I don’t know how someone works with their brother
âYou don’t choose your family. They are a gift from God to you, as you are to them. This is a quote I found on BrainyQuote.com, almost certainly wrongly attributed to Desmond Tutu. Whether Tutu said that or not, the feeling is true. The first part, at least. None of us choose our family, and most of us don’t choose our coworkers. In the Venn diagram of people who a) have families and b) choose their co-workers, there is a sinister group of people in the middle: people who choose to work with their siblings.
Since Jacob and Esau, the brothers and sisters have quarreled. It starts with the birth of the youngest, and suddenly the older one has to compete for attention that once was only his own. A sibling can be a great friend and confidant, but in a jiffy they can become your fiercest rival. The good and the bad are what bring people together, but a deep family history is probably not a solid foundation for running a business.
Watch some of the most notable fraternal collaborations in history. John Wilkes Booth and his brother Edwin acted side by side and one of them killed a president. Karen and Richard Carpenter started a band, then Karen passed away. Dane Cook hired his half-brother Darryl McCauley to manage his money, and then McCauley stole millions from the comedian. Billie Eilish’s brother Finneas produces all of her music, which hasn’t gone wrong yet but just has a weird energy. I would include the Winklevoss twins, but all of the twins are monsters, so it makes sense that they work together.
Some of these examples hold more water than others, and all of them seem to suggest that maybe no one should become famous. But look at the Murdochs. The children of the media descendant have argued so publicly over who will be their father’s successor that it gave us Succession. As seen on the show, no one can stab you in the back like a sibling. They know all of your buttons and will keep pushing them if they want to. It doesn’t seem like a good environment to do your job.
To test this theory, I asked my younger brother, David, a recent college graduate who works part-time as a researcher, to write a blog with me. Early on a Monday morning, we took to FaceTime to co-write the incredible blog, “Gillian Anderson unable to commune with the ghost of Margaret Thatcher”. An instant classic.
I’ll admit that when we started the effort, I was worried about being the problem – that my biggest flaw as an older brother (being a bitch) would be raising its ugly head. I was worried that we would quickly fall back into the dynamic we established when we were kids, where I would go too far in a wrestling match, pull his hair too hard, then beg him not to tell our mom that it was ‘had arrived.
To my surprise, this did not happen. David was more than willing to spend a full five minutes pondering what Margaret Thatcher’s ghost might have said to Gillian Anderson as she prepared for her role. It also reminded me that Kristen Stewart actually felt Princess Diana’s spirit while filming. Spencer, which gave us a nice little kicker that I otherwise would have spent a lot of time looking for while my brain was shorting. Shiv and Kendall Roy, we weren’t.
Knowing that this was only my personal assessment of our time spent working together, I called David afterward to see if he thought we could run a successful business.
âAbsolutely not,â he said. Okay, interesting.
While he described the actual experience as “pretty tight,” he correctly noted that knowing us for 24 years wouldn’t exactly help the situation. “I think our sensibilities are so similar that putting two [of that kind of person] in the mix, you know, doesn’t balance nothing, âhe said. It’s a very sweet way for him to say that we’re both Virgins who don’t like it when someone tells us how to do something.
David agreed with my idea that with enough time we would eventually revert to our childhood antics. “I roll rocks down the hill to hit you,” he said, “and you throw me in the chimneys.” I would like to take a moment to clarify that it was the edge of a fireplace and that there was no active fire at that time. Either way, I hope that at our age those inevitable hits would be metaphorical, but you can never be sure (Romulus and Remus vibes).
There are surely brothers and sisters who work well together. David said he thinks the reason the Eilish work so well is that there is a strong differentiation in their skills, which I am inclined to believe. Unfortunately for us, our skills (writing, film trivia, ordering the best food in a restaurant) are very similar.
I guess it’s safe to say that you won’t see the Craigheads running a taco shop or venture capitalist anytime soon. It’s probably for the best. A healthy work-life balance cannot exist when your business partner can let your employees know when you peed your pants at football camp.