When an introvert and an extravert fall in love with Chip and Joanna Gaines (Transcript)

ReThinking with Adam Grant
When an introvert and an extravert fall in love with Chip and Joanna Gaines
August 1, 2023

[00:00:00] Adam Grant:
Hey everyone, it's Adam Grant. Welcome back to ReThinking, my podcast on the science of what makes us tick. I'm an organizational psychologist, and I'm taking you inside the minds of fascinating people to explore new thoughts and new ways of thinking.

My guests today are Chip and Joanna Gaines, the couple best known for their show, Fixer Upper, where they renovated homes—Chip handling the real estate and Joanna leading the design. They're the co-founders and co-owners of Magnolia, where they operate a home goods store, a TV network, a bakery, and a number of other businesses that have brought tourism to Waco, Texas.

They're also New York Times bestselling authors, and if you've watched their show, you know Chip is an extreme extrovert, and Joanna's an extreme introvert. Ever since I met them a few years ago, I've been curious about how they navigate the differences in their personalities, not just at work, but also at home with their five kids.

Joanna, were you just, were you just telling Chip to shush?

[00:01:03] Joanna Gaines:
No, no, no. The shush is me kicking him under the table.

[00:01:08] Chip Gaines:
Adam, I do, I always feel the need to defend myself in these moments. If you only knew half the time, she’s kicking me not to be quiet, but like to cover us, you know? It always looks like I'm this narcissist that just talks incessantly and poor Jo never gets a, a word in edgewise, but most of the time she's like—

[00:01:24] Joanna Gaines:

[00:01:24] Chip Gaines:
“Please talk,” and… you want me to already stop talking? Baby, we hadn’t even gotten into it.

[00:01:29] Joanna Gaines:
Yes. Let, let Adam welcome us to the podcast.

[00:01:31] Chip Gaines:
Oh, alright. Alright.

[00:01:31] Adam Grant:
No, I mean we, this is great. We didn't even get into a minute before Chip got on the defensive. This is a great start.

[00:01:37] Chip Gaines:
We're in trouble. We are in big trouble.

[00:01:42] Adam Grant:
Exactly what I was hoping would happen. Good to see you both.

[00:01:45] Chip Gaines:
Good to see you, Adam.

[00:01:47] Adam Grant:
Lemme just start by asking, 'cause I don't know the backstory. How did you two meet?

[00:01:51] Joanna Gaines:
Oh, well, do you want the long version or the short version?

[00:01:55] Adam Grant:
I want the Jo version, not the Chip version.

[00:01:57] Chip Gaines:
I was gonna say. Are you asking me to say it, or do you want Jo to say it? Yeah.

[00:02:02] Joanna Gaines:
I was working for my dad, 10 years at his Firestone shop, and Chip was coming to pick up your friend who was getting some work done or something.

[00:02:11] Chip Gaines:

[00:02:11] Joanna Gaines:
And all the guys at the tire shop were truly like my brothers. I'd been working with him for almost 10 years, and so they were always trying to set me up with you know, with somebody.

[00:02:19] Chip Gaines:
Customers, the hot customers.

[00:02:20] Joanna Gaines:
And I told them no every single time, but something this time I was like, “I'll just go.”

[00:02:26] Chip Gaines:
And they were talking about my roommate. Not me.

[00:02:27] Joanna Gaines:

[00:02:27] Chip Gaines:
Not me. It was the, uh, roommate named, yeah, named John. So he said—

[00:02:31] Joanna Gaines:
John. So they said, “You know, he's tall, he's, uh, he's owns his own business. He seems like a really sweet guy. Why don't you just walk through the lobby and see what you think?” And I finally said, “Fine.” So I walked through the lobby, make eye contact with John, but then didn't know what to do. So then I just walked—

[00:02:46] Chip Gaines:
Kind of froze.

[00:02:47] Joanna Gaines:
—straight outside the front door. And that's where I met Chip Gaines coming to pick up John. And then, you know, I did these commercials for my dad for years. And so the first thing he said was, “Wait, you're that girl on the commercials.” And then we started talking and, what, two hours later? Um…

[00:03:03] Chip Gaines:
Yeah, we had a, we had quite the marathon conversation. Poor John who, the guys—

[00:03:08] Joanna Gaines:
was just waiting for us.

[00:03:08] Chip Gaines:
Guys were all trying to set her up with, ended up just leaving. I mean, he was just like, I was his ride.

[00:03:13] Joanna Gaines:

[00:03:14] Chip Gaines:
He ended up just driving off by himself, and it was one of the most, she says it was one of the most interesting conversation of, of her life.

[00:03:22] Joanna Gaines:
Did not say that.

[00:03:22] Chip Gaines:
She said two hours. I just talked incessantly.

[00:03:24] Joanna Gaines:

[00:03:25] Chip Gaines:
And she just listened, basically.

[00:03:27] Joanna Gaines:
Right. I was like, “Well, this could be fun. I would never have to talk and just sit back.” But that was it.

[00:03:32] Adam Grant:
I guess that was a little bit of foreshadowing of things to come.

