Helpful Hints For Working With Family Members

Jake and Alex Pasternack grew up sneaking out to smoke a “doobinske” together. Now, as adults, they’re sharing their brotherly love in what’s to become the fastest-growing legal marijuana brand in America. It’s called, for old times’ sake, Binske, silent e.

Jake, a product and brand specialist for production studios, founded the company in 2015 and two years later brought in Alex, who’d worked in business development and is now executive vice president. While Jake handles finances and strategy, Alex focuses on growth opportunities — and together they seem to be winning. This year, they closed licensing deals with MariMed in the U.S. and Aurora in Canada, which will put Binske’s luxury cannabis products — including flower, vapes, topicals, and edibles — into more than 1,000 retail locations.

But working with a family member does have its challenges. Here’s how these brothers have figured it out:

1. Think before you disagree.
“It’s very easy to fall into the habit of addressing Jake the way I would at home,” says Alex, “but I’ve learned to hold my tongue until the appropriate time when I know he will be most receptive to what I need to say. That doesn’t mean I won’t disagree with him in a meeting like I would at any other company, but it means selecting when it’s best to address an issue in front of the team versus one-on-one. For those moments, I work with Jake to find a time that we can talk alone together when he can concentrate. Although we speak multiple times a day about ongoing stuff, we also have structured weekly recurring calls, which helps with this.”

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2. Give kudos like you would to any other employee.
This company would never be where it is without Alex,” says Jake. “He has the best insight, understands the trends, has tried every competitive product, and connects with our buyers every single day. I make sure to tell him that so he knows that while he’s my brother and I love him, his work is absolutely vital to the long-term success of the company.”

3. Be in touch.
When  it comes to big-picture plans, we’re always in the loop on what the other has planned,” says Alex. “That means talking to each other via calls, texts, emails, and DMs throughout the day. We use signals, too. For example, after numerous missed calls in a row, that’s a ‘Hey, I need you to call me right now.’ Whereas a normal missed call is ‘Call me when you can.’ ”

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4. Get the whole family comfortable with flexibility.
In a hypergrowth industry, something unexpected will always come up last minute,” says Jake. “My family and I were recently off hiking on this amazing trail filled with waterfalls. My 2-year-old was playing in the water with our dog, and my wife was feeding our newborn. Suddenly my alarm went off that I had a conference call in 30 minutes. We were in the middle of nowhere without a single bar of cell reception. My wife somehow hiked more than two miles while feeding our newborn, we jumped into our car and drove until I found a signal, and I hopped out and did my call in the lush forest. We always joke that the ultimate goal is to get to a point where I don’t have a cellphone anymore and Alex takes all the calls. But that might be a while.”

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5. Enjoy the opportunity.
If you had told me that one day my favorite smoking buddy and I were going to be building the largest cannabis brand in the world together, I would’ve thought you had been smoking too much,” says Jake. “All jokes aside, it’s been an unbelievable ride to build something I am passionate about with my brother. It’s also really important to celebrate those micro moments and remember to stop and smell the roses — or in our case, the buds.”

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Nicole Pajer