Sales From Pop Culture: Kitchen Nightmares

How a Show About Restaurants Can Teach You About Running a Software Company

Want to get a fast lesson on how to be a great leader?

Watch Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

It’s a really entertaining show. And sure, it’s about restaurants. But really, it’s about leadership.

The premise of the show is that Ramsay (internationally popular celebrity chef and NSFW language expert), goes to a struggling restaurant to try and help them turn things around so they can be successful.

He starts off by being a guest, ordering some items from the menu.

Of course, they come out cold, poorly cooked, and not appetizing.

But what he usually uncovers, goes much deeper than food.

After his “meal”, he usually goes into the kitchen, where he sees a number of bad things.

Often the place is a mess, sometimes the staff don’t know what they’re doing, and everything seems to be in chaos.

But despite all the issues these restaurants have, you know what it always boils down to?


Bad management has killed the business. This bad management can happen in any of these ways:

  1. Egotistical Leader – they know everything and nobody is as smart as them
  2. Unknowledgeable Leader – they don’t know anything, and aren’t willing to learn
  3. Laissez-faire Leader – they don’t care and don’t take action

If you watch the show, the owner of the restaurant is almost always one of these types of leaders.

And it’s maddening to watch.

How does it all boil down to leadership?

If the food is cooked poorly, the owner or manager didn’t hire the right cooks or chef. Or they didn’t train them well enough. Or they were ok with a poor product and let it go.

Regardless, it’s on them.

If the wait staff doesn’t care, same thing. They didn’t find the right staff, didn’t train them well enough, or didn’t care enough to not stand for poor service.

It all starts at the top.

And these hour episodes make it painfully (yet entertainingly) obvious.

Throughout the episode, the things Ramsay does to try to help are often not heeded by the owner (the friction creates great television).

And they keep making the same mistakes over and over.

Until the end, where the owner relents (usually) and agrees to go with his advice. Which then gets the staff more motivated and ready to take steps forward for the business.

Want to learn from their mistakes and be a great leader? Check out the show and see how Ramsay guides them to improve.

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