[00:03:35] Joanna Gaines:

[00:03:35] Chip Gaines:
Tires have never been so romantic as they were the day that Jo and I were talking in front of the entire set. There were all these displays of all the coolest tires on the planet.

[00:03:45] Joanna Gaines:

[00:03:46] Chip Gaines:
And there we were just talking away like we were in Central Park or something.

[00:03:50] Adam Grant:
When did you both realize that this was not just a delightful conversation, but that you were gonna fall for each other?

[00:03:57] Chip Gaines:
Jo was kinda like love at first sight for obvious reasons, right? Isn't that the way you remember it?

[00:04:02] Joanna Gaines:
I think Chip said, “I love you,” like pretty early on, and I said, “Thank you,” back. So I don't know. You can choose who.

[00:04:10] Chip Gaines:
You put it so mean. People can hear this like this is actually, this is not just me, you, and Adam. This is not our cell phone, man.

[00:04:16] Joanna Gaines:
Yes it is. This is the three of us. No.

[00:04:16] Chip Gaines:
Oh my gosh. It is true. Hilarious. Counter story to the beautiful first meeting that we had. So we did, we had a little bit of a, it wasn't rocky really, but we would date a little bit.

[00:04:28] Joanna Gaines:
Just unsure.

[00:04:29] Chip Gaines:
Then we kind of weren't, and then we'd date a little bit. Well, we finally kind of got serious, and it seems like this was certainly not years later. This all happened pretty quickly.

[00:04:36] Joanna Gaines:
Six months.

[00:04:37] Chip Gaines:
Say six, eight months after we met, I was on her driveway and I'm sitting there, and they had this little basketball court kind of off to the side, and we had one of these little mini balls. It wasn't even a full basketball that—

[00:04:49] Joanna Gaines:
That we had won at the fair.

[00:04:50] Chip Gaines:
Which made it. Oh, is that right?

[00:04:51] Joanna Gaines:

[00:04:51] Chip Gaines:
Okay. So we're shooting hoops and, and I'm just like, “Man, I don't know.” I've gotten to where I can't see myself without this girl, you know? And I've got this nerdy little basketball, and I kind of pass it to her and I was like, I, I just, I, I, I, “I love you.” You know, and it just kind of pops out and I said it pretty confidently, but also a little sheepish.

And she catches this little nerdy, miniature basketball and was like, “Thank you.” And kind of shoots the basketball back. And I kind of sat there for a minute, was like, “Man, this is not the way I saw this going.” And all of a sudden, like, I was overwhelmed with emotion. And not positive emotions. I was like really irritated.

[00:05:27] Joanna Gaines:
Like a little boy on the playground that was mad.

[00:05:30] Chip Gaines:
Well I kind of mad about the experience we were having and so I go over, she shot this little dorky basketball, catches it and kinda looks to me and I grab the ball and I literally put it under my arm and I'm like, “I'm going home.”

[00:05:43] Joanna Gaines:
And he leaves.

[00:05:44] Chip Gaines:
And I mean like a toddler, like literally some type of a temper tantrum occurred as a grown-ass adult. And I just remember back to those kind of moments and I just, I mean, there's no telling how we've made it through all of that. Plus obviously 20 years and five kids later, and business and fame and all the variables. It's hilarious that things did start off a little rocky.

[00:06:07] Joanna Gaines:
Mm-hmm. Our communication style was just very different. This has been 20 years as we've been married, and I think just learning each other’s just—

[00:06:17] Chip Gaines:
Quirks, and—

[00:06:17] Joanna Gaines:
Quirks, but also like, I don't know, just figuring this out as we go because we were so opposite. It's just this interesting journey of like, okay, how do we communicate? Get on the same page, but still very different people, I don't know, has been such a fun challenge, but I think rewarding when we can figure that out and be lockstep because we're so opposite. It's almost like we found that magic middle, and the more we find that middle, that's our goal is to stay there, to stay aligned.

[00:06:45] Adam Grant:
There’s good evidence that an introvert and an extrovert interacting tend to have, you know, a lot of times a smoother conversation than if it's two extroverts or two introverts because of the balance of talking and listening. But, I've always felt as an introvert, and I think there's some research to back me up here, that that dynamic is better for the extrovert than the introvert. The extrovert is very happy to do a lot of talking, and the introvert is slowly getting annoyed and overstimulated, and—

[00:07:13] Chip Gaines:
Jo, often you prefer to be sort of like to yourself. Like in your quiet place. And so to have somebody that kind of covers you in that way is, I think—

[00:07:24] Joanna Gaines:

[00:07:25] Chip Gaines:
You know, helpful and maybe part of the magic that, that makes this work. But to your point, Adam, it's like I get a kick out of it. So I'm thrilled to death about rocking and rolling, but I also, I think what sort of surprises people about me is that I'm an incredible listener. I'm attentive in that way. And so when Jo kind of settles down and gets ready to deliver her thing, I kind of know my time has come about just this chitchat, this superficial stuff that kind of flies above the radar.

