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How Four Little Words Changed My Career

We have all experienced challenging times in the midst of our real estate journey. Mine came in August 1974 as I began my real estate career.  My year’s hard work had produced no closings and my real estate future looked dismal. I turned to God in deep discouragement and asked for a positive sign–just 3 valid transactions during the month of August. At the same time I enrolled in graduate school, preparing to return to the field of education.

The month slowly passed day by day. Then August 27 and 28 brought great hope with the sale of my only listing plus a first-time-buyer.  My prayers were being answered–I was now two transactions down, had one to go and a full three days remaining! Perhaps real estate was the career for me.

August 29 and 30 came and went without any activity and I became angry. How could I fall just one transaction short of my goal?  I needed more faith and more patience. At 10:00 a.m. a phone call changed everything-it was a buyer.  I showed them two homes and truly felt as if there was magic in the air.  My third transaction was about to materialize. After all these months, I felt as if real estate success was within my grasp.

My joy quickly disappeared when the client told me they could not buy from me because they had been previously working with Lillie Mae Tillman, another local agent. She had shown them numerous homes and bought them lunches and dinners. And ultimately they felt their loyalty had to remain with her. I knew these buyers had reached the most ethical decision, but I was heartbroken. I had been so close to, what I felt was success. It was the lowest moment in my real estate career.

At 7:30 that evening the clients called me with the news that during a conversation with Lillie Mae, she had told them to “Do the right thing and buy the house from Mo Anderson.”  I could hardly believe what I was hearing!  Lillie Mae Tillman, an elderly, quiet, reserved Century 21 agent had changed my life with four little words – “Do the right thing”.  That was when my real estate ball began to roll.  The next six months brought 35 transactions; I went on to build my own company and then Keller Williams Realty entered my life. Through it all I have never forgotten precious, wonderful Lillie Mae Tillman and the impact her integrity had and continues to have on my life. She taught me that when we ‘do the right thing’ it is possible to literally change the course of someone’s life.

As we enter a new decade, let’s renew our commitment to ‘do the right thing’ in all aspects of our lives.  And, just as our integrity is able to impact and change the course of the lives of those around us, it has the power to change our world!

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69 comments on “How Four Little Words Changed My Career
  1. Matt Thomson says:

    Thanks for sharing, Mo. I first learned at FSO about 3 years ago just how seriously our leadership takes the WI4C2TS. This is a great story about how part of that originated.

  2. Thank you MO for your profound words of encouragment always..That is why I joined Keller Williams. I am so blessed to be part of the family

  3. This is a great story you shared, it shows how simply doing the right thing can impact anyone. Your life surely was impacted by someone else taking that stand.

  4. Mo,

    Great post. “Do the right thing” is the only option no matter how ominious or challenging a situation may seem. The fruits produced by doing the right thing leads to perserverance, and holding to what is true and right leads to maturity. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Jeri Gray says:

    Great article and great principal. Just do the right thing will be my motto!

  6. Great motivational piece. Best for you in 2010.

  7. Deborah Bell says:

    Thank you Mo!!! It’s a great reminder we should all post at eye level at our desks! “Do the right thing”, not what’s easy! Inspirational…you’re the best!

  8. Thank you, Mo, for reminding us that even the most successful business people have come through very challenging times! I’m so proud to be a part of the Keller Williams family.

  9. Thanks for that Mo, we know we’re working for the right company!

  10. Thanks Mo,
    In the end it’s not just about making money, it’s about doing the right thing and the rest will follow. That’s one of the many reasons why I am partnered with Keller Williams Realty!

  11. Olivia Manson says:

    Mo- I tear up every time I hear or read this story! Thank-you for always doing the right thing. It’s just one more reason why I LOVE Keller Williams!

  12. Joyce Brown says:

    Do the right thing! I like the unedited version best about how you prayed for direction. We thank God for you, Mo and your sterling example. Thank you for sharing that inspiring story.

  13. Ana Marie Galindo says:

    Thank you Mo. I am a fairly new Realtor. I started with C21 and recently joined the Keller Williams Family and your story truly touch me. Your story and those four words, “Do The Right Thing” will stay with me always!! Thank You!!

  14. Do the right thing! Those are four powerful words that can change the world. I’ll be adding them to my Facebook page, website, email signature, and more.

