I had the great privilege to speak with Frank McKinney, a real estate mogul who uses the wealth he earns to care for the homeless and to build self-sufficient villages in Haiti. To learn more about Frank, learn about his books, and the work he does, check out his website: frank-mckinney.com
Introduction of Philanthropic Capitalism
Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. The cold has been ushered in here in Chicagoland. Before I left on my Thanksgiving vacation to see family in Virginia, the weather was great. We had a nice long autumn season, but for those of you listening here in Chicagoland, you know winter is here and it’s only getting worse. We’re going to head into single digits.
Chris: Or maybe it’s getting better.
Kurt: Oh yes. Chris. Maybe it’s getting better. My father would say it’s getting better. Single digit temperature. We’ve got a snow storm coming, 8-12 inches so it’s these times of year that I question why I’m living here exactly. Okay. So we’ve got a great show for you today. In a few moments we’re going to be bringing on Frank McKinney, but before we get to that we’ve got a few announcements so last week we announced on the show that Defenders Media has been given a $12,000 matching grant opportunity to finish out the year here so if you’ve ever considered donating to our ministry, either to Veracity Hill specifically or more broadly to the work that Defenders does, now is the time to do it because your donation will be doubled up to $12,000. It’s a generous offer by the foundation and we’re very blessed by this opportunity so please help us meet our year-end goal for that. Also last week we had a great time talking to Perry Marshall, the author of Evolution 2.0. For those that are viewing here on Facebook Live, we’ve got the book here, Evolution 2.0. We are going to give this away, give this book here away. If you really enjoyed that episode and you want to read his book, go ahead and like our Facebook page and we’re going to announce how you can win the book so please pay attention to that. A couple of weeks ago when I was out of town Chris did an excellent job filling in for me talking about Mere Christianity so thank you Chris and if you haven’t had the chance to listen to that, please do go ahead and check that out.
If you’d like to have your voice heard on the show, there’s a few ways you can do that. The best way is to give us a call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. And did you know you can text us? Just text the word VERACITY to the number 555-888. Once you do that, you can send me messages about the show. If you might have questions or a topic or a guest request I’ll go ahead and take those submissions as well through our texting program so that’s a great way for us to get in touch with each other and I’d love to get your feedback on how the show’s going.
So today’s topic we’re talking about philanthropic capitalism. A lot of people think and maybe have even been influenced by that movie Wall Street where the main character says greed is good, right? Capitalism is just greedy and it’s really just a corrupt system intrinsically, but is it really? Back in November we did a number of politically themed shows, episodes for you, and so we’re going to do another politically based topic now, an economic one really, and we’re talking about can there be a thing such as moral capitalism or capitalism for the sake of others, for the good of others, and so to help explore this topic we’ve invited a special guest, Frank McKinney. He is a real estate mogul if you will, but he’s got a rags to riches story and he certainly lives in warmer climates than here so Frank, thanks for coming on the show today.
Interview with Frank McKinney
Frank: Kurt, I listened to you explain the weather up there in Chicago and I’m talking to you here if your listeners can picture this from an oceanfront treehouse office. I work actually in a treehouse, it’s an office, right on the ocean. Beach. It’s about 80 degrees, a little rainy, no snowstorms or anything, so when you question why you live in Chicago, we would love to host you in the treehouse someday.
Kurt: A little rainy. Aw shucks.
Frank: That’s all we get is a little rain, but actually from Indiana. I’m a corn-fed country boy that was raised in a little town outside of Indianapolis so I’m very familiar with the weather you’re experiencing.
Kurt: Nice. Chris here, one of our tech guys and panelists, he’s also from Indiana. So tell us Frank, before we jump into what you do, tell us a little bit about your backstory. You’re born and raised in Indiana, but from what I’ve read online, you moved to Florida as a teenager with fifty bucks in your pocket.
Frank: Yep. Corn fed country boy. I might have left the Midwest but the Midwest never left me. I did hop on a plane when I was eighteen years old. I’d gone to three, four different high schools in four years and it wasn’t because my father was in the military. I was asked to leave one school after the next then I finally went to a school that’s run by Jesuits, went to a school that’s run by Benedictine monks. They all tried. I guess they succeeded. It just took a little while and a few schools in between, but I landed in Florida with that $50 bill many years ago in search of what I referred to as my professional highest calling. What was I put on this Earth to do? I don’t believe in the welfare mentality. I might believe in the welfare system, but not the mentality, not the entitlement mentality. So when I landed I got a job digging sand traps on a golf course as a maintenance worker for $180 a week and I was watching that show on TV, you’re a little young, you might not remember this, but Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous, it was a great show narrated by Robin Leech.
For younger people, it would be MTV Cribs or something like that. You got to kind of be a lawyer and look inside the lifestyles of the people who were successful and I actually watched it in person in real life as a maintenance worker watching these rich people play golf all day as I was working on their golf course. I was moved over from the golf course to the tennis courts and maintained those. I became a tennis pro, pretty good teaching tennis pro. Same thing though. I was around affluence and I decided I could only make so much money as a tennis instructor, although it was great money around age 21. I was making $100,000. I decided to get into real estate. The people that I taught tennis too taught me that this is how they made their fortune. I actually earned my Ph.D. in entrepreneurship and my Master’s in real estate on that tennis court an hour at a time when these people I was teaching how to hit a better forehand, they taught me about how to invest in real estate so fast forward now many years later, we build on speculation, meaning we build without a buyer in mind, beautiful oceanfront mansions, very large, right upon the direct ocean of Palm Beach country, like the Field of Dreams, Kurt, I build them and I hope that they will come and buy them.
