. The street lanterns burn low with a dull, yellow haze as a rainy mist settles upon the city of Philadelphia.

You pull your coat tight around your neck, and your hand grasps the top of your walking stick. Your knuckles turn white. The man told you this was the way to the alley, but now, you are wondering whether someone will jump out from behind one of the buildings, stab you, and rob you blind. Maybe the “secret” you’ve been promised is an ambush by thieves.

You hear the laugh of a woman in the distance before the clock strikes 1 a.m. Only hooligans would be out on the streets at this hour.

Every day in the newspaper, you read stories of fools robbed on the street, and you wonder if your story will be in tomorrow’s edition.

You make a turn down Main Street and then another left at Philadelphia Avenue until you’re staring at the front of the blacksmith shop.

A horse-drawn carriage rides past, full of drunkards enjoying a late-night ride home from the pub. You step off the curb and make your way around the back of the blacksmith’s shop.

You can see the door now; it’s battered with rusty hinges, barely hanging on to the wooden frame. You knock thrice on the door. Just like the old man told you to do.

A Judas gate opens with flickering candlelight shining through the opening before a darkened face fills the small window.

“What is the password?”

You pause, unsure if this venture is really worth the risk. But you’ve come this far, and it would be a shame to turn back now, although you have no idea what is happening behind that locked door. Any number of illegal activities could be taking place within the shop this late at night.

“Electricity,” you say. “That is the password.”

There’s a momentary pause as the Judas gate is closed. You hear a series of clicks and pops as the iron locks are opened, and the door swings in on rusty hinges. A bolt of lightning splits the sky, temporarily blinding you as you step toward the door.

You smell cigar smoke and brandy mixed with burning pine. There’s a low murmur coming from deep within the blacksmith shop, and a few candelabras keep the entryway lit enough for you to see where you’re walking.

“Come in,” says the man who opened the door. “Quickly.”

You follow the man down the hall, the blacksmith’s apron still wrapped around his waist and the smell of burning coal wafting out behind him. He turns a corner and then opens the door into an interior room with no windows, and that is when you see them.

Ben Franklin and several other men are sitting around a table, a fire burning in the hearth. The old man with glasses and rosy cheeks looks at you and winks, holding up his glass of brandy.

“Finally,” Franklin says. “We were beginning to think you weren’t coming tonight.”

And so you sit down to become part of the Junto, the private gathering of like-minded professionals in Ben Franklin’s mastermind group. You listen to what the others have to say, offer them advice, and ask your own questions. You leave, empowered to implement what you’ve learned from the Junto into your own business.

Now, you’re glad you came.

You’ve taken the first step in learning about the secret power of the mastermind group.

But what exactly is a mastermind group?

Come back next week to find out…

Want to take your writing chops and business savvy to the next level? Check out The Author Success Mastermind group at https://theauthorsuccessmastermind.com/join/