Jody Gerson (chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Publishing Group) in “The Corner Office”

Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Jody Gerson , chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Publishing Group. To read the complete interview, check out other articles, and obtain subscription information, please click here.

Photo credit: Earl Wilson/The New York Times

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What were your early years like?

I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. My dad and my grandfather had a nightclub in Cherry Hill, N.J. That was my childhood. I grew up seeing Frank Sinatra and Richard Pryor in our living room.

I learned a lot from seeing things done the wrong way. I was exposed at a young age to very adult themes, like people who had issues with drugs, and I saw the insecurities of artists. I think I seemed like a grown-up from a very young age.


My parents were young when they had me. My mom was 20, and my dad was 25. In some ways, my parents grew up with me. Because of that, I knew somebody in the house had to be in control, and it was going to be me. I was the grown-up in the family.

I was always thinking that something was going to go wrong, and that really propelled me to want to have success.

How has your leadership evolved over time?

My leadership style comes from being a mother. I want the best out of people. When it doesn’t work, I find the kindest way to have the conversation: What’s right for them? What’s right for me? What’s right for the company?

I want people to grow. The big thing for me about leadership is being in a position to empower people who deserve to be empowered, and to set the right example for how they can empower others.

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Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times’ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the SundayBusiness section and on that he started in March 2009. In his book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, (Times Books), he analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews of hundreds of business leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here. To contact him, please click here.

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