Kurt: Before we get more into the homes that you build, more about your backstory. Teaching tennis and making six digits, that’s something else, but you must have spent a lot of time on the court. You said your Ph.D. entrepreneurship on that court. That’s a lot easier than the project I’m working on right now. I’m writing my dissertation….
Frank: Really as I didn’t have the benefit of pursuing a formal education, I decided to learn from those who I admired and looked up to and I had this little conspiracy really where here I’m teaching somebody who drives a feathered tennis bus and then a Mercedes and they just closed the door behind them on a three million dollar house, they’ve got a beautiful wife and kids and yacht, and everything as a young person in my early 20’s, I’m looking up to that like that inspires me and I would ask them, I’d say “I’m young. I’m impressionable. I’m disciplined too.” I’m going to run these people around my tennis shoes really hard for 45 minutes Kurt so they couldn’t finish the hour-long tennis lesson. I’d sit them down for those 15 minutes and I’d pick their brain. I did it student after student, and I did it for a couple of years and I got to the bottom of the common thread of their success which was investing in real estate, so I simply just followed their lead.
Kurt: That’s a good testament that not everyone has to go to school in order to become successful, so there are other ways to do it and as you did it you learned by just talking to people over and over and learning from them and the hours built up and all of a sudden you had enough and you gave it your go and boy did you give it your go! Some of these homes that you’ve made are just, you’re appealing to what something, like 50,000 people in the world with these sorts of luxury that you’ve built into these homes. Is that right?
Frank: Yeah. Just digressing a second, there are different kind of classrooms in life. Right? There’s formal classrooms and then there’s my classroom on the tennis court. I did go to school. It wasn’t a typical kind of school and I’m very, I would have liked to have gone to school. I just didn’t have the GPA to get into that school or any school for that matter, I had a horrible GPA, but when it came to the houses that we build now, I didn’t start here. I started by buying, fixing up and selling $50,000 crack houses. I mean houses in really bad parts of town that were drug-infested neighborhoods, but we kind of turned the neighborhoods around one house at a time. For the first five years of my career I didn’t do a house worth more than $100,000 and I did a bunch of them. I got really good at the craft of real estate. I became a real estate artist at that point and I simply took what I knew after doing quite a few deals under $100,000 and moved to the oceanfront, not personally moved to the oceanfront, but moved my business to the oceanfront and started doing houses on the ocean and so yes, these are three dimensional works of art. Listen. I’m a real estate artist, yet I can’t sing a tune. I can’t carry a tune on an instrument, and I can’t draw a stick figure. My art comes in the form of three-dimensional art that the ultra-wealthy pay a good amount of money for. I build them before, I don’t build for a specific customer. I build them to what I think the specific customer, almost the profile of an individual, we furnish them, my wife and I furnish them down to the gold-plated toothbrush in the bathroom, linens on the bed, towels in the closet, and then put the for sale sign in the yard and hope they come by. We’ve done 41 of those projects since 1992.
Kurt: That’s not the only thing you do. You also put on extravagant events in order to gain attention about your project. Right? Tell us a little bit about some of those events that you’ve put on.
Frank: We’ve got one coming up on Friday the 13th of January where I’m introducing this whole new concept in luxury real estate called the micromansion and I don’t know we have a whole lot of time, but basically I have built bedrooms builder than the house I’m unveiling to the public on the 13th.
Kurt: It’s a tiny house. Is it on a trailer?
Frank: It’s not that tiny, but it would be kind of the equivalent of a tiny house for the ultra-wealthy. It’s around 4,000 square feet, but taking all the finishes I was putting in the 10-15 thousand square foot house, beautiful over the top finishes, 3-4 thousand dollars square foot finishes and just sizing the house now because the ultra-wealthy, this isn’t something I’m doing because I want to, this is a trend I’m seeing where the wealthy have more houses in more places and they’re staying in them less days so they’re asking me, “Frank. Do you have anything smaller? We love your 12,000 square foot house that you sold us five years ago, but we’re not using it very much and when we are there, we’re not using all of it, so that’s kind a tangent, so what we do is we unveil them in a very theatrical way, again this show really isn’t me. The show isn’t the theatrics. The show is the house and the idea is to get the ultra-wealthy buyers, to get the media, and to get the billion dollar real estate brokers, to come to the house, to see the little bit of an entertaining show that might belong on Broadway or Vegas, but when the show’s over the true show starts when the buyers and the VIPs and the…walk through the front door of my house.
Kurt: So for our listeners who are perhaps unfamiliar with your work, describe some of these events. You’ve driven a motorcycle over a prototype of a home. You’ve done a magic trick going from one house into a coffin in the ground somehow. What else have you done?
Frank: Very good. You’ve done your research. One show or one unveiling, I choreographed this battle between a good pirate, which was of course me, and a bad pirate which was trying to stop me from unveiling this house and we had about 450 guests watching this, maybe 12 minute choreographed battle between the two of us where there was gun fire and zip lines and all sorts of things, and you mentioned the one where I’m really the beacon of real estate optimism and I can’t stand negativity and when the real estate market was crashing in 2010ish, things were falling apart, there was so much negativity, that that whole scene where I was on the roof of one of the houses we were unveiling, and I studied under an illusionist and I disappeared from the roof, and I ended up reappearing six feet underground in a coffin, where the ground actually shook as this coffin came up and breached the surface of the Earth, surface of the ground and I came out of the coffin. The only thing that was going to die that night during my kind of diatribe of a monologue was the negativity. The real estate market is here to stay and let’s put this negativity to death and to bed forever and then the one we’ll do this January the 13th, yes I did jump a motorcycle over a house to simulate going from that $50,000 fixer-upper and landing it on this $50,000,000 mansion that we were doing and then on Friday the 13th of January we’re doing this mermaids and martinis theme. We’ll have mermaids diving in the pools for pearls. It’ll be fun.
