Why Gordon Ramsay thinks you should have a Chef’s Table

Can you give your audience a peek behind the curtain?

In ‘Kitchen Nightmares’, chef Gordon Ramsey helps turn around underperforming restaurants. In his trademark no-holds-barred style he tells the owner and chef exactly what is wrong with their restaurant and helps them to fix it.

In one episode he encourages the restauranteur to set up a chef’s table in the kitchen.

Diners at the chef’s table get an insider’s look at how the kitchen works. They see, hear and smell their food being prepared before tasting it. Their experience of the energy and attention that goes into making the meal is vastly different to patrons in the main dining area.

How do you offer your audience a “Chef’s Table” experience?

Can you give them a peek behind the curtain, invite them to sit in on the soundcheck or let them hitch a ride to the next city on your tour bus?

I’d love to know what ideas you employ and how they work.

Starting Lines and Finishing Lines

New clients would ask Derek Sivers what the average artist made from sales on his CD Baby website. They’d take the posted sales figures ($85 million) and divide them by the number of albums for sale on the site (250,000). Using this math, each album earned $340.

But Sivers points out that the average doesn’t reflect reality, and compares artists who treat the launch of their album as the starting line or the finishing line.

There are those who work hard to get their material written, recorded and produced. When they release it to the public, they celebrate that the hard work is over and wait for the profits to roll in. For them, listing the album release is the finishing line.

The other camp invests similar effort to get their material release-ready, but for these artists that work was the preparation and lead up to the real event. To them, this point is the starting line and they’re now focused on finding ways to market, promote and sell their music to people.

It’s not hard to guess how the different approaches are reflected in sales figures.

The “finishing line” group earned an average of $20 per album.

The “starting line” group earned an average of $5000 (with fifty artists earning over $100K).

Creatives who only think as far as making their art are acting as amateurs or hobbyists.

Creatives who create a plan to connect their work with the people they made it for are professionals.

Those who BEGIN their process with a vision and strategy that stretches beyond making the art to how they will share it with the world are most likely to be those who develop long term, sustainable (profitable) creative careers.

Sivers sums it up best:

“Are you at the starting or the finishing line? That’s the best predictor of how far you’ll go.”

Highly recommended: “Your Music and People: creative and considerate fame” by Derek Sivers.

Zoo You Mind?

Your critical advantage could be the thing you find the easiest and most fun.

Marijke van Veldhoven is an illustrator and cartoonist. For the past year and a half, she’s been drawing comics about her life as a creative, capturing the feelings, hopes and fears that we all experience.

Today Marijke launches a Kickstarter campaign to share 100 of those comics in a new book called Zoo You Mind.

To coincide with the Kickstarter campaign going live, I feature Marijke on episode 60 of my podcast, Studio Time.

One insight I took away from our conversation was the power that Marijke found when she focused on doing more of the work that came naturally to her.

From an early age, she enjoyed drawing comics that made people smile and laugh. But Marijke told herself that to be a real artist she needed to pursue a more sophisticated style. She went to art school and pursued work as an illustrator.

A few years later, a friend introduced Marijke to the art of stand up cartooning — where she could use her talent drawing comics in a business setting. This led to a more lucrative and enjoyable career as she set up her own business Message in a Drawing to help people and organisations tell their stories through pictures.

I met Marijke in The Creative’s Workshop, where she rediscovered the joy of drawing comics that made her friends smile and laugh. Her comics explore what it means to be an artist — to wrestle with the voices in your head that inspire and intimidate you all at once. Many people have been waiting for her to publish a collection of these comics. Zoo You Mind? is the book Marijke’s fans have been asking for.

The Kickstarter campaign page is beautifully designed — full of wonderful illustrations and an explainer video that features fans of her work from around the world. I invite you to take a look and encourage you to lend your support to her campaign. The more engagement a launch like this gets in the first 48 hours, the more likely it is that Kickstarter’s algorithm will show it to people who might not have discovered Marijke otherwise. Your support can help fan the flames.

Let’s all take a moment to reflect that Marijke didn’t need to “work harder” and do something “more sophisticated.” Perhaps her biggest success has been to double down on what comes naturally and easily to her — drawing comics that make people smile and laugh.

She loves it, her clients and audience love it — and zoo knows?…you might love it too.

Back ZOO YOU MIND? on Kickstarter

Overnight Success

and the one-hit wonder


If you become an ‘overnight success’ tomorrow with all the attention that you dream of, will you be ready to handle it?

Will your systems scale to meet the demands of thousands of new fans/customers/clients or will they be overwhelmed?


Do you want to be a career artist or a one-hit wonder?

Which outcome are you rehearsing for?

Working at the Car Wash

The New Zealand band that rolled up their sleeves to find some new fans

I love learning about stories like this one! From @emperorsnight on instagram:

Emporers Night, a band of three brothers from New Zealand sold up everything they had to move to North America and pursue their music career at the end of 2019.

They waited out 2020 in Toronto before heading to Los Angeles in 2021. With live music venues still closed, they looked for other ways to spread the word about the band and decided to print up some old-school flyers.

I love this approach - the band didn’t just think about what they wanted people reading the flyer to do, they asked the question “what’s in it for them?”

The band started walking the streets of LA, delivering their twenty-five thousand flyers door to door. The idea was entertaining and intriguing enough for people to start sharing the flyer online and almost immediately the boys started getting requests to wash cars all over the city.

By mid-July they had washed 350 cars, a few motorbikes, an ice-cream truck…and a dog.

They found a way to connect with people in the city in a way that these people would remember. They’re not just making fans, they’re making friends.

The boys of Emperors Nights have used their car-wash campaign to connect with people in the industry, too. Their story has been featured in the news, on podcasts and radio shows and they’ve met with executives from The Grammys, Apple Music, Def Jam Records, Viacom and 42West PR.

I’ll let you check out the band’s post on instagram to watch the music video they filmed for free thanks to the people they met carwashing.

Related posts:

Go Down Swingin’ — how having his song Shazam'd in a hardware store uncovered a musician who'd been hiding in plain sight for 20 years

Keep On Swingin’ — the benefits of having a story that other people can tell about you

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