David Malcolm

My name is David Malcolm, and I live in the great city of San Diego, CA. I’m the team cheerleader and chief creative officer. People don’t work ‘for me’ but are part of a team to drive performance and value. I’m also the president of over 20 companies (mostly owned by very wealthy beneficiaries of different trusts).

What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?

Learning the value of compounding. Take two 18-year-old high school graduates. One gets a great job and saves $2,000 a year for seven years. The other doesn’t have a good job until he is 25 years old when he starts saving $2,000 a year. So, the first person saves $2,000 a year for seven years and never deposits another dime. The second person saves $2,000 a year for 40 years. If both make 10% in their retirement account, who has more money when they both turn 65? The answer is the person who deposited $2,000 for seven years when he was 18. Learning the power of compounding is extremely important.

What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.

My greatest mistake is also my greatest success. I got engaged when I was 19 and married just after my 20th birthday (my wife was 19). We had no business getting married at that age. That mistake of getting married “too young” has proved to be the best mistake I have ever made. We have been married for 47 years, and without my wife by my side, I would have never reached my level of success.

Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?

Real estate is going to be totally revolutionized. We certainly won’t need as many parking spaces as we presently have due to autonomous vehicles. Building costs will be much lower due to Artificial Intelligence being used in construction. Couples are having fewer babies, which will reduce the pace of growth over time. Retail outlets will struggle due to Amazon and drone deliveries. The real estate visionary that can stay “ahead of the game” will experience great success.

What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I hear, “This time is different,” real estate is not going to have another downturn, and you should buy now. I don’t know when we will have another downturn, but I do know we will have another downturn. I have always believed that you make your money when you buy right. Warren Buffet says, “Buy when everyone is selling and sell when everyone is buying.” This is good advice, and people should listen to Mr. Buffet.

In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?

I think saying no too often is a big mistake. You must take reasonable risks in this fast-changing world. When IBM was founded, Thomas J. Watson asked his development department what level of success they could achieve. Their answer was 70%. Mr. Watson came back and said 40%! His belief was a 70% success rate stifled ideas and creativity. Learning when to say yes is just as important as learning when to say no. Finding the balance of saying no without stifling creativity is the key to success.

What is the one book you recommend most often and why?

Atlas Shrugged – It shows that capitalism isn’t perfect, but it is the best answer we know of to move people out of poverty.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Most people would advise a young adult to follow their passion; however, I don’t find that to be sound advice. Instead, an individual should evaluate their skills and pursue a profession that aligns with their talents. If you do what you are good at, the rewards will follow. You will be rewarded financially, and you will also be rewarded “mentally” with praise, promotions, and peer respect.

What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?

No greater opportunity hath a person than their preparation has allowed them to make of it.


I can be reached via LinkedIn.