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(Photo by Mark Davis)

Stephen & I started 2017 by travelling to Fort Myers Florida on January 1 where we spent an inspiring 3 days with 20 top business people and entrepreneurs from the UK, Scotland, America, Canada, Sweden, Malaysia, Taiwan, Australia, and Germany. This was the Top 1% event with the JT Foxx Organisation, held at the home of JT Foxx himself, with group coaching sessions, guest speakers and the opportunity to network with some powerful and dynamic individuals.

As a girl whose time in music, dancing and clubbing was at it’s peak in the late 80’s/early 90’s, I was extremely excited and incredibly curious with the knowledge that our guest speaker for the event was Vanilla Ice. Admittedly, I felt giddy and starstruck when he first entered the room where we would be spending the entire day with him, but he immediately revealed himself to be a regular guy, “my friends call me Rob”, who was there to share his stories of failures, success, and more.


[Photos: Rob & JT Foxx leading the talk with heavyweights Charlie Dombek entrepreneur, authority on financial planning and tax optimisation and CFO of the JT Foxx organization and Business Coach Les Evans in the background]

Failure will ultimately lead to success if you can learn and grow from it. (Rob Van Winkle/Vanilla Ice)

Rob talked openly about his success from teen rapper superstar to where he sits today as a highly successful real estate investor, reality TV show star, touring musician and producer. It was evident that his incredible business acumen has been something he has held in spades since his teenage years. Honestly admitting to having “had a weekend that lasted for three years”, now approaching 50 he comes across as a highly intelligent, genuine, approachable, hard-working, hands on type of family guy.

Passion & Success

Rob’s passion for all he does is infectious, and he speaks with the conviction and fervour of someone who quite simply loves life – his work, his teenage daughters, and his friends. His message: Be passionate about what you are doing, if you lack passion for what you are doing, then stop and do something else. He believes you develop talent based on your interest in something, and if something piques your interest, be curious, study and research it. Learn from those who have or are doing it, and then find your own path.

If you’re not solving problems, if you’re not finding solutions, then you are not making money. There are no dead ends, always find the ability to turn a “NO” into a “YES”. Adversity is the fuel for your fire – so use it. An example he cited was the way he handled the time he was being sued for sampling the Queen and David Bowie song, Under Pressure. It was potentially going to cost him millions of dollars in addition to a fortune in legal fees. His solution was to purchase the publishing rights to the song – an investment that not only saved him millions, but he made back the money he spent on the rights within the first year in royalty payments, and of course, it continues to make him money.

Work hard, get educated, learn & grow

“There is no short cut for experience – you have to be in it” he says with absolute conviction. As a successful young rapper, he was buying up cars and real estate like some people collect stamps – and yes, it’s true, he owns and pilots his own helicopter. Simply having wealth and acquiring possessions bored him. Rob decided to get into real estate investment – flipping properties for maximum return on investment. He could have out-sourced a team and simply funded these projects, instead he studied, learning all he could to be at the top of his game. He has a degree in Interior Design, and expertly specifies all finishes in his refurb projects right down to the colours, furniture and soft furnishings. His business venture has led to a successful reality TV show called The Vanilla Ice Project (currently in production for it’s 7th season), where his wild design projects are showcased from acquisition, to renovation to completion. Early in his success as designer and real estate investor, Rob decided he wanted to learn more about craftsmanship in building techniques so that he could do the actual construction. He approached and lived with an Amish community to learn their artisan skills – not surprisingly, this also became a one-off TV series. Rob is a 100% type of guy, a firm believer in rolling his sleeves up, getting his boots dirty, and working hard. He outsources aspects of the property development industry that he derives no pleasure in, employs a team of lifelong friends, has a lot of fun doing what he loves, and is enjoying incredible financial success.

You can’t achieve great success alone – building an effective team strategically

Rob’s strategy for putting together his teams on all projects from producing music and events, real estate investing to his reality television productions all stem from a book called The Platinum Rule by Tony Alessandra and Michael J O’Connor. The book explores the theory of 4 different personality types – Fakers, Relaters, Directors & Socialisers, and how you need to employ people from the different types for an effective, balanced and dynamic team. It resonated with something another leader I have worked with said, “if you make sure you get the right people onto the right seats of the bus, you will ensure the journey will go well and smoothly.”

The way in which Rob operates and conducts himself both personally and professionally, goes right to the core of our principles at Rickshaw Enterprises.  We can help you and your organisation to grow and develop, to work smarter and get maximum results. Our mission is to simplify your business journey – to work alongside you to help you to achieve your dreams, goals and true potential.