Frank McKinney, a true modern day Renaissance man: Real Estate Artist, 6-time International Bestselling Author (in 5 genres), Philanthro-Capitalist, Ultramarathoner, Actor, and Aspirational Speaker who sees opportunities and creates markets where none existed before.
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Stefan Aarnio: Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the show. It’s Respect the Grind with Stefan Aarnio. This is the show where we interview people who have achieved mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors. Anybody who has achieved mastery, and examine what it took to get there. Today on the show, I have a good friend of mind, Frank McKinney who is well known for being a luxury real estate developer. He’s built some of the most luxurious homes in the world, written several books. He’s writing more books than I can even count. And one of my mentors who I’ve learned from directly. He also does great charity work through his charity called The Caring House Project. Frank, welcome to the show, Respect the Grind, thank you so much for joining me. How are you doing today?
Frank McKinney: I hope that my favorite Canadian is wearing his favorite American flag sweater today.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh dude, hold on, do I got it? Let me put it on for you. Can I put it on for you?
Frank McKinney: You can just tell me you’ve got it on because this isn’t TV, and I’ll just believe you.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, yeah I got it right here. I wear the American sweater especially when I’m going through customs. You go to America, people, they don’t even need to see the passport, they just salute you, they say, “God bless, welcome home sir.” I go,” Hey, I’m from Winnipeg.”
Frank McKinney: If you know Stefan, you know that’s got to be the coolest sweater of all time. He’s got a Canadian one. All you Canadians, don’t worry. He’s not selling you out, he is still a Canadian true and true. He is a master of free enterprise and capitalism. I got to know Stefan when he was, I think, in his 20s. Long time ago. I think I wrote in one of my books I autographed to you that by the time you’re in your mid to late 30s, you’ll be 20 years ahead of where I was at your age. I know you’re well on your way.
Stefan Aarnio: Thank you, Frank. I have a real luxury being born, I guess later. We always get to learn from the guys who came before us. I remember sitting in your seminar I came to. Was that called Make it Big? That seminar, it was a one day seminar?
Frank McKinney: Yeah, it was my Make It Big seminar, yep.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, I remember coming to the Make it Big seminar and you gave everybody the story book thing where we filled in the blanks. You talked about, you know, you flipped a ton of homes. I think it was hundreds of little flips, and you do a luxury flip every couple of years now of development. Everything you said was exactly what I was either doing, had done, or was about to do. It’s amazing that a guy like me, a younger guy can learn from a guy like yourself who has walked the walk. The guys coming up younger than me now are getting there faster than I got there. It’s faster. And faster, and better, and better. That’s what mentorship and learning from others is all about.
Frank McKinney: There’s only one way to get there faster. I don’t advocate faster, I advocate more efficiently. There’s a big difference between fast and more efficient. The way to get there more efficiently regardless of how much time it takes is what you just said, your mentorship. Your learning curve is expedited when you set aside pride and humility and you learn from other people who have taken a machete out of their briefcase and cut the path before you. Now you have a bigger machete, and a bigger briefcase, and you’re cutting your path faster, and you’re teaching other people how to do it. Because the technologies, the efficiencies, they’re there to allow … We’re in the real estate. Today Stefan and I are going to talk about real estate. The evolution of that business as an entrepreneurial venture has changed significantly since back when I did my first flip when Stefan was probably a 10 year old kid. I’ve been in the business 30 years. Like Stefan said, I used to do a lot of small was even a word.
Frank McKinney: Then, I graduated to buying and selling on the ocean front in Palm Beach County where we’ve done 44 projects on speculation, we’re now reselling 14 and a half million over the last 25 years. 44 projects sounds like a lot, but over 25 years, it’s only like a house and a half a year. It’s not a whole lot, two houses a year. Moving from that speculator, that flipper, that short-seller to really, I became a real estate artist. That’s what I am. I build three dimensional art. I can’t paint, I can’t sculpt, I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument, but I can create three dimensional art that very wealthy people pay me upwards of $3,000 a square foot to live in.
Stefan Aarnio: It’s tremendous, Frank. I coach people all over Canada and the US. Whenever we talk about wow factor. I always talk about Frank McKinney. I talk about your home you did with the sunken ship wood floors, and the beach grass that was from the beach that you made into a counter top and how you did a lifetime achievement award for that very wealthy guy or girl that maybe sold a business and they want to own a piece of oceanfront art, and they want to have that, “Hey, look what I’ve got that no one else has.” Like that Acqua Liana home you did. Why don’t you talk a little bit about the psychology of selling ultra luxury real estate?
