Halfway into the 5-year term at European American Music (EAM), my boss died from an aneurysm. I had been recruited for the job by my boss to succeed him after his retirement, following several years of training for the post. Needless to say, his sudden death occurred before the training was complete. It happened before the principals of the company had been informed he intended to name me as his successor.
So, where did that leave me? In a bit of a twist, actually. The recruiter for my employment was a former boss and old friend, and considered me (at the time) an ideal candidate to succeed my boss, but as the general counsel for our office he had other matters to address, namely, doing the bidding of the principals by stepping into my deceased boss’ position. He apologized for the intrusion and said to stand by for 6 weeks, whilst the dust settled.
My job’s focus changed from overseeing the day-to-day publishing operations to one of reassuring the composers there still was a publisher representing their works, as well as continuing to provide our customers with product – world premieres, concert repertoire and print publications by appearing everywhere, as needed. I recall one trip returning from Europe, staying overnight in New York to attend a couple of concerts (multiple events in one evening was a common activity), then flying out the next day to California for another premiere, then back to New York the next morning for additional concert duties. My European bosses hadn’t fully understood just how big America is until a few years later when they attempted a similar itinerary. Thankfully, they apologized for the gaffe and I received their praise for being a trooper.
My boss said he always knew those he considered to either be close friends or acquaintances by their form of address. His closest friends knew he preferred his full name as address, not a nickname. This became quite apparent to me after his death – and a very helpful tool to use when sorting out memorial concert invites and similar sorts of communications.
During this time, I’m working for a guy I had already worked with at a previous employer – which is to say, you’re not really progressing your perceived career goals (by expanding your horizons in new environments). In hindsight, of course, I was – but, just not as originally intended. It was a challenge to work with someone you know all too well and work with their weaknesses so as not to endanger the company’s good reputation. You know, there are 2 types of people: Ones with whom you work; and, ones you work around. So, I did the latter, knowing in 6 weeks’ time, all would be established for the future. For me, this was an experience that broadened my view of life with an unfathomable amount of compassion towards others. Always insightful.
As of today, my colleague is still the Acting President and I moved on a few years after my boss’ death.