Kurt: Interesting. So I gotta ask about the magic trick. Because you build these homes did you just build a tunnel from the house to the coffin? I was thinking about how you did that.
Frank: I will not tell you how I did it, but the answer is no. I did not build a tunnel.
Kurt: Ah. Okay. A magician never reveals his secrets so I guess that, as a renaissance man, you are now also a magician.
Frank: Listen, Kurt, I will never make a living as a magician. That is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I don’t know how those guys do it. I’m happy to be just a simple real estate guy.
Kurt: Yeah. But when you sell these big extravagant homes, you don’t go and live the high life yourself. You live in a house that’s like 80 something years old. It’s a bit smaller. You also then I imagine put a lot of the money that you do make into the Caring House Project, so tell us a little bit about that project, what you do there in Haiti.
Frank: So for your listeners who happen to be religious, not spiritual, cause how many people in the room are spiritual? Everybody raise their hand. How many people are religious? Nobody. How many people are religious? Everybody’s ashamed to say they’re religious, but if you’re religious and you pray, there’s a great biblical passage that happens to be a wonderful life mantra and that is taken from Luke 12:48 and I’m going to paraphrase, to whom much is trusted, much is expected. We know this passage. It’s a beautiful passage. Now if you’re an atheist or agnostic, there’s a great life mantra that happens to be a biblical passage. It’s also Luke 12:48. To whom much is entrusted, much is expected, so don’t let it scare you. I speak in front of a lot of people and a lot of people are turned off by organized religion and I have a certain way I go about evangelizing people and in today’s times it’s a whole other discussion we could have. It’s critical that people now understand, and I do believe, this is the whole thesis behind my book The Tap, which is to whom much is entrusted, much is expected, so yes, when we build a big house or sell one of them and we’ve done this from the very beginning too Kurt, this isn’t a new thing, that we take some of the proceeds along with a lot of donors, we have a tremendous number of donors now that want to get involved in our Caring House Project, and I am a simpleton. I had a 1.8 GPA coming out of average so you gotta imagine, I’m a very linear thinker. I build the big ones so we can build a bunch of the little ones in the poorest country in the world, that being Haiti. Here we have social service programs in the United States to catch the indigent or the homeless if they want to be caught, a lot of people on the streets want to live on the streets in the United States, but in Haiti being the poorest country in the world where the infant mortality rate is 22% meaning that there’s a 22% chance that if you have a little brother or sister they’re not going to see their fifth birthday. The average life expectancy in Haiti is 47 years and they live on less than a dollar a day. We go over there and build self-sufficient villages with the proceeds from the sale of my houses and the proceeds from donors who donate to our Caring House Project Foundation and Kurt, before we go on, I want to make sure your listeners understand that we have built 24 self-sufficient villages in Haiti and this is where we’re going to get into philanthropic capitalism. 24 self-sufficient villages in Haiti since 2003. That’s 10,616 people, children primarily and their parents, who have been housed in our self-sufficient villages.
Kurt: Yeah. And these are villages. There’s housing, schooling, community and health care centers. Right? You’ve set them up for food, clean water, right? The whole kit and caboodle as the saying goes.
Frank: It’s all about self-sufficiency because charity causes poverty. Please understand that charity exacerbates poverty, especially in third world countries. They must be taught how to be self-sufficient so now I’m not saying if you’re going down the street and you see a guy begging for a daughter, that you shouldn’t give to him. Of course, you should feel inclined to do that, but when it comes to a little bit broader scale, going to a country that has no welfare program or social service program to help the poor or indigent, it’s teaching them, not necessarily teaching them because they know how to do it, it’s giving them the tools to become self-sufficient so our villages, yes, they include houses, some beautiful, small, and these are true tiny houses, these are about four to five hundred square feet, concrete houses, fit about 40 to 50 per village. We build a community center which is a place of worship. It’s a place where they go to school, a place where there’s a clinic. There’s also a micro-lending office in the community centers. We have renewable food, clean drinking water, and absolutely unequivocally some form of free enterprise capitalism that allows them to maintain after we leave because it’s made clear when we’re done, we’re not coming back to help you. You’ve got to make it on your own. Don’t count on us anymore.
Kurt: So I’m curious if you’ve got the figures in your head, what’s the breakdown for the cost for those sort of things? How much does it cost to make a house or even a whole village? What does it take? What sort of campaign does it take?
Frank: That’s a great question. Let’s start from the top down. The simple answer is it’s around, for a forty-fifty house village with a community center, all those elements I just referenced, it’s around $300,000. I just want to repeat that. That’s forty to fifty houses plus the school, plus the community center, plus the water, plus the food, 300 grand. Where I live in south Florida in Palm Beach County you can’t buy one house for $300 grand so here we’re building 40-50, plus, it’s typically around if it’s a 50 house villages, that’s 8 times 50, it’s 400 people that are living in that village, so the money…I’m a businessman. Right? The first thing we understand with our Caring House Project Foundation and for those who are listening who have a little bit of business sense, you’ve heard about ROI, return on investment, well in the charity business, we’ve coined the term ROD, return on donation. How far can I stress my donor’s dollar? And with what I’ve just shared with you, a house Kurt, a house, for those of you who are listening and when we’re done I hope you go to my website helpusbuildthesevillageschpf.org. A house I can build for $4,000. A brand new house! That’s like $10 a square foot! My houses here in South Florida, I’m spending about $1,000 a square foot to build for the wealthy. Okay. That’s too much for me Frank. I can’t build a house for $4,000. Give up a Starbucks. Give up your latte one day. I can buy a chicken for $4.75.
