From her first career in music to her most challenging professional endeavor as CEO of one of the most successful real estate companies in the world, Mo Anderson of Edmond pursues everything she does with passion. Saluting her lifetime of achievement and her entrepreneurial spirit, the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma installed her on Oct. 25, 2003 into its Alumni Hall of Fame.
Nearly 50 years after leaving Chickasha as a student at the Oklahoma College for Women, Imozell "Mo" Anderson today is head of Keller Williams Realty. She joined the Keller Williams staff in 1992, before being promoted to CEO of the Austin, Texas-based company in January 1995.
For her significant success, Anderson gives a lot of credit to her family and friends, but her Christian faith has given her an anchor, she says. "My father had an eighth-grade education, but he was very wise. He was really an inspiration to me. I would often watch him give away our last dollar to someone who needed it maybe worse than we did. It bothered me … but he'd say, 'The good Lord is just gonna meet our needs and you don't worry,' and sure enough our needs would be met."
Anderson's selection to the USAO Alumni Hall of Fame is significant, says USAO President John Feaver. "Mo Anderson has demonstrated the kind of leadership that made the Oklahoma College for Women an extraordinary birthplace for ideas and successful people. She is highly deserving both as an example of our most accomplished alumni, and as one of the college's best friends ever."
Former Alumni President Aleta Smalley, also a successful businesswoman, wrote the nomination.
"Mo Anderson is one of the most outstanding women in Oklahoma," Smalley said. "Her life story is amazing. She's earned great success, suffered difficult setbacks, and then determined in her heart to overcome them all. What makes her so successful is not her business acumen; a lot of great women have that. No, she is more interested in people than in real estate. That's why she's so outstanding. She loves people more than work. And she has character as her greatest attribute, which makes her a worthy leader, a mentor, and a persevering and resourceful example to all of us. Every facet of her life has been outstanding, especially her philanthropy to aid the elderly."
Anderson was elated at the Hall of Fame announcement. "I'm deeply touched," she said Wednesday. "I only went to OCW for one year. For them to honor me when I didn't even graduate from there is a profound honor. But honestly, OCW is where I got my start. This is where I learned that I did have some leadership skills. And this college gave me a chance to use them. That experience gave birth to what I'm doing now."
A chance meeting with company founder Gary Keller in 1991 led Anderson to the "biggest opportunity in my life," she says. During their meeting, Anderson convinced Keller to move his profit share concept beyond Texas' borders. In 1992, Anderson became a Keller Williams licensee, landing a regional director position and co-owning two Keller Williams Market Centers in Oklahoma City.
Two years later, Anderson was promoted to president and CEO, while Keller advanced to chairman of the board. When Mark Willis was named the company's president in 1992, Anderson retained her title as CEO. During Anderson's tenure, Keller Williams has grown to one of the most successful franchising companies in real estate history.
A lifelong music lover, Anderson was an elementary music teacher for 14 years, until opening her first real estate office, a Century 21 franchise, in Edmond in 1975. Within a few short years, Anderson had grown the franchise into one of the top-producing offices out of 7,500 Century 21 locations in North America.
By 1986, Anderson sold her company to Merrill Lynch Realty, where she remained as vice president until 1989. In 1986 she was appointed to the Oklahoma Real Estate Commission and served two terms as the panel's chairman. Anderson was one of 10 women featured in a book entitled, "Body and Soul," published by Hill in 1988.
She was the first woman to be elected president of the Edmond Chamber of Commerce. She's been honored by the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Oklahoma Hospitality Club and Who's Who of American Women. She was named Edmond's Realtor of the Year and Citizen of the Year. The Small Business Administration named her as Oklahoma's Woman in Business Advocate of the Year -- twice.
She is former president of the Edmond Board of Realtors and former regional vice president of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors. She was named High Noon Inc.'s Executive Oklahoma Woman of the Year. She also founded Prodevelopment Systems, a real estate training company.
"I'm not different from anybody else," Anderson told one magazine. "A lot of people think that the American dream is dead. I don't believe that for one minute. If all the wonderful things that have happened to me can happen to a tenant farmer's daughter from Oklahoma, America, then they can happen to anybody. My dad told me over and over as a child, 'You can do anything when you grow up -- if you are willing to pay the price.' So, learning to work was the name of the game.'"
Anderson is involved in a number of civic causes. She has served on the boards of Edmond Memorial Hospital, Francis-Tuttle Vo-Tech Foundation and the Daily Living Center. Anderson also contributes significantly to the Gregg Foundation and the KW Cares Foundation, which she began in 2002.
Anderson attended OCW in 1955-56. Later she earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Oklahoma.
Anderson and her husband, Richard, have two adult children and three grandchildren. Their son, Rick, is a physical therapist at Grady Memorial Hospital in Chickasha. Their daughter Karen and her husband live in Edmond.
"My family has been fabulously supportive," Anderson said, "especially my husband, Richard, who has been my biggest encourager."