Story: Chip Gaines, of HGTV’s Fixer Upper fame, is a people person. He thrives on connecting with people. So, in true Chip fashion, he created a book to encourage others to connect with people. As he describes it, this is a book about networks, not networking. It is a manual for crafting a group of people who you can lean on, who challenge you, and who build you up. While it may not be easy, establishing a network based on authenticity and meaning will be worth more than any possible networking transaction.
If we are to build strong networks, then we have to do it from this place of authenticity – trusting in the uniqueness of who we have been created to be instead of burying it so deep that we have no chance of standing out.
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Why I chose this book: Have you ever had a book choose you? As corny as it sounds. This book chose me. When the opportunity came up to review the book, I almost said no. I’ve read Chip and his wife Joanna’s other books, but my reading time is currently very limited and I hadn’t really taken the time to find out what this book was about. Obviously, I ended up saying “yes” and the timing couldn’t have been better. Indulge me in a slight personal tangent…
I was laid off due the COVID-19 pandemic and have always loathed networking. I would say that I’m good at building relationships with people, but I am terrible at awkward small talk – especially when both parties are painfully aware that they’re each sizing up how beneficial the interaction could be. Suffice it to say, the prospect of unexpectedly being in search of a job has been a bit of a mental challenge. This book and Chip’s message hit home and were such a positive and uplifting energy during this season of life. Had I read the book jacket or heard “network” and “networking” – I never would have picked it up. Luckily…it picked me.
Why aren’t we just as afraid of living without passion as we are of living without certainty? Are we sure that the safe place is actually safe, or is it simply familiar?
Review: If you’ve watched a couple episodes (or all of them – no judgment here) of Fixer Upper, you’ll quickly get a sense of Chip’s personality and style of communication. Reading this book was almost like having an audiobook going in my head. I appreciate when author’s sound genuine, and Chip’s writing style is conversational, down to earth and real.
Again, not having any preconceived notions about the contents of this book, I was also impressed by and enjoyed the breadth of topics covered. There are timely (yet timeless) points about diversity and justice. There are references to the hardships faced during the current pandemic. There are business stories, there are family stories, there are heartwarming stories and heartbreaking stories. Put together in a collection – aka this book – it rounds out the points Chip makes and gives different readers opportunities to relate.
A dynamic network will never be built on likeness…Without fresh vantage points and opposing ideas, there’s not opportunity to be strengthened. No change. No growth. No new ideas.
Recommendation: There are some “behind the scenes” stories about Fixer Upper and the Gaines family, but if that’s what you’re looking for, I don’t know that you’ll appreciate this book. I would recommend this book to those of you who, like me, are uncomfortable with networking in the traditional sense. I feel like it challenged me (in a good way) to approach things from a different perspective, and I believe I’ve taken away some good lessons and opened myself up to pushing my comfort zone a bit.
I would also recommend that this be required reading for every business school student out there. A bit lofty perhaps, but I love that it upends the conventional concept of networking and makes it more about the interactions and not the transactions. Let’s treat people like people and not stepping stones.
Society would have us believe that we have to be cutthroat to excel in business and in life, but I’ve learned to place my bets on a different theory: kindness never returns void.
Special thanks to TLC Book Tours for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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About Chip Gaines
Chip Gaines is the co-owner and cofounder of Magnolia and a New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Story and Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff. He is constantly reinventing the wheel on what we can achieve together and is always eager to give back to individuals and communities.
Born in Albuquerque and raised in Dallas, Chip later graduated from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business with a marketing degree. An entrepreneur by nature, Chip has started a number of small businesses and has remodeled hundreds of homes in the Waco area.
But more than any good adventure or hard-working demo day, Chip loves an early morning on the farm and a slow day spent with Jo and their five kids.