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Monday, February 22, 2016

"A Joy-Filled Life" (Mo Anderson)

TITLE: A Joy-Filled Life: Lessons from a Tenant Farmer's Daughter...Who Became a CEO
AUTHOR: Mo Anderson
PUBLISHER: Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2016, (275 pages).

Rags-to-riches stories are always fascinating ones because they provide hope. If it can happen to them, the possibility for us exist too. Weaving in a lot of her own life's experiences, the author writes honestly about her flight from poverty to her becoming a CEO of Keller Williams Realty in 1995. She is still serving in the company even to this day. Born Imozelle Freda Gregg in 1937, her name "Mo" stuck on since her first day in college. In a book that describes her journey of faith and life's learning lessons, Mo reflects back on her life with gratitude. In spite of the dark times at various aspects of her life, she shares of precious lessons from her family, her friends, and her faith.

From her family, Mo learns the importance of thrift, humility, and hard work. This sets the foundation of her life as she reflects on her family history, her own memories, and cherishing her parents. Her father taught her about the importance of dreams, something that she put into action by dreaming about three things: Marriage, Music, and a house. By daring to dream, she attained the three dreams with passion and purpose. It was her dreams that enabled her to press on despite various setbacks. With the support of her husband, she found her own voice as she sharpens her leadership skills and entrepreneurial abilities. She learns from friends who urge her to do the right thing. One touching moment was her sharing of a competitor named Lillie Mae Tillman, whose uprightness and integrity made Mo wanting to pay it forward. Her faith also grew as she participates in various conferences such as the Ligonier events.

The twenty chapters follow a similar format. First, there is a title that sums up the lesson and a key quotation. Second, she tells her story to give readers the context. Third, she expands on the lessons learned and ends with a "Mo-mentum Builders" that are bullet points for readers to take away. Each chapter can be read on its own. One of the things I appreciate in this book is the gracious acknowledgements of the many people who had helped Mo succeed directly or indirectly. It could be her father's encouragement, her mother's faithfulness, Ravi Zacharias's powerful exhortations, or key learnings from her business and social circles. All in all, relationships matter. The ability to reflect back on previous events and learning from them is also invaluable. There is much honesty in this book which would give readers a certain motivation to try and emulate what Mo had done. For me, that should not be the primary goal. There are three things I would take away from the reading of this book.

First, relationships undergird the entire learning process. As the saying goes, no man is an island. Mo had the privilege of working with many different people. She did not succeed on her own. She needed others to guide her, to give her a warm piece of advice, and the encouragement when she most needed.

Second, there is a relentless passion to persevere. While some readers may fast-forward to the highlights of the book, I would urge such readers to take time to sit with Mo through the low periods of her life. Things in life seldom come with a silver spoon. Risks are needed. Getting out of the comfort zone is often necessary. No pain no gain, so goes the saying.

Third, do not underestimate faith. Mo has a faith that empowered her to do many things. Faith is not about believing without doing anything. It is about belief that builds trust even as we are working out our various responsibilities.

This is one of the best books on clear and honest leadership. It is indeed a "Joy-Filled Life" that emanates through the pages of a well-reflected life.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Greenleaf Book Group and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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