Family

Famous Women, Inspiring Dads

How family bonds beget success

The tragic passing of 22-year-old Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, is an all-too-real reminder of how wretched excess and poor judgment can turn fatal.

Certain segments of the media, of course, have always circulated the ups and downs of celebrity lives, the travails of troubled kids and all manner of misfortune, failure, deception and discouragement.

What we hear about far less often, however, are the success stories, the instances of those who rise above through hard work, dedication and passion.

Most successful people will point to a parent or mentor as the one who inspired them.

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Successful, clear-minded people are everywhere, and what is even truer is that most successful people will point to a parent or mentor as the person who inspired them on the way up. Ask any accomplished woman, for example, about her father and you are likely to learn about someone who motivated her to take risks, be brave and reach her true potential no matter what anyone else said or did.

For women, “a father has authority with a capital A,” Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician and author of the book “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know,” said in Forbes not long ago.

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Meeker, based in northern Michigan, was influenced by her own father to go into medicine.

“From the first years of a girl’s life her father is larger than life. She looks up to him, and for the rest of her life she craves his admiration, his respect and his affection,” she said, adding that if admiration, respect and affection are reciprocated in the father-daughter relationship, they are the recipe for a successful woman.

Here are a few other notable success stories and the father-daughter bonds that led to that success.

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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, daughter of a football coach, has often talked about her late father and mentor, John Wesley Rice Jr. In her 2010 memoir, “Extraordinary Ordinary People,” she noted that her educator father was a “feminist” who raised his daughter – his only child – exactly as he would have raised a son.

That was no small life event for an academic and future secretary of state born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1954, in the segregated South.

Rice’s parents encouraged her accomplishments. In addition to being a guidance counselor at a local high school, her father was an ordained minister in Birmingham’s Westminster Presbyterian Church, which had been founded by his father.

Her mother, Angelena, was a teacher and church organist. Under their determined guidance, Rice began piano lessons at the age of three and gave her first recital at age four.

Within a few years she was playing piano at school and community events. She also studied French and Spanish after school as a young student and became a competitive figure skater — then learned football from her dad and became a lifelong student and fan of the game.

“I find football so interesting strategically,” Rice told Oprah in an interview not long ago. “It’s the closest thing to war. What you’re really doing is taking and yielding territory, and you have certain strategies and tactics.”

“He wanted me to be his All-American linebacker, and had I been a son instead of a daughter, I think I might have done it. Instead, he taught me to be a student of the game.” – Condi Rice

Rice cited her father’s lasting influence earlier this year in another interview.

“My love of football started with my father,” Rice told CBS. “Daddy was a high school football coach who loved the game. He had wanted me to be his All-American linebacker, and had I been a son instead of a daughter, I think I might have done it. But instead, he taught his little girl to be a student of the game. Every week, we’d race to the store to get ‘Street & Smith’s Pro Football Report.’ We would watch the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturdays, and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.”

She also never missed watching a Super Bowl game with her dad. Though he passed away in 2000, she has continued to watch that annual game religiously, always with him on her mind.

Under the tutelage of Donald Trump, his daughter, Ivanka, 33, has become a key player in the Trump Organization. As executive vice president of development and acquisitions, she handles all aspects of the company’s real estate and hotel management initiatives.

“I always knew I was going to work for my father.” – Ivanka Trump

She also runs her own jewelry company and has a line of handbags and footwear. As her father told “Vogue magazine recently, “She was a very successful model, and she just gave it up and went to Wharton. She said, ‘I love real estate.’ In the end, she chose the family business. Ivanka is a natural dealmaker. She’ll take this company to great levels.”

“I always knew I was going to work for my father,” Ivanka told MSN Money not long ago.

Sofia Coppola, 44, who won an Academy Award for best screenplay for her 2003 film, “Lost in Translation,” practically grew up on the movie sets where her famous filmmaker father, Francis Ford Coppola, made his mark.

She has recalled her upbringing with her dad as far more harmonious than the dramatic father-daughter relationship portrayed in her 2010 film “Somewhere.” Her father, meanwhile, has called her his idol and mentor.

Laila Ali, 38, made her boxing debut at age 21 in 1999 – and very much following in her famous father’s “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” path, knocked out her opponent just seconds into the first round.

Today, a mother of three and stepmother of three, she said her boxing-great dad, Muhammad Ali, who has been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for over 30 years, “lights up” when he sees her kids, “especially my son who looks exactly like him,” she told ABC News not long ago. “He loves that.”

“My dad has just taught me to overcome, you know, whatever it is that I’m facing, to be strong, to overcome it and to give back,” she also said.

meet the author

Maureen Mackey served as editor-in-chief and managing editor of LifeZette for nearly five years. Before that, she held senior editorial positions at major publications, helping The Fiscal Times win a MIN Award for Best New Site as managing editor and Reader's Digest win an American Society of Magazine Editors Award for General Excellence as book editor. Her work has appeared in Real Clear Politics, CNBC, A Fine Line, AARP Magazine, Yahoo Finance, MSN, Business Insider, and The Week, among other outlets. She is a member of the Newswomen's Club of New York and the American Legion Auxiliary.

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