Recollection: Driven to Fix

Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines Whew, it’s been a long road to get to this point. As mentioned previously, my spare time lately has been spent running between the digital darkroom and wildlife posting with multiple side jaunts to the reference library. With the Audubon talk officially wrapped up, things are starting to get back to normal – well, at least a little more routine for me. Seems like something is always happening around here that needs attention. Unfortunately, a lot of that “happening” involves some fix or update to the house or outbuilding. This is likely why one of my guilty pleasures is watching the DIY and multitude of flipping shows – of course, some of that is a direct result of the rapidly growing number of entertainers that have earned their way onto my LIST (running out of channels that have anything I want to watch). One of the flipper shows has always stood out from the rest and appropriately named Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna Gaines have managed to get me addicted to their show due to a mixture of interesting design, truly talented constructions skills and humorous banter. Not sure how, but I discovered that Chip had a book out that gave an opportunity to learn a bit more about his life, what makes him tick and hopefully gave some background on how the show came to be. That book, Capital Gains: Smart Thinks I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff quickly made its way into my Amazon cart.  Chip definitely gives some deep insights into the experiences that set him on his life course. From the shows, it was obvious he was into sports, so it seemed fitting when he told the story about his Dad being his baseball coach and how that led to playing for Baylor University (for his freshman year). At the same time he was cultivating an entrepreneur spirit which led to running 3 businesses which included flipping houses.

One thing you can definitely tell from the show is Chip is extremely positive. Definitely a glass half full individual that drips with self confidence and genuine compassion for his fellow man. From the exemplary parenting, obvious love for his wife and caring for his crew and customers, it is clear his life is built on a strong foundation. After reading this book, it is clear, this foundation is built from a strong faith. Chip and Joanna firmly believe that God has the ability to initiate direction and when that happens they are all in to get to that destination. Based on what they have been able to accomplish, I’d say this commitment has served them well. The Magnolia empire is thriving and their family bonds are some the strongest I’ve ever witnessed (the latter being an ever deteriorating aspect of our society). As an overall summary, this was a quick and uplifting read. You definitely get more background on his path through life and that wicked scar he sports on his forehead (he picked the image for the cover because it showed that feature). In fact, my favorite part of the book was his explanation on how he earned that scar complete with an absolutely hilarious hand drawn picture of the event – priceless. He also treats this book as a way to help the reader find the right path for themselves. There is even a section at the end to write down thoughts and personal assessments to improve your own foundation. If there is a downside, you really do not get much insight to the show other than I learned HGTV came to them to pitch the show. There also isn’t anything related to his skill progression in construction – I am definitely jealous of his “skilz”. Chip is an upstanding guy and I think that is why I enjoy spending time with him each week. The Chip you see in front of the camera is the same Chip once the camera’s stop rolling – definition of genuine. It is disappointing to know they are ending the show this year, but all good things come to an end and maybe God might nudge them back into the lights in the future.

Hit the jump to see my takeaways:


  • You can arrive at your dream a lot of different ways, but you always arrive there as a different version of yourself based on whatever pathway you choose
  • Chip is definitely a positive perspective person – sees the best in people rather than the worst
  • His Dad played football – baseball was Chip’s sport with his Dad as his coach (very similar to my upbringing with baseball being my best sport and father was my coach for 6+ years).
  • Chip’s believe – put the hard work in and never quite and you will be successful
  • Played baseball for Baylor in Waco Texas – cut Sophomore year but didn’t know why
  • Believes each life lesson and every opportunity is a building block on which future experiences are built
  • Wanted to better communicate with employees – opted to take a 90 day course in Playa del Carmen to submerse himself to learn Spanish – Joanna agreed to run his three businesses during this time which brought a serious positive jolt to his financial discipline
  • Joanna’s parents met in Korea in the 1960’s and where she was born – Dad stationed there in Vietnam War
  • Has a nasty scar on his forehead thanks to an ATV accident – his hand drawn reflection of the accident cracked me up. When the medical professional in the group looks at you and nearly gags – you are in some serious trouble. Ended up picking a cover picture that showed his scar .. in a suite.. in an ATV
  • Confidence – if you can’t at least imagine it first, you can forget actually making it happen
  • Life isn’t safe – But life can be wonderful if you choose adventure rather than fear. I tell everyone, every injury I’ve caused myself has made me wiser. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you are going to be racking up large medical bill in the future…if you are able to actually make it to the hospital.
  • Real and important changes begin with small acts of courage
  • Chip has strong faith – if they feel God has initiated it, they do not hesitate
  • Filmed the first fixer upper pilot in 2013 and first episodes in early 2014 – was looking for more details on this how did it happen etc.
  • They weathered the economic downturn by changing from flipping houses to personalized home renovation
  • Don’t get hung up on how ugly the race may have looked, in the end all that matters is you finished. I think about this line after every practice run and race – couldn’t agree more
  • Landing a reality TV Show does not make you a millionaire
  • He mentioned the Branch Davidian disaster – other than the home of a Cat plant, this is what I remembered Waco for – Chip does mention it did not happen in the actual city of Waco
  • 75% of his workforce are millennials – He thinks very highly of them – pretty much a sink or swim manager which seems like it would be contrary to this staffing approach.
  • If you don’t know what will put a smile on your face when you get out of bed – don’t waste one more single day until you find out. I need to take this heart and this might just be the primary takeaway from this read.
  • Announced they were leaving the show which I already knew, but still bums me out. Chips noted they were just too busy.
  • Their Magnolia was about 500 people strong
  • We don’t have to agree on everything to be friends – this is absolute truth, but the snowflake generation doesn’t understand this
  • Believe all children of God are inherently beautiful and flawed. We all have truth and goodness within us and we were born for a purpose
  • Asks readers to send them their favorite resources regarding building relationships (bridges) – working on a summit dreaming up some sort of way to bring bring people from all kinds of backgrounds and mindsets together to help find a way forward – Bridges when built strong and sure are powerful to behold and they change lives. You already know my passion for building bridges, but those are more structural than relationship
  • Like I had to do in grade school, he wrote (and shared) his obituary – I laughed out loud when he noted in his ideal version that he ran 16 marathons and participated in four Iron Mans between 42 and 81.
  • Talents are called gifts because they are meant to be shared
  • If you are working in a cubicle at some company, shuffling from meeting to meeting, and you feel invisible, then go find something that inspires you, something you can give yourself to after you punch out for the day. The quality of the work that you do from 8-5 will reflect that decision – this was a wet salmon slap up against the face
  • Had pages in the back to reflect on one thing in the book that speaks to you – plan out how you are going to get there
  • Had his employees make some comments about him at the end – how brave is that ha
  • Chip was born in Albuquerque New Mexico raised in Dallas Texas – graduated from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business with a degree in marketing.

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