MONTPELIER — Montpelier business consultants Sarah Lipton, Shawn Shouldice and Arlene Silva believe in the power of three. Each woman runs her own consulting firm and each has a specific skill set different from the other two, but together, under collaboration called "ziji," the three offer full-service consulting which includes leadership development, organizational assistance and reputation management for businesses and their leaders.
This July, after a year of planning, the three created ziji, which combines the services of the three companies.
“Together we offer customized, integrated and comprehensive programs through mentoring, coaching and consultation,” Silva said.
Ziji does not replace the services provided by the three companies, but rather, combines the skills of the three for clients with multiple needs.
Lipton runs The Presence Point, which specializes in leadership mentoring and development. She has over 20 years of experience in leadership roles and training leaders in the United States and abroad. Her company has developed a leadership self-empowerment program that targets “the journey at the heart of leadership.”
Shouldice, with 23 years experience in public and governmental relations, runs Capital Connections, which offers “in-house expertise in such pivotal areas as energy, health care, insurance, environmental regulation, business advocacy and taxation.”
Silva runs ContinuityWorks, a business consulting firm that specializes in mentoring, advisory and program development. She has been a business continuity professional (CBCP) certified by Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII) for 15 years, and has over 27 years of exerience in organizational and program development, consulting and business continuity management.
“Ziji offers a perfect collaboration of services for most businesses, whether small, well-funded start-ups or larger more-mature organizations," Shouldice said. "Sarah delivers on her business name, The Presence Point, by guiding clients through a multi-phased leadership development process to help them articulate their mission and build a culture that thrives. Arlene specializes in mentoring, training and providing facilitation services to help clients proactively manage potential risks and protect from loss. My work with clients focuses on building credibility by clearly communicating their mission, culture and call to action in a transparent and accountable manner.”
Ziji's services include programs on leadership and employee development, designing strategies to enhance brand strength, helping companies align their business culture with their with mission, identifying and establishing a plan to resolve operational issues, assisting in the development of a customized public-relations strategy, and providing mentoring, coaching, training and consultation.
“What we deliver cuts across an entire organization from improving how the organization’s culture aligns to its mission and vision to increasing productivity and effectiveness, identifying, mitigating or resolving chronic operational issues and implementing customized communications plans and public-relations strategies to cultivate and enhance an organization’s reputation and brand strength. It’s really that simple," Silva said. "It’s about leadership, people and how the client is perceived in their community. That’s why we formed ziji.”
“As experts in leadership development, organizational resiliency and reputation management, our mission is to deliver business growth and enhancement solutions customized to each client in support of refining culture, executing communications strategies, identifying potential organizational risks and addressing chronic operational issues,” Silva said. She added, “We serve businesses, organizations and business leaders who are committed to developing and enhancing their ability to compete, not just survive, but thrive in today’s high-stress, high-risk and highly competitive environment.”
Julie Brown, owner of Green Home Solutions of Montpelier, worked with ziji to manage growth.
“Green Home Solutions experienced huge growth over the past year,” she said. "We began in 2014 servicing only a small portion of Vermont. By the summer of 2017, we were servicing all of VT, Southern New Hampshire and Southern Maine. Green Home Solutions has benefited from Arlene, Shawn and Sarah's expansive approach. Together, they've helped us to rethink how to manage our infrastructure, source the right employees, and get the word out about our services.” The company provides an environmentally conscious approach to mold, moisture and odor removal.
Gabe Lajeunesse, a financial advisor in Montpelier, used ziji to develop a communication plan to build his identity in Washington County.
“I was the new guy in town in a very competitive market,” he said. With ziji’s help, he got significant radio play and newspaper coverage which helped him retain 95 percent of the clients in the business that he purchased.
The word “ziji" appears in the language of both Buddhism and Shambhala, and means light and brilliance. The goal of ziji is to help companies achieve their best, according to Shouldice.
“We don’t necessarily give them what they want, we give them what they need to thrive,” she said.
“Usually businesses come to us because they feel lacking in one area or another. The key benefit to working with us is that, when you have a holistic solution, it seems counter intuitive but it really saves companies money,” Shouldice said. “We provide solutions to businesses seeking assistance in a variety of areas from crisis management, to human-resource concerns, to designing a rational growth strategy."
According to Lipton, “flexibility” in ziji’s service offerings is what’s so unique about their collaboration.
All three are members Business Network International, a franchised networking organization that provides them access to professionals in a variety of fields whom they can call on if needed to expand their services offerings.