    Thank you, Mo.

  15. Mo, thanks for reminding us of these 4 HUGE words. If you are clear about these 4 words; peace surrounds you and decisions come without struggle. What a relief from anxiety and stress these 4 words do when you live by them!
    I think you are the best!

  16. Jesse Dyke says:

    Mo I’m so grateful for you, & the Keller Williams leadership!
    God has led me to a great company, & I’m proud to be a part of the KW family! God bless you all, I look forward to seeing you at family reunion!

  17. MARK Z. says:

    Great words of wisdom Mo, very inspiring story!

  18. Arnold Celis says:

    Mo….very well said! Cindy and I had almost the same exact conversation this weekend! Amazing!

  19. Thank you, Mo, for such a powerful message. You and Gary are such a great team and inspiration to me. Keller Williams rocks.

  20. Paul Hayes says:

    Mo…You Rock! And you are our cultural rock! Thank you for keeping that bar high for our company. Whenever I read a “Mo quote” I actually hear her voice as I read to myself. Does anyone else experience that?

  21. Brent Dalley says:

    Mo~ That story is great! One for its own merits but also because that is a staple of conversation throghout our house with 5 children. (Must be said often to the 3 teenagers). Thank you for all you do!

    God Bless,

    Brent Dalley and gang~

  22. Mo, Your story brought back to mind something that happened to me. While working with a new client and learning about the job offer he had just accepted, I talked him out of taking that job because it was not giving him anything that he didn’t have already and he was putting his family through great stress. As a result, there was no relocation and no sale for me. When I told my wife what I had done, she got angry at me. I turned to her and said, exactly, “I have to do the right thing!” Guess what? 4 months later, the same client was recruited for a new job in my area and he came back and bought a house through me resulting in a $21,000 commission. He and his wife are now amongst my best “bird dogs” for new introductions. I live by those words; there’s just no other way!

  23. Joe Hirsch. says:

    I had read your story years ago, and it is inspiring. I am so honored to be involved with a company that put ethics at the top of the list. I joined the real estate business because I experienced so many agents that would do anything to get a sale while my wife and I were house hunting I believed that clients deserved better and resolved to make a difference. I am glad I finally joined Keller Willliams. It was the best decision I could have made.

  24. WOW! My husband Lewis and I are new to Keller Williams Realty. We have collectively been in residential real estate sales for over 40 years, with Coldwell Banker and most recently with Prudential CT Realty.

    You have just validated for us why we joined this great company with your powerful story. Thank you!

    Beth L McIntyre
    Keller Williams Realty
    Farmington Valley Market Center
    Avon, CT

  25. Patricia Creppin says:

    Great story, thanks for sharing. I have always believed that if you do things for the right reasons that everything will turn out right! As I embark on a new career, you continue to be an inspiration.

  26. Cathy Toombs says:

    Thank you for sharing Mo! Your example continues to inspire all those you come in contact with. I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of leadership in this awesome company of moral and ethical values. Your powerful story also attests to the wonder of prayer and how our spirtual lives must intertwine with our business life!

  27. John Pohly says:

    Mo, I love these stories and as a Realtor I can certainly relate! When are you going to write your auto-biography?

  28. Mo,
    I just read the story and it gives me such inspiration to keep going through these difficult times. At the beginning of 2009 I had started a pretty good year and everything was moving and going great. As the mid year hit all possible transactions seem to come to a halt and anything and everything was either delayed or cancelled. I am no stranger to difficut times and this was very challenging even for me. It is now Feb 1st and I have not been able to close a transaction as of yet. I know what I need to do, and I am currently enrolled in BOLD and I am getting back to the basics and lead generating like I should have been always.
    This helped me in more ways that I can say!
    Thank you,
    Leslie Guzman
    Keller Williams Benchmark Properties

  29. We love this culture. I joined KW after 8 years with Remax. My husband joined me last year. KW fits like a glove. BOLD has helped us both as well. Thank you for all your inspiration and vision.

  30. Larry Brewer says:

    When people ask why I volunteer to help others, I always say that karma pays me back with interest. You will never know how much of a difference you can make in someones life by doing the right thing. Especially yours.