And then now here's the real nitty gritty. I always love that balance. But it does feel like, maybe this is a little bit of an overstatement, but kind of 90/10, 80/20, which I wonder if it should be more like a 60/40/

[00:08:06] Joanna Gaines:
But I think beyond, 'cause I do think, you know, Chip has always been, I would say, “You go before me,” in these like public things where I'm always like, “He's got it.” I can just sit back and, and get time to process my thoughts. Like he always goes first, maybe, and then I can process like when people ask questions. So he's helped me in that way. But I think just to your question about, like, in the morning, every morning Chip makes me coffee and he's like, “Okay, come sit on the couch.”

And I'm still trying to wake up and like, you know, why am I grumpy today? Or why am I feeling great? Like I haven't even processed that myself. I will say as an introvert and a very internal processor. The gift that I find in being married to, I think a high extrovert is when we sit at that couch in the morning, it’s that drawing out, and that's what he did on our first date.

I was a pretty quiet girl. I didn't date a lot, like he said. And one thing I was fascinated with, with Chip as we were sitting at the tire shop was he asked really great questions and he listens 'cause he asked really great follow-up questions. Like I was used to guys like asking the first question and then it was like that's all they had.

I was intrigued by the follow-up, the layers, the depth that he had that you would assume someone as talkative as he does is just kind of like all talk. But I think in the mornings what I love is he's just digging that gold out that I'm just like, I don't have anything.

[00:09:31] Adam Grant:
Yeah. It makes me think that, I don't even know how to, how to best capture this. Well, I'll just think out loud. I'll take a page out of the Chip Gaines playbook here.

[00:09:36] Chip Gaines:
There you go. There you go.

[00:09:38] Adam Grant:
Embracing my non-existent inner extrovert. I think one, one of the things that's fascinating to me about that dynamic is, I guess I've always thought about this from the perspective of you want somebody, if you're an introvert, a little bit more extroverted than you to provide the balance, and vice versa.

But if the difference is too extreme, you're just gonna end up butting heads and clashing too much. Not just in your communication styles, but also your habits, like the stereotypical extrovert wanting to, you know, to go to a, a loud party, the stereotypical introvert wanting to sit at home with a good book. Beyond the communication dynamics, how have you navigated the lifestyle and behavior preferences that are so different with your traits?

[00:10:16] Chip Gaines:
This, this is amazing, Adam, you're sincerely getting to kind of where the rubber meets the road. Now that has been the biggest challenge. An extrovert wants someone slightly less extroverted, but maybe not at a 90/10 margin.

[00:10:29] Joanna Gaines:

[00:10:29] Chip Gaines:
And an introvert wants somebody more extroverted, but maybe not at a 90/10 margin. And so how does that work? Somehow, it works magically between us. We love to spend time together. I mean, we're just like a very unique couple in the sense that lots of couple friends of ours are like, “Man, for us a lot is too much. We need our separate time.” Where Jo and I are sort of uniquely wired to where when we spend time apart, we seem to start butting heads in those moments.

[00:10:53] Joanna Gaines:
It throws us off, yeah.

[00:10:54] Chip Gaines:
You know, it's like we're having a harder time getting back in rhythm when we've spent some time apart, where so now we're just like, we just love to be together, so let's don't spend time apart. Why not? Let's don't screw up a good thing in that sense. But, but the, the extrovert-introvert go out in public thing is real. I mean, because I'm drawn to go out, and I'm drawn to adventures, and I'm drawn to like social ideas. You know, whatever those things are.

[00:11:19] Joanna Gaines:
Yeah. Well, that's what fuels you. That's what fills your tank.

[00:11:21] Chip Gaines:

[00:11:21] Joanna Gaines:
And that's what drains me. I think before Fixer, it was that constant tug and pull of, like, “I wanna go to this party with our friends.” I'm like, “Oh, you can go and just tell 'em I had the stomach bug,” like that for 10 years. And then when Fixer happened, if you were noticed or whatever, that became something that we weren't used to, that we were trying to figure out. You know, over the last 10 years, what we decided, or what we figured out that we'd craved was just, like, being at the farm, hunkering down with our kids. And so the last 10 years has been a lot of that, but I think as we kind of come out of that, Chip is now back to, you know, he wants this adventure, he wants to go on road trips, he wants to do all the things.

I think for me, the older you get and the more you're married to someone and the more you just want to make sure that they're fulfilled is like I have to get outta my comfort zone and maybe go on that road trip with him knowing that that fills him up just like he's given me doing home at the farm and just, it's been like the sweetest thing.

But now it's kind of like my turn, I feel like to say, “What adventure do you wanna go on?” As much as I hate traveling, all the things I'm saying yes more than ever because I feel like I’ve gotten fueled up.

[00:12:28] Chip Gaines:
But when you think about it, do you think like, sort of like running for me it's like I don't like the idea of running, but then once I've run, then you feel great?

