Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Proud to be a Firstborn

I did a quick poll today and realized that the overwhelming majority of those near and dear to me are "firstborns,” like me. And, according to Time, I'm in good company.

Not only are firstborns traditionally high achievers (just think Jimmy and Billy Carter - although he did bring us Billy Beer) but they're often CEOs, too.

As Time puts it, "Firstborns do more than survive; they thrive."

A poll by Vistage turned up these results: 43% of CEOs are firstborns, compared to 33% middle-borns and 23% last-borns. The same skew appears when surgeons and MBAs are polled, reports a Stanford psychologist. And, whether or not we firstborns want to be associated with them, the U.S. Congress has a statistically-significant proportion of firstborns.

An economics professor at UCLA even discovered that older siblings earn about 1% more than their younger sibling, though she questions the underlying cause: "I'd be interested in whether it's because the second child is taking the riskier jobs," she says.

Perhaps the most fascinating parts of the article were the findings by NYU professor Ben Dattner, who studied how firstborns and later-borns approach their work.

Firstborn CEOs, for example, do best when they're making incremental improvements in their companies: shedding underperforming products, maximizing profits from existing lines and generally making sure the trains run on time. Later-born CEOs are more inclined to blow up the trains and lay new track. "Later-borns are better at transformational change," says Dattner. "They pursue riskier, more innovative, more creative approaches."

Score one for the later-borns.

Does this fall in line with your experience?

Anyone know if Under Armour's Kevin Plank or Constellation's Mayo Shattuck are the eldest siblings?

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kevin Plank is the youngest of 5 brothers. His business partner (and brother) Scott Plank is the middle brother. No idea about Mayo, who by the way is good friends with Scott and Kevin.