Book Review: Starting Strong: A Mentoring Fable

Posted by Kristin Arnold on November 24, 2020

For years, I’ve been searching for a suitable book to give to potential mentees to set the tone for a constructive mentoring relationship. (I used to assign Terri Sjodin and Floyd Wickman’s book, Mentoring – but it is out of print.)  After a conversation with Lisa Fain of the Center for Mentoring Excellence, I found the perfect book by Lois J. Zachary & Lory A. Fischler: Starting Strong: A Mentoring Fable: Strategies for Success in the First 90 Days.

It’s a quick read (just a few hours) and is in two parts: Part One is the story of the relationship between a seasoned mentor Cynthia, and her mentee, a promising high potential, Rafa.  Part Two is the Mentoring Conversation Playbook which is a nice summary of the key techniques demonstrated in the story.

So here’s what I like about this book:

  • The story is interesting and shows how a mentoring relationship should progress.
  • The characters are completely relatable.  They are NOT perfect and through the storytelling, you recognize how they could do a thing or two better.
  • The authors describe not only the actions, but what the characters are thinking before, during, and after each meeting.
  • The conversations cover the mentoring basics such as establishing mentoring agreements, getting to know one another, setting goals, creating learning opportunities, managing stumbling blocks, and checking in on progress.
  • At the end of each chapter, the authors ask you to “dig deeper” by asking specific questions for reflection about what the mentor and the mentee did.

This book is a fabulous blueprint for effective mentoring conversations.  I’ll be reading this book each time I become a mentor or mentee!


KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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