A few months ago I joined the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals and a benefit of being a member is that I get to participate in a monthly book club featuring business books. I’ve only been a member long enough to read two books and last week, the book club discussion was on The Magnolia Story which is the story of Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s uber popular show, Fixer Upper.
I’ve been an and off again fan of the show for a few years. I really think I’m mostly just a Chip and Joanna fan. I have long loved the playful way they interact with each other while flipping homes around Waco, Texas. If you’ve never watched the show before, it’s quite addictive. Together they help a couple find the home of their dreams which in the beginning of each show looks like a horrible choice! They strive to find the worst house in the best area of town and then through Chip’s carpentry skills and Joanna’s unparallelled design skills, they flip the house, within budget, into a dream home. All the while, Chip and Joanna tease each other and make you want to be their best friends!
The book takes you through the early years of their relationship when they first start dating up to the current situation where they have landed this show and it’s crazily popular and their farm is pretty much now a tourist destination. I was enamored with their story but I struggled at first to make connections as to how this was a good business book. While I was interested in their love story and how they got married and have four children, I was really trying to find the meat of their success story.
It was actually in hindsight that it came together for me. Family is the focal point of every decision this couple makes including business decisions. As I mentioned, they have four young children and have made the decision not to travel and to only work in the Waco area. When their real estate and design business took off, it was word of mouth in the Waco area that kept them making money. People saw how Joanna decorated her small store and soon they asked if she could help them with their home decor. The design side grew and grew with Joanna really learning as she went along. She didn’t have any type of degree in design. She had previously worked in her dad’s Firestone tire store.
Chip was a risk taker from day one. As a young man he had an entrepreneurial spirit buying up small homes around Baylor University. He would fix those up and rent them out to college students. Joanna would help him get the home looking nice and then sadly for her, Chip would rent it or sell it and then buy up another one! Sad for Joanna because she got attached to the homes and thought she might like to live in them for awhile. This wasn’t Chip’s style and she knew she had to go with the flow because that was how they managed to stay afloat of their bills. They just barely stayed ahead and sometimes not so much. In the end, the risk taking paid off but it was scary for them.
The underlying theme in the book was consistent effort and hard work all balanced by love of family. They had a strong support system and a team of employees who liked helping them because they were good, honest people. Millions of people enjoy watching the show because this theme carries through. There’s nothing fake about them.
I think it ended up being a great business book that reinforces balance, hard work, risk taking, and consistency. You have to show up and do the work to the best of your ability and keep learning your craft. Integrity and craftsmanship matter.
Do you watch this great show? What are your thoughts? Have you read the book?
You can find the book on Amazon at the link below. It is an affiliate link.