[00:12:37] Joanna Gaines:
Well, the actual stress for me with going anywhere is the planning, the prep, the internal emotional thing that I have to get ready to, like, leave home. And that's the part that stresses me out. Once I'm finally at the place, I'm like, “Why wouldn't I do this all the time?”

[00:12:51] Chip Gaines:
Uh, yeah.

[00:12:51] Joanna Gaines:
So I do know that your push and pull of “let’s go on an adventure” is always the healthier option because I always come back filled up, even though I would typically say that's not what fills me up.

[00:13:02] Chip Gaines:

[00:13:03] Joanna Gaines:
I think it's the drain is the preparation.

[00:13:05] Chip Gaines:
I probably would've driven myself off of a cliff where you were always a little more cautious and a little more reserved and it's, it's a fun balance in that way. You know?

[00:13:13] Joanna Gaines:
I think it's funny though, Adam still, 20 years later, he was presenting to me this option of something he's wanting to do, and every time I step into that place, I tell myself, “Be positive.” I'm prepping myself and as he's like, “Hey Jo, what if we do this?” Right off the bat, five negative things 'cause I just think you optimist-dude, you’re not thinking through. And I had to do it. And I don't know how much of that is so in me, the optimism in you, the pessimism, or again, the realism, whatever you wanna call it.

[00:13:43] Chip Gaines:
Sure. But like it’s in your DNA.

[00:13:44] Joanna Gaines:
But it’s just like 20 years later, I was laughing that I'm like, I still show up to the table thinking of the critical, the negative, the what ifs. And he hadn't even thought about one of them. 20 years later, somehow we're still doing this, even though I'm still pretty pessimist and he's still very optimistic.

[00:14:01] Chip Gaines:
So yeah, we both think we've moved like miles in each other's directions.

[00:14:05] Joanna Gaines:
Really. No. Yeah.

[00:14:05] Chip Gaines:
But really, we've probably moved like one degree or one percentage point, you know?

[00:14:09] Adam Grant:
Now another layer of your relationship that I think is endlessly interesting is that you've been working together almost as long as you've known each other. So you've been married 20 years now?

[00:14:20] Joanna Gaines:

[00:14:21] Adam Grant:
How long have you been working together?

[00:14:21] Joanna Gaines:
21 years.

[00:14:24] Chip Gaines:
Yeah, that's true. Sadly, when Jo and I met, but I always just carried a lot of cash on me. I was a serial entrepreneur with this pocket full of cash, and in theory, a layperson might witness this entrepreneur with this pocket full of cash and assume wild successful thoughts.

[00:14:42] Joanna Gaines:
That’s what I thought our first six months.

[00:14:43] Chip Gaines:
But instead, it was because I didn't know how to balance a checkbook. I didn't really know how to pay bills. I would go to the bill department, quote-unquote, wherever these places were.

[00:14:52] Joanna Gaines:

[00:14:52] Chip Gaines:
And I would literally pull out this wad of cash and people were like, “We can't process cash here.”

[00:14:57] Joanna Gaines:
Right, yeah.

[00:14:57] Chip Gaines:
“Like, go back to your house and write us a check on the bill that we sent you months ago.” I was like, gee whiz.

[00:15:03] Joanna Gaines:
I mean, I had to explain to him, likem what insufficient funds meant. I was like, did they not teach you any of this in business school? Like balancing a checkbook.

[00:15:10] Chip Gaines:
It’s sad. I was a business school aficionado and had no earthly idea to balance.

[00:15:13] Joanna Gaines:
And see, I did that for my dad for 10 years. I did his books. I was his bookkeeper. So I loved crunching the numbers. I loved, you know, if knowing exactly to the penny what our balance was in the checkbook every day.

So then when I meet Chip, who just thought you could write a check but not check to see if you have money in the account after you mail the check, like all of that was fascinating, and maybe I just felt like I needed to help him for a second. But I just loved what he did from a business standpoint 'cause it was so interesting and fascinating. I just thought… so basically 21 years.

[00:15:46] Chip Gaines:
Never a dull moment. And I mean kinda, kinda like weeks into our relationship—

[00:15:48] Joanna Gaines:

[00:15:48] Chip Gaines:
She quickly evolved into like, “this boy needs some help.”

[00:15:51] Joanna Gaines:
Either that or federal prison.

[00:15:52] Chip Gaines:
Like, I'm gonna, gonna help with these ways. So our working relationship almost accidentally preceded our actual relationship.

[00:15:59] Joanna Gaines:
So we honestly don't know it any other way. We got married May 31st, opened Magnolia in October. So we renovated that little shop during the whole summer, and I wanted to do this little retail store. And Chip was, I mean, my biggest cheerleader, he renovated that whole building for me. It was just me and him doing all the work.

And on the side, he was doing these rentals and these little remodels. And then I start this retail thing, and for a couple years, this worked where he'd leave the office and go check on his houses and the clients. But we realized we just loved being together and we wanted to work together.

When I would go with him to these clients, I would take notes. And I would, you know, understand like, “Oh, that's a change order. We need to add $550 to that.” Where when Chip was at the shop with me—

[00:16:43] Chip Gaines:
Who’s got time for that?