  31. Russ says:

    Dianna Kokoszka has said to me several times “No single conversation can change the trajectory of a person’s life, and any single conversation can.”
    What a great example of a wonderful principle.

  32. Fantastic example Mo! It is great to be in the mist of a great culture
    like the one that Keller Williams Realty has. I love the words….”Do the right thing!” That is what the Lord expects of us.
    That’s what it is all about. I must put this on my facebook. Thanks for your
    inspiration! God Bless you.

  33. Nancy Leirer says:

    As a new agent in 1997 at Realty One, I had just the opposite experience. In church one Sunday, a friend who owned a mortgage company asked why Suzy Buyer had written a contract with an experienced agent in my office when he had recommended me. Turns out, the agent was answering phones when Suzy called and asked for me but mispronounced my last name. “Do you know Nancy?” experienced agent asked. “No, but my loan officer said I should call her,” Suzy said. “Have you signed papers with her?” agent inquired. “No, I’ve never met her,” Suzy replied. Experienced agent convinced her she had to use her since she answered the phone, showed her one house and earned a commission!
    Fast forward to my first week at Keller Williams in 2004. I got a call from from one of our owners, also named Nancy. “First welcome to Keller Williams,” owner Nancy said. “I got a message I think is yours since I don’t know this person. They asked for Nancy and got connected to me.” It was a referral, I sold them a home and listed theirs.
    The tale of two companies. Boy, do I love Keller Williams! Thanks for reminding me, MO.

  34. Thanks, Mo, for sharing and reminding us to do the right thing. I will miss you at the family reunion this year. I have been attending the past three years since I joined KW. Hopefully, I can go to the Mega Camp this year. Agains, thank you for your inspirations!

  35. Tracy Howard says:

    Hi, Mo and everyone!

    Wow!! The first time I heard this story was when I first joined Keller Williams back in 1998. I think about it most every time I read the WI4C2TS.

    But then I left the business in 2001 because of a serious health problem and because of what I saw happening in the lending business. But real estate has always been my career, so I worked in a foreclosure law firm for a few years as a paralegal. When I realized in 2007 what was actually happening to the real estate industry, I decided to get back into real estate sales.

    Fast forward to 2009 and my story is a duplicate of Leslie’s — pretty good first half of the year, slow second half with only one closing, and so far in 2010, nothing. But I made a REALLY good decision about my real estate career in June of 2009, and that was to rejoin Keller Williams (mainly because I saw information on the internet that Sandy Murphy had returned to Keller Williams Realty Downtown as the team leader — and because I pulled out some old “Mo” quotes and restudied them).

    Thanks to your wonderful retelling of your story, Mo, I have offered it up to God, and asked for His guidance — both He and you, Mo, have inspired me this morning to “JUST DO IT!” and “DO THE RIGHT THING”. Starting today, February 8, this will be the best real estate year of my life!!

    Thanks so much for keeping your story in front of our eyes! You are a true inspiration to all of us.

    Tracy Howard
    Keller Williams Realty Downtown
    Denver, Colorado

  36. I think we should all take memory of these times in our career and and success in following through on these four Huge words. Reflecting on those times with great outcomes can drive us forward in our not so great times, when we may find ourselves on the ‘not so fair’ side of the Ethical fence. Please Mo, do Quantum Leap again…. You were truly inspirational in your honesty and effect for me at that time!

    Much Thanks!

  37. Thanks Mo for sharing. I got goosebumos reading your story! You never know what events will have the most impact on your life. Thanks so much!

  38. Cheryl Lee Bouchez says:

    Thank you Mo for sharing this special story…encourages all of us…I, too, am proud to be part of the KW Family.

  39. Candace CAspersen says:

    Thanks, Mo. You have given us all the permission to live by those words. Simple but hard sometimes. But each day, we have the choice. Thanks for helping to create an environment in the workplace…where “Doing the Right Thing” is not only accepted….but celebrated….We cherish you for giving us this great legacy….we will not let you down.

  40. gaylefleming says:

    I look around at other agents I know and wonder why in the world they would ever be with any other company but Keller Williams. But not everyone in our industry appreciates the amazing culture that Mo and Gary have created. Not everyone gets how seriously our wonderful company takes “doing the right thing”. This isn’t just a real estate company–it’s a journey toward being a better human being and living a life of purpose. There is a saying that I think of when I someone is clearly moving in the opposite direction of their own highest and best good–“When the student is ready the teacher will appear.

