It’s hard not to picture an angry, foul-mouthed, screaming chef when you hear the name Gordon Ramsay. For many, it’s easy to disregard him as a pompous ass — ultimately, that explosive character is what people like to watch and what lead to the success of his numerous cooking shows.
But if there is one other thing about Ramsay people should know, it’s that he’s very successful, but what we see of him isn’t a result of that success — it’s what led to it.
Ramsay hosts several of his own television shows, is the proud owner of 24 eateries around the world, and holds seven Michelin stars. He is also the founder of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, is an avid marathon runner and Ironman triathlete, and a father of four — Gordon Ramsay worked harder than anyone else for all of that — after all, he did come from nothing.
Here are five qualities of Ramsay’s tenacious personality that led to his self-made success.
He stays true to himself.
“I go into every restaurant, every program, as if it’s the first day. And I give 110%. Because it’s not that money that turns me on. I find that side slightly embarrassing. It’s wonderful and it’s nice, but it doesn’t make you a better chef. The fundamental crux of a successful chef is being true to what you do.”
Anyone out there hustling for themselves understands the value of this point. Being something other than your genuine self won’t lead you to success. When you know who you are and what you stand for, it makes you confident, driven with purpose and fearless.
Ramsay stays razor sharp.
Especially for creative types, every small detail and aspect of anything is critically important. When you have a clear vision of your goal, setting a high bar for your work as well as anyone who works with you is sometimes the only way to reach that legendary level of success — does the name Steve Jobs ring a bell? Simon Andreae, an executive vice president at Fox, says of Ramsay:
“He’s a perfectionist; he detests bullshit — and can spot it from a mile away; he learns very fast, both from his successes and from his few mistakes.”
Ramsay is very competitive.
Competition, after all, separates the winners from the losers. When your very survival sways on your own success, you’ll be damned if you aren’t going to put up a fight. Ramsay learned this when he trained in the high-pressure kitchens of the world’s best chefs.
“It’s competitive, and you have to be on your game.”
Having high standards and pushing yourself to succeed isn’t easy and not everyone is built for it. Only those who can handle the pressure find success. Ramsay says:
“I thrive on it … I think pressure’s healthy.”
He’s actually very humble.
When you come from nothing, you realize that you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Every chance and opportunity you get becomes a gift. More importantly, Ramsay has never let the money and fame change who he is and where he came from.
“The secret of my success is that I take nothing for granted.”
Ramsay had his eyes on playing professional soccer initially, but was permanently sidelined due to injury. His mother, a cook in a tea shop, cooked him homemade food and showed him his way around a kitchen. His family could barely afford to send him to culinary school.
“My career officer said that I was going to become a hotel manager … That scared the shit out of me.”
Ramsay eventually landed a job cooking at a hotel and he excelled from there. Even today, he doesn’t often take his family to eat at his own restaurants.
“We kept them away from that because that’s not the food I grew up with.”
He believes in himself.
Call it confidence or cockiness, but every entrepreneur knows they have to believe in their product, company, vision, and most importantly, themselves. That’s especially important when no one else may like or believe you, and maybe just think of you as an eccentric TV chef.
“No. I’m the fucking real deal. I’ll cook anyone under the table. Put a blindfold on me and give me a box of ingredients, I’ll still kick your ass.”
But when you are that outspoken and you can deliver, people can’t help but notice and grow to admire you. Adeline Ramage Rooney, vice president of original programming at One Potato Two Potato, one of Ramsay’s ventures, says:
“He’s at the top of the game. But he balances out that brilliance with human flaws. He swears all the time. He gets into public spats. He wears his heart on his chest. And he’s absolutely fearless.”