[00:16:45] Joanna Gaines:
And he'd have these conversations with my customers, I realized, “This isn't transactional. This is relational.” Chip taught me these are people that are coming maybe to buy a candle, but really they're wanting that moment or just to get away for a second, that conversation. So we were kind of teaching each other valuable things in our own little worlds. And then we decided to bring that together and then that's when we merged what I was doing with what Chip was doing, and that's when we started that Magnolia Homes, which is truly that design and construction business, and we got to be together every single day. And so, we don't know it any other way, but we do understand the value of what we both bring to the table.

[00:17:22] Chip Gaines:
Had to guess, just so we can say this to Adam and he can be maybe the mediator and help us decide who's right here. If I didn't have you, would I have still made it? And if you didn't have me, would you have still made it? So who would've been screwed worse had they not met the other.

[00:17:37] Joanna Gaines:
Okay, I’ll just tell you where we both would've landed. Yes. I would've been an accountant and I would've been, had a really cute cubicle, and you would've been in federal prison. So I don't know what you wanna call making it, but that's the truth.

[00:17:53] Chip Gaines:
Well then. Fair enough. I was just curious who would've been worse off, and it sounds like we, we both agree it would've been me. All right. We don't even need Adam for this one. You agree?

[00:18:05] Adam Grant:
I don't think there's anyone who disagrees with that statement. I was going to go in probabilities and say I would be extremely confident that Joanna would've found some creative outlet that avoided the spotlight but was very meaningful to the audience that she chose. And Chip would've had like 90% probability of a bunch of failures and regrets and the 10% probability of doing something exciting.

[00:18:26] Chip Gaines:
Yes, I think that’s a fair and accurate assessment. I agree and concur.

[00:18:29] Joanna Gaines:
You have great ideas. You just need a solid book-bookkeeper slash accountant slash—that’s it. Yes. That’s it.

[00:18:34] Chip Gaines:
I need some help. Execution. The pros and the cons. I used to joke with Jo, my family, if we weren't pulling weeds for neighbors, we were mowing somebody's grass. If we weren't mowing grass, we were selling lemonade on the corners. And then we would process the balance sheet of it all on the back end, and we would find out that we lost a little money, and we would learn from that experience. Well, Jo's family would just write business plans about businesses they had no intention of ever starting. They just pretended to start businesses. Jo literally had a journal packed full of six.

[00:19:05] Joanna Gaines:
I had three business plans.

[00:19:06] Chip Gaines:
Oh, was it just three?

[00:19:06] Joanna Gaines:
Three solid business plans. The other three, well they were—

[00:19:09] Chip Gaines:
Well, it felt like six or 10 to me. And I was like, why haven't you done all 11 of these businesses? Like, we should do these tomorrow. So we were opposites from the very beginning for sure.

[00:19:21] Adam Grant:
I’m curious what you've learned about working with your spouse. I'm sure there are lessons for all of us, both for our jobs and our marriages. What are your favorite takeaways slash a-has when it comes to how to do that effectively?

[00:19:33] Joanna Gaines:
I don't think it's for everybody.

[00:19:35] Chip Gaines:
I would almost say we're in the minority.

[00:19:36] Joanna Gaines:
You're always gonna partner with your spouse in some way, whether that's in, you know, creating a home together, raising children, like there's a partnership. That's the point of marriage. I think with doing partnership in business, it's a whole other layer that I do truly think it's not for everybody.

So it's like, don't force it and don't assume if that you're a failure or you can't figure it out. I think it's truly a gift when you can figure it out. But for the most part, if it's not that you're both doing the same business, it's you're partnering with your spouse on a million different levels.

So, find the ones where you feel like you're really strong and keep strengthening that. And I feel like with us, what I've always loved that Chip has said is from the beginning, one of our biggest arguments is when we were renovating a house, our first year of marriage, and we were just arguing and it ended up with me trying to maybe throw a can of primer on him, but it ended up on me and—

[00:20:31] Chip Gaines:
Well, she, she had a, she had a—

[00:20:31] Joanna Gaines:
I just threw it down. So mad.

[00:20:31] Chip Gaines:
A gallon of paint and she slammed it on the ground, and it literally, like the inertia of the paint just splashed back up in her face. So she literally just had paint drip dripping off her face.

[00:20:42] Joanna Gaines:

[00:20:42] Chip Gaines:
We had pretty heated debates and arguments in our family so that it was, not to totally uncommon, but when something like this happened, it did break you out of that moment and we would all be like, “Hey, time out. We're gonna get back to this. But like, this is hilarious.”

And we would like kind of celebrate this hilarious thing that inadvertently popped out of this argument. I was much more confident in my I-love-you at that point, because I was like, anybody who can stay the course and continue arguing despite the fact this white primer is dripping off of her face. I was like, “This is my girl.”

