As I write this I’m sitting in a crisply air-conditioned AirBNB in Austin, Texas. A little island of blue in a sea of red, so I’m told. All I know is it’s 38º outside, and I’m doing my best to network while not becoming dangerously dehydrated.
Inevitably conversation turns to the differences between Australia and the US (I’m bored of talking about Trump and guns, so it’s usually me who steers it that way…).
Before coming to Austin I was staying in a part of Brooklyn called Cobble Hill. Aside from being bloody brilliant (I’m moving there, I swear), this little suburb of Brooklyn has a decent proportion of independently owned eateries, coffee shops and bars.
And one thing I’ve noticed is that these places pop up elsewhere. At first I’d assumed that they were a chain magnificently disguised as independent, but actually, they’re not. They’re just doing really, really well.
And that’s the first difference I tell people of. If you start a business in the US and it does well, you open a second location. In Australia if you start a business and it does well… you keep it to yourself, stay small and hide from the hate.
It’s hilarious trying to explain Tall Poppy Syndrome to an American. It just does not compute. This is a nation where excellence is celebrated. Nay, worshipped. The visual of the tall poppy standing out in its field, cut down at its waist to fit in with the rest, doesn’t help them understand. The only response is, “… but… why?“
Perhaps it’s because I spent a week in a particularly entrepreneurial part of New York. But we could all learn a thing or two from the American attitude to success: there’s immense value – both personal and professional – in pride; and the unashamed surety that success and financial reward is deserved.
Be the tall poppy you were meant to be. And be proud.