Kurt: Wow. That’s awesome. I know you’re doing good work there and remind us, how long have you been doing that?
Frank: Since 2003. We went to Haiti. Actually Caring House has been around since 1998 where we were buying kind of crack houses that I used to do in my early days and fixing them up and renting them to elderly and homeless people for $1 a month. We did that for about four years, then I realized we can stretch our dollar a lot further if we take it to a country that doesn’t have programs to help the homeless and that’s why we went over to Haiti in 2003.
Kurt: Right. Okay, so I’ve got some questions for you here. Also, if you’re listening right now and you’ve got a question for Frank you can give us a call. Our number is 505-2STRIVE. So Frank, why do you think that people have a misconception about capitalism thinking that capitalists are like, say, Ebenezer Scrooge from the Christmas Carol or something like that? Why do you think that misconception exists?
Frank: I think a lot of the negative imagery that we have in society today can be directly linked to the media. I heard you talk about a movie Wall Street, you just talked about Scrooge. That’s a form of media that have the same capitalists, people who believe in free enterprise, by the way that’s what our country was founded on, they see that as an evil and some people will say, “Well okay, it’s a necessary evil.” I think it’s neither. You have evil people that tend to take advantage of capitalism which when you do that it’s not capitalism anymore, it’s greed, and then its purity goes away. Most of the folks that I know, that I’ve met, my mentors, people I look up to, folks I read, have pursued free enterprise and capitalism for the betterment of not only themselves, their families, their communities, their country, and so when people see, the stock and trade, the idea’s to make a profit. The idea in capitalism is to sell something, provide a service for a profit, and it’s what you do with that profit that matters so yes, I profit, but it’s what I do being a responsible steward for God’s blessings that it makes capitalism, now by the way, I’m fairly biblically scholarly, the second only to love in the Bible is the reference to money.
Kurt: Yeah. Right.
Frank: It talks negatively about what money can do if we worship it and also positively as we get out there and share our blessings with those less fortunate.
Kurt: Yeah. Right. And as you said the system is not run on greed and you know this because there’s greed everywhere in socialism, in communism, and other systems as well, and so one of the last things we want is some of those greedy people running the regulations because then, nobody likes the corporatism, the government corruption, and so that’s why in a free market society, when there are greedy people, it actually just benefits other people because the only way you can get rich if you’re greedy, right? Is to provide a service or a good to someone else and so then in that sense I think capitalism is the best economic theory, principle, to incorporate into society in order to harness that greed.
Frank: Yeah. Greed. That’s interesting. I’ve heard that. Greed in the purest sense has absolute negative connotation, but I think the greed for God, I can have fire for Christ. I want to make as much money as I can on these sales on my houses so I can build more in Haiti. Is that a bastardized sense of greed? I don’t think it is.
Kurt: Sure. And as long as that rightly ordered principle is there, that what you’re going to do with the money because you want to help those in need. Yeah. That’s good, and I wouldn’t have a problem with understanding it that way.
Frank: It’s true, but remember on every corner lies Satan, around every corner, so when you’re playing with a toy that Satan plays with a lot which is greed, you have to be very careful that he doesn’t get a hold of that and then put his claws into you and have you use it because it’s very tempted to use it in an incorrect way. I didn’t really grasp the whole concept of sharing my blessings with those less fortunate until an epiphanous tap moment that I had in my mid-30’s. So yes, there was a point it was about me putting more cars in my garage, clothes in my closet, food in my pantry. Right? Pure, pure, pure greed, but I was depressed and I was going “Here I had climbed the top of my real estate ladder. Is this all it is? I feel this crappy about myself? What’s going on?” And I was able to find out why and I turned it around.
Kurt: Yeah. Well that’s a great testament because there are numerous, for example, sports legends, that talk about having reached the pinnacle of their field and still feeling unfulfilled and even if we become the best at our trade, that’s not where we should find our meaning and value. You’re not going to find it there. It’s found somewhere else and so that’s great. Well, Frank, we’ve got to take a break here, but I’d love to continue with you after the short break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. I’m here with Frank McKinney and today we are discussing philanthropic capitalism, and before we get back to that, it’s time for a segment of the show that we like to call Rapid Questions and so this is a segment where we ask short light-hearted questions and Frank, I’m wondering if you are keen to give this a go here for some goofy answers and we want to see how fast you can get through this list. Are you ready?
Rapid Questions with Frank McKinney
Frank: I’m sure they’ll be goofy. I’m ready.
Kurt: Okay. And so this is a minute long and we’re going to start the clock here.
Kurt: What’s your clothing store of choice?
Frank: My closet.
Kurt: Taco Bell or KFC?
Frank: Say that again?
Kurt: Taco Bell or KFC?
Frank: I’ll go with KFC.
Kurt: Excellent choice. What song is playing on your radio these days?
Frank: Probably a little Van Halen.
Kurt: Favorite sport?
Kurt: What is your spouse’s favorite holiday?
Kurt: What fruit would you say your head is shaped like?
