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Vanilla Ice Helped Me Learn These 3 Fresh Project Management Lessons

Eric Groves

By Eric Groves

Before bling was a thing and Lil Jon was only little Lil John, there was Vanilla Ice.

Representing the mean streets of suburban Miami, Vanilla Ice struck fear into the hearts of approximately no one with his Morrissey pompadour and less-than-accurate portrayals of street life in his hits “Ninja Rap,” and “Ice Ice Baby.” And to no one’s surprise, he eventually faded from the spotlight in the mid 1990s.

Still, there are lessons to be learned from Vanilla Ice that go deeper than the surface (besides the lessons learned from questionable fashion choices). There’s three huge project management lessons I learned from Vanilla Ice, and I’m excited to share this brand new invention.

Yo, VIP, let’s kick it!



Project managers, in essence, are mediators. They allow creative and analytical talent to get back to what they do best by not having to answer the client directly 100 percent of the time. Their efforts around the office provides support prevents disruption that sucks the creative wind out of many designers’ sails.

In order to do that best, all parties involved — clients, project managers and creative talent — need to stop everything and talk about the project before starting.

Working out all expectations from all parties involved prevents any later miscommunication. Better yet, it puts a face to a voice on the other end of the phone line or email. The more the client knows ahead of time, the happier and more forthcoming they’ll be along the journey.


Another habit of highly effective project managers is an innate drive to keep strong collaboration going with clients.

While your project is underway, don’t cut off communication with your client. That positive flow of collaboration back and forth will make your end product better, and your client much happier as well.

And when the project’s over, give everyone a pat on the back. Juggling timelines, deliverables and deadlines your most important job, but what separates the mediocre project managers from the good ones is individual attention and gratitude to everyone who collaborated on a project.

and Listen

There’s never a bad time to spend more time with your client and walk them through any problems that might be happening.

More than likely, this is the first time your client has worked with a branding or marketing agency, and they need some reaffirmation that they’re doing the right thing. Take into account any feedback they have to give you during the process, and give every bit of it close consideration.

When you’re the project manager, you’re the first line of communication (and venting, occasionally) from the client. Be accountable for both positive and negative feedback from them at all stages of the process, and listen closely to their needs.

By paying extra attention to your client and their needs, collaborating with all parties involved and adding a modicum of time for reflection in the process, you’ll be able to rock the project management mic like a vandal.

Word to your mother.

Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons



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