Frank McKinney: The psychology is found in the … The psychology begins and ends with, really, with the ultra wealthy buyer. The decision making process that an ultra wealthy person goes through when it comes to buying a $10, $15, $20 million house, Stefan, is fascinating. It’s a whole new book I could write. I’ve learned a lot from the ultra wealthy. They’re very rapid-fire decision makers. You and I might go to the mall and or your listeners might go to the mall and take three hours to determine to buy a pair of shoes. These guys will buy a $10 million house sometimes in 15 minutes. They’ll also decide not to buy it in 15 minutes. They don’t take a lot of time. Case and point, just like everybody listening to this podcast, I am a speculator. If you’re in the real estate business and you’re flipping houses, you’re a speculator too. I just happen to have a few more zeroes after my selling price than you do, but we’re the same people. When somebody walks into one of my houses on a Tuesday, loves what they see, Stefan they’ll be sleeping there oftentimes by Friday night.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Frank McKinney: Debt-cleared, wire-transfer posted, because why? Because I have mastered the ability to allow the ultra wealthy to act on their impulse buy doing the following. I want everybody to tune into this because it doesn’t matter your price-point. You have to intoxicate your buyer with his five senses, sights, sounds, smells, touch, and taste, intoxicate of your buyer’s experience walking through your front door in that state for you, in that state of intoxication. They’re so intoxicated with what they see, what they smell, what they touch, what they taste that they move from, “I need a house. I need …” Let’s say you’re teaching a lot of people to flip their first houses. Right? They’re whatever, $100,000, $200,000, $300,000 houses. What’s the average priced house? Give me a number 200, 300?
Stefan Aarnio: In Canada, average home is half a million believe it or not. In Winnipeg, where I live it’s $300,000. I think the states is $200,000.
Frank McKinney: Yeah. Let’s say, a number between 300 grand. You’re teaching people how to flip $300,000 houses and make a decent profit. What you have to do as a seller is you have to move that buyer from need, “I need to put a roof over my head.” To desire, “And I desire Stefan’s house.” How do you do that? How do you move somebody from need to desire? Same thing when you’re walking down the mall, and you’re going through and you’re looking in the glass windows. I don’t need a pair of shoes. Mine are fine. There are not holes in the bottom. Once I see the right ones, I desire those, and I’m going to go in and make the purchase.
Frank McKinney: It’s the same thing with real estate. If you can intoxicate your buyer with the experience they have with sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste to that state of being subliminally intoxicated, they then act on the next word, impulse. Impulse is a very critical factor even at the $300,000. People, once you’ve got them really excited about your product, they will pay a little … I always got 105% of retail. I’m a retail seller. I get the highest price per square foot on the ocean front, and like I said we’re approaching $3,000 a square foot, which is insane.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. We’re 200 to 300 a square foot in Winnipeg. You’re smashing. Even some of the homes I do I think it’s like 150 a square foot because it’s a starter area. You’re smashing. That’s unbelievable.
Frank McKinney: Okay. It’s a totally different price point. I’m selling the egg. I’m selling the Mona Lisa. I’m selling the Bentley. My cost per square foot will exceed $1,000 a square foot, you know, what I’m spending to create my artistry. My point is, I’m doing that, I’m not advocating that a $300,000 investor spend $500 a square foot to build a house a 600 square foot house or something. I’m advocating that you become the real estate artist that each and every one of you has the capability of becoming. To do that, listen, I use the word artist and people get all funny about it.
Frank McKinney: Let’s be perfectly clear, I am a businessman first. As an artist, a distant second. I put it at a distant second because I don’t want to be a starving artist, Stefan. I need to make money at what I do. All of this beauty, and grandeur, and opulence that I create is designed to do one thing and one thing only, make the sale, make the sale. Yes, I have the title as a real estate artist, and a real estate rock star with the clothes and the hair and all that crap. The whole reason I do all of that branding is to make an effing sale.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. That’s tremendous, Frank. You’re talking about impulse. I love that because you’re coming at them with the senses. People get seduced, it’s seductive, the senses. How much of real estate, especially luxury real estate is about exclusivity? You’ve got senses, and then how much of it is exclusivity for that sale?
Frank McKinney: It depends on the price point. I use another e word. Instead of exclusivity I would use experiential. Experiential, when they walk in one of my houses, that’s why within the first, I mean within the first 5 to 10 minutes, and it takes a good hour to see one of my houses because A, they’re large, and B, they’re very detailed. Within the first 5 to 10 minutes, I need to see that experiential opening on the synapses in the brain, so that that slow intoxication takes place with the beauty of the ocean, and maybe, like you mentioned the the most recent house, I just built a house that had countertops made out of melted sea glass harvested from oceans around the world. This new house, my final masterpiece I’m building, I’ve got a jellyfish sphere. A five foot diameter filled with jellyfish when you first walk in the door. Those kind of things are … They’re designed to do one thing. Is to, yes they’re exclusive.
Frank McKinney: My jellyfish sphere, there is not another one in the world except for one aquarium in California. No residential house has this. My countertops are made out of driftwood infused with acrylic. These are things that you won’t find anywhere else, but that exclusionary reference must … It can be exclusionary, meaning it’s … Not exclusionary. It can be exclusive to that house, but if it’s too over the top, which I have suffered from. If you want to get into the mistakes I’ve made, I’ve gone too far sometimes so when people walk in the front door they think, “Oh, this is a beautiful museum piece, but I can’t imagine myself living here.”
