Does Having a Sister Make You More Successful?

This morning Forbes.com took a look at whether success, particularly amongst sisters, is genetic. While one only has to look at the Olsen, Fanning, Knowles and Simpson clans to see that sibling success is frequent in the entertainment industry, Forbes pointed out that of the 90 women currently serving in the U.S. Congress, only two of them are sisters. California democrats Loretta and Linda Sanchez, elected to the House in 1996 and 2002, respectively, told Forbes that, “When you come from a large family, you have to scrap and fight for everything you get, but it has many advantages. You learn diplomacy, teamwork, coalition building—skills that help me in my job today.”

The story also highlighted Venus and Serena Williams’ domination of the sports world, and the accomplishments of our very own Jodi Kahn, president of iVillage, who is a fraternal quadruplet. Kahn’s two sisters and brother have all gone on to become powerful forces in the fields of medicine, finance and film. “We connect each other,” Kahn told Forbes. “Between the four of us, we know so many people.”

As someone who grew up sandwiched between two sisters, one five years older and one ten years younger, I can vouch for the theory. Seeing my siblings achieve success in all facets of life pushes me to do the same, or better—a little sibling rivalry never hurt anyone! After graduating from Boston College, my older sister went on to pave a career in marketing, serving in an executive role at an international airline before leaving the business to have four children…in five years. Watching her navigate her way through school, career and motherhood with a mix of humor and grace has provided me with a cheat sheet of sorts when making my own decisions.

While my younger sister is still climbing the collegiate ladder, that doesn’t mean I’m not constantly learning from her as well. She’s softer than my older sister and me—more accepting, more forgiving, less judgmental, less cynical. No, she’s not my career role model, but the lessons I derive from time spent with her are just as valuable in the workplace and at home.

Ultimately one achieves success through hard work, ambition and a little bit of luck. But sisterly love, guidance and yes, even a healthy dose of rivalry, can certainly be a push in the right direction.

Courtney Thompson is iVillage’s senior homepage producer. Follow her on Twitter @courtneythomp!

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