Frank: A passion fruit.
Kurt: What’s your most hated sports franchise?
Frank: The Green Bay Packers.
Kurt: Ah. Favorite movie?
Frank: Oh goodness. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Kurt: Do you drink Dr. Pepper?
Frank: Yes. All 23 flavors.
Kurt: What’s the one thing you’d be sure to keep with you if you were stranded on an island?
Frank: My running shoes.
Kurt: Running shoes. Awesome. Thank you for playing Rapid Questions. Those were some excellent answers Frank and I must say your love of Dr. Pepper touches me deeply in my heart.
Frank: Dr. Pepper and KFC. Can’t go wrong.
Kurt: Makes the world taste better!
Kurt: Excellent. Actually, I think Frank, you might be the first Dr. Pepper lover that we’ve interviewed even though of course that questions tailored because of my own love for the drink so I feel like we’ve got a great connection here.
Frank: I don’t know how you cannot love Dr. Pepper. By the way, the only answer I would take back would be my favorite sport is ultra running, not tennis anymore. I kind of missed that one.
Kurt: That serves as a great opportunity, good segue, which maybe that’s what you had in mind. Ultrarunning. What is ultra running and tell us about your Death Valley races?
Interview with Frank McKinney on Ultrarunning, God, The Tap, and the Homeless
Frank: Ultrarunning, Ultramarathon is any race longer than a traditional marathon. It could be 50k, which is about 31 miles. It could be a 100k race, which is 62 miles. It could be a 50-mile race. It could be a 100 miles race. My race that I’ve run in ten times and I’ve finished it seven times and failed to finish three times is according to the National Geographic, it’s the toughest race in the world. It’s called the Badwater Ultra Marathon. 135 mile non-stop footrace from the lowest point in the western hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level in July running through Death Valley, California, on a blacktop road, on highway 190, that the average temperature on the day in the air is 125ish degrees. The road temperature we saw over 200 degrees one year, we took one of those Thanksgiving Day turkey things and stuck it in the road.
Kurt: So the soles of your shoes are literally melting as you’re running.
Frank: You are correct. Back when I first started running some shoes had gel in them. Remember they had the gel-filled running shoes? Those had been known to explode on the pavement and I run on the white line and the white line is what you see on every highway in the United States. That drops the temperature a whopping twelve degrees.
Kurt: Wow. That’s something else. So why do you do this? What’s the purpose?
Frank: Everybody has a hobby. I just chose not to collect ants. I felt that ultra running would be a wonderful hobby. I’ve always been an athlete. I was a tennis pro and I like running, but I was a fast twitch muscle runner. Ultrarunning is a microcosm for life. When you’re running, for example, that race 135 miles, it takes me forty hours, my fastest race was 40 hours to finish that race, so you can imagine the ups and downs, the highs and the lows, no sleep, sleep deprivation and hallucination, the vomiting, the wanting to quit, having to quit on three occasions, but now I’m acutely of why many of the most impactful passages of the Bible were written in and about the desert. Exodus. Many things talk about this, and this race is run through the desert and the spiritual cleansing and awakening that I get out there is unlike anything else. Now people say “Well Frank, why don’t you sit on your therapist couch and maybe he or she could take care of you?” and the therapy out there is second to none and I love the people I meet out there. Also, there are no age stations so I have a crew that leapfrogs me every mile on and just the bonding that takes place with somebody who, like forget mile five let alone mile 135 without that crew. I rely on them and they count every calorie, every gram of magnesium, potassium, sodium, that goes into my body. It’s a military operation just to get to the finish line.
Kurt: And how long does it take to run that race?
Frank: My slowest was 48. There was a 48-hour cut-off. There are 100 people invited. It’s an invitation only. You have to, you just talked about your dissertation. You have to write an application that is like filling out a dissertation to get into Harvard or Yale. There’s an application committee so 100 people are chosen. This year there was 25 countries out of those 100 people at the start line and you have to have a resume, a pretty strong running resume, and the gun goes off and there’s no, you can stop, but the clock doesn’t stop until it stops after 48 hours. The winners, by the way, the winner runes that race in around 23, 24 hours.
Kurt: Oh my gosh. Wow. The people that do that, do you get Olympic athletes that come and run this race?
Frank: No because it’s a very different sport. The average age in the race is 46. You really are, you need to be disciplined. You need to have a really high pain tolerance. The guys that run out of the gate like a jackrabbit are being scooped off of the pavement by mile 40 by an ambulance. The whole mantra is start slow and slow down.
Kurt: Slow and steady wins the race.
Frank: That’s right. For those of you that are interested. Go to badwater.com. You don’t even have to be in to run it. It’s just a fascinating undertaking. Insurmountable, incomprehensible, and impossible, yet people do it.
Kurt: Hey, Frank. We’ve got a question from an online listener here, Philip. He asks, “How do we explain this thought to people? The thought is about using our money. How do we explain this thought to people or even Christians that think we ourselves are justifying our choices to have nice or extravagant things from our income even though we’re using the money God’s given us for good? Say tithing and things like that and donating to charity.”
Frank: Philip. You don’t owe anybody an explanation. There’s only one person you owe an explanation to and that’s God. I’ve been accused of the same thing that you’re referencing. You’re just buying your salvation. Your good deed is going to get you into heaven. Well, we know biblically that we know no good deed is going to get us into heaven. You believe Christ died on the cross for us. You believe in him as your Lord and Savior. You’re going to go to heaven no matter how much of a sinner saved by the grace of God you and I are. I believe just getting back to being the simpleton, that does God reward responsible stewards. He does. This is going to be the most simplest example. Why is Bill Gates the richest man in the world? Is it because he has invented some kind of operating system or is it because maybe, just maybe, he had through his Bill and Melinda Gates foundation saved millions of lives with that blessing?
