Interview with San Diego based Entrepreneur David Malcolm – President of Cal West Apartments

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Interview with San Diego based Entrepreneur David Malcolm

David Malcolm is an accomplished businessman and real estate expert with over four decades of experience and success. He earned his real estate license while still in high school, obtained his real estate broker’s license in 1974, and later graduated from the distinguished Harvard Business School’s Presidents Program.

Due to his commercial and investment real estate disciplines, he was designated a Certified Commercial Investment Member by the CCIM Institute, the highest professional commercial real estate designation. With his combined credentials and entrepreneurial spirit, Mr. Malcolm has managed complex real estate, development, and financial transactions throughout Southern California.

Malcolm has exhibited a natural talent to recognize real estate opportunities throughout the years that others don’t and maximize their value sets. 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.

Due to his formidable work ethic and exceptional leadership skills, David Malcolm has held numerous municipal and statewide public offices and was the longest-serving California Coastal Commissioner in history. Today, Malcolm serves as the President of Cal West Apartments, a leading provider of quality rental housing in the greater San Diego area.

After a long successful career in the real estate industry, what keeps you motivated?

Since I received my real estate license while still in high school, real estate has always provided excitement and reward. When I say reward, I don’t mean just monetarily! From providing a home to a first-time homebuyer or building housing for the homeless, the joy and fulfillment are as exciting today as it was 49 years ago. There is an old saying, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Real estate has allowed me to give and yet, at the same time, be rewarded both emotionally and monetarily. 

What makes you different from other professionals in your field?

I often tell my wife, “My mistress is my work.” When your passion is fulfilled by your profession, people take notice. I can clearly answer the question, “Why do you get up every morning and go to work”? My clients see my passion and want to be around the excitement in our projects. My wish is that everyone finds joy in their chosen field. I have, and that makes me different than most.

You’ve been an active member of the San Diego community for decades with a track record of helping others, whether it’s advising a non-profit organization or through a personal financial donation to a worthy cause. How do you balance your philanthropic endeavors with your responsibilities as the President of Cal West Apartments?

I have a saying, “The world is round.” What I mean is everything you do comes back to you. If you help others….somebody will help you someday….and unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Others say, “What you sow, you will also reap.” I try to sow joy by helping others, and I can say without hesitation, I get more out of helping others than those I help. This helps promote mental and physical health, which makes balancing work and philanthropy easier.

What would you say has been the most important part of your professional journey?

It has to be education and mentorship. I had just turned 20 when I got married. Our honeymoon was in Las Vegas for a week, and during our honeymoon, I took my first CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) class. Obtaining my CCIM and having several mentors helping me understand real estate have been the most important ingredients for my journey in real estate.

What takes up too much of your time? What do you wish you had more time for?

Email is both a curse and a blessing; it certainly takes up too much time. If you add the time spent on email and now Zoom, somebody would say, “You need to get a life.” I am very happy to say I think my life is presently well balanced between work and family. This certainly was not true when I was younger. I was terribly ‘out of balance’ for many years, but with age, I found the proper balance.

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs?

I believe parents often give the wrong advice to their children. They say, “Follow your passion,” I say, “Follow what you are good at.” If you follow what you are good at, you will be rewarded in many ways. Monetarily (you will be paid more for doing what you are good at), emotionally (we all like recognition, and when you are good at what you are doing, you are recognized for your good work).

Having a few mentors in your area of expertise is invaluable. 

Lastly, hard work. It is very difficult to have a startup company and only work eight hours a day, five days a week.

Is there an individual or company that has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

I could write a book about individuals that have impressed me by what they have accomplished. An example of giving would be Father Joe Carroll. Father Joe’s work with the homeless is unmatched anywhere in the world….and yes, I know about Mother Teresa. Mother called me in the late 1980s and asked if I would spend a week with her (I am not a Catholic). While Mother Teresa was beyond belief, so is the life of Father Joe.

On the business side, it must be Tawfiq Khoury who built his company Pacific Scene into “Builder of the Year” for the entire United States. Tawfiq’s business insights and love of family are unmatched.

How should people connect with you?

My contact information can be found here or on my website.

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