05/27/2021 | by Sarah Borchersen-Keto

In a REIT Report podcast interview, Robert L. Johnson discusses his early career, his business strategy, and his insights regarding race in America. Johnson is the founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies, LLC, which sponsored the formation of RLJ Lodging Trust (NYSE: RLJ), and the founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET).

During the interview with Nathaalie Carey, Nareit senior vice president for industry affairs and social responsibility, Johnson discusses his coming of age at a time when the United States was “opening doors to Black Americans,” and his underlying belief that “you have an obligation to live up to the tenets of society to make the whole community better."

The interview also includes Johnson’s thoughts on:

  • The need to care for yourself, your family, and others you are close to while also having an obligation to make the whole community better.
  • How BET served as a technical extension of Black print and Black radio.
  • The scarcity of Black executives in the real estate sector when he co-founded a private equity hotel fund.
  • The need to attract talented individuals who believe in your vision. “No business is an island. Every business must have people who share the goals, purpose, and culture, to make it successful.”
  • Why it makes good business sense to diversify a company’s board.
  • The need for accountability to achieve the goal of increased diversity in the REIT industry.
  • How RLJ Lodging weathered the pandemic.