Tall Poppies can see farther, before they are cut down.

Caelan Huntress
4 min readOct 9, 2023

I want to share with you a theory I have about tall poppies.

What happens to tall poppies? Tall poppies get … cut down.

​Tall Poppy Syndrome is a cultural belief in New Zealand, where I now live. There’s a lot of resistance when people see others daring to raise themselves up above the crowd.

The proverb about tall poppies was first given to us by Herodotus, the Ancient Greek historian. He told the story of the emperor Tarquinius, who was read a message from his son which said, “how do we handle all these uppity merchants in the empire? How do we keep them from rising up and causing us problems?”

The emperor didn’t send a message back that said, ‘kill them all.’ What he did was draw his sword, and walked out into the garden, and silently cut down all of the tallest poppies. Then he sent the messenger away, who told the son what he saw, and the son understood this message. Tall poppies get cut down.

This is seen as a virtue where I now live. It’s because in New Zealand, everyone takes care of everyone else. Kiwis make sure that everyone has enough. These are noble virtues, but they can make it tough to stand out in the marketplace.

Marketing yourself is hard enough — it’s even harder when you’re trying to be the same height…



Caelan Huntress

I help busy professionals transform their performance, maximize their impact, and create exceptional experiences. I wrote the book on Marketing Yourself.