[00:21:13] Joanna Gaines:
But that was the moment for us where I think, you know, Chip kind of explained, “Hey, with all that we do together with these homes, this business, everything, like we have to learn pretty quick or agree that we can either—” You can always say this better Chip 'cause it’s your, just pulling—

[00:21:28] Chip Gaines:
Well, just the idea that it, just like any tug of war. It's like if we're against one another, then let's pull against one another and then that's a pretty good objective and we'll see who pulls the rope the furthest, and one of us will get a trophy. But if we guarantee, if we like sort of start with the idea in mind that we're always together and the issue is what we're tug of warring not, not each other.

[00:21:49] Joanna Gaines:

[00:21:49] Chip Gaines:
The thing I like to explain is just for Jo and I, it wasn't one plus one equaled two. But what was truer was that one plus one equaled 20. One plus one equaled a thousand. And as those dynamics started occurring, kinda like when you think about scaling a business, similar ideas, one plus one didn't equal a little bit more. One plus one equaled a lot more. And Jo and I kind of got a little addicted by the idea that when she and I came together against something, we weren't a little bit better at it. We were, like, a lot better at it. And so it became a superpower of some sort.

Jo and I are kind to one another. We give each other a lot of grace. We sincerely are for each other. Like, if I don't do another thing, I'll be a cheerleader of yours for the rest of my life, you know? And that's an honor and a privilege for me. And I think if we can see somehow bring that idea of kindness into our houses because unfortunately, what's sometimes true is that you're kind of the meanest to the people who are the closest to you because you know that they'll give you grace for that.

And I think that Jo and I, of all of our flaws, and we've got countless flaws and faults, but of those flaws and faults, you know, we're just naturally kind to one another, and we naturally have a, a sincere respect for one another. And I think if somehow you can get those pieces of the puzzle in place first, the other things that you decide to build later have a better opportunity of being successful.


[00:23:21] Adam Grant:
Okay, it’s time for a lightning round.

[00:23:22] Chip Gaines:
All right.

[00:23:22] Adam Grant:
What’s the worst advice you've ever gotten?

[00:23:26] Joanna Gaines:
When people were saying, “Don't quit Fixer Upper,” we felt in our guts it was time to be done and everyone said that would be the worst thing you could ever do, and it was, it was—

[00:23:38] Chip Gaines:
It really turned out to be one of the best decisions of our lives.

[00:23:39] Joanna Gaines:
Yeah. But—

[00:23:40] Chip Gaines:
It was the right timing for us.

[00:23:40] Joanna Gaines:
Yeah. But I think it was just like, “Hey, if you do this, everything goes away.” And again, it wasn't why we were doing it or why we weren't doing it, it was just like in our guts we were like, “We need to pause.” And so, but everybody was saying—

[00:23:52] Chip Gaines:
Basically, the idea was, tough it out. Four more years won't kill you, five more years won't kill you. And we were just like, no. We're, we're, we're sincerely done. And we're thankful that we kind of went with our gut on that one.

[00:24:04] Joanna Gaines:
Is that a one-word answer?

[00:24:06] Adam Grant:
Almost made the lightning round.

[00:24:08] Chip Gaines:
We'll get that. We'll get better. We'll get better. That was a loaded question. Progress.

[00:24:12] Adam Grant:
Next up, next question is about Fixer Upper. You renovated, remodeled a lot of homes, by which I mean Chip destroyed a lot of them, and Johanna made them beautiful. What was your biggest a-ha or surprise from the interactions you had with people whose lives you were changing?

[00:24:31] Joanna Gaines:
Is this the lightning round?

[00:24:32] Adam Grant:
It’s supposed to be.

[00:24:33] Chip Gaines:
Yes. This is so hard to think in the lightning. I’m gonna say just how important home is. A home is important to people, and we knew that going into Fixer and confirmed at times a thousand.

[00:24:43] Joanna Gaines:

[00:24:43] Chip Gaines:
Because it wasn't just the clients that felt that moment, but also the viewers which turned into millions of human beings really were captivated by how important home is. And I think that was a cool takeaway from Fixer.

[00:24:56] Adam Grant:
What is your best home improvement tip on a budget?

[00:24:59] Chip Gaines:
My mine's simple. It's always exterior. Like, I literally sell houses for a living. So if you can't get a client out of the car to come and look at the beautiful bathroom and kitchen, then, I mean, and I've sincerely had people pull up to a house, look at it, and I saw them drive away, and you're like, “Oh, crap.”

So for me, it's shutters, it's landscape, it's a mailbox renovation that anybody can do on the weekends. You know, I love exterior stuff because for me, there's no better chance to make a first impression than the first impression. So I would leave it there.

[00:25:29] Joanna Gaines:
I would say I'm more of the interior 'cause I just want to be able to find that corner in the house where I can just reset. And so I would say paint, but I always think, take these rooms that are smaller and start from there and build, and then that builds your confidence. So by the time you get to your kitchen, you've learned a lot when you did that entry or that powder bath. I just think paint has a way of transforming a mood, a space, um, and I would say if you paint it yourself, you can do it truly on a budget.

[00:26:00] Adam Grant:
Is it true that you don't have a TV in your house or that your kids aren't allowed to watch it?