  41. MO… I’ve done many things in my life…psychiatry for 15 years, education for 15 years before jumping into the real estate world. The one common thread in all that I’ve done is “Do the right thing!”. I am so very pleased to be a part of an organization that thinks and behaves with the fundamental premise of “Do the right thing!”. My mantra for this concept is “Stay true to your TRUE north!” Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Thank you MO for holding on to the reigns and continuing to drive this company in the direction of “Do the right thing!”

  42. Gina Ray says:

    You have been an inspriation from day one for most of us joining forces with the only real estate company that actually has values, a belief system, strong, encouraging leadership and that actually “walks the walk”. We trully are a family at KW and I am proud to belong with this awesome company!

  43. Johnny Sabic says:

    “do the right thing’ in all aspects of our lives” and always expect great things in return is the foundation of my life and that is why I joined kw

  44. Judy Curtis says:

    I am so thankful to be a part of this company and what it stands for. The values, principles of leadership, and culture of giving are all the main reasons I am with KW. Seeing you at Family Reunion and hearing all the many things that this company does “doing the right thing”, make me so proud to be here. That has been one of the many things I have tried to teach my children to equip them for life and of course it gives great joy to me to know that I’ve done the right thing…no matter what happens. Thanks for being who you are. Judy Curtis, KW in Georgetown, TX.

  45. Several of our agents just attended an Ethics Class – SO important to keep current and have those reminders about making good choices!

    Keller Williams Montana Realty, Bozeman

  46. Sharon says:

    Thanks for sharing your story “do the right thing.” I loved it so much that I shared it on my facebook page hoping others would be encouraged as well. I can’t think of any better way to start your day than to pass on something so important in each of our lives…

  47. Thank you MO for being an inspiration to us ALL. Happy New Year!!!

  48. clintlohr says:

    I watched the videos about how you and Gary Keller joined forces. This is the best company I have ever worked for with the best support and training.

  49. Just returned from my first Family Reunion. I have been in business for 14 years & 8 years with KW. Family Reunion 2012 was awesome! I missed out on all those other years…..shame on me. God willing, I will not miss Family Reunion in the future. I just read your story about 4 little words…..your story and the values represented cemented my mind that I always belonged with KW. When I was a young agent (at another company), someone asked me to do something that really didn’t feel right. At that time, I realized, if it feels wrong, it usually is. From that day on, I practiced, “Do the right thing & never look back”. Thank you Gary and Mo and all the wonderful people who have helped to build this dynamic and caring company! I am sooo grateful to be part of it! Thank you for a fabulous Family Reunion 2012 that will take me to a new level in both my business and personal life! Thank You! This company is THE BEST! Wish the World operated on KW’s morals and values. Looking forward to Dallas 2013! See you there!

  50. Thank you Mo! Your story represents the primary reason I was attracted to Keller Williams. The culture, the belief system. Finally I found a real estate company who did not just say it but who’s members really lived it. A company who truly put God first, Family second and then business! I am so happy and grateful to be selling homes in Las Cruces as an agent with Keller Williams realty!

  51. Fantastic! Real Estate Agents are getting a better reputation now that KW is in town!

  52. Great post…Keller Williams is awesome !!!!

    30 secret iPhone tips – I guarantee the are at least 5 you’ve never heard of:

    Bob Arena
    Arena Home Inspections

  53. tinahecht says:

    Thanks so much for this. We all need a reminder when/if our emotions get involved.

  54. Doing the right thing is always the best idea. Thanks Keller Williams!
    The Defee Team

  55. maryhood6 says:

    What a wonderful inspirationl expeience! I am overwhelmed with the combination of Believing, Faith, and Professional Integrity have! It is powerful!! Is there any other way to live???

  56. kornteam says:

    The ultimate test of Ethics, and integrity is what you do when no one else is watching. When Gary says “Time reveals all” it means that even though someone seems like a great person, over time they may make that one decision that isn’t a Win/Win and that is when the true core of a person is revealed. The great thing is in this company, that sure doesn’t show up as much as it did when I was outside a company with high standards and a WI4C2T’s to follow.

