Skip to content

Mike Rowe, Phil Keoghan & The Tall Poppy Syndrome

Doug Garland
Doug Garland
2 min read
Mike Rowe, Phil Keoghan & The Tall Poppy Syndrome
Photo by Doug Garland

Table of Contents

Mike Rowe's The Way I heard It podcast with guest Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race, aired on Feb.14, 2023. The first fact that I noted was its length: 01:49:45. At this length one might best listen while driving on the 405 Freeway (oxymoron) if you live in Los Angeles. Also, be prepared for war stories between two guys who make film documentaries.

The second detail is the title: "Phil Keoghan is Fairly Interesting." In medicine, history taking is 80% of the diagnosis. In this instance, it should be noted that Mr. Keoghan is from New Zealand. Bingo! In spite of his popular television show's title, "The Amazing Race", this interview could never be named "Phil Keoghan is Amazingly Interesting." In New Zealand and Australia, homes to the Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS), Phil would be showboating which would give the populace an excuse to cut him down a size (see Podcast - the dark side of success).

The third point circles back to the first fact - the war stories. These two gentlemen are in the entertainment industry and both have had multiple shows on television. This begs the question of how many of their proposals or projects have been rejected? Hollywood is super competitive and I would expect the majority of aspirationals are cut down before they grow tall. Once Tall Poppy (TP) status is achieved, they become grists for the TP rumor mill. How long will it take before these gentlemen mention TPS?

Not long! After only 20 minutes into their marathon conversation, TPS pops up. The discussion of TPS lasts 10 minutes. Mr. Rowe was aware of the syndrome while Mr. Keoghan did most of the talking. Both appear to have been confronted with the public TPS ( see, The Anatomy of TPS). This is supported by the fact that both are TPs in an industry where the syndrome is rampant.

I feel that peer to peer or private TPS is commonplace in America, although largely unrecognized, among one's tribe - family, school, neighborhood and workplace. This is in contradiction to the metaphor since the majority of people being cut down was not necessary TPs. This may result from our individualism and meritocracy. Australia's culture differs from America in a couple of concepts: mateship - a code of conduct emphasizing friendship and equality and fair go -  commitment to equal opportunities for all.  

Phil talked mostly about public TPS which is the manner in which Australians view TPS. Perhaps their mateship and fair go prevent certain aspects of private TPS.

Enjoy the TPS section or the entire episode.

Here's the link to it.

Doug Garland Twitter

Douglas Garland, M.D. practiced orthopedic surgery for 37 years in Southern California. Doug was also a Clinical Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Southern California.