Community Before Self details these virtues and explains how anyone can live a life of integrity and purposeful giving. Regardless of income, political views, or age, everyone can contribute toward enhancing their community by volunteering their time and effort.
All royalties from the sales of this book will be donated to the San Diego Foundation for support of its Malin Burnham Center for Civic Engagement.
SAN DIEGO native Malin Burnham has enjoyed many successes in three overlapping careers: seventy years of winning international-level competition in sailboat racing; thirty-seven years of building and managing companies engaged in real estate, mortgage lending, insurance, and banking; and fifty years of leadership in his not-for-profit and philanthropic endeavors.
“In Community before Self, Malin presents an inspiring biography focused on lessons learned in business, ocean adventures, and philanthropy, distilled to rules that are personal but broadly applicable.”
—Irwin Jacobs, cofounder and retired chairman, Qualcomm, Inc.
“Malin Burnham is indeed an unusual and gifted person—a true gentleman, great father, and good husband, with a smile and presence unmatched in the San Diego community.”
—T. Denny Sanford, chairman, United National Corporation
“Malin Burnham embodies the best motivated and most energetic of the creative forces that have shaped modern-day San Diego. His ﬁngerprints and leadership are all over the cultural, physical, institutional, and economic changes for the better in this exciting and wholesome major American city.”
—Pete Wilson, former Mayor of San Diego, US Senator, and Governor of California
“This book is not an autobiography of Malin Burnham but rather an examination of what he calls “pivotal points” in his life. Along the way, Malin distills his philosophy of civic engagement into seven elegant principles for success. A terriﬁc read as a lesson in leadership when the goal is making a real difference.”
—Richard C. Atkinson, president emeritus, University of California
“Malin Burnham is at the top of the list of servant leaders in our community. Read this book, and get inspired to serve rather than be served.”
—Ken Blanchard, coauthor, The New One Minute Manger and Leading at a Higher Level
“If you care at all about your community and about leadership, Community before Self is a book you must have.”
—Jerry Panas, CEO, Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners
From the Book
Malin Burnham's Beacons
Over the years, I’ve developed a list of personal rules. I call them “beacons” because they act as guides and warnings, and they illuminate the correct path ahead to help me deal with career (and even personal) challenges. I’ve discussed many of these in the text, but there are others you may find just as useful.
- Change will happen; anticipate and take advantage of it.
- Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
- Concentrate on the team and we, rather than I.
- Hard work gets better results.
- The goal should be self-confidence, not self-congratulation.
- Prioritize and use a “to-do list.”
- Don’t forget to thank people.
- Live a balanced life with a healthy diet, exercise, travel, reading, and many friends.
- Get out of your rut; consider re-potting yourself.
- Don’t tell people what to do; only give them ideas.
- Ethics is all about doing the right thing.
- There are many benefits to taking time off to “recharge our batteries.”
- When delegating responsibility, it’s best to give authority as well.
- Don’t suffer from failure; after all, you are one step closer to success.
- It’s easy to be a philanthropist: you can make a gift, ask for the gift, or volunteer your time and energy.
- Be prepared to lead, even if you are not in charge.
The Virtues of Excellence
Every person with whom I work eventually encounters my underlying philosophy of being a successful person and professional. While it is implicit in everything I do, I like to make this list of virtues explicit whenever possible to fellow board members, teammates, and recipients of my philanthropic efforts. As you can see, each combines an overarching philosophical statement with its real-world execution.
Plan Ahead: Set personal goals. Adjust them with time and circumstance.
Commitment: Take responsibility for your words and deeds. Fulfill your promises.
Hard Work: Put in the time and energy to fulfill your commitments. Be prepared—not only schedule the necessary time, but be prepared and work intelligently to use that time efficiently.
Dedication: Never give up. Success often comes when you think it is no longer possible.
Teamwork: Everyone has something to contribute, so treat everyone fairly, and share credit for every success.
Play by the Rules: Be honest, ethical, and fair. If your project is worthy of success, it is also worthy of being done right. Cutting corners will always come back to punish you.
Follow Through: Never trust luck to achieve your goals. Take positive action toward success, and be unrelenting until that success is achieved. Never coast to the finish line—you may never get there.
One of the virtues of starting early and living long is that it offers a wonderful opportunity to be involved in a lot of exciting projects—and to see their successful conclusion. Though I find it hard to believe, at last count, during my thirty-seven year business career, I cofounded and chaired three firms that became listed on the New York and American stock exchanges. In total, I’ve been a board member and/or officer of eighteen business corporations and thirty-two nonprofit organizations. And I’ve loved every day of it.