Saturday, 3 August 2013

In Defense of Gordon Ramsey (never thought I would say that)

Gordon Ramsey represents all that I feel is wrong with entertainment today. Here is a man who is very skilled in his trade (cooking awesome stuff and running great restaurants) but has become famous because of a different skill (being able to quickly come up with degrading, insulting and foul comments that cause embarrassment and pain to others). Oh yeah! Entertainment at it’s best! Let’s watch a rude person verbally abuse people who are trying to learn from him! Yeah!!!
Ok, my rant is over … I do want to come to his defense on one issue; the success of the restaurants that he has attempted to help through his show “Kitchen Nightmares”.  An article from Mail Online spells out the success rates of the restaurants that have been on the show and it is not a pretty picture.  In the first 2 seasons, only 2 of the 21 establishments he helped went on to survive. Over the next few season that statistic improved but the is still not very impressive.
Does that mean that Gordon Ramsey is not capable of turning a restaurant around?
Not at all (I say through gritted teeth)
The restaurant owners become a part of his show when they are in dire straights. They are desperate to succeed and are at the point of losing everything. Like many entrepreneurs in that situation, they start searching for “the Magic Bullet” that will launch them to success. In this case, “the Magic Bullet” is Ramsey’s knowledge. They turn to him for the skills and techniques they need to get their business back on track and he gives it to them (oh man he gives it to them).
The strategies and advice he gives are good and practical. The restaurant owners are happy to take his advice even though it comes with verbal abuse.  The restaurant shows immediate signs of success. Ramsey takes the credit and leaves.
But here is the catch … once he leaves, the owners are still the same people.
 The technical end of the business was addressed and improved but the character of the owners was not addressed. That means that all their old bad habits remain.
Their business may have been in trouble because they were lazy. After Ramsey leaves, they are still lazy. How long do you think they will keep up the hard work he had them doing?
Their business may have been in trouble because they were cheap and wanted to cut corners on creating a great experience for guests. How long before they return to that mentality and start cutting corners again, thus driving business away?
Their business may have been in trouble because they were disorganized. How long before they allow the systems Ramsey provided degrade into chaos?
In this particular episode of his show Ramsey touches on this. (It happens 26:25 into the video) According to this article in Yahoo Voices, the restaurant in that episode eventually closed.
For a business to truly recover, addressing the character of the entrepreneur is just as important at addressing the systems.
A lazy, disorganized and cheap person can have access to the best systems in the world and still drive their business into the ground. I see it with business owners all the time. They see that their business is struggling so they buy more tools looking for that “Magic Bullet”. It is like a person who has never swung a hammer before buying a more expensive hammer thinking it will make him into a carpenter. In the end, success is not in the tools, it is in the entrepreneur.
Tools amplify the efforts of the entrepreneur, be them good or bad.
For example …
… if you write great blog articles and then pay for advertising to get more traffic to your blog, then you will get a better return from your blog.
… if you write terrible blog articles then all that same advertising will do is spread your crappy blog around and make you look worse.
Entrepreneurs, fix yourself first.
Gordon Ramsey addresses a part of the problem of a struggling restaurant. He addresses the systems and the quality of the product. He is not expected to address the character of the owners. So in the end, he may not be to blame for all the failures. In many cases he has given them great tools but they have not developed the character to use them properly.
So, to the struggling entrepreneurs out there, if you are tempted to go and buy the latest and greatest tools and software in hopes of finding the “Magic Bullet”, stop for a minute. Take a look at yourself, the person who will be using the tool. You may find a much better return on investment in addressing the human you are behind the business before adding more tools to the business itself.

Mobile Minds – Break Out Year is a program that aids entrepreneurs in exploring the human being behind the business

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