David Malcolm

President of Cal West Apartments

David Malcolm is a real estate expert with over four decades of work experience. Since earning his real estate license while still in high school, he has managed numerous complex real estate, development, and financial transactions. He earned his real estate broker’s license in 1974 and later graduated from Harvard Business School’s Presidents Program. Mr. Malcolm holds the highest professional commercial real estate designation, CCIM – Certified Commercial Investment Member, and is a Harvard Business School Lecturer.

Based in San Diego, David Malcolm currently serves as President of Cal West Apartments, Inc. In 1978, he founded his first company, and from 1989 to 1997, he held exclusive rights to Rally’s Hamburger stores in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties. As President, he managed more than 40 locations and over a thousand workers.

Malcolm’s formidable work ethic, exceptional leadership skills, and ability to recognize real estate opportunities that others don’t and maximize their value sets him apart from other industry professionals.

His track record as a successful businessman in San Diego is only matched by his commitment to the community’s betterment. David Malcolm has held numerous municipal and statewide public offices and was the longest-serving California Coastal Commissioner in history.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I have a few companies but the one with the most “color” is Suncoast Financial. How better to describe San Diego than the word “Suncoast”?

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Life before COVID, life during COVID, and life after COVID are all different. However, I like to start the day with a 4-mile walk up and down the hills. This allows me to help “map out” my day and prioritize the issues facing the company.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I try to lead my team into “Coming up with my idea”. People want “their” ideas to be successful. If I force an idea on my team it has a greater chance of failure versus my team implementing “their idea”.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Artificial Intelligence. This is more than a trend. It will change everything.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

The willingness to work as many hours as necessary to accomplish my goals.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Focus on what you are good at…not what you like.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

The stifling of opposing ideas at our universities will destroy this country.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

In order to be successful, you must have ideas. Realizing that most ideas fail means you need many ideas to have one successful idea. Being willing to fail, get up, and try again and again is the key to success.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

If you can get your employees wanting to “win” (not disappointing themselves) but also wanting to not fail “the boss”, you will win the game. That means “the boss” must invest themselves into their employees’ lives. This added “fear of failure”– both personally and letting their boss down – is a powerful motivator for success.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I started working when I was 18. When you are young and wanting people to trust you on million-dollar transactions, you must go the extra mile. I felt like everyone discriminated against me due to my age. I quickly learned to not accept no as an answer. Through perseverance and tenacity, I was able to overcome the perceived disadvantage of my youth.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

People often “overstudy” an issue. By the time they make up their mind the opportunity is usually gone.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

When I spend $100 on a gift for an employee’s significant other (flowers, candy, sporting tickets, etc.) it pays rich dividends.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Google Search. Google knows everything! What used to take hours to research now takes seconds.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Atlas Shrugged. It makes you think and question many of your beliefs.

What is your favorite quote?

No greater opportunity hath a person than his preparation has allowed him to make of it.

Key Learnings:

  • Being willing to fail, get up, and try again and again is the key to success.
  • The “boss” must invest themselves into employees’ lives.
  • Perseverance, tenacity, and the willingness to put in the long hours can help you achieve your goals.