Stefan Aarnio: Oh wow.
Frank McKinney: You’ve got to kind of be careful, yeah. My Acqua Liana house I think it took so long to sell because people’s jaws were dragging across the floor when they walked in that house. You can go to my website and take a tour of that at Frank-mckinney.com and just click on houses sold and you can tour through Acqua Liana. I think we went a little too far in some areas. People just, “That’s something I’d love to visit, but I couldn’t imagine living there.” Finally, we found the right buyer. For that $300,000 buyer, heres the thing. I always advocate spending a little bit more money per square foot, suffering a little bit on the bottom line to build the top line in your personal brand. Sacrifice a little bit on the bottom line, especially at your guy’s age.
Frank McKinney: Now, I have a brand. Frank McKinney represents something. It represents something because I did that. My margins weren’t always the greatest. I mean I made huge home runs every now and then, other times I didn’t because I wouldn’t cut corners. To me, it’s not a bottom-line commodity driven business. It’s a piece of art, it’s a Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, people will pay a premium for a one of a kind. You can still do that in a $300,000 house. I’m not going to say you’re going to take a $300,000 house in a $300,000 market and sell it for 500. You’re going to sell it for 320, and you’re going to have very little negotiation, and you’re going to have like six days on market, you’re going to come in on budget, and you’re going to build a brand, a personal brand.
Stefan Aarnio: I love that, Frank. One thing that I love about you is you started out, I’ve heard your story before. You started out with the normal, little homes, and now you’re at the pinnacle of success with this luxury real estate. Can you tell the people at home a little bit what life was like for Frank McKinney before he was a superstar, rockstar luxury real estate mogul?
Frank McKinney: I’ll tell you what, I get a kick out of watching your videos. When I watch your videos, I’ve seen you walk people through and show them before and after in your fix up and your flips, and your $200,000 to $300,000, that was me … How old are you now, Stefan?
Stefan Aarnio: 31. Getting old over here.
Frank McKinney: That was me at your age. I didn’t have the suit, and I didn’t have the nice haircut that you have, but that was exactly me. I was extremely passionate about delivering the American dream to people who were renting it. That was my tagline. My tagline early in my career from 1987 to 1992 when I did hundreds of little houses. I didn’t do a house worth more than $100,000 for the first five years of my career.
Stefan Aarnio: Whoa.
Frank McKinney: Not a single one.
Stefan Aarnio: Whoa. Wow.
Frank McKinney: The price points were different back in the late 80s, early 90s. I jumped from my final house that I did in that price range was a $99,000 sale I’ll never forget it. I jumped from there to 2.2 million. Nowhere in between.
Stefan Aarnio: Whoa.
Frank McKinney: To answer your direct question, having a belief and passion that I loved … On my business card it used to say, “Dedicated to fulfilling your pursuit of the American dream.” Dedicated to fulfilling your pursuit of the American dream. That was my tagline. I took people out of places they were renting for $600-700 a month, and I taught them how they could own a house, or the American dream, and security. Why the hell would you want to rent the American dream? In fact, the American dream was never meant to be rented. It was meant to be owned. For you buy and holders, I’m not a buy and holder. I can show you how to do it. It’s just not my thing. It’s not my personal … My personality doesn’t mix with buy and hold. You buy and sellers, that’s what you’re doing. You’re taking people who, many of them are renting now. Little silly things I used to do back then, Stefan, and I wrote about this in my book, Make It Big, and my book, most people buying a beautiful Stefan Aarnio house have never had a new set of appliances.
Stefan Aarnio: Right.
Frank McKinney: If you’re doing the right thing, you’re not going to a used appliance store and putting used appliances in a flip. Don’t do that. Buy a new set. At least in American, you have to have those energy guides on there, you know those little yellow stickers?
Stefan Aarnio: Right, the stickers, yeah, the film. You put the film on there and the warranty card is inside too.
Frank McKinney: Don’t take those off. I left them on, to show people, “Oh my god, this is a brand new refrigerator.” The excitement back then just from seeing a sticker, a yellow sticker on there was astounding. Even to this day, let’s fast forward to today. I just finished a house in Ocean Ridge. It’s a small house, it’s called a micro-mansion. It’s about $3 million. I purposefully didn’t finish one of the closets. I finish all of my houses. I mean they’re furnished down to the gold-plated toothbrush in the bathroom, linens on the bed, towels in the closet, fully furnished. I didn’t finish out a closet. I haven’t for the last few projects. You know why?
Frank McKinney: When somebody walks through, well no, not to customize it, because I’ll do it for them, but I want them to know that house is so new, it’s so fresh that I still have to finish that closet over there. I’ve just finished, I’ve just got that closet and that house has been on the market about six months, but it still looks like it’s brand, brand new because I still got, purposefully, on purpose, one room to finish. Same thing I would do back in the day with the $300,000 flips. Leaving the stickers on, you know? Then staging your houses. If you have a $500 budget, which you all do in your budgets in your $300,000 flips, to go to Walmart and buy place settings, and buy towels, and buy soap. Someone buys your house, you’re going to turn it from a house to a home.
