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Scott McGilllivray opens up about fame and family

It’s not an overstatement to say Scott McGilllivray is living the dream.

He’s young and multi-talented. His hit HGTV series Income Property just launched its 10th season – a lifetime in TV years. He’s got a beautiful young family to come home to and a perfectly stubbled visage that inspired People magazine to dub him a “sexy man of the week” in 2014. Yes, things are looking good for the Canadian contractor and businessman who, by the way, also owns over 150 properties across North America, co-owns his production company, and divides his time between homes in Toronto and Fort Myers, Florida.

You can ask him if you want to, but upon meeting McGillivray, the keys to his success are clear as day. Friendly and focused, he engages so deeply with the task at hand (in our case, hanging uncomfortably from a metal bar so HOSS magazine could get its cover shot) that it’s easy to forget there are dozens of other names on his dance card and miles to go before he sleeps. Put simply, he’s very focused, hard-working and talented. He sees the forest and the trees. He’s a do-er.

Not just another pretty face

That’s surely a big part of the long-term success of Income Property, the hit HGTV series that has made McGillivray a household name among the home and garden crowd. For the uninitiated, Income Property works with couples and families and helps them renovate an income suite – a rental unit – usually into the basement. The show ticks because McGillivray is clearly so into it. He loves real estate and he loves teaching people. At its heart, Income Property isn’t just about renovating. It’s about teaching people to become entrepreneurs. After seven years, if anything still surprises him about the show, he says it’s how much people don’t know about real estate and personal finance.

“To me personal finance is a big deal. Who’s teaching it? Who’s telling people the best way to buy their home and how to avoid consumer debt and putting a sense of urgency behind it.” Well, McGillivray, for one. It’s one of his driving forces, in addition to teaching people how to use a drill and a sledge hammer.

Finding a better way

By any measure, Income Property is a runaway success and McGillivray is excited and proud of it. Even if it wasn’t really what he set out to do.

From an early age, his goal was not to be an HGTV heartthrob, but to be financially stable.

“I really was motivated to create my own business. To be self-sustaining,” he says. “That came from growing up in a family where we didn’t have a lot. I watched my parents struggle for what we did have. And I thought, there has to be a better way.”

The quest for a better way lead to a university degree in commerce, subsidized by his own first income property, which he bought and renovated at age 21. By the time he was 23, he owned five rental properties and shortly after, became a contractor to better manage his growing empire. This caught the attention of a friend in the TV business, and Income Property was born.

Proud papa

McGillivray’s street cred and financial savvy lead him to start his own series of educational seminars at Lifetime Wealth Academy, which he runs with real estate investor Michael Sarracini. And along the way he’s become the brand ambassador for large companies like CIBC and Roxul. What inspires the kind of long hours and dedication it takes to steer such a mighty ship? McGillivray says his wife, Sabrina, and two small daughters (one-year-old Layla and three-year-old Myah) are his inspiration and his core.

Like any proud papa, his Facebook feed spilleth over with birthday cakes and sandcastles. If he’s away for more than three days, his family comes with him. “I’m fun dad, all the way,” says McGillivray. “I enjoy my kids, and I take the difficult moments with a grain of salt. I’ve learned how to have a lot of patience, which is nice. These moments don’t last.”

Between the travel, the young kids, and the multi-faceted career, it all adds up to a pretty intense lifestyle.

What is downtime?

“I don’t really know what downtime is,” he admits. “I’ve kind of filled those gaps. I’ve been in production for seven years. I’ve got my rental property business which I’ve had for 15 years. I’ve got a real estate training business. I’m half-owner of our production company. Maybe it would be different if I was just the host – I’d ask for more breaks. But I’m an owner, too and I go hard on my host.”

Demanding, sure. But it clearly adds up to everything McGillivray wants out of life, including a chance to make a difference through his work. “Having kids really makes you want to do the right thing,” says McGillivray. For him, that means empowering people to embrace the income potential of real estate, and take control their own finances.

“If we can teach someone to fix their home, or inspire someone to be an entrepreneur,” says McGillivray. “That’s my measure of success.”

Photo Credit: Richard Sibbald, http://richardsibbald.com/