[00:26:06] Chip Gaines:

[00:26:07] Adam Grant:

[00:26:07] Chip Gaines:
Oh, oh, really? Lightning round. I finally get one right, and Adam's gonna draw us into it.

[00:26:13] Joanna Gaines:
Um, we have a computer.

[00:26:13] Chip Gaines:
Long story short, we had this great couple who kind of offered to quote-unquote give us “premarital counseling”, if that's a thing you're familiar with or, or if that's a, a common thing outside the Bible belt.

But Jo and I were honored to sort of be mentored by this couple, and this couple made a very sweet and sincere gesture when we were getting married and they said, “Hey, you're about to go on your honeymoon, and you'll never have another opportunity in your life to just spend really great quality time together. Would you commit to us to not have a TV? And why don't you two go and think about how long that duration might be and come back and let us know what what you've committed to.”

So we both wrote down one year. We came back to these people and we're like “One year,” and they were like, “Gosh, y'all, sorry, you must have misinterpreted. Everybody says a week, maybe a month. Are you sure?” And we're like, “No, we wanna do this. We've gotten excited. Let's do it for a year.

And at the end of the year, somehow we bumped into the, this couple, and they were like, “Hey, so did you get a TV?” And we're like, “Oh my gosh, we forgot about that one-year commitment. Oh yeah, we need to go get a TV.” And literally, we looked at each other, we're like, “Let’s go get a TV.” And she was like, “Well, do we have to get a TV?” And I was like, “Not really. Do you want a TV?” And we went back and forth and one year turned into 20.

[00:27:25] Joanna Gaines:
We’re headstrong enough to where heads we're just like competing against ourselves now.

[00:27:35] Chip Gaines:
We are headstrong.

[00:27:29] Adam Grant:
Wow. All right. Is there a question you have for me?

[00:27:33] Chip Gaines:
Oh, man. Well, Bob—

[00:27:35] Joanna Gaines:
You probably can't say this out loud. You go first.

[00:27:37] Chip Gaines:
What do you mean?

[00:27:37] Joanna Gaines:
Well, I'm just gonna ask him like, what's his next book is he writing about?

[00:27:42] Chip Gaines:
Ooh. something kind of juicy?

[00:27:44] Joanna Gaines:

[00:27:45] Adam Grant:
I can answer that one. It's coming out in October. It's called Hidden Potential.

[00:27:48] Joanna Gaines:
I love that.

[00:27:48] Chip Gaines:
Hidden Potential. I’m writing it down. All right. And outta curiosity, you were so kind to ask us so many questions about our relationship. Are you and your wife kind of yin and yang, like Jo and I? I mean, would she be more like me and you're more like Jo, or not necessarily?

[00:28:04] Adam Grant:
I’ve always thought I was an introvert until Allison complained that I was an extrovert one day.

[00:28:08] Joanna Gaines:
Oh my.

[00:28:09] Adam Grant:
And I was like, “Wait, this can't be right.” And we had this whole back and forth. And finally, she said, “The reason I know you're an extrovert is you type too loud.”

[00:28:21] Joanna Gaines:
Oh my gosh.

[00:28:21] Adam Grant:
And all of a sudden it hit me. She's even more introverted than I am, and so from her vantage point, anyone who's a little bit less introverted is an extrovert, but I think we've, we've aligned, we're both introverts, but she likes quiet and home and downtime even more than I do.

[00:28:39] Chip Gaines:
Well, Jo would like to join this. What do you call it? A triple.

[00:28:43] Joanna Gaines:
A throuple.

[00:28:43] Chip Gaines:
Throuple. Throuple. She would like to join this throuple because I can assure you, she's tired of me constantly harassing her.

[00:28:50] Joanna Gaines:
I mean it’s, it’s but it’s a, it's interesting. It's like, I, I, it's a constant challenge of like, holy moly, okay. You know, it's like internal challenges every freaking day, but it's, it's good for me. 'Cause I, I'd prefer zero challenge, zero risk, and lots of naps, but that is not what my life is.

[00:29:08] Adam Grant:
Sounds about right. All right, last question before I let you go. What's something that you've rethought recently? An opinion, a belief, a behavior?

[00:29:18] Joanna Gaines:
I just remember when I was little, I always wanted to be older. I just loved the idea of always being somewhere else other than where I was then. Like always chasing that. And then I even think maybe buying into the lie of, “Hey, once you do this, you’ll feel fulfilled or you'll be happy.”

But I think now at 45, I would say in the last couple years, something has shifted in my perspective that I've just, I feel like I have had to rethink, which is just this value of time.

And today in my journal was like, “One month and two days left until Drake leaves the house.” You know, I've been counting down for 18 years. Yeah. Like my first son leaving the nest. And now I'm down to one month in two days. And so my perspective on time has changed. Finally, this morning was like, “I have a month and two days. Let's make it count. Let's make it matter.”