Stefan Aarnio: Right, right. Frank, I want to ask you a little bit. I love this conversation so far, because we started out with the luxury, and we started out with the $3,000 square foot home, which is tremendous, and then we scaled it back to where did Frank McKinney start, and one thing I’m seeing that’s common here is the American dream, and then there is also that lifetime achievement award dream. What does an American dream mean to you? Because that’s something I say. I say the Canadian dream, because we’re selling to a lot of Filipino immigrants who are new to the country. Winnipeg, where I live, is 16% Filipino, so people move from Manila to Winnipeg, and we sell them their first starter home. What is the American dream that everyone wants to own?
Frank McKinney: You know, it’s funny, it’s evolved, Stefan, from when I first got into the business. It was a little bit more innocent. It was a little more pure. With the evolution of social media, the evolution of political acrimony, and bitterness, and vileness that’s out there right now, it’s evolved to a more happy … Like my first houses, every single one of my first houses, I mean if I did 190 of them, had a white picket fence outside. You know? I don’t know if to Canadians that means anything, but down here that is like the Little House on the Prairie.
Frank McKinney: That is the American dream. It was Innocent. It was pure. Now the American dream really represents a place of solitude, a place of safety. A place where they A, they know their building network, because by buying a single family home, even if you’re not an investor, and living there for seven years at the average rate of appreciation, and I can’t speak for Canada, but speaking for America, the average rate of appreciation, it will be the single greatest wealth creator that any person will buy or invest in. They will make more money just by buying and living in their single family home, not as an expert, just as an end-user, an owner, than anything else.
Frank McKinney: Down here, now that’s evolved to, “I want it safe, I want seclusion, I want almost an escape.” That’s what the American dream represents today. “I work my ass off, nine to five, whatever I do. I might be a teacher, or a county sanitation worker, my wife is a teacher. I come home. I’ve got my 2.2 kids, I’ve a got a dog. I just want a safe place. I want a very well-built place. I don’t want to have things breaking. I want to have some wow factor in there.” The other part I’m advocating first time investors to make sure they do, I’m going to tell them something they all know, and I’m sure you’ve told them this. The money rooms, the kitchen, the master bedroom, the master bathroom. Those are your money rooms. Those are where you’re going to send your money. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $30 million house of mine on the ocean, or a $300,000 house in Canada, those are still where you’re going to spend your money. If I asked you and your listeners to identify what gender are those three rooms?
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, it’s women all the way man. Feminine all the way.
Frank McKinney: It’s a female gender, and that’s great, because typically there is a couple making a decision. But, you got to introduce one masculine room in your house. Because the guy, and I’m going to sexist here and a little chauvinist, but more often than not the guy is going to write the check and make the decision. Many years ago, I mean many years ago. After I got first time home buyer flips and got into $2, $3, $4 million houses, I made sure, yes, the master bedroom, the master bathroom, and kitchen were very female in gender. I would always introduce a male biased room, be it a study, be it a den, be it a theater, a home office.
Frank McKinney: In a $300,000 flip because of limited space, that’s a little tougher, but what you all can do is you can take a living room or a TV room, and a guy has to be able to picture himself sitting on the couch Super Bowl Sunday. A bowl of chips and a Mountain Dew, and his buddies, and pizza. “Where am I going to watch the football game from?” Again, almost inside that $500 budget, if you may have your house, you can go online and buy 60-inch televisions for $100. Now, you’re saying, “Where can I do that?” They’re fake. There’s no TV. It’s just the rectangle, it looks like a TV. There is a static image on it. You can spend the money to put that on the wall and put out the food and the drinks to make that guy see that, “Hey, this is where I could watch the Stanley Cup, this is where I could watch the American football.” You’ve got to give your buyer at least one masculine room.”
Stefan Aarnio: Right. I always say that when the woman and the man are doing the open house and they’re walking through, the woman this is like the moment in her life, she’s been waiting her whole life to own a home, because little girls they play house, boys play trucks or something else. The man comes in, and he looks in the garage, and he looks in the basement. He sits on the couch and he wants until his wife says, “This is the house.” Then he starts looking around. Right? Because she’s choosing, and then he gets a garage and a basement. Maybe the basement is the chips and drinks room with the Stanley Cup.
Frank McKinney: Yeah, yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: Or maybe the garage. Right? Those are his two options. In your home, I saw the one with the pool where you went in the garage, you park your Ferrari or your Lamborghini, and you could see the bikini girls swimming through the wall, which was super cool.
Frank McKinney: Yeah. That’s a great observation is true. I take it one step further if you can, like yes, my garages cost me almost as much to build as my master bathroom.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Frank McKinney: I put a lot, I put air conditioning in there, I put chargers for your Tesla in there, I put beautiful marble tile in there, I put trim in there, I put expensive garage doors in there. It’s very expensive. I do have guys, actually I have women that love my garages too. They love seeing my garages. Do yourself a favor, pick a room inside the house, even if it is your basement to turn into that man cave.
