As I've mentioned here previously, when it comes to food, Paula Deen and I have nothing in common. Because of this, I only recently started paying attention to her and what she's accomplished in business.
Her biography, It Ain't About the Cookin', is a great book that takes you behind the scenes to show you more about how she became the business and hospitality powerhouse that she is today. She lays everything on the table, good and bad.
Before getting this book, I read reviews by others, who were upset about who Paula is (or was). In short, she's not perfect, and she gives details of her dirty habits (like smoking) and poor decisions, such as dating a married man for ten years.
She's vulgar at times. Beyond the usual words, she also offers up plenty of Southern slang, such as, "Hotter than a two-dicked dog."
As you can imagine, for those only familiar with her "television" image, this could be quite a shock. It was something I really appreciated about the book though. She told her story, good and bad. I admire that kind of honesty.
I listened to the audio version of this book, thinking that actually hearing Paula read it would help me to better get a feel for who she is. The "oh my stars" and lack of "er" or "g" at the end of words got tiring at times and, had I not been from the South, I'd probably think it was an act.
It's not at act.
While Paula comes off as a caricature that may be hard for some to believe, having spent most of my life in the South, including Mississippi and Alabama, I can tell you that these women do exist and are more common than most would believe. Most come off as a little more "polished" in public, since they want to be perceived a certain way. Knowing this, and knowing that she didn't polish things up like so many would have, I gained a new respect for her.
It's a great book and very inspirational. It would be easy to think that she "got lucky" or came out of nowhere, but neither is the case. She talks about being married to an alcoholic for over 20 years, sexual abuse, living with (and overcoming) agoraphobia, and plenty of other situations that would have caused most people to give up. She talks about taking chances and dealing with problems along the way, which I know many entrepreneurs will relate to.
The downside is that it can be "light" at times. After all, it's not really a business book and the general audience is most likely more interested in how many sticks of butter to use in her cookie recipe than about anything related to the behind-the-scenes aspects of her business. Still, it's a great read and will help you understand the mindset that has allowed Paula Deen to create the business she has, so because of this, I highly recommend it.