“What’s happened since the last quarter of 2004 has never happened before.” “It’s a feeding frenzy.” Casually dressed in faded blue jeans and a paisley shirt, Frank McKinney, the millionaire Florida real estate developer, sits across from a visitor. The long-haired McKinney appears relaxed in the cedar-lined office he describes as “the place where everything happens.” His laid-back demeanor comes as no surprise, given that his “office” is actually a deluxe oceanfront tree house – albeit one complete with electricity and plumbing, fax and computer hookups, bed and bath. McKinney built the unusual workspace near his seaside home two years ago.

Now, the former tennis instructor “commutes” to work in Delray Beach via a 25-foot rope bridge suspended between the tree house and the second story of his main home. As he leans back, his guest comments on a hammer enclosed in a glass case that hangs on the wall above him. McKinney explains that it’s representative of his “lunch pail approach to life.” “I didn’t know what to do with it at the time, but I heard you were supposed to have one when I started my first real estate company in 1986.

We’re entering our 20th year – so it means a lot.” With the deep blue Atlantic Ocean framed in the window behind him, McKinney says that he’s currently priced out of the high-end real estate market in South Florida. “The market is so hot that in one quarter – and this has never happened before – I sold my entire inventory.” Recent price tags: $8 million, $20 million, and (get this!) $50 million. The upside to McKinney’s blank slate? “I think this is the good Lord’s way of allowing me to focus on other projects, like the race.” “The race” is a little walk in the park called the Badwater 135 Mile Ultra-Marathon – considered to be the world’s toughest endurance event.

McKinney is set to run it July 11th – the hottest day of the year in the hottest location in the country (Death Valley). Just to be considered eligible, the 41-year-old McKinney had to first finish a 100-mile race. And while most marathon programs (at “only” 26 miles) call for at least 4 months of training, he finished that 100-mile run with just 6 weeks of preparation. McKinney’s guest asks about his training routine. “I turn the pool up to 100 degrees and, without touching the bottom, I tread water for 90 minutes. It’s murder. “I run track … climb stairs … do crunches … jump rope … you name it.”

Since there are no real hills in south Florida, McKinney spends hours on a local bridge traversing the Intracoastal, jogging back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And then there are the long training runs … 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours, and more. What drives him to run 135 miles through Death Valley in the middle of July? “I’m doing it for our Caring House Project Foundation.” McKinney’s charity of choice, perhaps not surprisingly, builds homes. But in this case, they’re for the poor in undeveloped nations.

Every year, the group puts on an unusual annual fundraiser, something so spectacular that it tops everything they’ve done previously. “This was perfect: dollars for miles. Everyone can be a sponsor. Everyone can get their name on my clothing, on the support van, and on the website. “I know that every footfall, every step I take toward the finish line, can build a certain number of houses. In fact, if we are successful in raising $300,000 for our charity, we can provide housing for 600 desperately homeless people in Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Indonesia.”

McKinney says he’s totally confident he is going to finish. “I didn’t want pledges of a certain amount per mile. I wanted donations that count on me making it all the way. “The real race doesn’t even start until after the 100-mile mark. The first day is just survival. It was 105 degrees at 10 o’clock at night last time I was there.” Some participants actually stop to sleep for an hour or two, or even go for a quick swim in a pool. But you have to finish the 135 miles in 60 hours or less, or you’re disqualified. “Even if you’re not moving toward the finish line, you’re still hurting.

So I want to always be moving.” McKinney stands and looks out at the white ocean sands. Rows of small sailboats rest on shore, waiting for the weekend and their owners to return. “As human beings, we all want to live for something.” McKinney shows his visitor a row of red binders, one for each of his current projects. On his desk lies a sheet of paper, his goals for the day carefully penciled into rows and columns. “I plan, and then I go to work every day,” says McKinney.

What advice would this man offer to those who dream of oceanfront homes, million-dollar incomes, and the freedom to spend a year helping out a charity? “Get off your butt. Set a goal. Focus on one thing and accomplish it.” The visitor realizes that he now knows two multimillionaire businessmen, both of whom use nearly identical personal organization and goals systems. He makes a mental note to remember this the next time he feels “too busy” to write down his own weekly or daily goals. “I find comfort knowing that if I apply myself, soon enough I’ll get the result I want. I’ll leave the legacy I want to leave. That’s why I believe I’ll complete the race. “I’m not certain and I’m not boasting – but I can see the finish line happening.”

(Ed. Note: Frank McKinney is the author of “Make it Big! – 49 Secrets for Building a Life of Extreme Success” and the soon-to-be-released Frank McKinney’s Maverick Approach to Real Estate Success – How You Can Go From a $50,000 Fixer-Upper to a $50 Million Mansion. Find out more about his 135 Badwater run and The Caring House Project Foundation click here. If you are interested in a formula for profitably buying and selling real estate in any market, read more about it in Main Street Millionaire here. And you can learn about Mr. McKinney’s appearance at ETR’s Wealth Building Bootcamp here.)

Charlie Byrne

Charlie Byrne is a former Senior Copywriter and Editorial Director for Early to Rise. Charlie spent the earlier part of his business career as a systems analyst, project manager and consultant in New York City for Fortune 100 companies including Philip Morris, Digital Equipment, and Citicorp as well as New York University and Columbia University. He then spent over ten years at Reuters Ltd and Interealty Corp designing and implementing financial, real estate and news information services. In 2003, he joined Early to Rise as a senior editor and copywriter. Since then he has helped publish over 1000 editions of ETR, resulting in gross revenues of well over $25 million. He has also produced dozens of winning sales letters and promotions, including two that brought in over $200,000 in under 24 hours, another two that have grossed over $1 million each, and a single sales letter that sold 25 units of a $10,000 product.

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