Now he’s not a Christian, but he is a responsible steward for the blessings he’d been given, and I think for those who want to cast that first stone by way of our choice of using our financial blessings to take care of others, let them throw away. We all live in glass houses. That’s the person who needs to be prayed for and prayed for by action. Let that person, Philip, see your actions, especially this time of year. It’s a wonder my book The Tap talks about going out and recognizing and acting on life’s great Tap moments. Looking for opportunities to share your blessings with those less fortunate.
Kurt: And now The Tap isn’t the only book you’ve written. You’ve also written books in four other genres?
Frank: Four genres total out of the five books.
Kurt: Gotcha. And tell us, I’m guessing you’ve written a book or two on real estate.
Kurt: You’ve also written a piece of fiction. Right?
Frank: I’ve written a book Real Estate Self-Help. Young reader fantasy, a book that competes with Potter, Twilight, Narnia, Hunger Games, and then the spiritual book The Tap.
Kurt: Awesome and three of those books you released on the same day.
Frank: I did. There were three different genres. It was my real estate book, my spiritual book, and then my young reader fantasy novel.
Kurt: Did you do that just to get like a Guinness World Record?
Frank: I don’t think I got a Guinness record, but I did it because it hasn’t been done before, but as I look back on it, I wouldn’t do that again, because when we went out on our book tour or people want to interview you on a typical morning talk show, you got maybe three minutes. I had three minutes to talk about three books. I really should have done one book at a time when I had three minutes to talk about one book.
Kurt: That’s funny. Okay, so another question for you here. For those that have trouble really grasping the concept of a Christian and a capitalist, especially in my generation so I’m in my late 20’s. We don’t talk about political candidates on the show all that much. I know Bernie Sanders got a lot of attention from people my age and it seems that some of the idea were appealing to them and so as someone who’s a free-market capitalist myself, that’s concerning to me, so what would you say to someone who might think that you can’t be a Christian and a capitalist at the same time. Are those two philosophies mutually exclusive?
Frank: I just say go to the Bible. If you’re truly a Christian, look at what king Solomon did with his riches? He was the richest man in the world and if you adjust for inflation he was by far the richest man in the world. I’m with you Kurt, though. The Bernie Sanders movement, the following I should say, where capitalism really was frowned upon and it really a little bit more toward socialism, find one, and now we’re getting a little political, but find one country, one nation, that has benefited under socialism. There isn’t one. They don’t last very long and then they become dictatorial. There’s a fine line between dictator and socialist.
In our country, yes, we have gotten off-center. There’s no doubt about it, not that we need to go running back to the Reagan days of trickle-down economics. That’s a whole different show that we could, but just take the simple answer. Throughout many references in the Bible Christians were, have always been capitalists. It’s what you do with the fruits of your labor. Are you going to store it up in your barn and vats and think you’re going to live forever? You’re going to be taken the next day. No. You’re going to share it with those less fortunate. That’s where I think, and now the thing with a lot of the Bernie Sanders people, I’m pretty sure a lot of atheists there, a lot of people who were non-believers.
It’s really easy to follow almost a religion, socialism’s kind of a religion where you don’t have the beliefs and the God that you and I believe in. Evangelizing today, and I don’t want to go off on an evangelistic tangent on your show, I think it’s okay if it’s perceived that way, I want, getting back to being a simpleton, if Christ walked the Earth today with an iPhone and long blond hair, my hair is red now, whatever color it is, and He’s not with a robe on and with sandals because it’s dogma that scares people karma. Don’t let my karma run over your dogma or whatever that saying is. Get away from the dogma. If Christ were walking the Earth today, how would He see a gay couple? How would He see abortion? How would He see someone living under a bridge? How would He see making money. I think that would have evolved from 2000 years ago to today and that’s all I simply do. I try to picture if I was Christ walking with skin today, if He were walking beside me, not putting myself in His shoes, if He was walking beside me, how can I emulate Him to the best of my ability? Today though, not dogmatically, but today.
Kurt: Right, and we need to understand that Jesus did live in a context and so sometimes maybe the way we treat people might be a bit different because our contexts are different. Jesus interacted only so often with Romans or Gentiles and much more with Jewish people with whom He had a lot of common beliefs so that’s one of the important things we need to consider too as Christians because…
Frank: Absolutely. Even after He died and came back from the dead and one of His last interactions with His apostles was that revelation. How is it that you can be socializing or meeting with the Gentiles? Exactly. What Christ or what God has made plain, no man can make unplain and that to me is a simple way, you don’t have to go to the Bible for that. I think even your generation gets that.
Kurt: Yeah. You can understand that principle. Yeah.
Frank: It’s the bifurcation. Go ahead.
Kurt: We’ve got a question here from Chris in the studio. He’s got a question for you.
Chris: Yes. Yes. Hello. So this is I’d say probably a very simple question to answer, but towards the top of the hour, you mentioned very briefly in a passing comment that you supported welfare but not the welfare system. Am I phrasing that correctly?
Frank: Reverse that. I believe in the welfare system. I don’t believe in the welfare mentality.
Chris: Could you clarify the distinction between those two things just for the point of clarification?
Frank: Sure. So if you got back to….
Kurt: Frank. Could you repeat that? Sorry. We lost you for a second there.