Stefan Aarnio: I love that.
Stefan Aarnio: Changing gears a little bit, now I don’t know if you’ve read any of Robert Green’s books, he wrote 48 Laws of Power, he wrote a book called Mastery. Robert Green says Mastery is a blend of creativity and discipline. Do you think one or the other is more important, or would you say it’s right in the middle to be a master?
Frank McKinney: Discipline.
Stefan Aarnio: Discipline.
Frank McKinney: Discipline.
Stefan Aarnio: Okay. Tell me about that. Why is discipline more important than creativity?
Frank McKinney: If I had to pick one or the other, first thing, here is the difference between those two. I want to give you my own definition of mastery, I actually have one more element that I think you might be missing, but creativity and discipline. Most people will come up to me and say, “I wish I was as creative as you.” Because I design all my own houses, I’ve written six books in five different genres. I’m a pretty creative guy. That is a learned skill. That is not something that someone that you envy is blessed with. Don’t ever get that thought in your head. We all have right brain left brain capability. My right brain says I’m great at mathematics and statics, which I am. The left brain says I can write six book in five genres and design all my houses. Most people shut off one side of the brain or the other at a very early age, Stefan, and they believe that they are only creative or an accountant, I mean doing numbers.
Stefan Aarnio: Right, discipline.
Frank McKinney: That does not have to be the case. I am really proud of the fact that I am as good with numbers as I am on the creative side. Creative, creativity combined with discipline you said. Creativity is something that we believe we have or we don’t. I’m going to tell you today you have it. You have to tap into it. I don’t want to waste time on this podcast how I do it, but there are ways you can tap into your own creativity. On the other side, the reason I think this is more important is because we struggle, we struggle with discipline. We all have a different level of discipline.
Frank McKinney: On the other side of the coin, many of us believe we aren’t creative. We just aren’t. “I’m not a creative, I can’t do it, I got to hire somebody to do it.” That is bullshit. You are all creative. If you understand that, and we can pull out your creativity. I believe if you sat across the desk with me and you said you weren’t creative, within 10 minutes I would have you showing me examples without you even knowing it how creative you really are by asking a few particular questions. On the discipline side, Stefan, you remember that we spent a whole two hours or three hours on closing the loop, being the executioner. Being the executioner. Remember that?
Stefan Aarnio: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Frank McKinney: The difference between an executioner. People nowadays lack discipline. Investors, specifically in real estate, lack discipline. Why? Especially in your guys generation. We all have. I have it, and everybody listening to this call, listening to this podcast has it. Had AD. Attention deficit. Not attention deficit disorder. Some of us may have the disorder. I probably have the disorder. I don’t care. I hope I do. We all have attention deficit. If you have attention deficit, and you’re in the real estate business, and somebody like Stefan teaches you how to wholesale proprietors, and somebody like Frank McKinney comes along and teaches you how to wholesale property, and the next guy comes along to teach you how to short-sell property, and get into storage units, and get into commercial real estate, and then become a builder.
Frank McKinney: By the time you’re my age, you’ve become a jack of all trades and a master of none. You haven’t focused on one discipline long enough. You don’t have the discipline to focus on a discipline. Listen, I’m going to blow all your listeners minds. I put less than 3,000 miles a year on my car. My fortune, my brand, my territory if you will, I don’t drive any further, my projects I should say for the last 25 years, have not been further than 10 miles apart. What does that say? I choose to carve my niche a little deeper and wider than most. I don’t carve a niche kind of deep, and then move to another niche and carve it a little deep, and then move it around. I stay hyper-disciplined. Discipline takes a lot more work. Creativity, you free a side of your brain and it’s actually as much work. I think everybody listening to this call, don’t be … I’m going to take them through that executioner exercise really quick.
Stefan Aarnio: Sure.
Frank McKinney: Imagine a clock. Imagine a clock. Stefan teaches you something that you excited about. You watch one of his videos, and he’s his cool tie on, and his suit on. You want to look like him, and you want to drive him, and you want to be like him. You’re walking through the house, and he’s getting you excited. You start, you’re at 12 o’clock with the hands on the clock. You get super excited. By three o’clock, a quarter the way through the hour, a quarter way through your life, you become bored. Your AD sets in, and then you listen to some other clown that teaches you how to make money some other way.
Frank McKinney: You get all excited again, and then you lose your interest, then you try some other application, you lose your interest. Guess what? You’re a flea. I call you a flea because you jump from one thing to the next and you never master one. Please don’t be a flea. Stick with something Stefan is teaching you. Pick any specialty person out there, I don’t care who you pick, stick with it. Stick with the specialty too. Stick with flipping houses, don’t retail, wholesale. Stick with one discipline. Let’s say you make a past three, four, five, six o’clock. All right? You’re halfway done, halfway through your career, halfway through your life, halfway through the endeavor. That’s when you show up at the job site, and your water hasn’t been turned on yet, but your subcontractors took a crap in your toilet.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh wonderful.
Frank McKinney: You’re saying, “What the fuck? Why am I in this stupid ass business? You’ve got these people who don’t care about me. These subcontractors are idiots. I’ve got to go, nobody is around, I’ve got to clean out this toilet. I’m out. I’m going back to corporate America, I’m going back to something else, I can’t do this anymore. Everybody is letting me down.” You know what? You made it halfway through, and you bailed. Guess what you are to me? You’re a half-asser. You get halfway through, the going gets tough, this still happens to me by the way. If I have toilet overflow and nobody is around, I’ll clean it. If nobody is around to clean my windows on the ocean, I’ve got a showing in half an hour, I can blast around a house in one hour with a squeegee and a hose, I ain’t afraid to still do it today.
Frank McKinney: I’m not half-asser, nothing like that scares me. I know for those of you who watch soap operas, of which there are not many. If you did watch soap operas, you know about soap operas, soap operas are supposed to be about everyday life. But is everyday life that exciting? Hell no. If soap operas were really truthful, nobody would watch them. I’m trying to make a point about that half-asser. When the going gets tough, you’ve got to say to yourself, “You know what? I’m getting that mop and that bucket, I’m cleaning out that toilet. I’ll get through this.” Don’t quit.
Frank McKinney: Stay disciplined. You’re at 9:00, nine o’clock. You’re three quarters of the way there. This is an interesting study of people. There’s a lot of fleas out there who jump from one thing to next, There’s a lot of half-assers. They get halfway, and then they bail, and they go do something else. Maybe 10% to 15% of you will become this person. This is the person who is close to the finish line. They’ve done everything Stefan has said. They’ve bought it right. They’ve rehabbed it right. They’ve gone through all the process, they’ve cleaned out the toilets when nobody was there. Washed the windows when nobody was there.
Frank McKinney: They’re getting close. They fear success. If you’ve ever met somebody that is subliminally, subconsciously is afraid of success, they become so associated with the process, Stefan, I’m not in this for the artistry and the headlines, and the press. I’m in it to make money, man. It’s not the process that matters to me. The artistry and the creativity. I don’t know if depending on the medium I thought that way, but I got to sell this stuff. I’m at nine o’clock, and I think, “I am that close to the finish line. I am not going to become associated with solely the process of real estate. I’ve got to execute, like an executioner.” Like somebody who puts you to death back in the medieval times, or today. There is no half-ass, there is no fleeing that. You’ve got to do it. Being, that guy who wrote that book. Discipline to me will trump creativity any day. I’m sorry for the long-winded answer, but it’s a really good question.
Stefan Aarnio: It’s tremendous, Frank. I really appreciate the … I do think freedom comes from discipline. If you seek freedom unto itself, you’ll be depressed, because you’re just going to turn into a marshmallow or something, one thing I really admire about you, I’ve met your wife, I’ve met your daughter, we went down to Haiti together, built a village of homes in fact, and one thing I admire about you Frank is that you are a true leader. You are a great husband, you’ve been with the same woman forever. Your daughter is tremendous. I follow her on Facebook. She is at Penn State, she’s doing some media stuff. What is the key to being a leader as a father and as a husband?
Frank McKinney: You know, I think the best leaders, it’s really interesting that you ask that. I always thought I got lucky with my daughter when it came to her turning out. Next week she will run for the vice presidency of a 43,000 student college.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, I saw she was running for something.
Frank McKinney: Yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: She’s a leader too. You raised another leader.
Frank McKinney: You know, seeing her running, and eventually next week she could be the president of a 43,000 student campus. She went in there as a freshman, just being a nobody, and she’ll emerge at worst being vice president of something like that. I said, “What the heck did I do right man?” You know my backstory. I was a troublemaker. I was in juvenile detention halls. I was in four high schools in four years. I graduated with a 1.8 grade point average. I was big trouble. My wife was raised pretty well, she didn’t get in any trouble. I step back and I say, okay, the kind of leader that I think I am, in the small sense, in the most important sense to my family, is I didn’t talk at my daughter.
Frank McKinney: I actually, I remember one of the most important lessons I taught her, and I hope you will all apply this, if you ever have kids or even with yourself. It’s a great metaphor. Every time we traveled, Stefan, through the airports, and we had a little layover, and it was her, me, and my wife, we had time. Most airports have a moving sidewalk. Right? Those two sidewalks that go opposite directions, you know what I’m talking about right?
Stefan Aarnio: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Frank McKinney: From the age of two or three when she could walk, I’d say, “Honey, I want you to go down the opposite side of the sidewalk. I want you to walk against the people. I want you to … When you get to the other end, we’ll go get a stick of gum or a candy bar or something, but I want you to do that. Do that for dad.” Of course, human nature says, “I’m not …” she’d cry, and “I don’t want to do that, I’ll be embarrassed.” She got older, 6, 7, 8, 10 years old, 12 years old. “I’ll be embarrassed daddy, no.” “Honey do it.” Then as the years evolved, I saw her enjoying going against the grain. Finding confidence in not going … That was the whole idea. I wanted her to take a risk. That’s risky.