    It is still sad when it happens inside our company…but remember, we are human and it is always good to forgive someone’s bad decision.

  57. A timely post, even at the start of 2013. Stumbled across this post while searching for resources for first time buyers.

  58. Susan Sanders says:

    Mo told this story at the conclusion of the FSO I attended in October, 2012. What a powerful story about how doing the right thing. Can change the world. Aren’t we so fortunate that Lillie Mae demonstrated high ethics, and Mo stayed in the business!

  59. Raul Garcia says:

    God teaches us valuable lessons which money can’t buy.

  60. Rena Rosenthal says:

    “Do the right thing,” applies to every facet of life, why should business be any different?

  61. James F. Grice says:

    What a great story for me to have read today. I have worked very hard at learning everything I can about real estate. I had a great year I capped my first year probably a combination of luck and hard work. I had three months left on my 100% commission plan. I had three deals in row drop of that would have been 100% commission deals. Nothing was working I could not for the life of me close a deal or even get a contract. A week ago I was able to finally win a bid on a property that was over priced listing. My training and my belief in my CMA and my home work on this home prevailed we are going to close in the next 2-3 weeks. No I won’t close before I start my 70-30 commission plan. I got this instead from my client.

    It proves again to me that Keller Williams our culture of do the right thing can make a you better person. it proved to me again that by giving and coming from contribution you will always win. I received this on Mothers Day .


    This is so excellent! We can’t thank you enough for all your hard work to make this happen. What an awesome Mother’s Day present! :) To be honest about something, my face hurts from smiling so much the last few days. :) Can’t wait for everything to be final and behind us.

    Have a wonderful weekend!! :)

  62. Miss. Mo,
    Here it is 2015 and your words are still inspiring other veteran teachers turned realtors.
    I as well, departed from teaching. I served as a special education teacher for eighteen years. I chose this field, because I love people and, of course, helping others. I also have, experience as a general contractor and landlord(was not much fun).

    Your words have fanned much needed air in my slow sails. I do believe everything happens for a reason and that is what brought me here to read your testimony this morning. You actually brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your story with others.

    We are all here to help one another in our lives and thank you for posting this article again.

    This will be a great year for all!

  63. Thank you Mo for reminding us that it pays to always Do The Right Thing!!!!

  64. Sherri Bouslog says:

    Truly a inspirational and valuable message .

  65. George Volk says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of having a TL for the past 2yrs in South Florida who lives by your 4 words. And she passes it forward every day she happens to be the most intelligent and compassionate person in management I’ve ever met. She like you has changed my life when I was about to give up on real estate.
    Unfortunately our market center lost her today as she has had the opportunity to move her career to the next level but had to leave South Florida & go to Los Angeles.
    Thanks Mo

  66. Martha Leon says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience! It encourages me as new agent to never give up and I know God takes good care of His children, I am very proud and happy to belong to this high standard value’s company!

  67. Raegan says:

    Thank you for your very inspiring and honest share, Mo Anderson. “Do the right thing” is what I endeavor to live by.

    Perhaps, you could give me some advice. I’ve just been licensed for two months. I immediately walked into KW the next day. While KW has a reputation for excellent training, and it does, I found myself spinning like a Dervish as there was no systemized method for the training I received. What seemed like myriad streams of training occurring simultaneously only served to overwhelm me. Being so perfectly green, I didn’t know what to prioritize; what should be undertaken first.

    Consider this: in school, we first learned the alphabet; then, we learned how to write simple words, then, simple sentences; paragraphs, and so on. There was a linear pattern from which to follow. The same is true today. This is how I learn best; not seemingly randomly, and everything at once.

    Without a solid foundation of training, I cannot expect to be the best agent I can be.

    I just transferred to a more local (to me) KW as they have a systematized method of training new agents from the foundation up.

    Can you offer any words of wisdom as I re-embark on my new career?

    Thank you so much for your time.


  68. Renee Rogers says:

    I was there when you where introduced to the KW Family,was their when you visited Mark Willis for July picnic along the river. I’m now in Dallas at Mike Brodie’s MC#93 in PLANO. You are as precious to me as always and you embody the model of WI4C2TS and stand for me as a moral compass for this company. With all my LOVE and RESPECT
    Renee Rogers

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