Frank: Okay. You go back to, welfare’s been around since the 1600’s outside of our country. The concept of welfare’s been around since the 1600’s. The welfare system as we know it has been around since the last Great Depression in 1929. The system was implemented to help folks that had just suffered the worst depression in the history of our country. I believe in that. I believe in the system today, but when that system becomes a mentality when an entitlement mentality sets in like toxic cancer, you can see the degradation of a society. Now for someone who goes on welfare and needs to be on welfare because they’ve lost their job or went through a depression like we had five years ago, a mini-great depression, I’m all for that, but it’s when the entitlement programs are doled out like Starburst candies or bottles of Dr. Pepper.
That’s when it gets a little bit dangerous and I can tell you that I’ve seen what it’s done in our country with the welfare mentality, little bit of an entitlement mentality and how it doesn’t work in a much poorer country like Haiti, so there is no system over there. Right? There is no handout. These people have to be self-sufficient and that’s why we ignite them with these self-sufficient villages, so Chris. I believe in the system. I just think it’s very dangerous. I came down to Florida with nothing. I was very proud to have a job. Even to this day there isn’t a job or a task I won’t overtake on one of my job sites. I’ve cleaned out toilets in the last month that were full of you-know-what because we didn’t have our water turned on. It was turned off because we were building a new house. There’s nothing beneath me and I think it’s really kind of sad when you have people that are just so happy to be on some form of entitlement and then they feel like they need to live on that for the rest of their lives.
Kurt: Go ahead, Joel.
Joel: Yeah. I was just wondering, because you just mentioned Haiti again and I recall that earlier you said that there’s an understanding that when we’re done, we’re done and we’re going to leave and I think some listeners are going to feel that that’s a harsh sentiment so I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about how that’s been working and a little bit more about why that’s the philosophy.
Frank: Okay. I think sometimes the harsh approach instead of everybody’s a winner and everybody gets a trophy and everybody needs to be coddled, which kind of takes place in our country. It’s not the case over there. We do take it pretty harsh. Not afraid. We do take a harsh approach because we have a model that is proven to work. Right? It’s a simple model. Housing. Place for worship. Schooling. Little micro-credit. Place to get your health, a clinic. Not a clinic we would have over here. Just a little tiny room and a building, and then your renewable food and clean drinking water. We set that up and different kinds of free enterprise.
We’ve done a fishing cooperative. We’ve done animal husbandry. We’ve done nurseries, sewing cooperatives. We set that up. Now they’re told, it’s almost like a kid that gets an allowance, this is it. This is all you’re going to get. When we’re done, the economic engine is in place for them to become self-sufficient. Now if it didn’t work, we would be on village number 24 because I have gone back and visited village number 1 and it’s thriving. That’s why I love your phone number, the word strive. That’s what we want to do. We want to move people from survival to thrival and we’ve done it over there.
Kurt: Right. Right. That’s great. We touched on a number of things there and one of the things I wanted to point out to is that with this concept of welfare dependence, on principle in the Scriptures, at least in terms of the Christian community, it’s not necessarily the standard that has to be held for the whole society, but at least the Christian, what I call communal standards, Paul writes “If a man doesn’t work, he won’t eat.” So even if people were struggling and some people sold what they had and they had a pool of money, if you read the book of Acts, there were still standards. Paul taught the people that they still had to work with their hands. They still had to do things. They couldn’t just sit idly by if they were able, so even then in the first century there was still sort of this dependence upon a pool of money. We see those principles in the Scripture.
Frank: Yeah. You’re right on. Thank you for saying that and even in Proverbs how many references to the sluggard, to the sloth, to the lazy guy, and then that’s just human nature? Don’t complain about it. If you’re lazy and you don’t want to work, well there’s nothing going to be there for you. Our country, there is a pool of money that you and I pay into, that people can live off of for a period of time and we’ve all had hardships and I want to be very clear that 85% of our donors’ dollars go to Haiti, but 15% of our donors’ dollars stay here in the United States. We do a tremendous amount of outreach to the homeless here in the United States.
Kurt: Sure. Yeah.
Frank: I’ve personally met and talked with over 10,000 homeless people, because I did a book tour that focused completely on homeless people. I didn’t go to bookstores. I went to homeless shelters and talked about my book across the country. I’ve talked to them and I will tell you that 70-80% of them are educated, are lucid, are well-spoken, and just are down and out. That might have caused drug abuse, alcohol abuse, but it’s pretty rare and most people think it’s the reverse, that the drug abuse and the alcohol abuse cause the homelessness. It’s not the case, and I’ve met some of the most educated people who they don’t want a handout.
I’ll never forget when we did this book tour at the end of my talk, I went to the homeless shelter. If you were the executive director of the homeless shelter you got $10 for every person that came to listen to my talk when I walked out the door. No red tape. So people would be bring in 500 homeless people. That’s $5,000 and our charity would write you a check. We did a little drawing like a gameshow at the end to draw a name out of the hat and then you’ve got your choice. You’re homeless. You can have cash. You have a gift certificate. You have one of my books. More often they chose the cash or gift certificate, but a third of the time, 40% of the time, they wanted one of my books and not the spiritual book necessarily. They wanted a business book. They wanted to learn how to make some money. Here I’m holding a $50 bill and you’re living on the street and you choose a book. Amazing.
Kurt: Michael here who’s watching online, he asks, “What advice do you have for young people who are Christians and want to get into business these days?”