Frank McKinney: When you’re five years old, and you’re going down a moving side walk, and all these adults are coming at you with their suitcases. You’ve got to get out of their way and explain why the hell you’re doing that as they’re coming at you, laughing at you, whatever. It’s the most powerful exercise and metaphor for life. “You can’t be afraid sweetie to go against the grain. To have people make fun of you. To have people laugh at you. To have people bump into you. To push you down. You’ve got to be confident to go against the grain.” To this day, when we go to the airport, now she’s 19 years old. She’ll still do it. She doesn’t mind. You know, “My dad is doing it. My dads been doing this since I was five. Please, do you mind moving, I’m coming down the wrong way.” When she went to school, I never pushed grades on her. I said, “Honey, if you bring home a C, it means ‘C, I’m smart’. That’s what it stands for to daddy. Doesn’t mean you’re going to get your iPhone taken away, or have your dinner taken away, or punished.
Frank McKinney: I never put punishment out there like that, which in turn caused her to be self-motivated. “You bring home a detention honey, we’re going to Applebee’s. Because that means what? You’re human. You made a mistake. I’m not going to chastise you for it.” Guess what, she never brought home a C. She never got a detention. She’s now going to be president of a 43,000 student college. You lead by, kind of like, you know I’m a Christian and I’m a believer. You lead by the way Christ led. Christ was a man of very few words. His actions were the ones that people wanted to follow. That’s kind of how I want to lead. I’m not a big social person, Stefan. I don’t have a million friends. I work out of a tree house. As a matter of fact, I’m talking to you from my tree house today. I don’t relate to a lot of people all that well when it comes to that, but by way of example, you can become a leader. Just how you carry yourself. Just how you act, not what you say.
Stefan Aarnio: I love that Frank. You’ve done a tremendous job with your family. One thing I’m hearing from you, we talked about creativity, discipline. You really brought out focus. You’re focused in your niche, you’re focused, I love the story about you walking your daughter to school every day. You’re focused with your wife. I see focus with you, massive focus. I love that.
Stefan Aarnio: To go to the next question, we’ve got to wrap up in a couple minutes here, what is the one thing, to the young people out there, the millennials, the next generation, what do young people need to succeed nowadays?
Frank McKinney: I’m going to give them two things real quick. The first thing is, you’ve heard throughout this entire conversation, it’s mostly millennials, you’ve heard one thing pouring out of my pours, oozing out of my body and that is passion. You can not be afraid to have an ego. I want you to, you know, ego is typically a three letter word that’s turned into a four letter word, meaning it is supposed to be bad, ego is bad. There is bad ego. There is a bad kind of ego. The healthiest ego is the most critical, essential type of ego that does two things. It collides passion with your belief that you’re a little bit better than most at what you do. Not better than everybody, but a little … Like I know that I am better than most people in real estate, hands down.
Frank McKinney: Is there people that are better than me? Yes, there are people that are better than me, as defined by whatever, Trump, I’ve always looked up to Trump. Trump endorsed a bunch of my books. I don’t really like him as a … I mean, the way he leads is a little weird, but his real estate I’ve always looked up to. I have a huge passion … First of all, simply, you have an ego. It’s okay to have an ego, as defined by having passion for something that you believe you do better than most people. That’s a healthy ego. Have that. The second thing is, you can’t do that without exercising your risk tolerance like a muscle. Without exercising your risk threshold like a muscle.
Frank McKinney: If you do that, guys and girls, if you do that it will eventually become stronger. Just like in the gym, when you exercise a muscle it becomes stronger. If you exercise your risk tolerance, keep taking the risks. Do that flip. Listen to Stephan. Get out from behind the cubical, or your nine to five, do your first deal. I was … Nobody is born a real estate investor, by the way. Real estate investors are made. Even my daughter, if she decides to get in, she ain’t born a real estate investor. She had to make it herself. Take a risk. My first $50,000 flip, which is what it was. I made a $7,000 profit on a $50,000 flip.
Frank McKinney: That was the biggest risk I ever took, because I left my nine to five behind me. I was a tennis instructor. I left that behind me and decided to take a risk. Without exercising my risk tolerance, my risk threshold would have never gotten stronger. You’ve got to take the risk. Without it, and I don’t care if you’re listening to this and you want to risk starting a tupper ware club in your neighborhood, it doesn’t have to be risking doing $20 million flips, take the risk. Life would be very void of joy and excitement without you saying yes to taking a risk.
Stefan Aarnio: I love that, Frank. It’s fantastic. Now, we got to wrap up the call here. Are there any resources that you would recommend for young people who want to follow on a path like yours?
