David Malcolm, San Diego Real Estate Expert, Explains How He Sees Opportunities That Others Don’t

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The qualities that determine whether a person enjoys more success than failure vary from individual to individual. Sometimes, what makes someone successful is the ability to identify opportunities that others in the same field simply do not, according to David Malcolm, San Diego real estate professional.

Over his 50-year career in real estate, David Malcolm has handled acquisitions, loan negotiations, and sales totaling more than $4 billion. And one of the ways that he’s accomplished that is by doing things a little differently than other business professionals and entrepreneurs.

“I work harder, although maybe not always smarter than other people,” says Malcolm. While most people would advise doing the opposite — work smarter, not harder – he says that his approach is the key to seeing opportunities that others don’t.

In doing so, he follows his motto: “No greater opportunity does anyone have than preparation has allowed them to make of it.”

For David Malcolm, there are two different types of preparation at play here — conscious and subconscious. If you understand what he means, you, too, could identify the hidden opportunities that could help lead to success.

Conscious Preparation

Conscious preparation involves putting in the work with a purpose and a set plan. For David Malcolm, that includes doing a lot of reading to help him stay on top of issues and trends in the industry as well as other industries, such as the emergence and potential of the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT.

“I read a lot of newspapers and other publications every day,” says Malcolm. “This is something I do as part of my routine to ensure that I’m always ‘in the know’ when it comes to my industry, what could be affecting it, and where some future opportunities might lie.”

This is one part of his approach to learning, which he believes never stops and is an ongoing process throughout life. Malcolm also spends hundreds of hours every year at both Stanford and Harvard Business Schools and is a visiting lecturer at the latter.

Subconscious Preparation

At the same time, subconscious preparation must also be taking place. This involves taking all that information you have consumed and not just retaining it but also synthesizing it.

“How can what I read about or learned recently be put to use in my industry?” David Malcolm, San Diego real estate expert, asks himself. “I like to think ahead to where the real estate industry might be in six months, one year, two years, and beyond. Then, I apply the information I’ve consumed to see if I can identify opportunities that others might not.”

In many ways, this is similar to Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote about playing ice hockey. Malcolm, like Gretzky, wants to skate where the puck will be, not where it is right now.

One example of this from Malcolm’s career happened when he drove by a Kohl’s department store in Chula Vista and noticed a side parking lot that wasn’t being used much. He realized it would be a great location for a fast-food restaurant and asked Kohl’s if they were interested in selling the lot.

The San Diego real estate expert knew that he’d have to split the lot and that he’d also have to attract a fast-food company to the location. With Kohl’s consent, he bought the property for $800,000, got a fast-food company interested, and ultimately sold it for $2.2 million.

Not only was the transaction successful for him, but also a win for Kohl’s, which reduced its property taxes and insurance while also bringing in nearly $1 million.

At times, your ideas about what might be will be wrong. For example, unforeseen disruptions such as wars, bank failures, and the COVID-19 pandemic can change everything in an instant. But it’s also possible to be very right in envisioning opportunities.

That’s why David Malcolm says it’s important not to be afraid to be wrong some of the time. And definitely don’t be limited by what others see … or don’t see.

“We all knew taxis were terribly unreliable, but we didn’t create Uber, a company that is now worth $77 billion,” says the San Diego real estate expert. “Always wonder what might be right in front of your face, and you, too, could identify prime opportunities that others don’t.”

About David Malcolm

David Malcolm of San Diego is an influential real estate professional, entrepreneur, and community leader with over five decades of work experience. Mr. Malcolm is an esteemed Harvard Business School’s Presidents Program graduate, a licensed real estate agent, and broker, and a Certified Commercial Investment Member. He has run and advised multiple public and private companies and held several municipal and statewide public offices.


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