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Start by inviting people you'd like to brainstorm with. Then ask them to spread the word. Trust the process – the people who are attracted to this are the right ones to attend.

No one is making a long term commitment by agreeing to come to one meeting. It would be good to have 15-20 women at that first meeting, a good number for energy and creativity for the flow of ideas. Not all of those women will come back, but others will take their places. It's a good idea to have a critical mass (of uncritical women!) to begin with.

In case people new to the experience are reluctant to ask questions, invite a couple of friends who are willing to get the ball rolling; or come prepared with a question yourself. We encourage questions about ANYTHING: personal issues, relationships, family (children, in-laws, spouses), quality of life, new career, revinventing career, business – ANYTHING GOES!

Don't worry if the group is small to begin with. In the first year of the LA Brain Exchange attendance was sometimes very low (down to 3 people one month). The group had the choice of meeting – or not. Someone offered to be the facilitator. Disbanding was always an option. There was no attachment to keep the group going – it was totally up to the group.

A consistent, central location for the meeting is critical, especially in a big city. It's very important that you meet in the same place, on the same day of every month. If space limitation isn't an issue, you won't need RSVP's.This cuts down on administrative duties – all that the facilitator would have to do each month is send a reminder. If the usual facilitators aren't available for any reason, we ask others to take over at the meeting place.

If you follow these minimal organizational guidelines the group will 'grow itself.' Food is not a formal part of the equation. If people want snacks they're free to bring them.

Read the guidelines/format at every meeting – the reminder adds consistency to the process, even if people have heard it all before.

Keep it simple, and stay with the process. What people mention about the appeal of the group is: the wisdom and humor that flow, the generosity of the community, the structure and consistency of the process; the feeling of safety and the honoring of time commitments.

At the end of each meeting, we let it be known that it's great to bring – or send – new people to the next meeting. Some people come every month; some came to one meeting and never came back; some come when they have an issue to resolve or want to re-experience our incredible community.

If you have questions about this or any part of starting a Brain Exchange, contact Anita.