Romer: Economic recovery lessons from Vanilla Ice |

Romer: Economic recovery lessons from Vanilla Ice

Do you remember Vanilla Ice, 90s rap star with the funny haircut and the cult favorite singer of “Ice, Ice Baby”? Vanilla Ice is certainly not a musical talent that will go down in history with the likes of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.

Yet we can learn from his lyrics; it’s true, as he famously sang about the need to “stop, collaborate, and listen.” Even in today’s hyper-polarized time, we can likely agree that Vanilla Ice didn’t ever mean for these lyrics to be taken in the context of a global pandemic. But viewing them through our current COVID-19 lens, we have the opportunity to recognize this as a lesson in leadership and community.

Believe it or not, Vanilla Ice offers three lessons can be applied to our continued economic recovery efforts: Stop. Collaborate. And listen.


It is often appropriate to stop and take a moment to reflect on what is going on around us. Taking the time to stop and understand not only your business, but also to understand macro factors that impact our recovery and challenges/impediments to success. It is important for us to stop and take the time to understand how we can collectively work together (i.e., wearing a mask) to help recovery.

The first step to continued economic recovery might be to quit running around putting out the proverbial fires and instead taking the time to stop and reflect on the big picture.


Collaboration is hard. In business, as in life, there is inherent risk to reaching outside your comfort zone. However, the benefits to getting involved in collaborative efforts are incrementally positive. Collaboration with an industry association creates a voice of many instead of a voice of one. Collaboration with a local business association gives your business a larger voice at your municipal and state level.

Communities that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, higher levels of recognition and budgetary benefits than those who go about things alone. Moving forward, maybe collaboration will be the new competition — leading to cost savings, creating economies of scale and sharing industry best practices that benefit both individual businesses as well as the community at large.


We hear our customers every day…. but do we really listen? Listening is clearly not the same thing as hearing, as it requires us to give consideration to what our customers are saying. From a community COVID-19 response standpoint, it is sometimes hard to see the forest from the trees and to truly reflect on the value of feedback; few negative comments are made in a malicious manner (although some certainly are). Instead of feeling upset or being adversarial about mask ordinances and other related efforts designed to mitigate the impacts of the virus, take the time to understand the need to work together and make (small) sacrifices to support our continued re-opening efforts.

Stop. Collaborate. And listen. Applying these rather straight forward tactics to today’s environment might just allow us to maintain our economy, support our businesses, and achieve greater successes throughout the summer and into the upcoming winter season. The five commitments of containment (social distancing, wash your hands, wear a face covering, stay home when sick, get tested in you have symptoms) are an easy way to make an individual commitment to community.

Who would have thought that this stupid song from 1990 would have business implications 30 years later? Add it to the list of things you never expected in 2020 and remember to stop, collaborate, and listen to assist in our continued recovery.

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