Frank Morsani's new book: humble beginnings, business success, the pursuit of Major League Baseball and a desire to give back

"To Be Frank" takes the reader from Morsani's roots, in a house with no electricity, to a rewarding career that has allowed him to give millions of dollars to charities and education

Nov 17, 2015, 14:47 ET from Frank Morsani

TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In his new book, "To Be Frank: Building the American Dream in Business and Life," businessman and philanthropist Frank Morsani tells the story of a most unlikely journey. It took him from a Dust Bowl-era home with no electricity in Arkansas to status as one of the top auto dealership owners in the country, as well as Chairman of the Board of the United States Chamber of Commerce, working hand-in-hand with three U.S. Presidents as a champion of small business.

Morsani wrote the book to demonstrate to young people "that they can be all they want to be" by hard work and determination. His goal in "To Be Frank" is to inform, educate and inspire. And he underscores that education is a continuum: To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "never, never, never, ever give up."

In addition, Morsani writes about the need to trust employees to do their jobs. His management philosophy stemmed from his Navy experience aboard an aircraft carrier during the Korean War. "The military does an outstanding job of passing authority to the lowest common dominators," he says.

Morsani also explains why he is focused on philanthropy, giving millions to the University of South Florida, University of Tampa, Oklahoma State University, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Dali Museum and other nonprofits. The latest example of the Morsanis' philanthropy is a $20-million gift to the University of South Florida for the construction of the new Morsani College of Medicine in downtown Tampa, where it will be the centerpiece of the revitalization of the city's downtown waterfront.

One of the most important factors in Morsani's success has been his willingness to take risks, and this applies to daily life and to work. The book describes these two aspects of life and their importance in detail - a message that can benefit all readers.

Throughout the book, co-written by author Dave Scheiber, Morsani shares lessons that he has learned along the way. But the biggest point he wants to convey – especially to young professionals – is that the American Dream is alive and well.

The book features a foreword by Joel Momberg, CEO of the USF Foundation, and a special introduction by Tom James, Chairman of Raymond James Financial, Inc.

Anecdotes shared in the book delve into some of Morsani's biggest moments in his career and life, such as:

  • A knack for problem solving was a key to his success. After he graduated from Oklahoma State, Morsani went to work for Ford, writing consumer manuals for new car owners. In time, his management ability helped him move up the Ford ladder working in various training and service management roles. He would ultimately leave Ford to move into the retail side of the automobile industry. Morsani moved to Tampa in 1970 and a year later had full ownership of his first dealership. He would eventually run more than 30 dealerships nationwide through his company, Automotive Investments. Much of that success was tied to his early realization that imported vehicles would be highly successful in the U.S.
  • As a longtime champion of small business, including stints running the Small Business Council and then as Chairman of the Board for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Morsani has a number of tips he likes to pass along to business owners and entrepreneurs. The book includes a chapter devoted to the basis of his successful management style – including what he calls "The Four Pillars of Managing: Respect, Satisfaction, Recognition and Compensation."
  • In a rare chapter of deep frustration and serious financial issues, Morsani tells how he was recruited to lead a local group dedicated to bringing a Major League Baseball team to Tampa Bay. He talks about his exhaustive and disillusioning quest dealing with baseball, keeping up the decade-long quest because he believed it would be a great asset for the region. It has been said that Morsani helped lay the groundwork for the success that finally transpired through baseball's expansion.

For the past 30 years, Morsani has been a keynote speaker on college campuses and for national and international trade associations. His theme has been one of advocacy for the business community. He has spoken throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

At 84, Morsani is still hard at work. In addition to his charitable activities, he's busy finding practical uses in everyday life for compressed natural gas, retrofitting cars and trucks for natural gas. Also, he and wife Carol are history buffs. They have traveled to more than 120 countries, and studied the regions of the world from the U.S. to the countries that form what was once the Ottoman Empire. Their zeal for life continues to this day.  

Co-author Dave Scheiber is a veteran Florida-based author and national award-winning journalist. He recently co-authored Tampa Bay Rays broadcaster Dewayne Staats' book, "Position to Win: A Look at Baseball and Life from the Best Seat in the House." He is also co-author of two critically acclaimed books, "Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob" and "Surviving the Shadows: A Journey of Hope Into Post-Traumatic Stress." He is Senior Communications & Marketing Officer for the USF Foundation.

"To Be Frank" is available on,, at area Barnes and Noble stores (by special order) and at the Barnes and Noble student bookstore on the University of South Florida's Tampa campus.

SOURCE Frank Morsani