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This is how my big brother changed the direction of my life

To: my big brother

From: Lauren Brill

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To my big brother, 

This week was your birthday, and it made me reminisce about our childhood and recognize the impact our relationship has had on my life.

It seems like yesterday that I would giggle when everyone acted shocked when they realized we were siblings. See, most people thought we were so different – complete opposites. 

You were quiet. I didn’t shut up. 

You liked math. I preferred English. 

You liked to stay home. I wanted to go to every party imaginable. 

But as different as we appeared, my whole life, I always just wanted to be like you. See, you may have found me annoying, but I found you to be inspiring. 

Everything you did, I wanted to do. You liked to rollerblade, so I learned to skate. You liked hockey, so I became a huge New York Rangers fan. You liked to play kickball, so I was always outside playing with you and our neighbors. 

But more than embracing the hobbies you enjoyed, I also emulated the work ethic you showed me, which changed the trajectory of my life. 

My brother and me as children.

We are a little more than four years apart. I never was very good at focusing, but if it meant getting your attention, I could make it happen. When I was three or four years old, you were in elementary school, learning to read, write and do multiplication. On the weekends our parents slept late. While they were resting, you’d wake me up and teach me what you learned in school. By the time I went to kindergarten, I was way ahead of all the kids in my class. Mom and dad didn’t know how I was so far ahead and assumed I was some sort of genius. Ultimately, mom and dad asked the school to test me. While I don’t think I was the prodigy they initially thought,  I did end up skipping kindergarten. At a young age, you showed me that if and when I focused, I could accomplish anything. 

When you got to high school, you were getting straight A’s without much effort. You wanted more of a challenge. So, you asked our parents if you could transfer schools. We didn’t come from a family where people went to private schools. None of our grandparents even graduated from college. You did all the research on your own, applied, got in, and then excelled at your new school. Mom and dad didn’t realize how well you were doing until your guidance counselor told them that any college in the country would likely accept you. You applied early to Columbia University and, sure enough, got accepted. Without any pressure from our family, you set a high bar for yourself, and it was you who taught me to always set my goals high and challenge myself. 

You set a high bar for yourself, and it was you who taught me to always set my goals high and challenge myself.

Also, you taught me never to cut corners. One time I forgot that I had a math test, but nonetheless I still got an “A.” You were not happy with me. You told me I needed to be more organized, so I didn’t forget about a test. 

I said, “But I got an ‘A.’”

You told me that wasn’t the point. You said I needed to study and show up prepared. 

Since we were kids, you were someone who always followed the rules. You didn’t cheat at kickball. You never took the shortcut with your schoolwork, and no matter how convincing someone was, you never compromised your values for an opportunity to get ahead. You always just worked hard, and acted responsibly. On vacation, there were times you brought your computer out to dinner. Whatever work you needed to do, you would get it done. No excuses. 

These days, you work in finance, and while you are so humble, I am incredibly proud of you and in awe of your success. 

We are all grown up and I still want to be just like him!

On my journey, I used your path as a guide. I went to a more challenging high school, I studied at Columbia just like you, and then I chased my dream to become a sportscaster. I received a lot of rejection, but whether it was logging tapes on a Saturday, commuting two hours to my job at the NBA while in school, showing up to media conferences, or simply getting in reps to hone my craft, I worked my butt off as I chased what I wanted.

I will never forget there was a period of time where I kept finishing second for jobs. Frustrated and exhausted, I asked you for advice. 

You told me, “If the probability is one in a million, then try a billion times.”

That was your way of telling me to never give up. 

Ultimately, I made it on the air, interviewed some of the world’s greatest athletes, and witnessed firsthand some incredible moments in sports history. 

However,  after ten years in front of the camera, I started to dream bigger. I wanted to build my own business. Once again, you told me to go for it. More importantly, you told me you believed in me. 

So, I left TV and started my company, The Unsealed. 

During these first two years, I have built a solid foundation for my company, but every day I am pushing myself to find new ways to grow and take the company to the next level. My bar is high, and the challenge ahead is great. But it’s because of you that I have faith in my journey. 

I genuinely believe I am on the verge of something spectacular. 

See, while the rest of the world may think we are so different, what makes me so confident is that you showed me how to have your hustle and your heart. 

Thank you for being my big brother and my biggest inspiration. 

I love you. Happy birthday! 

Your talkative and annoying little sister, 

Lauren Brill
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