Frank: That’s pretty broad. That’s a pretty broad questions. Young people who are Christian and want to get into business. First of all, start really small, extremely small. I don’t like big thinkers out of the box. You need to think really really small when you’re getting into business and when I talk, I talk to a lot of high school kids, commencement speeches here and there and the first thing I say to them is to find something you are passionate about and forget even that there’s a financial equation associated with it? What is it that you love to do and it’s really interesting when you kind of mesh with some of these people and you get the answer and you realize, “We can actually modify that.” How can you monetize something that you’re passionate about? More often than not you can find a way through either the front door or the back door way to monetize something that you’re passionate about and so without getting into specific industries to answer Michael’s question, start small, find something you’re passionate about, and monetize it.
Kurt: Yeah. Nice. Okay so we’re running short on time here a little bit. I’ve got one question for you. As I can see some of your life experiences and perhaps from your reading of various books have been influential for you along your journey, but has there been someone or someones that have really stuck out along your path that really were role models for you, not necessarily mentors, but maybe you looked to and wanted to model yourself after.
Frank: This is a really important point. I’m glad we’re going to finish on this one and it’s something I’ve kind of stumbled on in the last five years of my life and I’m a lot older than you guys. I’ll go as quickly as I can. You ever notice how motivation doesn’t last? Man I will tell you motivation washes off and will go down the drain with the soap tonight. If I only motivated you tonight I failed because you will forget it. You can’t stay motivated to stay on a diet, to be financially motivated, motivated, motivation will wash off and go down the drain with the soap tonight. Inspiration? A little bit better, but it lasts about as long as the last sunburn. It will eventually dissipate. It’s aspiration, aspiration guys. Aspiration. Aspiration will alter your DNA, forever changing your life and the life of those you love, this is round about answer to your question. Who do you aspire to emulate? What legacy do you aspire to leave behind? Aspiration is a fun question to think about, more fun to answer, and so for me I have aspired to be like, to be more like Rich DeVos.
He’s one of my mentors, a good Christian man, he cofounded AmWay. He’s one of the richest men in the world. He taught me how to dovetail my spiritual highest calling with my professional highest calling and I will be forever in his gratitude and his debt for that at 90 years old that he is now. The other thing when you think about who you aspire to emulate, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a real person. I used Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Willy Wonka is somebody that I really aspire to be like. It may sound a little childish, but if you read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, different from the movie. Read the book.
It’s the best marketing book you’ll ever read. I’ve picked up things, we’ve done golden ticket things and why my sellings are so theatrical. That’s very much Willy Wonka. Robin Hood. I loved Robin Hood as a kid. I used to go into the woods and play Robin Hood. Now I get to be a modern day Robin Hood. I sell to them, but I get to give to the poor. These are things it’s kind of fun to, you know, Rich DeVos, when Trump was purely just a business man, a real estate guy, I aspired to be more like him. Rich, Robin Hood, Willy Wonka, these are people that I do look up to and have shaped kind of who I am today.
Kurt: Right. Right. That’s great. Hey. One final point here because I’ve seen it on your Facebook page. Correct me if I’m wrong. You are being considered to be the ambassador to Haiti. Is that right?
Frank: That’s right. I’m on the short list, well the short list is now 100 long I just learned, so it’s not as short as I thought it was. Yes. I’ve gone through a couple of interviews and I’m taking my whole thesis, my whole pitch if you will is that philanthro-capitalistic approach. It’s different. Up to this point in Haiti, I have been there to care for the Haitian people. When you’re an ambassador to Haiti you’re there to look out for the American interests in Haiti. America first. And so the last thing we want is to prop up another nation. We don’t want, look at what Trump talks about, borders and building walls and all this stuff. He don’t want to help the Haitians. I know I can help them help themselves so we don’t have to help them as much as we did in the past.
Kurt: Wow. That’s great. I mean, even if you get into trade policy for instance. There are ways of letting there be a win-win in a capitalistic international society if you will so everyone benefits.
Frank: Absolutely. And the Haitians are very resourceful, they’re very entrepreneurial. Again, one of the guys in the studio says it’s a little harsh. Well when you take away the punch bowl and you take away all the U.N. and all the support and they’re forced to be self-sufficient, guess what? They will be. They absolutely will be as long as they’ve got a Democratically elected non-corrupt government and that’s been Haiti’s problem. They haven’t had a good leader in 50 years.
Kurt: Well Frank, thank you so much for coming on the show today, telling us about your story, your background, your journey along the way and some of the things that have been influential for you and your philosophy and your faith and how that’s informed your work ethic and your giving. It’s just really been a pleasure so thanks so much for taking time out of your day.
Frank: I tell you what Kurt. Very refreshing show because it’s typically one or the other. We’re either talking all about my faith or we’re talking about business, but here this is great so hats off to you and all the guys in the studio for putting this together.
Kurt: Yeah. Well of course. Thank you so much. Thanks.
Frank: Bye guys. Have a great day.
Kurt: Yeah. You too. Bye, bye.
Kurt: So if you want to learn more about Frank, you can check out his website at Frank-McKinney.com where you can learn about all of his various fields, the things that he does. He’s working on his books, his projects. You can learn all about that there. Again the web site is Frank-McKinney.com and if you forget that we’re going to just put up a link at our website so you can go and check out his website there too. That does it for our show today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons. Those are folks that just chip in a couple bucks a month. I’m also grateful for the partnerships we have with our sponsors, and those are folks that help us out and they are Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, and Evolution 2.0. Thank you to the tech team today Chris and Joel, and for their remarks in the show as well, and thanks to our guest Frank McKinney. Thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.