Rod and Pernell divide and conquer

If you’ve ever thought about going into business with a friend, you may have received the advice: don’t do it. But BLK & Bold co-founders Rod Johnson and Pernell Cezar were friends long before they started their successful specialty beverage company. So, what’s their recipe for success?

Since founding BLK & Bold, Rod Johnson’s co-founder, Pernell Cezar, has been the CEO—and that choice was by design. From the start, Rod, who is the Chief Marketing Officer, curated the digital experience for the brand, stood up philanthropic efforts, and did all the marketing. Simultaneously, Pernell took on the heavy lifting, like operations, finance, and legal matters.

When it came to determining their roles as executives, they evaluated their strengths, contributions, and financial investments. Then, they divided ownership stakes accordingly. But when it came to managing the business, some decisions were more complicated.

“We’re very passionate individuals and there are some times when we bump heads,” Rod says. “We know that the disagreement or dispute isn’t rooted in anything malicious, that it’s coming from a good place, and cooler heads prevail almost always.”

To help them with those complicated decisions, Rod and Pernell have normalized getting legal advice, not just when the sky is falling, but also when things are going well, so they can be prepared for anything that comes their way.

This is why host Andrea Marquez also speaks with Naveen Thomas, the Director of the Business Transactions Clinic at NYU Law. Listen to episode seven of This is Small Business to hear Naveen’s legal perspective on friends getting into business, and to learn more about Rod and Pernell’s partnership.

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