Frank McKinney: Well, yeah there’s two of them. I’m going to speak for your ego, and I’ll speak for mine. I think they should listen to you. Listen, I don’t get on podcasts with everybody. I think there’s a little bit of going on where I get a podcast and people draw a bunch of people and they use my name. Stefan has paid his dues. He is only 31, but I think you should listen to him. He’s no bullshit. He doesn’t anything. He doesn’t talk about when he tries to coach people, it’s not all about the money and upselling people. I’ve watched you, I mean I’ve watched you meaning Stefan. He’s the real deal.
Stefan Aarnio: Thank you.
Frank McKinney: Whatever resources you’re offering, I’m saying he has paid his dues by listening to the best. He has a library of success material 10 times the size of mine. I’m a really slow reader. I can’t read as fast as him. Follow him for those of you who, like you always look up to a peer. If you’re listening to this and you’re 28, you should be looking up to somebody who is 31. He is doing what you want to do, yet he’s pretty much your age. The second person is me. I have a book called Burst This. In Burst This, it chronicles really my 25 years of making real estate markets where they hadn’t existed before.
Frank McKinney: It’s everything I know in real estate in one book. I’ve written six books, but if you want to get into real estate, of all the books, of course I’d love for you to buy all six, because all the money goes to my charity. If you buy one Burst This book, which costs $30, I can provide 300 meals in one of our orphanages in Haiti. None of the money goes in my pocket. It all goes to our orphanages in Haiti. We’re going to build the orphanage without you buying a book from me, but if you buy a book know you provided 300 meals. You should buy it from my website, Frank-McKinney, Frank-mckinney.com, because I get more money if I sell it direct to you versus going through Amazon. I only get like $3 from Amazon, while if I sell it directly to you I get about $20.
Stefan Aarnio: Plus you get the relationship, right, Frank? When they buy direct to you, you guys have a relationship, you have their information, you guys are in touch, Amazon, they don’t get the relationship, right?
Frank McKinney: That’s right. That’s exactly right. Simplify. Pick two people, pick resources, it doesn’t have to be Stefan or me, pick two resources and stick with them. Don’t read it for a month or two and say, “I’m going to somebody else.” Stick with it for awhile. Once you’ve absorbed it and you’ve put it into practice, and you’ve either succeeded or failed with it, then you can move on to something or someone else.
Stefan Aarnio: I love that. It’s focus. Again, Frank McKinney, discipline, focus, he’s got it all. Before we go Frank, is there any programs or causes you’d like to promote?
Frank McKinney: No. I think the thing to do is go to my webpage, Frank-mckinney.com, just put a dash between my first name, Frank-McKinney, M-C-K-I-N-N-E-Y.com, take a look at the six books. You can take tours of the houses I’ve built. They’re fantastic houses. You take video tours of the houses. You can take a coming attraction movie trailer tour of the one I’m building right now. I’ve actually had a movie company come out and do a coming attraction movie trailer, but it’s a trailer for a house. Most importantly, obviously, our Caring House project that Stefan has supported by building, Stefan has built a house in Haiti. He’s built a house for a family of eight in Haiti. Did you build more than one? I think you might have built more than one. You probably did build more than one.
Stefan Aarnio: I think I just did one, but I found it amazing that for a small donation, I think it was $5,000 US you can get a whole house built. I thought that was a great ROI investment for charity. Usually give the money to a charity and they spend it on their own dinners and their own salaries. $5,000 to Frank McKinney’s Caring House gets a whole house for a family. It’s concrete. It stays there forever.
Frank McKinney: Just to correct that a bit, Stefan decided to go to Haiti with us. $4,200 built the house, $800 paid for his plane trip over there and his hotel. If you want to build a house for us, it’s $4,200. We don’t do trips to Haiti anymore. We’re running a little bit differently. I’m taking people who build whole villages, I’m taking them over there. I would encourage you to go to my webpage, click on the Caring House link, and most people when I say, this, like their eyes gloss over. There’s 74 donation options on my webpage ranging from a $4.75 chip in all the way up to an entire village for $248,000.
Frank McKinney: Sacrifice a latte one day, you know? And go out and donate to buy a chicken or two. You can do that and it goes so far. Listen, I’ll finish with this, being a believer and a Christian, to whom much is entrusted, much is expected. Luke 12:48. To whom much is entrusted, much is expected. You’ve been entrusted with a lot. Everybody listening to this. Believe it or not, you have. Come to Haiti with me someday, you’ll realize you’re the richest person in the world. Many blessings. God rewards responsible stewards. You got to invest in Stefan, invest in your education, but we’d certainly appreciate a donation or two from you at our Caring House project page on my web page.
Stefan Aarnio: Awesome. Thank you so much for the call, Frank. Really great to catch up with you and connect again. You’ve really helped me on my journey a lot, given me someone to look up to. I know this call is going to help a lot of people all over the world get inspired by your story, inspired by your cause, inspired by your leadership. I think we’re going to help a lot of people. Thank you for coming today.
Frank McKinney: You’re welcome. The next time we’re together I want to wear your sweater.
Stefan Aarnio: All right man, maybe I should just get you one. I’ll bring you one down. Talk to you soon.
Frank McKinney: Okay. Talk to you later.
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