Monica Padman and Sasheer Zamata know a thing or two about successfully combining the personal and professional. Both women host podcasts alongside their best friends—Padman with Dax Shepard for Armchair Expert and Zamata with Nicole Byer for Best Friends. While waxing poetic about working with their besties during BlogHer Biz, Padman and Zamata also bonded over the highs and lows of working with someone they spend their off-time with. “I do think there’s nothing more rewarding than doing something with a friend and having some success in it,” said Padman. “It’s the best and it has some hard things as well.”
If you’re a brand owner and your co-founder is a friend, time will only tell if you regret or love the collaboration. If you’re working together, it’s probably because you’re confident it’s a business decision that won’t compromise your relationship. However, life happens and sometimes, the cons outweigh the pros or the challenges you didn’t plan for leave the friendship in “it’s complicated” territory.
If you’ve yet to take the plunge, Zamata recommends committing to “absolutely open communication” first.
“Nicole [Byer] and I have been friends for 11 years and have been working that whole time. We started doing improv together…We’re writing a movie and we have this podcast,” she told Padman. “I feel very fortunate because she is the one person that I can talk to every day in some form. When we both lived in New York, we would do an improv class together and then we’d get lunch. And then we’d be at an audition for a commercial at the same time and we’d get dinner. And then we’d go do a show and then we’d part and call each other to talk about our day. We’re obsessed with each other.”
Still, they had to set boundaries that would not only preserve their connection but also create the environment needed to churn out their best work.
“It’s not easy, especially when you’re friends. When you start off as co-workers, it’s kind of easy to communicate work stuff and be like, ‘hey, I didn’t like this’ or ‘we need to work on this.’ When you’re friends it’s different because it’s like, it’s this going to be icky? Is this going to be awkward? Is this going to end the work relationship?”
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Now, they’re constantly reevaluating their best qualities and deciding how to blend them in a way that doesn’t create tension or lackluster energy. “We’ve had moments where we’re like, we’re better at these things and not so good at these things. And finding what each person likes in the project. So when we’re writing together, I love editing. So if she wants to brainstorm and put all of the ideas out—just spit them out onto the page—I will go back and parse through and see what things we can keep, what things we can get rid of.”
Or in other words: commit to tasks that complement instead of work against each other. Not only will it help you navigate disagreements; your end product will be better for it.
When you’re mixing business with friendship, Padman said “everything’s heightened—the good things and the bad. Communication is kind of the only way to combat or at least get ahead of problems along the way.”