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By Jim Pytell, Managing Editor 

New Jersey Business magazine

Calling on the lyrics of the Vanilla Ice song “Ice Ice Baby,” Nikki Sumpter, executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Atlantic Health System, said three actions that are key to any successful business today include stopping, collaborating and listening. 

At the second day of Ted-style Talk sessions at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s Annual Women Business Leaders Forum, which was held in Atlantic City this week, Sumpter and other women business leaders shared challenges and triumphs from their own careers, which included how to get the most out of others as well as yourself. 

“There’s so many different ways that you can stop, listen and collaborate,” said Sumpter. “Whether you have one or 1,000 team members, how do you engage them to know about them and know what their needs are? How do you know how to motivate them to be able to get the job done for you and to deliver on your products and services?” 

She challenged the audience at Caesars Atlantic City, filled with businesswomen and men alike, to assess how they engage their own workforce. 

“If we just stop as leaders and listen, we would learn more that would benefit our day and help us move effortlessly to our outcomes,” Sumpter said, reinforcing the importance of listening to understand rather than listening to respond. “We listen so that we can get to collaboration.” 

Of course, listening involves giving your time – a trait that Carol Stillwell, president & CEO, Stillwell-Hansen Inc. treasures. 

“The greatest gift you can give is your time. The people that I applaud are the people that take the time to reach out and give their time,” said Stillwell. 

“In my journey, each step along the way, I had sponsors and mentors. Through that journey I have become a mentor and a sponsor myself,” Stillwell continued. “I understand the importance of identifying talent, even when the people don’t realize that they have that talent. You have to believe in yourself.” 

Mollie Marcoux Samaan, commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), then highlighted sports as one effective avenue that is helping people, particularly young girls, believe in themselves. 

“Women’s sports can play a big role in moving society closer to equity. It can really improve young girls’ lives and can allow them to dream way beyond what they otherwise would dream,” she said. “Personally, I don’t think I would have been as comfortable being me, had I not had the opportunity to engage in sports.” 

While easier said than done, Brenda Ross-Dulan, founder and managing principal of The Ross-Dulan Group, added that believing in yourself often involves pushing out of your comfort zone – a place that sometimes we don’t even realize we are stuck in. 

“Sometimes we mistake complacency for comfort,” she said. “If we want to live an epic life, we cannot be afraid to [stand up in the front of the room]. We cannot seek safety by hiding in the crowd.”