Client Liaison – Monte Morgan

Client Liaison – Monte Morgan

Real STUFF 101 with Hunter:

Client Liaison's Monte Morgan on breaking expectations and building movements 

It was a beautiful thing to sit down with a performer who's music has shaped so many of my dance floor highs and eased me out of some couch-hugging lows. Client Liaison are currently touring their latest album Divine Intervention up the East Coast and clearly their punchline style and nostalgic anthems have stood the COVID tests of time.

Monte showed up to this Real STUFF poddy with the humility of a focused creative. Our chat escalates quickly from discussing schoolyard antics to the expansive freedom of travelling overseas. We traverse mental health rituals to ritualistic denying of 'otherness' in Aussie culture. And shift gears from limousines to having a licence to do magic on stage. I'm pulling out a few of the more complex topics here to give a deeper dive into this rich exchange:

  • why are Aussies obsessed with tall poppy syndrome?

  • what is the Australian Leadership Paradox?

  • how might gratitude journalling save us from ourselves?

If people are trying to cut you down, that only means you've risen above them

(fresh pits might be a good idea, taking nose-height into account)

While Australia promises an egalitarian society, that's not the reality. Tall Poppy Syndrome refers to our tendency to resent success and ridicule failure, and globally, we are renowned down under for keeping people under a permitted level of self confidence. Why? Australians regard ambition as a negative trait, what do you think when you see someone not dissimilar to you reaping the rewards of their ambition?

Tall Poppy Syndrome does not have the same prominence in America, where individualism is highly valued. Americans can tend towards being self-promotional while Australians can undersell themselves. So what tips can we take from Monte's ability to ignore Tall Poppy slashing these days and embrace his own right to flower in the sun? 

    1. Focus on how you define success, rather than how others define failure
    2. Consider if you only had so many fucks to give, who would you give your fucks to?
    3. Lay your boundaries and defend them as though your identity depends up it, because it does

Now to tackle the Australian Leadership Paradox

(hint: our colonial history involving convicts did not breed conviction)

Somewhere between the Larrikin and the Convict, we developed a high dependency on authority and a low sense of trust. In the book The Australian Leadership Paradox, authors Liz Skelton and Geoff Aigner discuss how we blame those in power for not showing leadership, only to turn on them when they start tackling the hard issues they are expected to fix.

No wonder, then, that even the most passionate and talented among us hesitate to stick our necks out and lead the change we know needs to happen. 

Modern white Australia has convict blood left in the mix, and we don't like to see anyone rise up to think they're better than others, while we celebrate the underdog. It's almost as though our egalitarian nature exists to keep us on the same level, all toeing the line.

This culture differs significantly from somewhere like the U.S. where people are happy to show up and show off their skills. They are particular about their specialisation and not afraid to proudly tell you about their achievements, and even their pay grade. As Australian men, we live with the constant tension of never thinking we are good enough, but always conscious of not appearing to think we're too good.

Finally, gratitude journaling.

(time to look in the mirror of your soul, while splashing in some mountainy face wash)

Monte talks in depth about gratitude journaling and the change it made in his life. When it comes to grounding our own perspective and creating boundaries to protect us from cultural short-and-curlys like Tall Poppy Syndrome or Leadership Paradoxes, journaling is gold.

Gratitude journaling can be super simple but the science behind it is so powerful in rewiring the chemicals in your brain. By conveying and receiving simple ‘thank you’ messages, we can truly tap into the pleasure that we often go seeking everywhere else. Gratitude, derived from the Latin word ‘gratia’, means gratefulness or thankfulness. In its simplest form, gratitude refers to a ‘state of thankfulness’. This helps us get out of our thinking brain, and into a more present state of being.

Here's a ritual to try:

1) Get yourself a journal

2) Write down three things you're grateful for

3) Three things you'd like to do today

4) One daily affirmation

5) At the end of the day, write down three things that happened that were great

There is so much to be said for the discipline of rituals. I'm loving having these conversations with men who represent such a range of masculinity far beyond mucho blokiness or 'real man' toughness. Thanks for listening and hit me up if you have any feedback, suggestions or guests you'd love to hear from.


We’re proud to partner with The Man Cave, a leading preventative mental health and emotional intelligence service for young men. For every $1000 in sales, STUFF sponsors one boy to experience one of The Man Cave's life-changing mental health programs.


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