Starting Strong provides a view inside six successful mentoring conversations that take place over 90 days. The reader is privy to the thoughts and reflections of both the mentor and mentee, and gets to observe the personal dynamics of a successful mentoring relationship as it unfolds. It’s an excellent training resource because it models how good mentoring should look and feel.

Cynthia is one of the mentors you meet in the book. She is an experienced mentor who is committed to her own growth and development as a mentor and the growth and development her mentees.

The story of Cynthia and her Gen-Y mentee unfolds over 90 days (six mentoring meetings) and you get to sit in on each of them. You will hear their private thoughts before, during and after their meetings. At the end of each chapter, you will find questions to prompt personal reflection and spark conversation about the chapter content.

Cynthia learned the hard way about how to create a successful mentoring partnership. After a few failed mentoring relationships of her own, she grew from the experience. By the time she launched her next relationship, she was savvier and had a clearer understanding of what it takes to achieve tangible results.

What made the difference for Cynthia? What did she do differently that made her more successful?

In Starting Strong, you will learn about Cynthia’s strategies for mentoring success:

  1. Cynthia recognizes that her mentee will be uneasy as the more junior employee, mentored by a senior executive. She takes time to get to know him and put him at ease before launching into the work of mentoring.
  2. Some key structures and agreements help set the tone and expectations for progress and accountability. The mentee, who is new to mentoring, thought mentoring was an informal drop-in relationship.
  3. Learning is the purpose and product of mentoring — and its goals drive the learning. Mentors and mentees alike struggle with goal setting. It can be tempting for mentees to pick goals they can easy achieve or that aren’t relevant to their work success.
  4. Application of skills and learning are a critical part of mentee success.
  5. Stumbling blocks are inevitable in mentoring relationships. Mentors and mentees need a confidential, safe place to get coaching around issues that surface.
  6. The 90-day mark is an excellent time to schedule a check-in with mentoring partners.

The conversation playbook guides you so that you can engage in parallel conversation with Cynthia and her mentee. It prepares you for your mentoring sessions by suggesting appropriate conversation topics, starters and probing questions to use to build a solid foundation for your own mentoring relationships during the first 90 days.

Whether you read the book or listen to the version, there is plenty to talk about. Start the new year and get a book group conversation started.