Stacey Shipman didn’t begin her career as an entrepreneur, teaching people how to be their natural and best selves. She started out working in a corporate setting and, after deciding that she wanted to own her own business, she set off on an entirely different career path. But, even that business was but a springboard to what would be her true calling.
Shipman’s business, Engage The Room, based in Weymouth, provides unconventional public speaking and leadership development to the analytically minded, corporately trained and self-diagnosed introverts who are tired of formal protocols stifling their personality and ideas.
“I often tell people, this business chose me,” Shipman said. “In 2006, I left the corporate world to start a business. At the time I worked in wellness, teaching yoga, fitness and stress management. It was my desire and need to learn how to speak, sell, and motivate others that led me to where the business is today. It’s been a story of evolution.”
Shipman’s original vision was to have more freedom and flexibility with how she worked, who she worked with and what she created. She had been “corporately trained” and “analytically minded,” and carried a lot of old beliefs, she said, that she needed to shed in order to have that freedom and flexibility to solve the problems she wanted to solve.
“Fifteen years and many entrepreneurial projects and business iterations later, I’ve taken all of those experiences and created Engage The Room, where the goal is to develop high-trust leaders who have important ideas to bring into the world – whether they own the business or work for one,” she said. Shipman helps people shed the formalities that stifle their personality and ideas. “This will enable them to create the skills and relationships they need to deal with change, make decisions, run meetings/retreats, sell their vision, services or ideas, motivate people to take action, etc., in natural, engaging ways.”
Due to the pandemic, Shipman has had to pivot away from conferences, seminars and retreats for the time being,and is now engaging with her clients online, which has allowed her geographic area to expand. Based in Weymouth, she is now available to serve clients nationally, and those clients come from a wide variety of industries.
“We work with fast growing startups, small- and mid-size companies, often in tech or research or healthcare,” Shipman said. “Their leaders get promoted because of strong technical skills. What they lack is the ‘people’ side – how to run a meeting, deal with difficult people, motivate employees, explain change, or create a strong team. We work with executive level leaders individually and in groups as well as emerging leaders.”
Additionally, Engage The Room offers a membership network for self-employed professionals and business leaders in very small companies where Shipman hosts networking and educational events. These programs are currently online and allow clients to engage with people from across the country.
Shipman said Engage The Room contrasts from similar businesses by means of two main differences:
“First, we take an unconventional approach to leadership development,” she said. “We facilitate learning experiences that build awareness, skills and a stronger connection among the people we work with. Our programs are experiential in nature, include simulations of real-life situations and debriefs. We have a ‘No PowerPoint’ policy in our work. Our programs go beyond the typical motivational seminar and are truly a catalyst for conversation, relationship building and the ability to do really good work.
“Second, we aim to shed the formalities that stifle personalities and ideas and keep people from interacting with clients, peers, employees in meaningful and productive ways. We are challenging the status quo and invite clients to step out of the conventional bubble and into who they are so they can become trusted leaders and thought partners to their clients and employees.”
A lot of Shipman’s clients are technically trained and get promoted for those skills. What they lack, she said, is the having people side. Her goal is to turn those “softer skills” into a hard-core competitive advantage. “Leadership goes beyond technical expertise. You must be able to manage and motivate people. That takes empathy, trust, patience, communication…we give them those skill and awareness building opportunities.”
Some clients have called Engage The Room’s approach “therapeutic.”
“But since we aren’t therapists, what they are experiencing is our ability to create a setting where people feel comfortable speaking up, sharing ideas, talking to strangers without a fear of judgement, criticism, etc.,” she said. “They trust us. And that allows them to relax and participate fully. A lot of workplaces don’t operate that way. We want to show them there is real value in that part of human interaction.”
The most challenging aspect of her business so far, Shipman said, has been working solo. “As a solo professional you are sales, marketing, practitioner, IT, accounting, etc. Plus you don’t always have a team of people to go to for support and brainstorming. Working with a virtual assistant and finding small groups of solo professionals with similar drive and ambitious goals to meet with regularly helps with the loneliness and overwhelm that can accomplice working as a solo professional. Bringing my husband on board will ease this challenge. He’s a great thought partner and exceptional at his craft.”
Shipman’s husband, Michael, has joined her as an executive coach and facilitator. His 20-plus years of experience in talent, leadership development and culture strategy compliments the work she does and allows them to expand their offerings and work with clients in a more robust way.
The most rewarding aspect has been her connection to her clients.
“Connection is at the heart of what we do at Engage The Room. So when executives leave a retreat feeling more connected to their vision and how to achieve it, team members feel more connected to each other, and individuals feel more connected to their personal power and potential – that is most rewarding. Lots of people leave my programs and tell me, ‘I didn’t know I needed this.’
“Knowing we provide something unconventional, unexpected and useful is also very rewarding,” she added. “We practice what we preach. And, personally, having the courage to push through my fears and bring my own ideas to life has been incredibly rewarding. I’m on the journey, too, and learn with every step.”
Shipman is also a member of a local Toastmasters group where she mentors new members on their speaking and leadership skills.
“I love helping people grow and evolve, and am actively seeking out new opportunities for community involvement. I’m very excited for 2021!”
For more information, contact Shipman at m617-548-5877 or visit www.engagetheroom.com