Frank McKinney: Best Selling Author, Real Estate Artist, and Ultramarathoner Talks Reinvention

When Frank McKinney graduated high school, he earned his diploma with a less-than-stellar 1.8 GPA.  With $50 in his pocket, McKinney left his native state of Indiana and headed to Florida in search of his life’s highest calling. Despite all odds, he managed to become successful.

McKinney is an accomplished author, real-estate artist, and philanthropist. In real estate, McKinney started with a $50,000 fixer upper and worked his way to a $50 million oceanfront mansion. He is a 5-time International Bestselling Author (in 4 genres), and an ultramarathon runner.

The Real Deal On… Reinvention

Recently, McKinney was a guest on The Real Deal On… with Dug McGuirk.  The conversation occurred in one of McKinney’s stunning micro mansions where he discussed the theme of reinvention and rediscovery.

In the first 25 years of his real-estate journey, McKinney focused on building huge mansion-like homes for the ultra-wealthy, but later he discovered a shift in the mindset of the rich. McKinney talks about his decision to develop “micro mansions.” He says the experience was a valuable life lesson.

“We realized there was a shift. You can become complacent, you can become in denial, but there’s been a big shift in that the ultra-wealthy are not wanting houses that are as big as they used to.  So we took the opulence, the grandeur, the artistry, the beauty [and] shrunk it down to a more manageable size.”

“That was huge— I’ve built bedrooms bigger than this house!” McKinney says. “4,100 sq. ft. is the biggest bedroom I’ve ever built. This [home] is 4,087, so it’s 13 sq. ft. smaller than the bedroom I built.”

“But part of the beauty of reinvention is a reigniting of the soul after you’ve done something for so long…” he explains.

On Running Ultra Marathons

Along with his professional accomplishments, McKinney has run several ultramarathons. An ultra-marathon is a marathon “of any distance longer than a regular marathon” which means it can be a marathon of 35, 50 or 100 miles.  The ultra-marathon McKinney runs is an astounding 135 miles.

Known as The Badwater Ultramarathon, it is considered the “world’s toughest footrace” according to National Geographic. It takes place in the Badwater Basin in California’s Death Valley.

Initially, McKinney says the idea of completing the ultramarathon was “unfathomable.”

“It’s 135 miles nonstop through the desert in July where the daytime temperatures are 125 and the pavement temperature, because you’re running on a road, is over 200 degrees,” he says. “You can fry an egg on it. I’ve seen people fry an egg on it.”

“I learned about this race, and I had it—insurmountable, incomprehensible, impossible— lay itself on my heart. I had two choices, to believe that it was those three things…but others had done it?” He says.

“So I hired a coach.”

Although McKinney did not consider himself to be a “coachable” person, he knew it was what he needed to get on the starting line. He explains how runners must be selected to participate in the Badwater Ultramarathon and to apply to the race “is like applying to Harvard or Yale.”

In total, McKinney has run the race ten times and completed the race seven times.

“When I’m in that race, it is a metaphor for life. There are extreme highs, euphoric highs, and then ten miles later, I could be bawling my eyes out because I feel like you-know-what, and I’ve got another 70 miles to go, and I already have blisters on the bottom my feet,” he says.

“What I’ve learned though is with faith, patience and the passage of time, those low points pass. Unfortunately, so does the high points!”

Still, McKinney says he learns from his failures as much as his successes. There were three consecutive races that he did not finish.

“I’ve failed three times in a row. I’m aging out; I’m getting too old,” he admits.

“Last year, […] I wanted to quit so many times, and I had all my meltdowns, problems and issues, but I never let my mind cross over. It wanted to, and it was ready to. I take my shoes off and throw my glasses down… but I never made that cross over,” he says.

“So maybe for somebody who’s going through recovery, you’ve crossed over, you’re sober now; don’t ever allow your mind to cross back over.”

Pushing Through the Internal Dialogue

Later in the interview, Frank McKinney answers how he overcomes the monsters in his head considering all of the risks he’s taken to be successful. Ultimately, he says outside criticism can be a source of motivation. He learned this lesson when he was building a 30 million dollar spec house a while back.

“I was told when we built that house…a guy from M.I.T was quoted in this article in the USA Today saying, ‘There’s no market for a $30 million spec house, there’s no buyer for it.  That young man (at the time I was younger), will be dumpster diving in a year.”

“I’m like, ‘Oh my god! What if he’s right!’” he remembers.

“I went out and busted even harder, and I ended up selling that house in a relatively short period of time, and I took the article that was written about that house. I remember cutting it out, and I took a picture of me sitting in a dumpster, and I sent it to the dude at M.I.T.”

The lesson learned, McKinney says, is to take it from the source. Sometimes that inner dialogue can be a tool of productivity, he explains.

“I will always consider the source, and it’s really important to allow the little monster in. It’s okay!  I allow some of that in. I want the feedback from the marketplace,” McKinney says.

“It gets back to that creation of your own reality,” he says.

“People that go through recovery […] they’re wired a little bit differently. They’ve got a synapse or two that are different than the rest of us. I think it’s a gift. I think that the person who enters those doors, they struggle. They can be tortured at times with that gift. But if you can turn that into a true gift, as I mentioned before, you’re not going to change, but redirect into something constructive instead of destructive, you can set the world on fire. “

“I have not changed. I still have that addictive personality. I’m addicted to excitement, but I’ve found a constructive outlet.”

The Difference between Motivation, Inspiration, and Aspiration

Whether it’s in recovery or everyday life, many dig for motivation or inspiration to push them along hardships.  Looking back, Frank McKinney says an important lesson he learned in life was understanding motivation does not last.

Motivation “washes down the body and goes down the drain with the soap at night,” he says.

“You can read a motivational quote on Facebook, how long does that last?  About three seconds?” he says.

“There’s a little bit of relief to know that we are not, as a species, meant to stay motivated.”

As for inspiration, that does not last either.

“Inspiration lasts about as long as a bad sunburn,” he says. “You can read an inspirational book, and it will last for a while. I’ve had some that lasted for a while.  Or you watch an inspirational movie. Eventually, it wears off.”

So if motivation does not last and inspiration does not last, what does last? What is it?

“It’s aspiration. When you identify something that really is greater than you can comprehend now,” McKinney says.

Ask Yourself:

  • What legacy do you aspire to leave behind for your family?
    “If you answer that every single day of your life, you may lose motivation or inspiration, but that aspiration, endeavor or undertaking, you’ll never lose sight of that,” McKinney affirms.
  • Who do you aspire to emulate?
  •  “I aspire to _blank_ which is higher than I can comprehend ”

Overall, love is at the basis of everything, he says. Everyone wants to be happy, but beneath all of that is the want to be loved. Peel all the layers and love is beneath it all.

“Being in love and living in love and having that beautiful word in your life is magic,” McKinney says.

Throughout the 40-minute interview, McKinney discusses taking and embracing risks,  the importance of creating a creative space and other powerful lessons learned through his real estate journey. When asked about his greatest accomplishment, he credits his philanthropy work in Haiti, building homes for the less fortunate. Furthermore, he also shares lessons learned in his 27-year marriage. Please watch the full interview to hear more about his incredible journey!


Frank McKinney’s journey shows the importance of recreating your reality and the importance of reinvention. Regardless of the cards handed to you in life; you still have the ability to move forward. If you or someone you know is struggling in recovery, know there is help out there. It is never too late to change. Call now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Pin It on Pinterest

%d bloggers like this: