Learning from Joanne and Chip Gaines: Branding, Strengths, Hobbies, and Quitting

Being an entrepreneur means being wrong a lot of times. I’ve had a lot of ideas that didn’t go anywhere. I remember when I was a kid and the internet was just beginning to be a thing, I started “Personalized Poems” on the geocities website (for those of you that know what that is). I think I made a cool $10 in total, and I might even have saved the first check someone sent me (which means they can’t ever balance their checkbook).

Like startups and relationships, how do you know it’s time to stop?

In this article, we’ll learn from Joanne and Chip Gaines, known for their popular HGTV Fixer Upper show. They’ve built an empire on authenticity and being relatable. Let’s dig deeper how.

Quit Before You’re Even Ahead

@joannagaines | Magnolia

Fixer Upper was a massive hit show for HGTV, and launched the success of Joanne and Chip Gaines. Yet, at the peak of their show’s success, they announced they were stopping. What?! They realized what had made them successful wasn’t the show but something bigger, their brand.

Another example, Joanne got a college degree in communications. Yet, “when that semester ended, I can remember feeling as though I’d just wasted four years working toward a degree that was no longer of any interest to me,” she said. “I returned to Waco with no plan beyond the fact that I no longer wanted to be a news reporter.” [3]

Quit early if:

  • You know you’re not doing it for the right reasons. — Maybe you started (your project, your job, your relationship, etc.) with the right reasons but now the situation has changed. You’ve learned something new about yourself or about the situation. What made sense doesn’t anymore. Stop and avoid anymore wasted time.
  • You know there’s a bigger opportunity to be explored. — Once you realize this, you need to pivot. For me, Venture Out started out as something quite different. The way I thought I’d run this has changed massively. And I’m not 100% confident that the new opportunity is better, so trust yourself.

Takeaway, do a gut check and ask yourself if there’s something you can stop doing, or need to start doing instead.

Why Hobbies Could Save Your Life

@joannagaines | Home Body $28

Two observations and tell me if you see the same thing:

  • With so many of us staying at home, people say they’re bored.
  • My old parents don’t have much else to do besides watch news.

To me, this screams the need to diversify and find more interests & hobbies. I’m 40 (halfway through my life?!) and I can’t imagine running out of things I want to do. I was even chatting with my nephew and he said he was bored after beating all of his Nintendo DS games!

Bottom line up front — whatever your age, go find a hobby to cultivate, because you don’t want to find yourself at age 80 with no purpose in life, watching hologram news anchors (safe assumption we’ll have holograms in the future).

What Joanne and Chip did:

  • In 2014, they launched a tiny homewares store, Magnolia, that became so popular shoppers lined up for hours in the summer sun to get in. Former first lady Laura Bush came by, with Secret Service agents in tow. [1]
  • In 2012, when Fixer Upper started, the company’s business was 100 percent construction. By 2016, it was 80 percent retail. [1]
  • This year, expanding the Silos, adding what they call a retail village, as well as a furniture showroom, a Wiffle ball field, more gardens, and a relocated historic church. [1]
  • The Magnolia Story (the first of several bestseller books they’ve written)
  • Magnolia Journal was instantly profitable when it hit newsstands in late 2016. “It’s been our most successful magazine launch,” says Olson, “and the most successful in the industry since Oprah’s.” [1]
  • When the Magnolia network launches this October, it will reach more than 52 million households, and it will eventually include an app and a streaming service. [1]

Finally, Chip said, “Baby, listen to me. Any moron can raise four kids, 8 and under, do 14 remodels and — did I say raise four babies? Anybody can do that. We need some cows to keep us, you know, to fill up the dull time.” [2]

Forget Your Weakness, Focus on Strength


I’m not an original thinker… but I am a do’er.

Last year I worked with a coach and he had me do this analysis to find my Strengths. According to that, I’m good at strategy, relations, focus, consistency, and discipline.

Use StrengthsFinder 2.0 to, well, you know what.

Hmm, let’s see if that’s true: I’m working on future emails for the Venture Out, thinking about who I can collaborate with on it with, drinking coffee to stay focused, and I’m out front on my porch at 630AM, like clockwork. Boom!

So, let’s dissect Joanne and Chip Gaines, famous from HGTV’s Fixer Upper show, and find out how their strengths helped grow a small business into an empire.

How did you get this far in life? Because of your strengths. So why are so many people focused on their weakness and trying to improve something that at bet they’ll only be decent at? Prob because it’s a money-maker to tap into people’s fears and focus on the negative.

Instead, focus on what’s gotten you this far. Your strengths are what separates you from others.

“Self-made entrepreneurs, the Gaineses are naturals at forging powerful connections with their audience, in ways that others don’t. And then building — and building — upon that foundation.” [1]

Takeaway — ask yourself, what do you think you’re really good at? Now ask how can you use that to the benefit of your job.

“People who watch “Fixer Upper” are also looking at what Joanna is wearing.” [2]

Seems like in the beginning, Joanna didn’t even realize her fashion sense is a strength. With feedback, she also capitalized. Maybe you also have a strength you haven’t realized yet.

Are You Being Authentic?


Pick 5 friends, and send them a text asking them to describe you with 5 adjectives, and give them permission to be brutally honest. Chances are, you’ll recognize a pattern.

For me, the words that came up repeatedly either related to being dedicated & intentional… or being didactic & pompous. (To be honest, I had to look up didactic!)

That’s my brand, good and bad.

Now ask yourself, what did you think your brand is? If what your friends said was a surprise or not what you thought, then it’s time to make a change.

“The Gaineses had discovered the core of their brand’s appeal. They were authentic folks juggling family and work and succeeding. They were happily married but they bickered. People could relate. Joanna, whose mother is Korean, was a refreshing foil to the stereotype of the blond-haired Texas woman, while Chip seemed like a good-old-boy prankster. They were glamorous but real. And it wasn’t a put-on.”

Brand is an incredibly powerful factor that can either help or hurt our success. For Joanne and Chip, their personal brands have extended into everything they do, and that’s exactly why it works. Furthermore, their personal brand isn’t an image of perfection. It’s the imperfections that make them relatable, and therefore successful.

Takeaway for today is consider your personal brand — don’t be perfect, be who you want to be.

DIG DEEPER — Here are some lists if adjectives to get your brain flowing:


  1. Beyond ‘Fixer Upper’: The Unassailable Ambition of Chip and Joanna Gaines
  2. Chip and Joanna Gaines 2014 WACOANS OF THE YEAR By Megan Willome
  3. 15 things you didn’t know about Chip and Joanna Gaines of ‘Fixer Upper’ by Erin McDowell
  4. WHERE ARE THEY NOW: 5 of the most iconic homes that Chip and Joanna Gaines renovated on ‘Fixer Upper’ by Gabbi Shaw

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