And you know, we had a dear friend pass away this week, and someone said something really profound at her funeral. Our friend passed away from terminal cancer, and this other woman who was speaking, she also was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she says there's a gift that comes with that shen the doctor says it's terminal and you have X amount of time left, is you get perspective on time that now every minute, every second, every moment truly matters. And that is the gift that they get. And I think for me it was just like, you know, you don't ever wanna wait for that to get that perspective.

[00:30:43] Chip Gaines:

[00:30:43] Joanna Gaines:
You wanna almost train yourself to see that naturally so that when that time comes or if change is coming, that you can really hold that in a healthy way. But I want more and more now to just be in the moment that I'm at and I feel like the whole other 40 years of my life, trying to be somewhere else. I'm finally here and it's, it's really, it's, it's the best.


[00:31:05] Adam Grant:
It's a beautiful sentiment.

[00:31:07] Chip Gaines:

[00:31:08] Adam Grant:
You got your chief cheerleader over there.

[00:31:09] Joanna Gaines:
He's my biggest cheerleader. And loudest.

[00:31:12] Chip Gaines:
Babe, that was good.

[00:31:15] Adam Grant:
So Good. And Chip. Chip listened through the whole thing.

[00:31:18] Chip Gaines:
I had a lot of thoughts.

[00:31:20] Adam Grant:
Proof of concept.

[00:31:21] Chip Gaines:
I’ve got a lightning round for you, Adam.

[00:31:23] Joanna Gaines:
Oh yeah.

[00:31:24] Adam Grant:

[00:31:25] Chip Gaines:
What’s the meaning of life?

[00:31:27] Adam Grant:
42. Obviously, if you're a Douglas Adams fan.

[00:31:31] Chip Gaines:
Oh shoot.

[00:31:31] Adam Grant:
You haven't read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That will make no sense whatsoever to you.

[00:31:36] Chip Gaines:
I need a quick definition. I'm completely lost.

[00:31:38] Adam Grant:
All right.

[00:31:39] Chip Gaines:
But I'm writing this down because I'm gonna get acclimated quickly.

[00:31:42] Adam Grant:
I, I, I don't know that anyone could ever find a compelling answer to that question. The most satisfying one I've come up with so far is that it's trying to make other people's lives more meaningful.

[00:31:51] Chip Gaines:
Come on, man. Come on.

[00:31:53] Joanna Gaines:
Gosh, you're good at this lightning round. Can you coach us?

[00:31:57] Adam Grant:

I am gonna do something different for our takeaway here. After this conversation, Chip sent me a text and he said whenever he finishes an interview, he's left with a haunting feeling that he missed something, and this time it was a question. He wanted to ask, quote, “Where have all the wise old sages gone?”

Do you have a wise old mentor that you go to for complicated life issues? It seems like there was a time that was common, and it doesn't feel as common these days. Okay, Chip, if you're listening, I definitely have a whole group of mentors that I go to when I have major dilemmas. They're core to my challenge network.

But in that spirit, I wanna challenge the premise of the question, why does a mentor have to be old? Why does wisdom have anything to do with age? There's actually research on this. A team of psychologists led by Paul Baltes, figured out how to measure wisdom. In some of their studies, they had people nominate the wisest person they knew and then had them answer questions about life dilemmas and compared their answers to people who weren't nominated as wise.

And then were able to identify some of the features of wisdom, like for example, do you see things in shades of gray as opposed to just black and white? Can you identify the nuance and complexity in an argument? Are you able to balance multiple people's interests when considering a problem, or do you look at it only from one side's perspective?

When they measured these attributes of wisdom, they found that between ages 25 and 75, the correlation between age and wisdom is zero. Wisdom does not come from experience. It comes from reflecting on experience. It's possible to be old and foolish. You can also be young and wise. I'm guessing that Joanna already knows this, but your mentors don't have to be older than you. They could be your peers, or who knows? Maybe they're your five kids.

Rethinking is hosted by me, Adam Grant, and produced by TED with Cosmic Standard. Our team includes Colin Helms, Eliza Smith, Jacob Winik, Aja Simpson, Samiah Adams, Michelle Quint, BanBan Cheng, Hannah Kingsley-Ma, Julia Dickerson, and Whitney Pennington Rodgers. This episode was produced in mixed by Cosmic Standard. Our fact-checker is Paul Durbin. Original music by Hansdale Hsu and Allison Leyton-Brown.

[00:34:25] Chip Gaines:
I can't hear shit. I'm just kidding.

[00:34:28] Joanna Gaines:

[00:34:30] Chip Gaines:
I’m just kidding. Adam, maybe we can raise it a little bit. Oh, nope. Okay. Take two.

[00:34:38] Joanna Gaines:
Babe. Just bring it towards us.

[00:34:40] Chip Gaines:
Bring it towards us.

[00:34:42] Joanna Gaines:
Just like that. This is like dumb and dumber.

[00:34:44] Chip Gaines:
This is ridiculous. This is so…

[00:34:46] Joanna Gaines:
Are you sure you wanna do this, Adam?

[00:34:49] Adam Grant:
You know I'm already rethinking this invitation.

[00:34:50] Joanna Gaines:
He's rethinking this.